ADDRESS: 3536 W. 44th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211
I remember a little while back talking to some friends that visited the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in D.C., and they mentioned one of the cool things in there was the American Indian café. They said the food tasted good and different from other cuisines available. During this recent trip to Denver, I saw there was an American Indian restaurant on the northern side of Denver, and there was my opportunity to try the cuisine.
I had gone to visit the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in the afternoon with my friends Andrew and Angie; after we were finished, we looked for a place to grab a light dinner, since we were trying to save room for some ice cream afterwards. Tocabe came recommended from one of my other friends, so we headed over to check it out.
Located in a neighborhood north of the downtown area, Tocabe borrows heavily from the fast-casual restaurant model championed by Chipotle. You walk up to the counter to determine what kind of entrée you’ll be having, followed by types of beans and meats, and then vegetables and condiments. The interior design of the restaurant also has a nice brick texture pattern on the walls, with ample lighting and finished wooden tables to eat at.
Living out on the east coast, I don’t get many opportunities to eat bison, so I was pretty stoked to try the bison at Tocabe once I noticed it on the menu. I ended up going with the Indian taco topped with ground bison, black beans, lettuce, shredded cheddar, Osage hominy and tomato salsas, sour cream, and chipotle sauce. When it was all said and done, I got a plate that looked like it could have been two meals. So much for a light dinner!
Everything not only looked fresh but also tasted fresh as well. The ground bison had a savory flavor to it with a little heat on the back end. The hominy salsa, with the red onions, cranberries, and cilantro mixed in, added another layer of sweet and savory flavor to the Indian taco. It was also my first time trying frybread, which is essentially a flat dough deep-fried to get puffy on the inside, but crisp on the outside. That soft, puffy texture almost made it feel like I was eating an open-faced sandwich with everything else loaded up on top. Sweet, savory, and spicy were just a few of the many layered flavors that made my Indian taco dish delicious to eat.
It was my first experience eating American Indian cuisine, and I think that Tocabe did a great job in presenting dishes inspired by traditional recipes. The other dish that I read rave reviews about was their bison ribs, which are marinated in spices for 24 hours and served with a blueberry barbecue sauce. I hope to be taking a return trip to Denver sometime in the near future, and if I get the chance to stop in to Tocabe again, those bison ribs will be in my sights.
Let’s now take a look at the Tocabe Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Tocabe:
Food: 4.75 / 5
Everything tasted very fresh and had great layered flavor. Four styles of meat also allow for a variety of entrée combinations.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
The dining area was well lit and the tables were spaced out enough that you didn’t feel like you were sitting on top of the group next to you. There’s also an outdoor seating area for the nicer days as well.
Service: 4.75 / 5
The person behind the counter was very accommodating when I asked her a few questions about the food options. The frybread was also cooked fresh and didn’t take much time at all.
Price: 4.75 / 5
I thought everything was fairly priced, with the bison getting an expected bit of price bump on the menu.