It is kind of hard to imagine the Caribbean having anything to do with Colorado. We are the landlocked, square state. We are as far from the ocean or any significant body of water as one could be and the closest thing we have to beach are the pebbly sands of muddy reservoirs. So I was pretty shocked that among the concrete and grime of Colfax there exists not one but two Caribbean restaurants.
The first is very easy to miss, I mean so easy that I’ve driven down this stretch of Colfax a hundred times and didn’t notice it for months, and this is my job. So besides this slight embarrassment on my part, when I did finally see Caribbean Bakery and Catering on Colfax and Milwaukee, I immediately pulled over. The inside is exactly what you’d expect from the outside, a small space with one bakery case, poor lighting and cheap wallpaper of palm trees from floor to ceiling. Not exactly an island vibe in here. However the owner, Lance, is another story. His warm, sometimes biting, attitude mixed with his Caribbean accent and big laugh instantly makes this place a little piece of Caribbean paradise. Just spending a little time talking to him is a good reason to stop by because from what I can tell he has a lot to say, if he has the time (it’s a one man operation). But if Lance is a little too busy to chat, make sure to sit down and try some of their food.
What to eat: Jamaican Beef Patties– Enveloped in a fluffy pastry shell, this savory treat is spiced with curry, cloves and allspice. This is not to be missed.
The second place I found is a little harder to miss. However you have to drive so far east down Colfax I swear the ground was going to breakaway and I’d fall right off the edge. Luckily I arrived at Caribbean Breeze and Latin Grill, off Colfax and Chambers, in one piece. This place sticks out due to its well-crafted, brilliantly blue neon sign that gives off a comforting appeal. Like okay I don’t think I’ll get food poisoning from here. The inside is the same. Clean, open, with large booth seating and a relaxing generic feel. It’s very different from Caribbean Bakery in the sense that this place tries to “transport” you the Caribbean via its atmosphere. Usually a place like this makes me want to run straight out the door. But just like Caribbean Bakery, the owner is quiet the character and instantly draws you in. But he is not from the Caribbean, rather he is successful Italian restaurateur, and along with his extensive travel history and his Latin partners, have put together a shockingly authentic menu that is full of Central American and Caribbean flavors. Here you can get a little taste of several different cultures, like Cuba, Puerto Rico or Venezuela.
Admittedly this place is much more Latin than it is Caribbean but its flavors and wide selection of fresh seafood and indigenous ingredients like plantains keeps it all in the family. Plus this place cares very much about its community and caters to the wide demographic that exists on this side of Colfax. It’s easy to tell it’s a neighborhood favorite and people often stay and chat long after they’ve had their meal.They even host a multitude of fundraisers for the local high school sport teams and other local charitable foundations. Go to this place on a weekend for a nice dinner with a lively atmosphere. Their menu is also very extensive and everything I tried was absolutely delicious.
What to eat: Molcajate– Served in a large stone bowl (it was so heavy our waitress was shaking) this dish comes with every type of meat you can imagine covered in a spicy salsa roja adorned with several different peppers. Despite its grandiose appearance, the dish is unique and delicious. Have this with a Coconut Margarita and you’ll feel like your back on the beach.