Cold weather can only mean one thing — soup. We don’t know about you, but when we get a bit under the weather, all we can think about is soup. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be the boring Campbell’s soup that your mom used to give you, it can actually be very flavorful and delicious. From chili to chicken noodle, butternut squash to tomato, from ramen to pho, there’s something to keep everybody warm. These restaurants are just a few in Denver, that offers up some noteworthy bowls.
Pho Chay — Pho 95
Where: 1401 S. Federal Blvd., Denver
When: Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: Oh, pho – we’ve met very few people that didn’t enjoy a nice bowl of this glorious stuff. If you’re trying to feel healthy, pho is the way to go. Pho 95 is arguably one of the best spots in the city for it. It has all the traditional bowls of pho: Chin (well-done brisket) ($8.95), Chin Gan Sach (well-done brisket, tendon & tripe) ($8.95), etc. If you somehow don’t know what Pho is, it’s either beef or vegetable broth, thin slices of beef and rice noodles, served with an array of toppings: bean sprouts, basil, jalapenos, lime juice, Hoisin sauce and Sriracha. Not bad, right?
If you’re not really a meat person, fret not, Pho Chay ($8.95) is a veggie lover’s dream. Or even if you do like meat but just want something easy to slurp down, go for the Pho Chay. It’s chock full of broccoli, carrots, snap peas, tofu and onions. Along with your Pho, try some pot stickers ($6.95) and a yummy jasmine boba tea ($3.99).
Homemade Chicken Soup — The Bagel Deli
Where: 6439 East Hampden Ave., Denver
When: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
The Lowdown: A beloved, Denver institution since 1967, the Bagel Deli, run by Rhoda, Joe and Jared Kaplan, has many loyal regulars and was even featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives a few years back.
Basically, everything is homemade from the bagels to the cream cheeses, cakes & pastries and traditional Jewish fares like latkes, knishes and much more. Breakfast is served all day — a bagel with lox, eggs and onion with home fries ($10.95) is among one of the favorites. As for lunch, a pastrami or Reuben sandwich which come served in several different ways (pastrami with chopped liver, corned beef with egg salad, etc.) By the way, they’ve got lots of gluten-free options, too.
But we’re really here to talk about the homemade chicken soup (cup $4.50, bowl $5.50) which they call ‘Jewish Penicillin.’ If you’ve been to a Jewish Deli before, then you’ve heard of Matzo balls – it’s basically unleavened flour and water. The secret to its Matzo is a touch of ginger. The homemade chicken soup consists of Matzo balls, noodles, chicken and carrots. Other soups include cold beet borscht, vegetable beef barley and homemade chili.
Thai Coconut Curry — Cho77
Where: 42 S. Broadway, Denver
When: Monday-Tuesday, 5 – 9 p.m.; Wednesday-Thursday, 5 – 10 p.m.; Friday, 5 – 11 p.m.; Saturday, 1 – 11 p.m.; Sunday, 1 – 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: What could be better on a cold day than a place that offers Asian Street food? As Cho77 says in its bio, they want to give the experience of “Thai Food stalls, Vietnamese street carts and Singaporean hawker centers.” Located in the cool Baker neighborhood, this spot will redefine what you think of Asian fusion with its relatively small, but impressive menu. It even has daily happy hour specials.
Our suggestion is starting off with some red chili pork dumplings ($10) or perhaps the beef tenderloin skewer ($13). And for the main course, the Thai Coconut Curry Bowl ($16) consisting of pulled chicken, crispy egg noodles and mustard greens. The dish is traditionally known as Khao Soi, served in two metal bowls. The first bowl is full of the spicy curry noodles, topped with slices of chicken. The second holds the crispy egg noodles, mustard greens and a lime slice. Mix them together, and take your mouth on a trip to Vietnam.
Editor’s note: Cho77 is closed until later this year for its relocation. In the meantime, try its sister restaurant’s ChoLon’s soup dumplings for a unique but just as satisfying experience.
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup — Avelina
Where: 1550 17th St., Denver
When: Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The Lowdown: If you’re a fan of great food, then you’ll be a fan of Avelina in LoDo. Its focus is on seasonal ingredients for new American cuisine. Can you say tuna tartare ($16), charred octopus ($15), duck liver mousse ($11) and short rib ($28)? Have we convinced you yet? The restaurant has an impressive lunch menu as well, and the team serves up a unique Sunday brunch experience. There’s also a Monday-Friday happy hour from 3 – 6 p.m. with discounted drinks and appetizers.
Before diving into the main course, try the current seasonal soup: roasted butternut squash ($10) served with fennel compote, pears and microgreens. It’s a small, shareable dish that will warm you up from walking in from the cold city streets. It’s the perfect start to the rest of your Avelina meal journey. They cater to people with food intolerances as well, which is awesome and the ambiance is top-notch.
Roasted Tomato Soup — Vert Kitchen
Where: 704 S. Pearl St., Denver
When: Open daily from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
The Lowdown: Vert Kitchen is an incredibly cute spot in a brick building in Washington Park West, with a nice, cozy inside. It’s a quick lunch/take-out spot with a small breakfast/brunch menu. The menu has uniquely-crafted sandwiches, salads and a large beverage menu consisting of rose, prosecco, mimosas and Perrier to name a few. Next door is Overt Co., the sister café which has coffee and sweets.
What’s unique about Vert is its Grab&Go program of which some of its soups and other packaged items are sold at markets and grocery stores including Natural Grocers. The roasted tomato soup ($5 cup/ $9 bowl) is served year-round at the restaurant as well as through Grab&Go. The soup is served with parmesan, parsley and a touch of cream — and a baguette upon request. Its current seasonal soups are butternut squash clam chowder, turkey wild rice soup and cauliflower puree.
Soup of the Day at Weathervane Cafe
Where: 1725 E. 17th Ave., Denver
When: Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The Lowdown: First off, the Weathervane Cafe is the most adorable coffee shop ever – it’s got wooden interior, old décor and good ’60s and ’70s music playing. There’s even a cozy upstairs area that makes you feel like you’re at home. The thoughtfulness in interior design is just as important in the crafting of its coffee and food items. Being a coffee shop, the team serves great drinks: cortado ($3.10), cappuccino ($3.10), French pressed coffee ($2.20) and more. But, its food is amazing as well with breakfast consisting of egg sandwiches, a variety of oatmeal and chia puddings – and for lunch vegan and meat sandwiches served with sourdough pretzels or dill & pepper seasoned cucumbers. Perhaps the real McCoy is the seasonal, homemade, vegan soups. All soups are ($4) a la carte and ($2.50) when ordered with a sandwich.
Ramen — Uncle
Where: 2215 W. 32nd Ave., Denver
When: Monday-Saturday, 5 – 10 p.m.; Closed Sundays
The Lowdown: When we think of ramen, we think of a traditional hole in the wall — but Uncle is a little different. It’s a modernized, Asian-Fusion spot, with no loss of Japanese traditional flavors. Located in LoHi, they focus on high-quality ingredients, custom-made noodles and responsibly raised meats and fish. It’s only open for dinner, and consisting of small plates, buns, ramen and noodle bowls. Some impressive items are the hamachi sashimi ($13) and the pork belly bun ($9).
As for the ramen, there are five unique varieties. The one we find most intriguing is the chili pork ($14.50) consisting of white shoyu, ground spicy pork, kimchi, scallion and a soft egg. A spicy soup, we would argue is all the better at clearing up the sinuses, and warming your body from the inside out. Other flavors are chashu, spicy chicken, duck and veggie. Go ahead, indulge yourself.