Street Feud Brings More of the City’s Best Bites to East Colfax

On December 22 of last year, Street Feud opened in its first standalone location on East Colfax. Following a stint at Avanti Denver — that lasted from August 2019 through March 2020 — the concept has finally reemerged in a fully decked-out refurbishing of what was formerly Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar. Amidst boomboxes, Nike Dunks and a wall-to-wall overlay of iconic, decade-spanning memorabilia, chef Merlin Verrier has been crafting an international amalgam of street fare fit for the discerning palate. This is a place to snack well and feast fancifully, with tacos, wraps, buns, fries, bowls and beverages arriving from every corner of the globe. This is corner-stand food, all presented with high technique and a clear penchant for cheer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Verrier’s vast culinary journey makes a clear case for just why the food is so universally delicious. Growing up in Santa Cruz, the chef had an early exposure to the abundant “crazy ingredients” that grow all around the city. With a diet of Mexican food and his Indonesian mother’s cooking, he quickly developed a taste for the good stuff, and a kind of culinary ease much akin to the linguistic fluidity of kids raised multilingually.

After moving to Boulder at the age of 19, Verrier started to take the prospect of becoming a professional chef seriously. He attended Western Culinary Institute before moving to Summit County to work across some of the area’s most-lauded hotels and kitchens. “I always realized that I could travel anywhere in the world and still have a job,” said Verrier. In 2005, he started working at Rioja, becoming the sous chef there in less than a year.

After a move to Chicago in 2008, Verrier began working under acclaimed chef Graham Elliot at his eponymous restaurant. This time, it only took him two weeks to be promoted from the hot apps station to sous chef. “I had something to prove to myself,” said Verrier, noting that he had recently stepped away from drinking alcohol. Working across a variety of Graham Elliot concepts, Verrier acted as culinary director for Lollapalooza from 2010 to 2018 — serving lobster corn dogs to throngs of festival-goers and providing custom meals to the likes of Eminem, LCD Soundsystem, Arcade Fire and The Foo Fighters. That several of the restaurant group’s locations received Michelin stars under his stewardship may also be worth a mention.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While the dishes certainly shine in their originality, Verrier insists that his method is rooted in respecting the ingredients and techniques of the cultural antecedents. The tacos are all sturdy affairs, with the usual suspects like chicken, fish and lamb all arriving elegant and unfussy. Though it’s the shroom taco ($5.25) — with huitlacoche beans, salsa roja, onion and cilantro — that may steal the show, the fungus having been converted into something that more closely resembles crisp chorizo. The bowls, particularly the Indonesian noodle ($14.50) — with chicken sate, peanut sauce, boiled egg, fresh herbs and spicy shoestring potatoes — are a nice reminder to avoid the easy mistake of equating snacks with junk food. Items like the kimchi quesadilla ($11) — with cheese mix, kimchi, cheese sauce, savory crema and green onions — are a good example of Verrier’s ability to cross-pollinate. “I’ve been blessed with the ability to make food taste good,” grinned the chef. That there is only set to be a limited drink menu has been designed intentionally to make Street Feud feel like a safe space for sober and sober-adjacent customers.

Everything about Street Feud shows a deep appreciation for the high and the low and the inevitable brilliance that comes from appreciating and overlaying extremes. Verrier has had plenty of time to flex his talent and Street Feud lets him have a bit of fun with his obvious skill. It’s a truly enthusiastic coalescence, only looking scattered or hectic to the untrained eye.

Street Feud is located at 5410 East Colfax Ave., Denver. It is open Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday from 11:20 a.m. – 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11:20 a.m. – 10 p.m.

All photography by Adrienne Thomas.