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Come for the bastilla, stay for the tea, and what you find in between depends on how adventurous you're feeling. Paprika covers all the bases of Middle Eastern cuisine, with tajines, couscous, gyros and kebabs all done simply and well.
We happened upon this restaurant on an unintended visit to Denver -- an ice storm further east, in the Midwest, had left us stranded at Denver International Airport. We rented a car, looked up restaurants on our laptop, and found Cafe Paprika in an unassuming storefront in Aurora, CO.
Cafe Paprika is one of the finest Middle Eastern restaurants that I have ever been to -- and I have been to hundreds throughout the US and Canada. The owner of Cafe Paprika is a chef who offers cooking classes, and he also runs a catering business. The Moroccan dishes are extraordinary, with their complex mixture of flavors and delicacy of spices.
I ordered the Apricot Chicken, which is a chicken breast seasoned with ginger, apricots and honey, and framed with onions and carrots. It is served on a bed of Moroccan couscous, a rice-like grain that absorbs the flavors of the spices and vegetables.
My wife ordered Seafood Couscous, which had a mixture of whitefish and shrimp, served with zucchini, boiled potatoes, and carrots. She was thrilled with it.
Both dinner entrees came with a bowl of Harrira soup, which is the Moroccan version of lentil soup.
As appetizers, we had a spiced pastry, filled with saffron chicken and nuts, and topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. They call it a Bastilla, and you can also order a seafood version of it, filled with shrimp and crab, whitefish and vermicelli.
We ordered some homemade baklava as dessert, and took it back to the hotel. Each piece is about double the size of the baklava wedges available at other places. It was a unique presentation: It avoided the super sweetness of a lot of baklava, and it was complimented with a light sauce of blueberries and strawberries -- enough to heighten the flavor but not so much that it overwhelmed the baklava.
Wonderful place! I'd back again the next time I find myself in the Denver area.
Cowtown-ish downtown Golden became a lot more exotic with the unveiling of Paprika. A belly-dance studio and a boutique, the place is one continuous magic carpet ride of slinky, jingly stuff, including reversible sari silk wrap skirts, voluminous harem pants, Gypsy gear and sparkly Rajasthani mirror belts, as well as a thousand and one nights' worth of djembes, doumbeks and sexy shakers, bells and gongs for keeping the beat. More »
Bastilla and sweetened black coffee at Cafe Paprika: That's the one order that captures the essence of Morocco in particular and North Africa as a whole. Ginger and cumin and saffron, cinnamon and powdered sugar, a billion layers of phyllo dough with shreds of herbed chicken stuck in between, the heat of the coffee on your fingers through the filigreed glass cup -- all of it combines to transport you far from the Denver strip malls and deep into the deserts of the other side of the world. More »
Bastilla is a Moroccan party food, but there's no reason you can't use it to celebrate everyday life. Made up of several layers of delicate, crisp phyllo dough filled with saffron-spiced chicken, onions, crushed almonds and herbs held together with an egg batter, bastilla is pan-cooked into a round pie and topped with powdered sugar and an ornamental design drawn in ground cinnamon. You may need to recalibrate your tastebuds to fully appreciate the true depth of these last flavors, which... More »
One of the best reasons to eat at an ethnic restaurant is to sample another culture relatively risk-free, without the expense, hassle and occasional danger associated with actually traveling to far-flung corners of the globe in search of pigeon... More »
A restaurant claiming to serve Mediterranean food is in a good position--the menu possibilities are endless when you stake out a territory including such culinary strongholds as France, Italy, North Africa, Spain, Greece and Turkey. Then again,... More »
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