I arrived in Denver yesterday morning. It's quite an intriguing experience to be cruising along above the clouds, gazing out the window at the sunlight glinting off an endless expanse of fluffly whiteness, and hear the captain announce that the plane will soon be making its descent into Denver where it's currently snowing with less than one mile visibility. I felt the plane's velocity change, and with a dip we entered the clouds. The sunlight disappeared, replaced by an impenetrable dirty whiteness that persisted until the landing gear dropped and I could just barely distinguish the snow-covered ground from the horizon and the flakes falling in between. It made me ponder the power of vantage point...for all of maybe 5 minutes while I waited to deplane.
Anyway, once I'd collected my suitcase, Cheryl, one of my college roommates, and her husband Joe collected me at the airport. It was quickly decided that our lunch destination would be Jerusalem Restaurant, a hole in the wall eatery near the campus of Denver University that specializes in authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.
It would be a stretch to refer to the place as a building. It's more a trailer, with a shed/kitchen annexed onto the back, an elevated dining deck with "walls" of tarps and plastic sheeting attached to one side, and a lean-to dining room on the other. The words "sturdy" and "air tight" do not come to mind, though it could truthfully boast "liberal ventilation." The "parking lot" (a.k.a. gravel pit) has potholes large enough to swallow a toddler, and patrons must squeeze their car in wherever they dare. It's the kind of place you could drive by day after day and never really notice. It's the kind of place you probably wouldn't dare eat unless introduced to it by a friend who vouches for the food. And it's the kind of place that once you get past all the appearances and sample the menu, you'll be back. Cheryl and Joe were introduced to Jerusalem Restaurant by a friend of theirs, were easily won over, and based on their glowing review I was pleased to make its acquaintance.
I was even MORE pleased with my order of a sheesh kabob sandwich, hommoss with pita bread, and baklava, and genuiunely sad that I couldn't also try the gyros, the shawarmah, and the baba ghanouj (though I did have fun saying it over and over again). So, here's my third-party endorsement: the Jerusalem Restaurant may look a little sketchy, but the food is fabulous. And you know what makes me smile? Despite looking like a strong gust of wind could knock the place down, this ramshackle little restaurant has been around more years than me. And it's open until 4 a.m. in case you have a late night hankering for falafel. AND it has its own website, complete with looping Middle Eastern music. (If you follow the link without turning down your speakers, remember you were warned). I could draw a bunch of "don't judge a restaurant by its building" kind of lessons out of this, but I'll leave those to you.
So, the next time you're in Denver and have a hankering for hommoss, look for the green shack on the corner of Evans Ave and High St. You won't be disappointed.