However, this outside facade hides the fact that this city of just under 350,000 is one of the more diverse populations in the state. As noted in this Denver Post article, Aurora is the first major city in the state of Colorado to be minority-majority in population, according to the latest Census figures. The City of Aurora is trying to use this fact to its advantage in various ways, including the culinary diversity found within its limits. Prior to our visit last month, I located a fairly comprehensive ethnic eateries guide produced by and located on the website of the city highlighting this very fact.
Indeed, our culinary encounters within the city displayed this diversity to full effect in that they were all the products of immigrants to this country trying to make good, a tale oft told but never seems to get old.
|The front of what is arguably Aurora's favorite donut shop|
|The Donut House sorts a simple and cheery interior, with a basic focus|
of donuts and coffee (plus other assorted goodies)
We stopped here twice for quick bites on the go. Our first time, we had a small sampling of their donuts: texture-wise, while their cake donut was nice enough, the true standout is their standard donuts. These fulfilling creations reminded me of a slightly toothier version of the big airy constructs that Columbus' Destination Donuts puts out.
The Donut House has looked to upgrade their coffee, and has taken steps to upgrade their beans (they now source local coffee roaster Shiva) and their equipment with the addition of an espresso machine. Can't vouch for prior, but the coffee we received was a notch above diner-level coffee.
On this first visit, we noticed some delectable-looking fritters that we couldn't justify based on our schedule that day. We rectified this on the day we left town when we grabbed a couple fritters and coffee to take on the road. As good as the donuts were, we discovered that the fritters might actually be just a little bit better.
|The donuts were excellent, but the fritters might be even better|
3124 S Parker Rd
Aurora, CO 80014
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|Behind these doors lies a menu of Filpino standards|
Though the home cooking almost always won out, I was blessed to have numerous Filipino restaurants nearby and within the cities where I resided in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sunburst Grill really isn't all too different from many of those restaurants, lying in a non-descript strip mall and sporting touches of the Philippines within its interior. Unlike those restaurants, however, Sunburst Grill is more in the traditional sit down and order style restaurant versus the more common "turo turo" (literally, "point point") buffet style of eatery I was used to.
|Sunburst Grill sported a quaint interior and a basic menu of Filipino standards.|
|Clockwise from Top Left: Lechon Kawali with Adobo Kangkong, Lumpia|
Grilled Tilapia, Pancit Canton, and Leche Flan
The tilapia reminded me why this fish is something I never cared for much, due to its rather bland taste. Coupled with the presence of numerous pin bones, it would be a hard sell for most non-Filipino customers. Still, it was like being at home and I got into the simple fish preparation as the meal went on. The Pancit Canton, which is essentially a variation of Chinese Chow Mein, also reminded me of something you would find in an American-styled Chinese Restaurant versus what I was used to growing up. I'm sure most people would find it perfectly tasty, though.
Service was earnest to the point of almost being TOO helpful at times; there were several visits to our table to confirm the details or give an up-to-the-minute status of our order. I think I got the hint why this might be standard procedure as we got through our meal; a couple of groups of diners who came after us who weren't too familiar with Filipino cuisine were given detailed explanations and occasional reassurances when menu items were explained.
We could not NOT leave this place without some Filipino dessert; since the halo halo (what looked to be a towering version came out for a neighboring table while we were there) was not really an option, we went with their Leche Flan to take back to my brother-in-law's place for later consumption. This version was nicely thick, with a sweet carmelly sauce that brought some fond memories of my mom's version from when I was a child.
2295 S Chambers Rd
Aurora, CO 80014
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Coffee Place Cafe - This was meant as a quick stop over for some iced coffee caffeination the day after a St. Patrick's Day party, but based on my brief experience here, I think more exploration is in order on a return trip. The business' simple name and somewhat hidden location, camouflaged inside a modern-styled strip mall along a major north-south highway with numerous such commercial developments, doesn't exactly scream promising at first glance, but I quickly saw that initial impressions can be deceiving.
|If you can locate Coffee Place's location, you can treat yourself to|
car-oriented artwork, European-styled pastries, and a Silan-flavored latte
The next thing that caught my eye was the iced coffee flavors - along with the usual Torani-syrup variations like vanilla and hazelnut, an intriguing option appeared at the very end of the list. Silan, or date honey,consists basically of boiled down dates and is a common Middle East condiment used in all manner of food preparations. I most certainly had never seen it as a coffee flavoring option.
I passed (regrettably) on the bureks and stuck with the iced latte drinks, one with silan and the other maple flavored. My spouse found the date honey a bit too strong for her tastes and opted for the maple iced latte, which turned out nicely reminiscent of Cafe Brioso's similar creation. On the other hand, I enjoyed the unique flavor profile that the silan had provided; the date syrup had turned the surrounding iced latte closer to mocha colored as it slowly absorbed into the surrounding liquid.
Coffee Place Cafe
2295 S Chambers Rd
Aurora, CO 80014
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