Walking in the front door of Tocabe, you find a restaurant similar in layout to chains like Chipotle, or Qdoba. There is a counter with a glass front towards the back of the open room. You can see the ingredients of your meal laid out and watch as your order is assembled. The room is done in earthy yellows and metal relief sculptures of hand prints adorn the wall. But don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s simple decor and layout: there is more to Tocabe then meets the eye.
Though Denver has a burgeoning food scene, there is not much in the way of American Indian food available. Tocabe is a little gem, giving Denver a chance to enjoy American Indian favorites like Indian tacos and bison ribs.
Tocabe’s menu is simple, with a focus on quality dishes rather then quantity of selection. Indian tacos assembled on an absolutely fantastic homemade fry bread form the backbone of the menu. Fry bread is a flat dough, fried in oil, shortening, or lard. It is said that fry bread was invented during the “Long Walk” in 1864 to relocate the Navajo from Arizona to New Mexico.
Like at Chipotle, you can select your meat and taco toppings. Choices in meat include beef, chicken and bison. There is a vegetarian option as well. Fairly common taco toppings are available: beans, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, onion, salsa and sour cream. Though the additional option of hominy makes for a unique topping choice. Any taco choices can also be piled high on to nachos or salads.
Bison ribs with a blueberry barbecue sauce are a less common dish that take the menu up a notch. The ribs are well cooked and very tender. The blueberry barbecue sauce is an unexpected but very pleasant pairing.
Dessert options include fry bread with various toppings: cinnamon and sugar, powdered sugar, or wojapi, a thick berry sauce/pudding. None of the deserts are super sweet and will appeal most to those who enjoy desserts heavy with crust or breading.
Though this may not seem like a large number of menu items to pick from, what the Tocabe lacks in selection it makes up for in caliber. All the ingredients are clearly fresh. The lettuce is green. The meat is hot and hasn’t been sitting too long. Best of all, the fry bread comes out hot and ready for your toppings. It is this attention to important details and quality that make Tocabe far superior to any burrito chain and well worth a visit.