Our first Denver-focused Friday Fives entrant is Jonah Keri, a writer for Grantland and FiveThirtyEight, and an analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. He also hosts The Jonah Keri Podcast on the Grantland Network, interviewing the top minds in baseball and the rest of the sports world. During the offseason, Jonah hibernates in the Rockies’ baseball humidor, but with spring training less than two months away he will soon emerge from his cocoon.
Jonah's book, "The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First", was a New York Times bestseller. His book, "Up, Up, and Away: The Kid, the Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, le Grand Orange, Youppi!, the Crazy Business of Baseball, and the Ill-Fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos" was released in the spring of 2014, with a new paperback edition due out March 17, 2015. Bottom line, this man knows his baseball and he also knows good Denver eats.
Jonah's "Perfect For" picks
“Located in an unremarkable strip mall on the corner of Colfax and Quebec, Queen of Sheba is one of many solid Ethiopian restaurants in Denver, and particularly on Colfax east of Colorado. But this one smokes all competitors. The owner, ‘Zoey’ (real name Zewditu), is a one-person cook/greeter/machine of awesome, to the point where you’ll wish she was your mom. This is an excellent spot for carnivores (steak tips, oh baby) and vegetarians (spicy lentils, oh baby). Put it this way: I once had a very loud, heated argument with someone over the best Ethiopian food in Denver, and was ready to throw fists to defend Queen of Sheba’s honor.”
“I’m an idiot for sharing this information, because the Capitol Hill crowd hasn't yet fully discovered the new location on Colfax and Logan, which means less wait before I stuff my face with everything from beignets to crab cakes Benedict to a spinach salad with Cajun shrimp to die for (Yes. Really. A damn salad.). You want more? How about elite deviled eggs? Or an insane milkshake menu, one that includes an offering in which they take an entire piece of cherry pie, mix it with ice cream, and declare it an actual potable beverage? Both locations have great layouts, and both run the gamut from family-friendly to nursing a hangover with mimosas-friendly. I heart thee, Sassafras.”
“I'm married to a vegetarian, but am decidedly not a vegetarian myself, and tend to dislike most vegetarian-only restaurants; the places that make the best vegetarian dishes tend to be the best restaurants, period. This is where Root Down comes in. If you're a carnivore like me, Root Down offers everything from amazing lamb sliders to PEI mussels and a fancy pants chicken entree with green chile grit cakes. But we always do well here on the veggie side too: vegetarian sliders, sweet potato falafel, beet salad, and a really great seed-crusted tofu entree. Bonus: There's a Root Down at Denver International Airport, which along with Rick Bayless' Tortas Frontera at Chicago's O'Hare are the only two airport restaurants that fully justify hanging around a damn airport.”
“Being a Denver-based baseball writer, few things make me happier than entertaining other baseball writers visiting from other cities. The ‘impressing out of towners’ might suggest some sort of elaborate, 11-course extravaganza. But every time I take my baseball-covering brothers and sisters to Pinche, they leave in a delightful food coma. There really are no bad choices on the menu, but I will say this: If you're a little freaked out by the idea of eating tongue, don't be. The lengua taco is phenomenal. Or, y'know, just gorge yourself on my two favorite menu items: the queso, and the pork belly taco. Sweet sassy molassy that's good.”
“There are few better places in Denver to sit and people-watch than South Broadway. And with apologies to formidable competitors Bonnie Brae Ice Cream, Lik's, and Little Man, there are zero ice cream parlors that can match the greatness of Sweet Action. The rise of artisanal ice cream has ushered in all kinds of funky flavors, and Sweet Action is no exception--blueberry whiskey, adzuki red bean, and vegan chai are all in play, if that's your jam. But the traditionalists are covered too, with vanilla, chocolate, and name your fruit flavor executed flawlessly.”