Denver might not be the first city that pops in your head when someone mentions soul food. However, don’t let that stop you from making a pit stop at Tom’s Home Cookin’ to taste one of Denver’s best kept secrets. 

Tom’s Home Cookin’ is only 2 miles northwest of downtown Denver, but it feels more like you’re in the deep South the second you walk in and smell what’s cookin’. That is, once you’ve waited in line. 

Park your car on a nearby street and walk over to Tom’s. While waiting in line with other starving soul food addicts, you’ll overhear conversations recounting the last time your fellow foodies were at Tom’s and favorite dishes described in detail. After a few minutes you’ll start to wonder if this simple shack style restaurant can really be as good as they are making it out to be. Can it live up to all the hype? 

Any hesitation will quickly disappear once you’re inside and get a big whiff of the smells coming from the kitchen. Organized cafeteria-style, know what you want you want before you get to the register. Meat choices are first. From the hearty meatloaf, savory BBQ pork, crispy fried chicken or the traditional catfish, you will definitely have enough food for two people or a second helping with any of these choices. Next choose from one of the delicious, southern side favorites, including their thick and creamy mac and cheese, flaky, sweet peach cobbler, bacon cabbage (yes, bacon cabbage), crispy fried okra, and spicy beans and rice. 

The to-go box could easily double as a ten-pound weight, but you won’t be shelling out a ton of dough for your hearty meal. Most meals at Tom’s include a meat choice, two sides, cornbread and a drink, for under ten dollars. 

There are two main tips for grabbing food at Tom’s. One: Don’t forget to bring cash, as the restaurant doesn’t take credit or debit cards. Two: They stay open until all the food is gone and often run out of the favorite dishes early in the day. So to guarantee you get what you want, make sure to arrive early. 

The next time you find yourself in Colorado, plan an entire trip to Denver around Tom’s Home Cookin’. After you’ve tried it, you’ll find yourself craving that soul food every second you’re away.