I’m going to try to shorten this so I don’t ramble on and on about this place.
As background, EyeHeartPizza recommended this place to me since she’s just moved from Denver. It was one of her favorite places. Now normally, I don’t believe a word EyeHeartPizza says, but she seemed excited about it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. She said to get there before noon or you’ll be standing in line. SO I actually arrived before noon. I feel bad that I had to call my aunt PictureLady on the way here to tell her I couldn’t pick her up for lunch, since I had to rush downtown, but she wasn’t offended. When she reads how good this place is, she’s going to be mad…
There’s two different menu boards to check out. Apparently the dry erase board gets changed every day depending on what Tom decides to serve, but it’s always southern comfort food (it’s on the sign outside and everything). This is Tom’s claim to fame. I’m usually suspicious of these kind of places because soul food is tough to replicate. But I had to try it since I was there, right? There’s a hilarious section of the menu board that says “Hang up your cell phone and order!” Very subtle. Haha. And remember, Tom’s only takes cash, no cards at all.
I stepped up to the counter and the guys behind the counter were super friendly. Asked how I was doing and then the one guy told me “that’s a good looking monkey”, pointing to my shirt.
I answered, “if I had a dollar everytime someone told me that…” The guy blushed and started cracking up. When we both recovered, I asked him if the sausage and chicken gumbo was better than the country fried steak. He said to go with the gumbo, but they’re both good. So I ordered up the sausage and chicken gumbo with mac and cheese for one side and baby lima beans for my second side. It comes with a drink and choice of bread (I went with the jalepeno corn bread) and comes to a grand total of 9-something. Seriously cheap lunch.
The crazy thing is, from the moment I stepped foot inside to the moment I sat down to eat, it was a total of 30 seconds. All the food is ready. He makes one batch of everything so when it’s gone, it’s gone. So everything is super fresh (if you get there in time for lunch).
They didn’t have Dew, but they had the next best thing – Strawberry Fanta. I LOVE Strawberry Fanta, it’s the next best thing to a melty snowcone. Well played, Tom. I thought there were boatloads of coffee pots on the counter, but it was actually three canisters of Tom’s homemade sweet tea, one canister of iced tea, and one canister of homemade lemonade, which I now regret skipping. Dang. Apparently, the sweet tea is the best stuff ever made, but I don’t drink tea, so I didn’t try it.
I got back and started eating. I can’t explain to you what I felt while eating this, other than saying this might actually be better than Grandma’s cooking and she was from Alabama. She knew her southern food. Apparently Tom and Grandma went to cooking school together. The mac and cheese was all velveeta and lardy like grandma made. The lima beans weren’t gritty or mushy. Awesome. And the gumbo had lots of sausage and chicken, but also corn, peppers, okra, onions, and tomatoes and served over rice. The cornbread was perfectly moist and sweet and had bits of jalapeno and corn niblets in it. Amazing.
There was a really diverse mix of customers in here as well – business people, painters, dirty hippies, mullets, black, white, Hispanic, cops, milfs, nurses, war vets – seriously. The line of people was really steady – people in and out the door, even though the place has about 10 tables inside and maybe 5 or 6 outside.
There was a super-efficient bus boy talking to customers and asking if they need to-go bags or not. He immediately cleaned up tables when customers left, without being pushy at all. Just really helpful. This place gets loads of points for customer service.
As much as it pains me to concede a win to EyeHeartPizza, she did well in recommending this place. If anything she didn’t sell it enough for me to be more excited about it when I drove there. Now, I’ll be really excited the next time I come out to Denver, which now might be sooner rather than later.
I told my cousin X-Copper and her husband Houston about this place and they had never heard of it. Now you have, and Houston, I can see your building from the seating area. I took a photo just to prove it.
Yes, he works in the “cash register” building downtown. I’m guessing they’ll be going here soon. And then probably coming back regularly!!!
Tom’s Home Cookin’ is at:
800 E. 26th Avenue
Denver, CO 80205
Top 5 things about Tom’s Home Cookin’
1. Sausage and Chicken Gumbo
2. Mac and Cheese
3. Strawberry Fanta
4. Lima Beans (how many people seriously put lima beans on a top 5 list anywhere?)
5. Amazing speed and customer service
Bottom 5 things
1. Gerd loved her some soul food. She should have been eating this food with me
2. It’s going to cost me hundreds of dollars to come back here for lunch next time
3. I want to try everything on the menu now and can’t eat any more for the next week
4. I’m a dumbass for not trying the homemade lemonade or tea
5. I hate admitting EyeHeartPizza is right