Denver’s food scene is making a big post-pandemic comeback, and we’re hungry to get out. With so many new businesses and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant closures and restrictions, the choices can be overwhelming. So we’re serving Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week we stopped at Woody’s Wings and Items in Westminster, where you can find Chinese, Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese dishes alongside corn dogs and fries.
What: Woody’s Wings and Items
Or: 6817 Lowell Boulevard, Westminster
When: 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day
For more information: Your best bet is to visit – this place doesn’t have a lot of an online presence.
The wings may be on the panel, but there’s a lot more to the menu than that.
The place: Last week I revisited a favorite Chinese DTC spot for noodles when the place I intended to try was closed. This week a similar situation brought me to a place that had been on my restaurant shortlist for years. There is a Woody’s Wings in Aurora and a Woody’s Wings 3 in Englewood, but Woody’s Wings & Things in Westminster has been on my radar for a long time as it would have a binder full of Asian food you could order.
The restaurant is in a mall next to a small take-out pizzeria which, like Woody’s, has a cartoon mascot waving from the weathered signage. Inside Woody’s, chandeliers hang from the ceiling of a dated dining room filled with long tables and bushy red booths. Each table was either occupied or covered with dishes not yet cleaned, and two other customers lingered near the back counter as an employee entered and exited the kitchen.
However, none of these views put me off – the aroma was enough to convince me I was in the right place. My guest and I ended up at one of the big, long tables near the front, which we eventually shared with another two-top who entered, but the slightly hectic atmosphere was just fine. And soon I was too immersed in the menu to care much about what was going on around me, anyway.
Canh Chua, Vietnamese sweet and sour seafood soup
What you eat: The big black binder adorned with the gold Woody’s logo is indeed chock-full of page after page of items, ranging from wings (of course) and corn dogs to drunk noodles, soft-shell crab, whole fried fish … on. Each item comes with a photo, none of which does justice to what actually appears at the table.
In an order panic, I texted two friends who had eaten at Woody’s before and asked for their opinion, but their recommendations – “Lort!” wrote one (Cambodian short rice noodles), “beef and travel salad”, said the other – arrived too late. I had landed on two choices before, but after looking at the controls for each table around me I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to go wrong with anything here. You can also specify your spice level preference; we ordered our dishes “spicy” – which they were, but not in a way that would burn your mouth. Instead, each had a constant punch of heat balanced by a plethora of other flavors.
Listed on the menu as “duck lab” (which I know as “larb”), the first dish to arrive was a tangle of duck meat, herbs, onions and spicy peppers. served with a slice of cabbage and rice. Thai food should come in five flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy, and this dish got them all nailed. You can put the larb on cabbage leaves, or just snack on one between bites to cool the heat of the peppers.
The next dish was completely new to me: chanh chua, listed on the menu as Vietnamese sweet and sour fish soup. The broth was heavy with notes of citrus and tender pieces of fish, alongside chunks of pineapple (the sweet component), bean sprouts, refreshing tomatoes, hot peppers, green onions and a bunch of fried shallots. Although I had never eaten this before, it was somehow familiar and heartwarming.
Just before we left, a plate full of green beans and pieces of pork in a black sauce was placed in front of the couple sitting at the end of our table. This, and the Lord, will be at the top of my list the next time I visit, along with everything the staff recommend – a woman who started helping in the dining room shortly after we arrived promised she would share his favorites on our return.
And we go.
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