30 ROCKS: The sweet and unusual life on the reborn Havana Street

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Deli meats, including head cheese, salami and veal bologna, are offered at Solomon’s Grocery.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

Anyone who has cruised down Aurora’s South Havana Street at any point in the past 15 years has likely noticed some changes.

Gone are a pair of defunct, asbestos-ridden shopping centers in the heart of the corridor, at least one of which has transitioned into the bustling Gardens on Havana retail hub with another on the way. The number of freestanding eyesores has plummeted, having been replaced with multi-million-dollar renovations like Medicine Man near the intersection with East Jewell Avenue and a new Old Navy near East Iliff Avenue. Tidy placards announcing their place “On Havana Street” are flecked throughout the corridor.

What was once miles of forgotten has now become the place to go to see, and taste, the world.

That was no accident.

Havana’s gradual evolution is largely the product of a decision several hundred business owners made in November 2007, when they decided to tax themselves and form a Business Improvement District in the area. More than 80 percent of the strip’s some 500 businesses and property owners agreed to impose a 4.5-mill property tax to pay for marketing, signage and events that draw consumers and tax dollars to the area.

By and large, it’s worked.

The remains of Fan Fare, a 1960s discount shopping center on South Havana Street. The structure was razed two years ago.

The region’s several hundred businesses were assessed just north of $72 million in 2008, according to Arapahoe County property records. Next year, the values are expected to top $113 million, which will net the area a $557,000 operating budget for marketing, events and programming. The area has also reported an increase in sales tax revenues every year since 2014, according to data listed on the district’s website. The stretch now nets more than $21 million sales tax annually, according to the district’s 2018 numbers.

“It’s like night and day,” said Gayle Jetchick, the longtime executive director of the Havana BID who has been slowly transitioning out of the role. “It was rundown, and it was scary. We were told by prospective retailers, ‘You’ll never attract a Noodles and Company or a Jimmy John’s. You don’t have the demographics. You’re all rundown and old.’  But now look at us. It’s huge.”

The development is a far cry from the days of the Fan Fare building, an enormous eyesore that sat vacant for decades on Havana Street and East Third Avenue. The bulbous, decaying structure was finally torn down several years ago — a symbolic act for a renewed Havana Street.

Now, the BID also participates in an annual public art program, drawing regional artists to place sculptures large and small near businesses. A discerning eye can find shining sculptures in some unlikely places, from strip malls on East Yale Avenue to even more strip malls on East Florida Avenue.

But for all of the glitzy chrome-and-stone banners adorning businesses in the area, Havana has retained many of its underground haunts teeming with character. In honor of the street’s lesser-known moniker — State Highway 30 — here are 30 of the best, tastiest and most unusual spots tucked into the road’s stores, strips and stomping grounds.

An aerial view of Havana Street.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado

30 ROCKS: 30 places on Havana Street

Coco Loco
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Coco Loco juice shop

Get ready to commit to a juice addiction because Havana Street’s juicery, Coco Loco, has so many options, you can’t go just once. Hey, at least your new hobby is healthy, right?

The menu counts at least a dozen juice combos, plus four different options for wellness shots, and just as many smoothies. Add a collagen shot or protein power to boost your juice. For lunch, the shop offers fresh wraps, smoothie bowls and salads. There isn’t much room to sit and slurp or eat a meal, but it’s a perfect stop on the way to work.

Bonus: you can order online. But maybe keep that detail to yourself because you’ll end up being the juice runner for your office. You can find Coco Loco at the corner of East Illif Avenue and South Havana Street, near the Dunkin Donuts. 2352 S. Havana St.


Jose Manuel Castillo Perez-Gomez is the consular for the Colorado El Salvador Consulate.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Salvadoran Consulate

El Salvador is about 2,700 miles from its Aurora-based consulate for Coloradans who hail from the Latin American country. It opened in 2017, marking the first foreign consulate to be based in Aurora, and not neighboring Denver. And if you know anything about the bastion of culture in Aurora, you know it’s the perfect place for the Salvadoran consulate.

Ricardo Gambetta, manager of the city’s office of international and immigrant affairs, previously told the Sentinel the population of Salvadorans in Aurora comprises nearly one-third of the entire population of Salvadoran-born people in the state.

The consulate, located at 1450 South Havana Street, has been a springboard for other interests and partnerships with El Salvador. Most recently a group of city council members and community leaders journeyed to the country to investigate economic partnerships. 1450 S. Havana St.


M Mart
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
M Mart

It’s okay to get lost for hours in Havana Street’s M Mart. You’ll be better off for it, escaping with enough face masks and noodle dishes to keep you full and your skin glowing for the winter.

M Mart is Korean-focused. You’ll find everything from fresh produce to the most unique varieties of candy, all stocked up in a typically quiet store. The real treat, at least for this reporter who is forever seeking the best skincare products, is the aisle tucked near the registers and packed with serums, sheet masks and various other magical face potions.

Clear out a chunk of time on your schedule for this trip, you’ll find yourself studying every aisle. 2000 S. Havana St.


Chutney

Like most fun places to visit across the planet, some of the best stuff to eat you get on the street. Street food in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Mexico City, and Frankfurt put American fast food to shame. You can have a taste of walking through Pokhara, Nepal or Karachi, Pakistan right here on Havana.

Near the southern end of this international strip is Chutney, a sweet Indian cuisine haunt that offers much more. One of the few places in Colorado where you can get Chaat under any name.” Chaat” comes from the Hindi word “chaatna,” for “lick.” What you’ll like is your fingers sampling a half-dozen or so unusual, fragrant treats. The samosas are the most familiar snack. Flaky pastries stuffed with powerfully spiced fillings. Especially good is the Chole somasa, fill with a spicy and rich curry made from chickpeas and onions. Killer are the aloo tikki chaats, fried potato cakes with just the right amount of heat and bursting with curry flavors. Weirder is the behl puri. A mountain of puffed rice flavored with onions, mint and tamarind, it’s like eating the most exotic spices and vegetables in your fridge mixed with puffed breakfast cereal. It grows on you, like this restaurant.  2740 S. Havana St.


Lyft Repair Shop

The next time you hop in a Lyft after imbibing one two many varsity Shirley Temples, remember that you may have the team at 2930 S. Havana St. to thank for your plush journey. The newly opened Lyft repair shop and training center near the intersection of Havana and East Cornell Avenue provides repair services, training and support to Lyft drivers and their vehicles. One of the first such hubs to be opened in the country, the new centers popping up across U.S. are allowing Lyft drivers to get their cars serviced and washed for about half the cost of a standard garage, according to an April article on fenderbender.com. In Aurora, Lyft reps are providing training and human resources services in the former Bennigan’s building, and auto service in the former Mitsubishi outpost.  2930 S. Havana St.


 

The Nile Restaurant in Aurora.
The Nile Ethiopian restaurant

Home cooking usually brings to mind Sunday roasts, something fried or your favorite version of spaghetti.

On Havana Street, it means serious attention to detail, and at The Nile, every detail is address.

You’ll notice the absence familiar dinner accoutrements when you sit down for your first Ethiopian dinner: silverware and plates.

At home in Ethiopia, eating is about sharing. You’re going to share.

All of the entrees that your table orders arrive in neat mounds atop a wide round of sour, spongey injera bread on a single platter. Pieces of injera are used to grab one bite at a time of the various preparations.

If you are particularly blessed, you will be hand fed, an injera-wrapped delight will be placed directly into your mouth – a cool surprise for the uninitiated.

Welcome to one of the world’s great communal dining experiences.

“The whole idea with Ethiopian food is to dine together,” said a manager of Aurora’s Nile Ethiopian Restaurant. The smell of a light incense matched the light accent. “It’s designed to share, to create bonding and togetherness with the family.”

Gebru, a part-time registered nurse, and his wife, Aster Haile, the owner and chef, opened The Nile almost 10 years ago. The natives of Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, moved to the United States in 1995.

“We love Aurora because, outside of New York City, Aurora is one of the most international cities,” Gebru said.

They make the city home for everyone.

“We serve the same kind of food you would have in a cafe or home in Ethiopia,” he said.

Topping The Nile’s menu is a signature Ethiopian dish, doro wat. Chicken pieces are stewed and infused with lemon, chile, butter, onions, garlic, ginger and cardamom.

“Chickens are expensive in Ethiopia,” he said. “When you are guest in my house, I will serve you doro wat to express my respect.” At home doro wat is a time-consuming, scratch-made treat that’s rarely prepared. Almost every dish comes with injera. The Nile’s kitchen prepares a fresh batch of the soft, pliable sourdough flatbread every day made from a tiny grain called teff.

“We eat a lot of cheese.” The Nile makes its own cheese – a fresh, crumbly creation. In the appetizer ayib bemitmita, the cheese is spiced with ground hot red chile. Another famous starter is the sambusa, a hand-sized pastry filled with either spiced beef, lentils or spinach.

Newcomers are sometimes surprised at the the wide range of beef dishes. They range from kitfo, a kind of steak tartare, to tibs wat, finely chopped beef simmered in onion sauce, garlic and ginger. Besides the chicken and many lamb sautes, one of the most striking dishes is fish tibs derek, a whole, deep fried fish.

“When you are sitting down for food, it’s a gift from God.” 1951 S. Havana St.


Hazmat Plans and Programs

Havana has got it all — even a plan for if the s**t hits the fan. Hazmat Plans and Programs, near East First Avenue, has Colorado and Wyoming businesses prepared and covered if an oil well explodes, a bomb goes off in a shopping center, a construction site collapses or a meth lab site needs remediation. The firm specializes in writing disaster and accident contingency plans to keep folks ready and compliant with a host of workplace and environmental regulations. As they say on their website: “Good planning doesn’t cost. It pays.” 30 S. Havana St.


WeeCycle

Babies need diapers, cribs, strollers, car seats — not to mention food and unconditional love. But with so many Aurorans struggling to make ends meet, families might have to choose nightly between feeding their little swaddling lumps of love and buying clean diapers. WeeCycle knows that poverty is intergenerational. The nonprofit near East First Avenue raises funds and provides low-income and young families with all of the above. Support their good work with a donation and click over to their website, www.weecycle.org. 60 S. Havana St.

 


 

Customers pick through a variety of green produce, Feb. 13 at the H-Mart. The proposed location for Korea Town would be in the area of South Havana Street and Parker Road.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Aurora Sentinel
Hmart

This is the Disneyland of grocery stores.

Just off the south end of the world of Havana Street, the bustle of the busiest market in Seoul is on display right here in Aurora. Hmart, where you can find nearly anything, and it comes in three different versions.

This superstore is a place where endless cucumbers, greens and really, really exotic fruits exist. The infamous Durian Fruit, which smells like a corpse, lives here, just waiting for you to take it home.

There are homemade dumplings and every frozen variety from nearly every Asian nation in the world. Handmade kim chi, mild if you like or so spicy you’ll remember it forever. Not just tofu, but so many tofu’s you’re going to have to have a translator explain how the textures vary. This warehouse-sized store has everything that’s ever come out of Asia. The fresh and live fish selection rivals anything in the metro area. There’s even a huge array of foods from Mexico. This is where endless varieties of rice come in bags bigger than your children. Prepare to keep dropping your jaw. 2751 Parker Road


 

A heaping bowl of Tonkotsu Shoyu (pork broth) is just one of many dishes available for restauranteurs Jan. 30 at Katsu Ramen. Husband and wife Chang Lee and Yumi Ogai, along with business partner Masumi Higo started serving traditional Japanese noodle bowls at Katsu Ramen, their new restaurant on Jan. 26 at the corner of South Havana Street and East Jewell Street in Aurora. The menu at Katsu (Japanese for victory) Ramen was designed by longtime Osaka, Japan ramen chef Shinsuke Hirao, who typically spends between 12 and 15 hours a day perfecting the restaurant’s signature noodle broth. (Marla R. Keown/Aurora Sentinel)
Katsu Ramen

We can’t say enough good about this Havana staple. Head into the shopping complex near East Jewell Avenue to tuck into some absolutely killer bowls of ramen. We don’t care if it’s morning, evening or night — that spicy bowl of ramen, with the hardboiled egg and succulent pork all in one bite — is to die for. Plus, anime fans will fit right in among the Naruto posters and figurines. It’s the real deal, folks. 1930 S Havana St.


CEDS Finance

It’s not all great food and fun shopping along Aurora’s storied thoroughfare. CEDS Finance is making dreams come true for small businesses, particularly those that require non-traditional lending like Murabaha, a lending practice that is allowed throughout Islam instead of a traditional loan.

The lending, which aren’t described as “loans” because the Quran instructs Muslims not to pay interest, is better described as cost-plus financing because Murabahas are fixed-term debt. CEDS buys an item requested by the client, like a truck, and adds an additional cost, a predetermined profit, instead of charging interest.

CEDS is tucked in the bustling corporate center at 1450 South Havana Street, among several small businesses, many immigrant-owned. CEDS has helped some of them become successful.

“It’s particularly fun when it works and works well, and you see somebody build wealth for their family and be able to buy a house and really move from a place of instability into a place of wealth and stability and familial stability and put their kids through school,” Investment Manager Alyson Anderson told the Sentinel earlier this year. “They didn’t think they could do it. Those are the fun ones.” 1450 S. Havana St.


Havana Health Sauna

You look a bit tense, reader. Perhaps you need a massage or some time kicking it back in a warm sauna. The Havana Health Sauna is in the business of relaxation and sweat.

“By sitting in a sauna, the increased blood circulation to the skin brings fresh nutrients to the surface. At the same time, profuse sweating is assisting in the removal of toxins that accumulate deep within your pores such as make-up, dirt, lotions, conditioners, deodorants and antiperspirants,” the business writes on its website. “The ‘traditional’ wisdom holds that providing the skin with the purest nourishment possible not only allows for total self-correction of the skin but also has a profound healing effect on the entire person.”

Yelp reviews for the sauna mostly hold up, too. But be aware that the traditional Korean spa is maybe a little different than most other spas in some regards.

One reviewer highlighted that with the scrubs offered by the sauna.

“Word of advice about the scrubs. If you’ve never had a Korean scrub before, just be prepared for the fact that you are naked, off to the side of the hot tub area, and you are scrubbed — hard — everywhere. I mean, everywhere,” the reviewer wrote. “Also bits of skin come off you in grey blobs, and I’m sorry if that’s gross, but life is gross sometimes.”

Noted. 2020 St. Havana St.


Queen of Angels Catholic Gift Shop

Whether it’s a clergy shirt or a crucifix, if it’s associated with Catholicism, it can probably be found at Queen of Angels.

The shop was started more than 20 years ago with an emphasis on providing savings to parishes in the region. Altar bread, sacramental candles, holy water pots and rosaries are all available through the shop, owned by Ryan Hepp. 2353 S. Havana St.


Bettola

Amid the exotic curries and the downright unnerving fish-head soups, are the newest type of venue to line up on the Havana corridor, the trendy bistro. With so many people coming to the Havana corridor for real-deal delights, it was only a matter of time before the trendy downtownish venues followed the crowds.

First new kid on the block is Samir Mohammad and his Bettola Bistro. Here, the familiar covers new territory. Brussels sprouts are crispy with a spicy honey glaze. The risoto, oh, made luscious with wild mushrooms and hint of truffles and just the right addition of ripe cheese. The lamb ragu is sweet with fragrant peppers. More familiar but delightfully different is Bettola’s version of North Denver pizziola, homemade Italian sausage and rigatoni but with caramelized butternut squash. Mohammad’s version of everyone’s favorite hits keep coming: Ciopinno with tuna, a saltimbocca with sage and steamed mussels nudged with basil. From out of this world to the world of Havana, don’t leave behind the olive oil cake in pear sauce and gelato. 10253 E. Iliff Ave.


Arash

Just off Havana on Parker Road, this busy Aurora haunt is a foodie’s dream. While they cater to your picky Middle Eastern neighbors, there’s a whole world of unusual and amazing specialties and treats here. First and foremost, Arash boasts a top-notch halal butcher and meat selection. Perfect lamb shanks for fans of what osso bucco is supposed to taste like. Serious cuts of meat ready to go or as you like it. There’s a deli counter with olives and olive mixes pretty much unparalleled  in the metro area. It gets better. Arash has the most comprehensive selection of flatbreads from all over the planet. Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian, Iraqi — all of them. All good. Around the corner from the breads, don’t miss the bulk dried fruits and wild Middle Eastern candies. Soft and creamy dates. Chewy and luscious figs. The best is yet to come. This is a fruit and vegetable selection for those who pine for Paris Thursday markets. Small, crisp apples, Iranian cukes that are always crunchy. Gorgeous beets and a perfect selection of squashes and greens. The gem? Safron. Not the stuff in the spice aisle at the bulk grocer that is little more than expensive clothing dye, this is the stuff that makes rices and stews draw you to the kitchen by your nose. You gotta ask for it. All this in a friendly and easy to navigate market that will bring you back no matter how far away home is. 2720 Parker Road


Angry Chicken
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Angry Chicken

We’re also salivating for this Havana staple, housed in the same shopping complex as Katsu Ramen. The Korean chicken joint serves up kimchi appetizers and plates of fried chicken with exotic spices and flavor profiles. It’s fried chicken like you’ve never had it before, and also a more than apt place to gawk at the latest Bronco’s loss. The enormous bar serves up a great selection of beers on tap. 1930 S Havana St


Shahrazad Bakery

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Just around the corner from the Havana heavenly miles, is a humble-strip-mall bakery run by Iraqi immigrants cranking out heaven.

The alchemy inside comes from the masterful treatment of flours, yeasts and patience finished in a tandoori oven. The result? Hands down, the best flat bread in Colorado.

These breads are bigger than an LP album. Perfectly and slightly puffed, they are an exquisite blend of chewy and tender.

The wheat crust caramelizes in the super hot clay oven, blistering it with a smattering of crunchies but overall, varnishing the bread with a subtle sweetness.

No hyperbole here, the breads, about $4 for three, are born to snuggle a shawarma, salad or even take peanut butter to an entirely new level.

This Iraqi-family run gem also offers a wide assortment of meat and veggie pies, and sandwich specialties, all barely cool from the oven and proof that the Denver food scene can’t hold a candle to bright spots like this across Aurora. 2603 Parker Road


Linkin Computers

One Sentinel staffer went undercover to this joint, near East Florida Avenue, when a computer apparently reached the end of its line. The laptop was resigned to the long sleep, it seemed. But Bernie at Linkin Computers tabled his lunch to immediately look at the laptop. Lo and behold, the thing was fixed in a day or two, and for an affordable price. Bernie prides himself on fixing customers’ computers and forging good relationships in the community. Next time your computer craps out, avoid a corporate fix-it store. Head to Havana Street. 1555 S Havana St


Pho 99

Beef, beef, beef and more beef. This Vietnamese cuisine staple serves  up big bowls of the beef-and-noodle stew, and they didn’t skimp on their portions. The place is impossible to miss heading down Havana across East Mississippi Avenue, just behind a prominent car wash spot. Don’t let the craters in the parking lot fool you, or the clammy atmosphere inside. The pho packs a punch. If that doesn’t do it for you, their menu is big and their banh mi is cheap. 1080 S Havana St.


Thank Sool Pocha

Seafood pancakes, boneless chicken feet with riceballs and lots of Soju. A night on the town in Seoul? Nope, a night on the town in Aurora. Havana Street’s own K-Pub is maybe the corridor’s best kept secret, according to the few who have ventured to rave about Thank Sool Pocha on the internet. It feels like a go-to right out of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, one patron wrote on Yelp.

About as good as the food and Korean beer you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else are the vibes at Thank Sool Pocha. Neon signs, cases of Korean liquor and enough fire chicken to feed an army means you’ll want to bring the pack. 2222 St. Havana St.


Shi Miaodao – Yunnan Ten Seconds Rice Noodles

Boasting more than 700 locations throughout China, it’s safe to say that Shi Miaodao has a pretty large following, though the bulk of it may be on the other side of the globe. The noodle restaurant, which roughly translates to “10 seconds,” has only a few locations in North America. You’ll only have to travel to South Havana Street.

When you order each of the ingredients in the traditional Yunnan soup dish come separately with a boiling broth. Dump them into the broth, meat first. The dish is ready in 10 seconds, thus the name.

On a chilly Aurora afternoon, opt for the spicy version. Wash it down with a bubble tea. Congratulations, you’ve completed a South Havana Street must. 2000 St. Havana St.


Yum Yum Bakery

No need to keep saving for a trip to Paris for out-of-this-world pastries. A quick trip to Havan’s K-Town neighborhood will keep you home.

While Vietnamese cuisine usually enjoys foodie adoration for generations of adaptation by French colonization, this Korean-French bakery wins hands down for improving on perfection.

Yum Yum offers a wide range of mostly sweet classics and novelties. Parisian macaroons are sublime, just-right chewy almond-flour biscuits with a not-too-sweet creme center.

In fact, the entire bakery expertly walks the line between sumptuous and saccharine.

Something you’ve never had and won’t soon give up are Korean based traditions with an astonishing French twist. Red-bean cakes never tasted like this. Impossibly light and crunchy, no amount of will power can withstand just one more bite. Likewise for something spongy and tender filled with yam paste. A puffy ball filled with what otherwise would be an unremarkable American Twinkie is a light, joyous lark of a pastry that will keep you driving back for more.

The shop offers a wide range of stunning cakes and pastries, sometimes variations on a theme, other times, totally beguiling strangers.

On the counter last week were fresh savory buns filled with potato and slurried meat, rolled in what appeared to be a crunchy Panko breadcrumb mixture. If you’re on the hunt for different, ask for them. 2680 South Havana St.


Turn of the Century Bingo
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Turn of the Century Bingo

What Aurora lacks in professional sports teams — please recall there was that whole minor baseball thing way back when — it more than makes up for in parlor offerings and table games. The team at Turn of the Century Bingo hosts an 11:30 a.m. bingo game every day of the gosh darn week, often attracting 70 to 100 people per contest. The parlor also hosts evening games at varying times Monday through Sunday. Complete with a rotating menu of grub for sale, the spot has been a tucked-away Aurora mainstay for years. And for those just seeking to dip their toes into the scene, Turn of the Century offers $1 progressive cards for certain offerings, too. 1921 S. Havana St.


Miter’s Touch

Make no mistake, we’re slobs at the Sentinel. But that doesn’t preclude us from recommending this next Havana Street service: Miter’s Touch, The Closet Organizer. On the website, Billy at Miter’s Touch says he specializes in organizing homes smarter, not harder, to get your clothes up off of the floor and your mud rooms looking better than ever. He’ll offer you a free consulting appointment to chart course through your cluttered closets. That could involve building custom cabinets, shelves, drawers — you name it. 60 S. Havana St.


Nick Nosewicz of Lenny’s Golf Shop
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Lenny’s Ski and Golf

Havana locals will be familiar with this one. Before Interstate 70 was a parking lot every weekend (oh, that mythical time), before everything in the ski industry got gobbled up by corporate vertical-integrators, Mom-and-Pop shops proliferated. Now living in the shadow of Vail Resort’s retail satellite near East Yale Avenue, Lenny’s Ski and Golf has been slanging relatively affordable golf and skiing duds. If you’re new to the area this winter and want to rent skis for long periods of time, this is the place to be. Here’s to the little guys. 2601 S. Parker Road


European pastries in a glass display case at Solomon’s Grocery.
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Solomon’s Grocery and European Deli

It’s only fitting that at Solomon’s Grocery and European Deli, patrons are all but guaranteed to encounter someone whose surname matches the marquis. The Aurora standby is owned and operated by Solomon Gurzhiev and his family, making the chances of running into his son, daughters or the family matriarch about as high as the Broncos nabbing a new quarterback to start the 2020 season. Tucked into the strip near Havana and East Jewell Avenue, the joint offers the best that the Eastern Block has to offer, from salted herring to blintzes to home-made pelmeni. And visitors absolutely cannot forgo their house-made breads that come from dough imported from the regions around their home turf in Uzbekistan. 1939 S. Havana St.


Steve Wieand takes a to go order on Wednesday Feb. 03, 2016 at StevO’s Pizza.
Photo by Gabriel Christus/Aurora Sentinel
StevO’s Pizza & Ribs

You haven’t truly experienced Aurora until you’ve received a late night delivery form Steve Wieand in his souped-up 1972 bug.  Wieand has become a Havana Street staple in the past decade, slinging hand-tossed pies and smoke barbecue from his joint just north of East kentucky Avenue. A welder by trade, Wieand’s wheels have become honk-inducing sights around Aurora, from his hearse to his magic school bus, which, of course, is actually a mini bus. Word has it Wieand is hard at work on a Gru-inspired whip from the “Minions” franchise. So give ol’ StevO a ring — any time of day or night, as his website loudly advertises — to order a pie and find out when residents may catch a glimpse of his latest automotive Frankenstein. 800 S. Havana St.


Flea Mart
Photo by Philip B. Poston/Sentinel Colorado
Havana Flea Mart

In need of cheap luggage, a copy of “Free Willy” on VHS and a pack of 10 pairs of gardening gloves? The newly unveiled Havana Flea Mart has got you covered, friend. The vast bazaar is an ARC meets flea market meets the latest in K-Pop fashion. Opened just last month, the former Sunrise Thrift and Muebles Furniture is the perfect haunt to nab materials for a last-minute Halloween costume on the cheap, as well as a box of loose table saw blades or a tub of assorted lightbulbs. Pickers, rejoice. 1880 S. Havana St.


Heirlooms Antique Mall

Those in search of a certain je ne sais quoi to adorn that new hutch, or a dusty tchotchke to complete that last-minute Halloween display need not look any further than the 14,000-square-foot antique warehouse at the corner of Havana and East Jewell Avenue. Oodles of oddities await in this venerable Aurora institution, from vinyl records to clocks to “mantiques” to bugs and bats encased in some sort of polymer and put on a pin. Come out of curiosity, stay for the curios. 1947 S. Havana St.


K-Town Imports

This longtime dry-cleaning facility is now home to anything you may need to make your Aurora condo feel like the hippest studio in Seoul. Part grocery store, part convenience store and a tad department store, K-Town imports has everything from cookies to cooking pots. So whether you need a 10-pound bag of white rice or a new set of linens, the unassuming nook in one of Aurora’s most magnetizing strips — thanks to the likes of Snowl, Katsu Ramen and Angry Chicken — has got you covered. 1930 S. Havana St


Sintoburi – Korean Kimchi & Food

If you can’t read the sign, chances are you’re in for a culinary treat. And if you can read the sign, chances are you’re in for a secret menu that is probably far more desirable than the gruel served to us plebeians. Such is the case at Sintoburi Korean Kimchi and Food. From umpteen varieties of pickled cabbage, raddish and cucumber to packaged snacks straight from Seoul, this diminutive spot will satisfy any Aurorans’ yearning for the peninsula. And so you don’t feel like such a knuckle-dragger the next time you drive by the ever-popular joint near the intersection of East Yale Avenue, here’s some beta: Sintoburi refers to the concept of humans and the land being irretrievably interconnected, and that Korean food is just plain better.  We’re can’t argue with that. 2720 S. Havana St.