Tacos, burritos, chalupas, enchiladas…and on and on. Mexican food is so popular in Northern Colorado that it has become a staple. It’s available from food trucks, in many restaurants, frozen in the grocery store and you can even find tamales being hawked on the street corner at times.
But there’s another heritage in Northern Colorado—that of the Germans from Russia that came to the area early in the 20th century to work in the sugar beet industry. They brought their culture and their comfort foods along with them. Krautburgers, a cabbage, onion and ground beef combination inside a dough pocket, was one of their specialties. Unlike tacos, krautburgers have not become everyday fare. That makes them just a bit different and worth searching for, even if it means putting a few miles on your car.
Closest to home, visit Vern’s, famous for cinnamon rolls, which means they know how to make good dough. This iconic restaurant, located at 4120 County Road 54G at the turn-off to Bellvue and Rist Canyon Road, is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m Monday through Thursday and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Krautburgers are available any time to take home or enjoy with potato chips or French fries and soup in the café.
Also close by for Fort Collins residents is LaPorte Pizza, 3208 County Road 54G, well-known to the locals and to many who pass by and pick up a pizza on their way to the foothills and beyond. Owner James Buck grew up in Windsor where the German church ladies often made krautburgers. He makes them fresh every Wednesday and serves them on that day only, between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. “Everyone says mine are best,” Buck says. Well worth checking out his statement.
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A little farther afield, make an outing of it and head for Schwartz’s Krautburger Kitchen, 820 39th St. in Evans, where they lightly steam their cabbage before adding it to the ground beef and onion mixture. “Best ever,” they promise. Takeout available. They’re open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
Look out for a food cart featuring the Gunter family’s authentic German krautburgers at festivals and breweries in the area. They also make krautburgers to order and do catering. Call (970) 413-1554 for details.
Lauer’s Krauts, 26 South 6th St. Unit B in Brighton, is a bit of a trek but worth it to try out their traditional German cuisine. Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., they offer krautburgers and daily soup and dessert specials in an intimate atmosphere. A little hard to find, it’s about 200 feet south of Bridge St. on the east side of 6th St. Proprietor Lori Laur makes krautbergers using her German grandmother’s recipe.
Feel like making your own?
Here’s a basic recipe from the great-great-granddaughter of a German woman who emigrated from Russia. For the dough, use a classic bread recipe.
2 lbs. grass fed ground beef
1 large chopped onion
1 head of cabbage, chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
In a large pot, brown the meat until cooked. Drain, add the onion and cook 3-5 minutes. Add cabbage and seasonings and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.
Roll out squares of dough and fill each with 2 tablespoons filling, being careful not to wet the edges of the dough. Fold up the corners, Crimp the edges together, tightly closing the pocket and forming a square. Place in 9 x 13 baking dish or on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake in an oven heated to 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: This makes a big batch. You may want to cut the recipe in half, or plan to freeze some of the krautburgers for future use.