for Denver Westword on June 3, 2010
Govinda's Buffets, like this one in Eugene, Oregon, are located all over the world.
The Denver Govinda's all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet is back! The restaurant, located at the Hare Krishna temple at 1400 Cherry Street, closed its doors last fall when its former cooks went to India.
It reopened in April with a new chef, Sri Raga, who is carrying on the restaurant's tradition of serving up weekend fare for hungry vegetarians -- Indian cuisine, vegetarian pizza, Mexican food, quiche and sloppy joes -- all with an emphasis on using as many organic products as possible.
"We finally found a new head cook who is excellent and what we've been waiting for," says Ramraj, who works in the temple's gift shop. Ramraj says Sri Raga has cooked for other Hare Krishna temples and restaurants and comes to Denver from Dallas. "He has a lot of international flavor in his dishes," Ramraj notes.
The idea to resurrect the restaurant came from a devoted Govinda's customer and neighborhood resident. Pat Cavanaugh, who says he's also involved with the temple congregation, put his head together with Sri Raga and a couple other people a couple months ago to get things rolling. Govinda's reopened in late April.
Cavanaugh, who now serves as the restaurant's manager, says of the closing, "It was kind of disappointing to me because I knew Govinda's was something that was valuable to a lot of people ... I thought it was a viable business that just needed to get started up again."
This time around, Cavanaugh says Govinda's is taking it up a notch too, using ghee instead of oil, for example, and milk curd instead of tofu. "The preparation is much more opulent and tasteful," he says.
"People notice there is a difference. There is really good energy in it. They take notice of that, and in a certain regard we are a class into ourselves because no restaurant offers blessed, spiritualized foodstuffs," he adds.
The menu changes on a weekly basis, but Govinda's all-you-can-eat options are as follows:
Salad bar with soup and bread -- $7.95
Subji, rice, soup or dahl, pakoras with chutney, steamed vegetables and dessert -- $9.95
Entree with subji, rice, soup or dahl, pakoras with chutney, steamed veggies and dessert -- $12.95
The restaurant is open Fridays and Saturdays only, from 5 to 9 p.m., "for the foreseeable future," says Ramraj. The temple also continues to carry on its Sunday open house tradition, which includes a free vegetarian meal.
For more information call 303-333-5461.