Best Eastern European market in Denver

Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s new series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems). 

I’m 100% Polish. Growing up in Western Massachusetts, I learned to make pierogi, golombki, kapusta and other ethnic delicacies.

When I moved to Denver in the early ’90s, I couldn’t find a good international market, so my mom would ship me daisy hams, Polish pressed ham, veal loaf (we called it “beeflo”), kielbasa and farmer cheese, which we used to make pierogi. When she visited, she would arrive with two suitcases: one for her personal items, another for the meats and Polish foods that I missed. (And Drake’s cakes, but that’s a different story.)

During the summers, when my daughter and I would visit family back East, we’d bring back live lobsters as well as the farmer cheese that I would freeze and make my pierogies with come fall. Lexi still talks about the time I made her pack two slabs of the cheese in her carry-on bag, only to be stopped by TSA agents who thought them highly suspect. The agents (thankfully) found it comical when my then-12-year-old cried out, “My MOM made me take those! I didn’t want to do it!”

Thankfully, we don’t have to carry the cheese in our luggage anymore: I’ve found M&I International Market on South Oneida Street in Denver, a jam-packed shop filled with Russian, Polish and other Eastern European foods.

One of the first times I went in I asked for kielbasa. “Which one?” asked the woman behind the deli counter, waving her arm at dozens of varieties. It turns out they carry more than 300 types of sausage in the store, according to owner/manager Ravshan Abdu.

Wander the aisles and something will catch your eye: Russian caviar, red sturgeon, crab, pickled herring, Russian root beer, dried German pastas, Polish candies and beer, and deli cases filled with meats and cheeses galore. And so. Much. More.

The family-owned store, which has been at its current location since 1998, also has its own bakery making beautiful breads, pastries and cakes (the honey cake and Napoleon looked scrumptious when I last visited).

If you stop in, see if they have any warm Russian piroshki at the deli counter. I bought two of the fried meat pies (which also come filled with just potatoes) and drove away, munching on one in the car.

Twenty minutes later, I was back, buying more. Heaven.

M&I International Market, 909 S. Oneida St., Denver, 303-331-1590.

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