Beside the highway, a Persian oasis

Ladan's serves up the cooking of Iran from a tent restaurant just off Santa Fe Drive

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/3/20

On a frontage road beside Santa Fe Drive, nestled among auto body shops, inside a small canopy tent, amid sumptuous furnishings and tables topped with backgammon boards, Ladan Azizi and her friends …

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Beside the highway, a Persian oasis

Ladan's serves up the cooking of Iran from a tent restaurant just off Santa Fe Drive

Posted

On a frontage road beside Santa Fe Drive, nestled among auto body shops, inside a small canopy tent, amid sumptuous furnishings and tables topped with backgammon boards, Ladan Azizi and her friends turn out Persian delicacies.

“We're all family, and we want you to feel like you're coming home for dinner,” said Azizi, who opened Ladan's, a Persian restaurant, around New Year's.

The Ladan's menu features intricately spiced lamb kabobs, from-scratch falafel, fluffy saffron rice, homemade hummus topped with fresh pomegranate, tart cucumber sauce, rich baklava and hot tea sprinkled with fresh-ground cardamom. Entrees run from $9 to $13.

“We only have a few menu items, but they're the best you're going to find,” said owner Frey Asgari.

Ladan's is located at 4435 S. Santa Fe Drive, accessible via a frontage road running between Oxford Avenue and Union Avenue along the west side of the highway.

The unlikely spot for a restaurant — with the kitchen housed in a trailer attached to the tent — isn't a concern for Asgari, who owns the used car dealership next door.

“There are a few Persian restaurants in the Denver area, but nothing of this caliber,” Asgari said. “We've already got people coming to see us from other cities.”

On a brisk January afternoon, old friends came and went from Ladan's, exchanging hugs, air kisses and greetings in Farsi, the language of Iran. At a nearby table sat a young man from Brighton who was in the area for a car part but decided to try Persian food for the first time.

Asgari said he came to America in the mid-1970s, and the country has been good to him.

“I thank God and this country that gave me the opportunity to be here, and to have a place for my friends,” Asgari said.

Ladan's “doesn't have an atmosphere like Shanahan's,” the upscale steakhouse, Asgari said, but it's a comfortable, inviting place.

Elnaz Azizi, Ladan's younger sister who moved from Iran two years ago, said she's thankful for the restaurant while she establishes herself in America.

“I'm so glad I'm here,” said Elnaz, who studies English at Emily Griffith Technical College. “College is so expensive in Iran. Someday I hope to go to university to become an architect or a lawyer.”

In the meantime, the group of friends and family is focusing on the food of their homeland. Ladan's also does catering, Asgari said, and is signed up for deliveries through DoorDash and GrubHub.

With the sounds of the highway outside drowned out by Farsi folk songs on the stereo, the air rich with the aroma of spices, Asgari finished a plate of lamb stew over rice and stood to head next door to the car lot.

“You've got to appreciate what you have,” Asgari said. “You've got to cherish it.”

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