Dining Out

by Cathy Swiney

DENVER – Safari Miles will appease an appetite as large as the Serengeti Plains.

Generous serving sizes are the hallmark of a diverse menu that might be easier addressed by noting what isn’t on the menu at the Denver establishment. The restaurant doesn’t just serve two or three selections of salads, chicken, steak, seafood, pasta, burgers, sandwiches and pizzas. Under most menu headings, there is at least a handful of each.

“It’s the best of all those worlds,” said Mike Fotinos, the owner. “It’s American food made with tender loving care.”

A second-generation restaurateur, Fotinos learned the business at his father’s restaurants. He received a culinary arts degree from Central Piedmont Community College.

“I’ve been a partner with my dad all my life – I never left his side,” he said. “The restaurant business is all I know how to do.”

Fotinos laughs when explaining the story behind the casual restaurant’s name. Denver, after all, doesn’t exactly inspire thoughts of the adventure of being on a safari and seeing wild animals roaming the plains.

“Everyone voted my names out,” he said. “My brother said (Safari Miles) because it’s an adventure from miles away and you get combination of great food, decoration and friendly service. We want to know our customers by name and face.”

For nearly a decade, Safari Miles has taken pride for being a friendly restaurant. And serving the usual tasty fare that stays away from trends is hitting the spot for locals and plenty of other people who are happy to make the journey.

“We’re one of those hidden things,” he said. “You don’t know us until you fall on us.”

With palm trees fronting the entrance, the large building is unexpectedly cozy inside. Dining space is divided into separate areas and rooms flanking the spacious bar, which is located in the center. Curtains hanging from doorways leading into dining areas add a touch of sophistication. From brick walls hang eclectic décor ranging from Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia to black-and-white celebrity pictures to mounted wildlife heads.

Knowing portion sizes are ample might necessitate skipping the appetizers, but there are plenty to choose from just in case. Wings are the top pick, Fotinos said. Order them grilled or fried and choose from house-made sauces such as jerk, barbalo, teriyaki and Cajun.

House specialties include Miles Hawaiian Ribeye and the popular Miles Sizzling Prime Rib. The ribeye is covered in a pineapple soy glaze sauce and topped with pineapple.

“We put a special touch on the prime rib,” Fotinos said. “It’s my dad’s old secret he learned from New York. And the au jus is out of the world.”

From among a dozen Italian entrees, Grand Safari Pasta is a customer favorite. It features penne pasta sautéed with chicken, green and red peppers, red onions and mushrooms in a Cajun alfredo sauce.

Whole flounder is a relatively new entrée, seasoned with a special blend before grilled, broiled or fried.

“It’s a delicacy here,” he said.

To enjoy the tender prime rib on a sandwich, opt for the French Dip. The meat is thinly sliced then tossed on the grill with au jus for seasoning before being placed on a hoagie and topped with provolone cheese.

All entrees, except pasta dishes, are served with choice of side item. Smoked Gouda macaroni and cheese and a one-pound baked potato are favorites among others that include cinnamon apples, potato wedges, fried squash and sautéed garlic mushrooms.

Should you be one of the few with room in your stomach after the meal, try the Volcano Cake, a hot fudge chocolate cake with ice cream and chocolate.