Feasting at East by Southwest in Durango

Sushi + Thai a winning combination in southwesterm Colorado

The other day, I wrote about Boulder’s NaRaYa, a Thai restaurant with a sushi bar along one wall. On that occasion, my husband and I ordered from the Thai menu. When visiting my son in Durango recently, we feasted (again) at East By Southwest. Along with the newer and adjacent Golden Triangle Restaurant, it also offers both Japanese and Thai cuisine. Japanese fare was on our minds.

The two are different in provenance. NaRaYa is  owned by two Thai women, one of whom is the Thai chef. East By Southwest is owned by Sergio A Verduzco and Hydi Lyn Verduzco, alumni of William F. Harrah College of Hotel & Restaurant Administration  at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The couple left glitzy Las Vegas in 2001 to open East by Southwest to instant acclaim. I’m glad that it’s one of my son’s favorites, because we go there just about every time that I visit. We’ve been quickly, and we’ve had to wait. We’ve eaten at the sushi bar and at various tables. This time, he, I and our long-time friend Jim were directed to a table on the Thai side, but we ordered Japanese dishes.

It is tempting to be suspicious of any restaurant that serves drinks with little umbrellas, and if past experiences had not been so good, I would have been leery of eating there. But we know better, so we just waded in and ordered. A lot.
White miso soup w/ silk tofu, kelp and scallions.
Fat, succulent green lip mussels with spicy aioli, sweet soy & masago.
"Hand Grenade," shrimp & scallop, "dynamite" with sichimi and sweet soy atop a slice of orange.
More fusion -- this time, Japanes/Southwestern -- in the form of Jalapenito Sashimi, thin slices of runa with roasted jalapeno ponzu, chili oil, lemon, & shiso.
Gorgeous whole fish bedecked with vegetables & herbs. A splendid creation.
From the sushi bar, lemon salmon (left); Taz & Crab Cilantrito (Tasmanian salmon, avocado, cilantro aioli, & black tobiko, center), and (maybe) Unagi & Foie Gras Hand Roll w/ quince, sesame seeds & sweet soy (right). By this time, I was losing track, and my notes unhelpful.
I’m not sure how we had room for dessert, but banana fritters with cinnamon sticks, star anise and other flavors hit the spot.

Any Asian restaurant, other than standard Chinese-American, is unexpected in southwestern Colorado, a place where Tex-Mex, barbecue, “home cooking” and steaks would seem more likely. But Durango isn’t just any southwestern town. It is a college town, a ski town and a major tourist center with genuinely excellent dining options. East by Southwest, with fresh ingredients that are well prepared and attractively presented, has never disappointed.

Price check: Small dishes, $3-$12; salads, $7-$15; two soups, $2 & $9; vegetarian items, $4-$16; “sushi bar” specials, $12-$16 + sushi and sashmi by two- or five-piece orders; “steaks and entrees,” $17-$29; sushi and sashimi dinners $10-$39, including miso soup or salad. East by Southwest also serves threeomikase chef’s tasting menus, five courses, $60; six courses, $70, and seven courses, $80.

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3 thoughts on “Feasting at East by Southwest in Durango”

  1. East By Southwest is one of my all-time favorites. Don’t let the comment on the drink fool you. I absolutely love the Bacardi Limon Mojito! It is the perfect pairing with the Lemon and Salmon roll.

    1. I certainly didn’t intend for the umbrellas to deter anyone from eating at East By Southwest OR from ordering one of their excellent mixed drinks. In fact, both of the adjoining restaurants are family-friendly (they have a chiildren’s menu), and I know that little umbrellas are favorites of young children (especially little girls) while waiting for the food to arrive.

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