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Jahil Bragassa opened King Kaeng’s food cart in 2019, specializing in curries, after deciding to bring more food variety to Salida. Bragassa grew up in Crestone and experienced a variety of food through various restaurant jobs. Then Bragassa moved to Salida and worked at restaurants in town. In his free time, he created curries at home which led to his decision to take the leap and open the food cart.

He explained how the cart first came to be. “The cart is actually my dad’s originally. My grandpa owns a chili company, like a spice mix that he’s been perfecting for over forty years. I think my dad wanted to pick up the torch and so he bought the cart. He’s a carpenter by trade so he kept the cart on the back burner.”

“Traveling around Colorado and going to Denver, I don’t think that Colorado is this culinary mecca by any means. But you can still find these little pockets and these really awesome Indian, Nepalese and Thai restaurants.”

“There’s one Thai restaurant in Denver that I used to always go to, called the Bangkok Café. It just came up in conversation, how cool would it be to have some variety in Salida? I had been saying that for six or seven years and I was surprised it hadn’t happened yet.”

King Kaeng’s located in Tres Litros Brewery. Image by Brooke Gilmore.

“I started making curry at my house and so I’m very much new to it. [By deciding to experiment] I [figuratively] opened a big can of worms for myself and I’m trying to digest all the information. The more you learn, the less you know.”

He added, “It started with that seed and eventually it all came together. I think my dad and friends got tired of me talking about it, so I figured I had to do it.”

“My first year I was in Alpine Park. I think a lot of people just drove by wondering what I was doing especially because people were definitely confused by some of the names in Thai and Hindi.”

King Kaeng’s is now located in Tres Litros Beer Company at 118 North E Street in Salida and is open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

“Once I moved into Tres Litros things started really picking up. We opened up in the heart of coming out of the {COVID-19) lockdown. People were staying in and it was a dubious situation. It ended up being a successful summer and gradually I have become busier and busier.”

Bragassa offers a rotating menu, so each week highlights one or two unique dishes. In partnership with King Kaeng’s, the cart also offers made-to-order sushi by Tony Roman on Saturday nights along with whatever is being offered on the rotating menu. Each week there are rotating sushi specials as well as tried and true sushi favorites.

Bragassa explained his process for creating his rotating menu. “It’s a mixture of things. It’s things I have tried at restaurants that I want to attempt to recreate. Some of them I’ve never really tried but I’ve dissected a bunch of recipes online, or in cookbooks and try to recreate them the best I can.”

He continued “It’s things that sound interesting and that I think people would like. It was kind of unintentional at first, but a lot of Indian foods are vegan or vegetarian. I’ve had a very loyal vegan and vegetarian fanbase, so I try to keep it vegan.”

Along with being vegan and vegetarian friendly, King Kaeng tries to be as environmentally conscious as possible. “We try to work with a number of farmers in the area to source our veggies. We also use biodegradable containers as much as possible.”

In relation to the rotating menu, Bragassa explained “The idea is something new every week, and basically you get to sample all these different foods. I try to stick to Thai and Indian, but we do bounce around a bit. For instance, we’ll do Japanese and a couple of Vietnamese dishes.”

Currently, King Kaeng offers dine in and to go meals. Because this is essentially a “one man show” as Bragassa noted, customers who wish to partake are asked to come to Tres Litros to either eat in house or carry away their meals. “We want to create this whole experience where you come in, you’re not in this big rush, you have a few drinks and enjoy your food there.”

King Kaeng’s 2021 Summer menu (subject to change) includes the following:

  • May 19 to 22 Chicken Madras & Korma(Vegetarian)
  • May 26 to 29 Khao Soi & Laarb
  • June 2 to 5 Thai Yellow & Phanaeng(Vegan)
  • June 9 to 12 Yakisoba
  • June 16 to 19 Tikka Masala & Kadai Paneer(Vegan)
  • June 23 to 26 iBún Bò Huế
  • June 30 to July 3  Massaman & Thai Green(Vegetarian)
  • July 7 to 10 Pad Thai(Vegetarian)
  • July 14 to 17 Vindaloo & Palak Paneer(Vegan)
  • Jul 21 to 24 Thai Duck Curry with Pickled Bamboo Shoots & Bún Chay(Vegetarian)
  • July 28 to 31 Bánh Mì(Vegetarian)
  • August 4 to 7 Rogan Josh & Mambazha Pulisseri (Vegan)-August 4
  • August 11 to 14 Mì Hoành Thánh
  • August 18 to 21 Pad Kee Mao(Vegetarian)

To stay up to date on their menu and everything King Kaeng is doing, follow them on Instagram or Facebook.