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Polanka serves authentic, generously portioned Eastern European fare at prices so reasonable they’ll make you blink in disbelief. Located in the heart of Glenwood Springs at the turn from the short stretch between Interstate 70 access and the Grand Avenue Bridge, thousands of people pass it every day including many en route up-valley to Aspen. The lucky ones stop at the frill-free strip mall eatery, and the smart ones keep coming back for what I think is the best, inexpensive food in the Roaring Fork Valley — or at least the gateway to the valley.

The walls are so spare that customers can’t miss the two framed 9/11 posters on a short wall beside the front door. I found them to be an unexpected theme in the middle of Colorado, so I asked. Across from the posters is the open galley kitchen where grandmother Irene and grandson Pat were working. Pat told me that Irene used to run a Polish restaurant, also called Polanka, in Woodbridge, New Jersey – relatively close to the Twin Towers. She moved to Colorado, became bored and opened a Polanka in Glenwood Springs — and like the original, everything is scratch-made on the spot. Her grandson came out to help.

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