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Denver/Boulder Christmas Dinner

My husband and I are flying into Denver on Christmas Day, arriving about 6 p.m. and then driving on to Boulder. Anyone have a recommendation for where we might get a good dinner that night? We're looking for more fun than fancy but the quality of the food is most important.

We're game for anything between the airport and Boulder. Minor deviations from the main route are fine. We're just not sure what might be open.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. That's a toughie. In Denver, the Brown Palace is serving brunch until mid-afternoon, and in Boulder, Q's in the Hotel Boulderado is doing the same, then a limited menu after 3 pm.

    According to the Rocky Mountain News LAST YEAR, the following metro area restaurants were openat Christmas 2005, though some (like the above) might just have been for brunch and most are not between the airport and Boulder:

    Basil Doc's Pizza, 2107 E. Virginia Ave., Denver; 303-778-7747; 4 to 9 p.m
    Chart House, 25908 Genesee Trail Road, Golden; 303-526-9813; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m
    HandleBar & Grill, 305 S. Downing St., Denver; 303-778-6761; 4 to 10 p.m
    New York Deli News, 7105 E. Hampden Ave., Denver; 303-759-4741; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
    Opus, 2575 Main St., Littleton; 303-795-9122; brunch 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m.
    Also: Zaidy's Deli, 121 Adams St.; Ellyngton's, Palace Arms and Ship Tavern in the Brown Palace, 321 17th St.; Briarwood Inn, 1630 Eighth St., Golden; Bastien's, 3501 E. Colfax Ave.; Prima, 1100 14th St.; Mirepoix, 150 Clayton Lane; Deli Tech, 8101 E. Belleview Blvd.; McCormick's downtown; Meritage at the Omni Interlocken Resort, Broomfield; Q's Restaurant, Boulder; Randolph's in the Warwick Hotel, 1776 Grant St.

    1. I just passed Moongate Asian Bistro (in Boulder on Pearl Street between 16th and 17th Streets). A sign in the window says they are open Xmas Eve and Day; no hours given, however. It's a modern Asian restaurant -- attractive, contemporary, interesting dishes, nothing wild. Service is usually good, but who knows what it'll be like on a holiday.

      1. Claire -
        Holiday eating when you're out of town is always a challenge. Thanks so much for your help.

        1. Just found out, via their email newsletter, that the Trattoria on Pearl in Boulder will be open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners. Excellent dining.

          Trattoria on Pearl
          1430 Pearl St.
          Boulder, CO 80302

          1. Our daughters live nearby The Chart House in Genesee (on Rt 70 on the way to Boulder). They've spent many holidays there and are very happy with the food. It's pricey and I would recommend reservations ASAP, the place fills up early.

            2 Replies
            1. re: scottso

              Pull out your map and take a look! I-70 is not exactly "on the way to Boulder." Unless you're headed to Boulder, UT.

              1. re: Mutt

                It's only about 23 miles -- not a huge distance and DEFINITELY worth the trip! The food in Boulder rocks!

            2. We had a fabulous meal at The Kitchen! I would go back hands down. Boulder does
              have some amazing food and were it not for the altitude I'd go again without
              thinking twice!

              1. Re "The Chart House in Genesee (on Rt 70 on the way to Boulder)." The original post was for a restaurant between Denver Intl Airport and Boulder. I'm afraid that I-70 is not the route from the airport to Boulder.

                The Kitchen is closing Dec 24-26, but if the Trattoria on Pearl will indeed be open, it is also a terrific and very welcoming restaurant.

                1. Most of these have been mentioned in a previous post but the News ran an update on places open on Christmas:

                  "A limited number of restaurants are open Christmas Day, including: Burnsley Hotel, Opus, Q's (Hotel Boulderado), 1515, New York Deli News, Seven 30 South, McCormick and Schmick's, Inverness Hotel, Deli Tech, Prime 121, O's, Aurora Summit, Altitude (Hyatt Regency Denver), Prima (Hotel Teatro) and the Briarwood."

                  1. Today's 'Rocky Mountain News' had the following: "Wolfe's BBQ, Tuscany [Loew's Hotel], Mirepoix [JW Marriott Hotel], Ship Tavern [Brown Palace Hotel], Randolph's [Warwick Hotel], India's Restaurant and, in Boulder, L'Atelier and Jill's [St. Julien Hotel]."

                    Given the snow we've had and the fact that thousands of travelers are still stranded at Denver Intl Airport (which won't open until noon today/Friday with "limited operations" and only 2 runways), consider yourself lucky if you can fly in on Christmas Day.

                    1. If you will be in Boulder (and they are open) eat at Frasca's. It is a special place, and a wonderful experience (I swoon for this place).

                      1. Aslas, you can't usually just decide to "eat at Frasca's," unless you come in as soon as they unlock the door and grab one/more of the few seats at the bar -- or unless they've had massive cancellations due to, say, a blizzard. People usually reserve 2 or 3 months in advance for one of their two nightly seatings. Having cuber-said that, it's worth a phone call trying to snare a reservation while here.

                        1. "A" phone call? You have to put up with their goofy, pretentious call, leave a message, call back, leave a message, call back system. Been there once and I wasn't impressed. My personal opinion is that the hype snowball just keeps rolling. Going back on Feb 18th to see if I missed some well kept secret the last time around. I think that Mark Monette is the true underrated talent in Boulder.

                          1. Well Paladar, where did you end up eating? Inquiring minds want to know.

                            1. Alas, our trip was not a Chowhound high point. Christmas dinner was a bust. After checking the menu at Trattoria, we decided it was the place to head. Unfortunately, our friends got a hold of us and long story short, I ended up with a couple of bites of cold turkey and my husband had nothing.

                              As for the rest of our meals, we ate at Pronto in Boulder the next night. Great salad, good toppings on the pizza but thin, thin cracker crust. The next day we headed for the Rockies and some cross country skiing. On the way back we stopped at another pizza place (my husband has a problem) in Iron City -- Beau Jo's Mountain Pies. Not really my kind of thing. I think the gimic of honey on the tables to finish off the mile high crust is clever, but since I'm not a honey fan, it didn't do much for me.

                              What I did appreciate food-wise on this trip:
                              Vic's Coffee -- a nice cup of English Breakfast
                              Breadworks -- had a great bowl of white bean soup with some lovely bread
                              Pekoe Sip House -- fantastic tea latte (they even used an espresso machine to make tea "shots." My husband wasn't as thrilled with his Chai Mate Latte - he ordered it before I could remind him he doesn't like mate
                              Tastefully Toasted Doughnuts -- what fun to watch them make the doughnuts and top them with the sugary delights of our choosing, and really, not much can beat a fresh, hot doughnut

                              That was about it. With that second storm fast approaching we came home early and missed being caught in the snow. (The PT Cruiser we ended up with for a rental car barely survived in the snow that was around -- imagine if we'd tried to stick it out a little longer? Besides, my husband would have no part of driving that gold beast. He thought hiding in the back seat was more manly (ha)!

                              Never fear, we will be back and plan on hitting some places recommended here. Thanks so much to all of you.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Paladar

                                Alas, you arrived during the snowiest December the Front Range has experienced since records have been kept -- and we got another 3 inches +/- since records have been kept. See http://travel-babel.blogspot.com and go to posts around that time ("A Very Quiet Town" and ff) for impressions.

                                Sorry that your friends hijacked your Trattoria on Pearl meal. It's a really lovely place run by a wonderful couple and serving good Italian food. Re Proto's (not Pronto's), the crispy, crackery crust is exactly what I like about it. I love thin-crust pizza. Nancy Proto, like me, grew up in Connecticut, where the crust is thin but not crackery, so our pizza tastes are similar. The crackery is this pizzeries variation on the classic New England thin-crust theme.

                                BeauJo's in Idaho Springs (not Iron Springs) is a tradition more than a place that serves fabulous pizzas. Several other BeauJo's are sprinkled around Colorado, but this one is a classic back-from-the-high-country refueling stop. We always order a thin-crust pizza.

                                If you are tea drinkers, you need to try the Dushanbe Tea House on 13th between Arapahoe and Canyon. It is a beautiful, authentic Tajik teahouse from one of Boulder's several sister cities.

                                Your original questions were about a place to go on Christmas Eve between Denver Intl Airport and Boulder. Before you head back, go to http://www.culinary-colorado.com and click on 'Dining Diary.'

                                1. re: ClaireWalter

                                  Thank you for correcting all my errors Claire. We plan on returning to Boulder when the weather's in a kinder mood and indulging ourselves at many of the places you've recommended.

                                  By the way, the best pizza I've ever had in the U.S. was in Connecticut when a friend was going to Yale. We visited a couple of times and had pizza each visit. The real tell tale sign was the weekend we went and it was snowing -- the line was still halfway down the block to get in. Fortunately our friends had called ahead. I still remember the white pizza with broccoli -- yum.

                              2. You're welcome. I didn't mean to be prissy, but I figured that you'd have a better chance at finding places again (assuming you wanted to) if you were looking for the right names.

                                New Haven -- Let me guess, Pepe's or Sal's. I great up in Connecticut, and going to New Haven for pizza was always a wonderful treat. Nancy Proto grew up there and was inspired by one of those two pizzerias but makes updated versions. Virgilio's in Lakewood, Colorado, is unadulterated classic Connecticut pizza, made by a guy who also grew up in New Haven and worked at Pepe's. It's about half-a-hour from Boulder, and we go there when I need a pizza fix.

                                1. Oops, I meant, "I grew up in Connecticut..."