Report from Denver Metro/Ft. Collins trip
A few bright spots from a trip which, as usual, was filled with one too many trips to McDonald's (the kids love the playland):
Strasburg, CO: KT's Famous BBQ - Tiny little place with great food. For about $40 we got the sampler platter with 4 different kinds of sauce on ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket, 4 corn muffins, and 3 sides (the cheesy potatoes were tasty), plus two hefty pork and brisket sandwiches that came with a cup each of very good red and green chili. Fed 4.5 of us for two days.
Chains: Macaroni Grill, Denny's, and Texas Roadhouse all treated us pretty well - the lemon passion dessert at MG, the bacon avocado burrito at Denny's, and the prime rib at TR were especially good.
Fort Collins: La Luz: Our reliable stop for terrific fish tacos, homemade salsa and cheap local beer on tap. Tried the Atomic seafood burrito - a little too spicy, but once we removed the clumps of chopped jalapeno it turned out to be a tasty mix of fish and shrimp. Still prefer the fish tacos.
Avogadro's Number: Kind of disappointed in the sandwiches here - the falafel was ok, the fixings were hit-or-miss - but the fries were really good (they seem to do the batter-dipped thing). Plus the back patio's treehouse and the cheap soft serve were great for the two 5 year olds we had in tow.
Beau Jo's Pizza: Another reliable place, though the service was a little off - had to repeatedly flag down servers to order, and one of the chairs had hot sauce on the seat (ew!) But it *was* the first day of Brewfest, and the $2.50 pints of O'Dell's and "Colorado-style" pizza with the whole-wheat crust helped smooth things over.
Ice Cream: Gelazzi did a nice job with the amaretto and toasted almond gelato we ordered, though I must admit it didn't measure up to my beloved Capogiro in Philly; Walrus worked well as a place for the kids and the cappucino oreo was mighty tasty.
Hopefully next trip we'll actually get to return to Denver proper!
Roving Foodie - Your post breaks my culinary heart. If the kids love McD's playland, take 'em to a local park and feed 'em real food instead of McDonald's swill. Colordo's Front Range has plenty of moderately priced, family-friendly restaurants that are better than Mac Grill, Denny's opr the Texas Roadhouse for kids AND adults. I hope when you return that you'll give our local eateries a fair shot. (And I write this as a mom who once had my own 5-year-old in tow and simply wouldn't take him to McD's. He's now nearly 27 and disdains chains, esp fast fooderies, as much as I do.)
Oh, I completely agree on the general anti-chain policy, and we did exactly the lunch and park combo you describe several times. Unfortunately our trip coincided with several really nasty afternoon thunderstorms, making indoor playspace combined with food pretty appealing. Plus we let the inlaws choose dinner places and ended up at MG and TR based on their preferences. But we did make it to White Fence Farm for dinner one night as well - we're hoping that our raves for there and for KT's BBQ will lead to a shift away from chains in future visits. Any other recommendations for non-chain kid-friendly spots in the area are welcome!