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Boulder - October 8-10

Hi, Fellow Chows!

I am so excited about my first trip to Colorado! I have been reading your Board for a little over a month, and have come up with a draft of three places that sound great. I like creative preparations and local, sustainable ingredients. I would love your opinions on the dinner places I am considering:

Friday: Mateo
Saturday: John's, with perhaps a pre-dinner drink at The Bitter Bar
Sunday: Black Cat

Note: I know Frasca is closed during my visit (darn!). I ruled out Flagstaff - I prefer to dine within walking distance of my hotel (Boulderado). I'd like to swing by Juanita's for lunch, and will probably have breakfast/lunch at Q's.

I appreciate your feedback!
Mary

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Black Cat
1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

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  1. I have not eaten at John's in years, but was a little disappointed when I did eat there. Still, it's hard to argue with your choices. If you want walking distance (BTW, John's is not a short walk, and the Bitter Bar is in the opposite direction from the Boulderado), other places I would consider for dinner are Jax, the Kitchen, Salt, and Radda. Not much further than John's is Zolo Grill, a fun favorite of mine.

    4 Replies
    1. re: LurkerDan

      For me, the menus of Jax, Salt and Zolo aren't really pulling me in. I like the offerings at Kitchen. However, I will be dining solo, and they seem to promote family dining. Wondering if I would feel out of place? Radda had me drooling - might make my list. Thanks, LurkerDan!

      1. re: rp1760

        I don't think you'd feel out of place at the Kitchen if dining alone (not more than any other place). They do also have an upstairs wine lounge that serves a more limited menu, if that is more your style.

        I think the Kitchen has a community table (not 100% sure), which actually could make dining alone more fun, if you're interested in being social with strangers.

        1. re: LurkerDan

          Kitchen has a big table upstairs that can be a "community," depending on the particular crowd, but their official "Community Night" where they serve family-style at the big table is only on Mondays.

          But I think you'd fine eating alone at any of these places. Might want to think about eating at the bar - you get the bartender as a companion, and you usually have a shorter wait to get food. Plus people at the bar tend to be more social with strangers.

      2. re: LurkerDan

        Just need to add that we are big fans of John's. Quiet, intimate and great food.

      3. I have had consistently good food at The Med. The only problem is that they don't take reservations and can be crowded. Black Cat is very good but quite expensive. I also enjoyed Ajo, which is considerably less expensive and has excellent, creative choices

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        Black Cat
        1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

        9 Replies
        1. re: eileeninfc

          I think you mean Aji not Ajo.

          But, I have to say I had a great wild scallop noodle bowl at Happy Noodle House this week (which is what Bitter Bar is part of) along with a thai basil hard lemonade so I would highly recommend it.

          I also really enjoy Salt which is big on using local ingredients.

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          Aji Restaurant
          1601 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

          1. re: eileeninfc

            I love the Med, it's one of my favorite places and very good value, but based on the restaurants mentioned in the first post, it didn't seem in the same class. Especially given that rp1760 didn't seem concerned about cost either. If s/he is looking for a lunch spot, it is a good choice (as is Brasserie 10-10 across the street). FYI, the Med recently expanded dramatically, so the wait times should be reduced.

            1. re: LurkerDan

              Good read, LurkerDan. I don't get out of Minnesota as often as I would like, so when the opportunity arises, I do tend to splurge. I am considering Salt and Zolo. Thank you, and thank you Robyn and Eileeninfc, very much for your suggestions. -Mary

              1. re: rp1760

                Zolo would not be walking distance from your hotel but I've heard great things. Jax Fish House (and Happy Noodle House) are under the same restaurant group and home to a Top Chef winner if you're into that.

                I agree on The Med. It is a great place and I enjoy it, especially for happy hour but for an out of towner willing to spend some money and wanting something a bit different it doesn't top my list of recs.

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                Jax Fish House
                928 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                1. re: RobynS

                  IMHO, Zolo's quality has dropped off a bit in recent months. And it's certainly not walking distance from the Boulderado. My personal short list within walking distance would be:

                  SALT
                  the Kitchen
                  Black Cat
                  Jax
                  Mateo
                  Centro
                  Bitter Bar/Happy for happy hour and drinks

                  Another place to consider, but only if you're on the adventurous side, is Amu - it's a high-end izakaya style Japanese small-plate place that serves amazing, unusual Japanese food. No sushi here - things like squid noodles with uni sauce served in a martini glass. Very neat, and unlike anything you'll have in the US outside of NYC or LA, I'd think. It's also about 20 feet from the front door of the Boulderado (right next door to Sushi Zanmai, with which it shares a kitchen).

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                  Sushi Zanmai
                  1221 Spruce St, Boulder, CO 80302

                  Centro
                  950 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                  Black Cat
                  1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                  1. re: monopod

                    wow, what a lazy country we've become! :-) Zolo Grill is slightly over a mile from the Boulderado. I would hope that most of us could walk that in under 30 minutes. It's not a short walk, sure, but the OP listed John's as one of the "walking distance" choices, and Zolo is less than 10 minutes further.

                    But I haven't been in recent months so can't comment on any recent drop in quality.

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                    Zolo Grill
                    2525 Arapahoe Ave Unit H1, Boulder, CO 80302

                    1. re: LurkerDan

                      Lazy -yes- many of us are. However, when I am on vacation, the energy level soars! I consider anything in a two mile radius as "walkable."

                      Monopad, your Amu recommendation looks interesting. I must look into that further. Thanks.

                      1. re: LurkerDan

                        You can go ahead and call me lazy (I ran 11 miles on Saturday so I'd disagree with you) but I usually have my time so limited on vacations so spending an hour commuting to and from dinner isn't my ideal. But to each their own.

                        However, I totally forgot about Amu and that is a fantastic suggestion. I love that place. Mmmmm, need to go again soon.

                        1. re: RobynS

                          Sorry, wasn't intending to accuse anyone of being lazy, just poking fun. And I too would probably drive from the Boulderado to Zolo (or bike!). I was just pointing out that rp1760 had already stated that s/he was looking at walking from the Bitter Bar to John's, and certainly didn't seem deterred when I pointed out that was a long walk. And that saying one would prefer to drive that distance is one thing, but to make the blanket statement that it is not "walking distance" without qualification seemed wrong to me and my NYC upbringing, where a mile walk was nothing. That's all. No offense intended.

            2. while we are on the subject Fuss & I will be in Boulder the previous week so appreciate the info.
              Along the same lines we will also need recommendations for Grand Lake, Grand Junction, Manitou Springs and a liquor store that is a good bet and simple to find between the air port in Denver and Manitou Springs.

              1. This is by no means walkable but I had a fantastic dinner at Boulder's Arugula http://www.arugularistorante.com/
                Local sustainable, northern Italian cooking. Their Monday night flight special was fantastic value - easily worth twice the price charged but you won't be there on a Monday!
                To put into perspective - extremely hard to please foodies who were in town from all over the world, come together for a funeral. A very fractious day brought together at the end by simply wonderful cooking. And I'm talking very difficult to please people, including myself! Take a cab :-

                )

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                Arugula Bar E Ristorante
                2785 Iris Ave, Boulder, CO 80304

                3 Replies
                1. re: themags

                  OK, this is on my radar. I love,love,love Italian. I wanted to stay in town, but will go outside for something special. You seem to thinkk this is special. I see that the menu has a very pleasing, thoughtful quality. Might you have time to share your favorite dishes of your night?

                  Also, I am sorry for your loss.

                  1. re: themags

                    Thanks for the rec! I was trying to decide on a suggestion for dinner with my uncle on Friday. Hesitant about going to Pearl and this is on his side of town. Perfect! Just sent along the suggestion and will report back.

                    1. re: themags

                      I was very impressed by Arugula the one time I ate there. Planning to go again when my parents are in town next month. And for the vegans/veggies out there, my vegan friend was also very pleased with the meal she received there.

                    2. Here's another thought: join Restaurants.com and check to see if they have any coupons available for restaurants you're interested in. They almost always have a 60-80% off sale on their coupons going on; I just got a $50 gift certificate to Mateo for $4. (The only real restriction is that you have to spend $100 to use the $50 certificate; for the $25 certificate you have to spend $50, etc.). I think of it as a free upgrade - I can spend what I would have spent for a normal meal there and "upgrade" myself to better wine, a more expensive entree, dessert, etc.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: monopod

                        Thanks for the tip.

                        On another note, I love Farmer's Markets, and it looks like the one in Boulder is just a couple of blocks from my hotel. I expect produce would be tapering off, but that won't keep me away. Does the market have any good food trucks/stands to grab breakfast/early lunch?

                        1. re: rp1760

                          Absolutely! Tamales, papusas, greek, dumplings, burgers, ice cream and various pastries etc are all available.

                          1. re: rp1760

                            The specialty toods that Robyn mentioned are set in the Farmers' Market food court, which has food, a litle beer garden and live entertainment.