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Boulder - October 8-10

rp1760 Aug 27, 2010 01:43 PM

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!

Black Cat
1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

  1. s
    smiling ed Sep 22, 2010 05:45 PM

    We recently visited Boulder for first time and tried several resaurants listed by chowhound.
    My pick is Salt, then Ten Ten Brasserie.The Med is fun while the kitchen is very uneven. In
    fact the Pasta dish and the roasted vegetable with Harrissa was so salty we had to send it back.
    However their French Fries are very good. And the staff were very nice too. I`m guessing
    we picked the wrong dishes on the wrong night. Boulder is a great town and I was surprised
    how knowledgeable the staff were about the vast beer selections available.

    1. rp1760 Sep 9, 2010 10:50 AM

      I have been watching the news on the Boulder wildfires. It is so sad - I hope all of you who have been posting or are from the area and read the posts are OK. -Mary

      4 Replies
      1. re: rp1760
        RobynS Sep 9, 2010 06:55 PM

        It is very sad. I'm not evacuated but a family home that I'm house sitting for is in the warning area to be ready. Although I was quite impressed to see that the West End Tavern, Zolo, Jax, Happy Noodle House folks are offering a free meal to those evacuated. Was very happy to be patronizing West End last night. Which by the way had great cole slaw but I wasn't all that impressed with their pork shoulder sandwich. Oh, and the deviled eggs were good. My date seemed to enjoy his steak and lobster mac and cheese.

        The West End Tavern
        926 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

        1. re: rp1760
          ClaireWalter Sep 9, 2010 09:42 PM

          Thnx for your kind thoughts, rp1760. We're right on the edge of what might have been a precautionary evacuation area. Hasn't happened so far, but I suppose it could if the winds really kick up overnight.

          1. re: ClaireWalter
            rp1760 Sep 13, 2010 06:13 PM

            I hope you are all out of the woods now. If there are any fundraisers from Fri-Mon for the people who lost their homes, please post. i would gladly attend.

            1. re: rp1760
              ClaireWalter Sep 18, 2010 07:32 PM

              The fire is out (tho' there was a briefly flaring blaze in Nederland today). Best place to check about fundraisers is local papers.

        2. rp1760 Sep 6, 2010 02:29 PM

          It is a rainy, chilly day in Minnesota. I spent some time re-reviewing recommendations and looking at menus. I gave Arugula, Mateo and The Kitchen high consideration, but there were only so many nights....

          Here's my almost-final draft:

          Wednesday: Shanahan's (am staying in Tech area - Doubletree - without car)
          Thursday: Rioja (business group dinner)
          Friday: Johns
          Saturday: Black Cat
          Sunday: L'atelier

          Thanks for all your help - I can't wait!

          1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

          Black Cat
          1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

          1. m
            monopod Sep 2, 2010 01:09 PM

            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
              rp1760 Sep 5, 2010 11:53 AM

              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
                RobynS Sep 5, 2010 03:13 PM

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

                1. re: rp1760
                  ClaireWalter Sep 9, 2010 09:38 PM

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

              2. t
                themags Sep 1, 2010 01:50 PM

                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 :-


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

                3 Replies
                1. re: themags
                  rp1760 Sep 1, 2010 06:27 PM

                  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
                    RobynS Sep 1, 2010 07:52 PM

                    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
                      LurkerDan Sep 2, 2010 08:46 AM

                      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. l
                      Lan4Dawg Aug 29, 2010 02:10 PM

                      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. e
                        eileeninfc Aug 27, 2010 10:54 PM

                        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

                        Black Cat
                        1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: eileeninfc
                          RobynS Aug 28, 2010 04:39 PM

                          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.

                          Aji Restaurant
                          1601 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302

                          1. re: eileeninfc
                            LurkerDan Aug 28, 2010 04:50 PM

                            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
                              rp1760 Aug 28, 2010 05:58 PM

                              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
                                RobynS Aug 28, 2010 06:27 PM

                                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.

                                Jax Fish House
                                928 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                                1. re: RobynS
                                  monopod Aug 30, 2010 12:04 PM

                                  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:

                                  the Kitchen
                                  Black Cat
                                  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).

                                  Sushi Zanmai
                                  1221 Spruce St, Boulder, CO 80302

                                  950 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                                  Black Cat
                                  1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302

                                  1. re: monopod
                                    LurkerDan Aug 30, 2010 01:55 PM

                                    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.

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

                                    1. re: LurkerDan
                                      rp1760 Aug 30, 2010 07:11 PM

                                      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
                                        RobynS Aug 30, 2010 07:43 PM

                                        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
                                          LurkerDan Aug 30, 2010 09:08 PM

                                          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. LurkerDan Aug 27, 2010 01:56 PM

                              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
                                rp1760 Aug 31, 2010 05:20 PM

                                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
                                  LurkerDan Sep 1, 2010 09:31 AM

                                  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
                                    monopod Sep 1, 2010 01:17 PM

                                    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
                                  hans Sep 1, 2010 01:41 PM

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

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