Short Trip To Colorado...Any tips??
So I'm planning a trip out to Colorado and we'll be in Denver, Colorado Springs, and Boulder each for about a day in a few weeks. Any suggestions? I've never been and research so far hasn't turned anything too substantial yet (at least in my mind). Here are what the options are so far:
- Root Down
- D Bar
- Biker Jim's Gourmet Dog
- Sam's No. 3
- BJ's Velvet Freez
- The Buff
- Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
I hail from Los Angeles and currently reside in San Diego so I have my fair share of Mexican food here. I also eat all types of Asian food quite often in LA so I didn't list any in CO. But open to suggestions of all kinds if anyone has any. :)
I don't have too much to input because I haven't been to most of those places yet, but I was greatly disappointed at D Bar. I didn't think the entree I had was all that great and the desserts were very disappointing. Service was VERY bad...server forgot to bring out an appetizer we had ordered, took 15 minutes to get a diet coke etc etc. We went around 9pm on a weeknight so maybe they were all ready to go home, but still, that's no excuse.
I loved Biker Jim's and I think it'd be a great lunch option...and it's very uniquely "Colorado".
Funny, I had quite the opposite experiences. For me D Bar has always been great. The desserts are very rich & worth having at least once. Service was great-very attentive servers.
Biker Jim's to me possibly the worse "hot dog" I've ever had. They were so dry and the casing was hard to bite through. The bun was stale and the people at the counter were not very helpful.
Granted every place has good/bad days. It's up to each of us to decide if it's worth it to give them another shot.
I will say Rioja hit it completely out of the ballpark! One of my favorite meals ever.
We've enjoyed both Rioja (Denver) and Frasca (Boulder) over the years; both aren't necessarily unique relative to what you'll find in LA, but both recently won James Beard awards and make an effort to use local ingredients, so they might be worth a visit if you're looking for a relatively fancy lunch/dinner.
No specific recommendations for where to get them, but be sure to check out some of the local microbrews and green chili (a more Southwestern than Mexican specialty, I think) as well. I've also always especially enjoyed trying out whatever local game (elk, bison, etc) is on the menus during our trips out there.
I agree with juliejulez re: D Bar - I've never really been that impressed with the food there. Also, as rovingfoodie mentions, Rioja (Best Chef SW) and Frasca (Wine Program, I think?) both recently won JBF awards.
For Denver, I'd say you should nix Sam's No. 3. It's fine but I don't consider it "special" enough for a 1-day visit to Denver. Lola may be in the same category. Maybe also consider Squeaky Bean, Il Posto, The Kitchen (also a location in Boulder) or Ethiopian (if you want to head out to the burbs a bit, there's a place called Nile that's good for food but sometimes a little lackadaisical on service).
For Boulder, there's the aforementioned Frasca, Pizzeria Locale or The Kitchen.
Thank you all for the suggestions! I guess D Bar can be nixed from the list. We are looking for "unique to Colorado" places so Biker Jim's just jumped up on the list. We'll make sure to look into the other places you mentioned as well.
Any suggestions for a specific green chili destination in any of the cities? We'll probably only get to one fancyish restaurant as we prefer low profile, local cheap eats over a nice dinner most days.
>> We'll probably only get to one fancyish restaurant as we prefer low profile, local cheap eats over a nice dinner most days.
When I was researching for my trip to all three cities last fall, five "fancyish" restaurants got lots of praise in discussions here: Penrose Room at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs (considered by many to be the best restaurant in Colorado), Flagstaff House and Frasca in Boulder, and Fruition and Kevin Taylor in Denver. I chose Penrose Room and Flagstaff House. I would recommend Flagstaff House as a "unique to Colorado" upscale dinner, because it combines excellent food with an exquisite setting and view (it's perched on a cliff overlooking Boulder, with floor-to-ceiling windows).
I also loved Euclid Hall, a beerhall-type restaurant in downtown Denver's Larimer Square from the owners of Rioja. Ultra-casual, with a menu focusing on creative sausages and such. I especially LOVED their s'mores pot de crème for dessert!
You don't mention breakfast-focused restaurants, but I went to the Boulder locations of Lucile's (five locations) and Snooze (five locations). Both were good; of the two, I especially enjoyed Lucile's, which has creole/Southern cuisine. The Boulder location is in a former residence, with lots of small cozy dining rooms. I loved the beignets, the blackened salmon, and the rice pudding porridge.
uh oh, now you've done it- you've invoked green chile wars....
I'll throw in my favorite- Efrain's- the one in east boulder. It's such a weird place, some things are GREAT (green chile, costillas), and other things are not good (chile rellenos with this weird mild tomato sauce).
In Denver- I'll admit to being so-so about Euclid Hall at first, but I really love it now. The beers and cocktails are great, the house-made sausages are fantastic. I think I wasn't in the mood for it the first time I went, no blame on the restaurant. Duck Poutine? Yes, please.
We had lunch at Biker Jim's today, I do recommend it. I used to feel rushed to order, because there are a number of options in dogs, toppings, etc., but they do a great job.
You also might enjoy linger, I love the small plate format. They used to have a fantastic deck with a great view of downtown, but there's a big building in the way of that view now- the deck itself is still great. I've had many things there that I really enjoyed, and never had anything that I'd call bad or ill-considered.
Enjoy your time in CO.
The Kitchen Next Door for happy hour. I live in LA and go to SD often. For this type of food (quality and cost) I haven't found anything comparable. in LA the same type of restaurant will charge double for what hey offer. Local beer on tap and excellent pork sandwich and tomato soup.