Category Archives: Boulder

Himalayan Fare in North Boulder

Mandala Infusion serves Tibetan and related dishes.

My husband and I recently visited the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan). Let’s just say we were there for the culture and the mountains, not for the cuisine. Most of out meals were in hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants — mostly family-style and mostly blanded out for perceived American tastes.

This innocent-looking pilaf, in a little restaurant in Lhasa, was booby-trapped with small chicken bones.

I suppose it was just as well. On one free night in Lhasa, we went across the street from our hotel to a cute local restaurant whose exterior had a curiously Alpine roofline. The inside was cozy. The food was simple, and with no momos on the menu, I ordered the simplest of dishes, rice with chicken. The cooked chicken, bones and all, was hacked into tiny pieces — unpleasant.

Still, feeling a longing for things Himalayan, we went to Mandala Infusion, a sparkling restaurant on North Broadway that had previously been the ABC Café and a Thai restaurant — even concurrently with the café operating in the morning and the restaurant for dinner. Now, a large prayer wheel is stationed at the entrance.

The dinner/small plate menu does offer momos, no yak (but yak cheese), as well some dishes (notably Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad and Cabbage Kimchi, that that don’t seem Tibetan, but what do I know?

Traditional low-sitting sanngha tables remained unoccupied during our visit.
Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad on greens with tomato, cabbage and more. (Sorry, I didn’t write down all the ingredients.)
Momos available with lamb or veggies.
Tingbuns, which are sliders available filled with pork belly (shown here) or tofu.

Price check: At dinner Small plates, $6-$12; larger plates, $15-$19; sides, $3-$5.

4479 North Broadway, Boulder; 720-370-5800.

Rayback: A Hotspot at the End of a (Mostly) Cool Week

Boulder food truck central is also a meetingand mingling place.

At the end of a mostly cool, damp week and a day that included a quick dash of hail, the sun came out on Friday evening — and so did a crowd looking for good food, good brewskis and a good vibe. The destination by bike, by car or on foot was the buzzing Rayback Collective.

The Friday evening crowd skewed young — 20s and 30s, mostly, and some with kids in tow.

It had been a while since our last visit, and since then, Rama Ramen has become a regular that has built its own buzz. There is room for just four food trucks, and last night, the noodle four-wheeler shared space with Colombian food, pretzel and smokehouse meat purveyors.

Rama Ramen has a small, very focused menu.
Spicy Garlic Ramen lived up to its name, especially the “spicy” part. Radishes aren’t often found as an ingredient in hot dishes, but here, they added color and texture.

The Rayback Collective is on Valmont Avenue, just west of 28th Street. Zomato.com lists neither it nor the Rama Ramen truck.

Project Angel Heart Fundraiser Today

250 Denver-Boulder eateries participate in Dining Out for Life.

I’m en route back from South Asia today and am not certain I will be back home in time to eat out — or, if I will have the energy after three flights across eleven time zones, but if I do, it will be at one of the 250 of so participating restaurants and breweries in the Denver/Boulder area that are donating 25 percent of their day’s sales to Project Angel Heart’s Dining Out for Life. This wonderful organization prepares and delivers medically tailored meals to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease and other life-threatening illnesses. Funds raised from the Dining Out For Life event are used specifically to support clients living with HIV/AIDS.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Select a participating restaurant or brewery.
  2. Make plans to dine out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or drink a pint!) with friends, family, or colleagues. If possible, make a reservation at your selected restaurant or brewery. (Bonus points for letting them know you’ve selected their establishment because they’re participating in Dining Out For Life!)
  3. Enjoy a great meal or beverage, knowing you’ve made a difference for people in need.

Oskar Blues in the News

Craft brewery cited for innovation and also coming to Boulder.

Mid-country restaurants and other purveyors are largely like the Rodney Dangerfield of the food and beverage biz:  They “don’t get no respect,” or not enough respect. Coastal myopia, I’m afraid.

Denver and other Colorado locales have a robust craft brewing industry, from giants like Fort Collins’ New Belgium (the country’s 4th-largest brewer) and Blue Moon (Coors’ craft-beer sidekick) to tiny breweries in very small towns (Silverton Brewery and the Crestone Brewing Company, respectively deep in the San Juan Mountains and in an off-the highway community in the San Luis Valley). The Denver Festival is one of the largest in the country.

But when it came to listing “The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed,” Food & Wine could think of only one (Longmont-born and -based Oskar Blues) and that was for its retro innovation (packaging), not for any of its beers or ales. Relying on a perhaps biased panel that includes a number of brewmasters, F&W wrote:

15) Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale

Not all innovation happens in the brewing process. In 2002, Colorado’s Oskar Blues did something with a solid, but otherwise unassuming pale ale that changed craft beer forever: They put it into cans, becoming the first craft brewery to do so independently. Dale’s Pale Ale launched a movement (currently 2,162 beers strong, according to CraftCans.com) and this once-lowly container now holds some of the world’s most coveted beers.

On another note, Oskar Blues is coming to Boulder’s Pearl Street, taking over the space at No. 921 vacated by the World of Beer. Sometime late this summer, the location just west of the Mall will become taproom and live-music venue.  I’m not sure what, if any, food service there will be, but the food at Oskar Blues brew pubs, CHUBurgers, CylceHops Cantina and other Oskar-owned venues is very good and very fresh.

Time for Taste of Pearl ’17 in Boulder

Shops and galleries host restaurants, wineries & distilleries.

Fifteen downtown Boulder shops and galleries are again the venues for tastings from 15 local restaurants and 15 Colorado adult beverage purveyors during this year’s Taste of Pearl.  Terrific tasting and a congenial stroll-about along Boulder’s Pearl Street on a (hopefully sunny) spring afternoon — Sunday, April 23 from 2 to 6.

Click here for participating restaurants, here for wineries and distilleries and here for shops and galleries, some of which offer discounts to Taste attendees.  Ticket for general admission price is $65 in advance and $75 on event day, if any are left. VIP ticket is $75.  Note that the Flagstaff House and Frasca Food and Wine, on the pinnacle of Boulder’s top restaurants, are participating. Doesn’t happen that often.

Biju’s in Boulder

Denver-born South Indian restaurant resides in Whole Foods.

I’d heard all sorts of good things about Biju’s Little Curry Shop in RiNo, but have not yet gotten there. It’s actually come to me with a small food counter inside the big Whole Foods. The offerings are limited and each dish comes in a bowl, but the Chicken Vindaloo so spicy, so well-balanced, so all-fired delicious that I may never order anything else there.

Half a dozen hot main dishes, Basmati rice and condiments..
Chicken vindaloo, ready to take to the cashier,
Basmati rice on the bottom, then a large spoonful of spicy vindaloo — large chunks of moist chunks of chicken thigh, some fresh cabbage, crushed padacam and other fresh vegetables and a bit of yogurt. I was able to eat about half, and brought the rest home.

Biju Thomas opened his first fast casual restaurant in RiNo and his second in Berkley.  Guy Fieri shot an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” that was broadcast a bit over a year ago. There are now outposts in Whole Foods Markets in Boulder and Tamarac. A perfect fit, I’d say.

Price check: Entrees, $9.45-$13.45.

Zomato has not yet found Biju’s, whose Boulder locaition is iInside Whole Fooes at Biju’s Little Curry Shop, 2905 Pearl Street, Boulder.

The Kitchen On Best Farm-to-Table List

Food & Wine asked bloggers and other food experts in every state about “The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants” in the state where they live. A number of Colorado restaurants now have their own farms, but Toni Dash, who blogs as  Boulder Locavore, selected a pioneer in farm-to-table sourcing and sustainability. Her choice  was The Kitchen, a Boulder baby that now has other Front Range locations in Denver and Fort Collins:

Colorado: The Kitchen

“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.

I don’t know who changed the spelling of the name of one of the co-founders. It’s actually Kimball Musk, not Kimball Husk. He’s the brother of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, but his commitment to good, healthy food does not end at his restaurants. Late last year, he launched Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program in Brooklyn, New York.