Category Archives: Colorado

Top BBQ in Colorado

Smokin’  Dave’s and GQ Championship BBQ on national list.

Adrian Miller, Denver-based lapsed lawyer, author of the James Beard Award-winning Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine and The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our Fed Our First Families from the Washingtons to the Obamas, is also a certified barbecue judge. He just posted news that two Colorado restaurants (four locations total) have been named on the list of “Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” by National Barbecue News. Just 29 restaurants nationwide made the list.

In winter, when it’s not crowded, we have sometimes managed to score a table at Smokin’ Dave’s in Estes Park but usually end up stopping in Lyons on the way home. The meats, the chicken, the sauces, the even the sides (especially the sweet potato fries, slaw and the beans) are great. The funky automotive décor is run too. I don’t post every time we stop there, but occasional do, particularly the Lyons location après la deluge of 2013. We’ve never been to GQ Championship BBQ in Westminster, but it’s now on our to-try list.

Interestingly, neither of these restaurants appear on his Soul Food Scholar blog’s selection of his own favorite spots in the state and elsewhere. However, Durango-born Serious Texas Bar-B-Q (two in Durango and one each in Fort Collins and Loveland) meets his standards.

Upcoming Food Fests in Denver

Two alliterative competitions to find the best tacos and burgers.

Attendees at the massive Top Taco coming on Thursday, June 22 may sample unlimited taco tastes from and signature tequila cocktails  from 45 popular Denver restaurants. They can also vote for favorite in Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Vegetarian Taco and Top Cocktail categories. Add live music, creative tequila lounge areas, and Top Taco is a hard to beat summer event.  Hours are 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. with early entry for the two most expensive tickets. General admission is $69, 1st Tasting is $90 and a VIP ticket is $125. Click here to purchase.

Last minute tickets available:
$10 OFF USE DISCOUNT CODE “LASTCHANCETACO” WHEN BUYING TICKETS AT TOPTACODENVER.COM FOR $10 OFF. OFFER GOOD THROUGH MIDNIGHT, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017.

Four local burger-meisters compete in the annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3. They have to impress a picky and knowledgeable panel of judges — all chefs and restaurateurs — with their creativity and skills. Each chef prepares four types of burgers. Contestant restaurants are The Cherry Cricket, Stoic & Genuine,  and Park Burger. Heavy-hitter judges are Josh Wolken (Steuben’s, Ace, Vesta), Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Bryan Dayton (Oak on Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider) and Bradford Heap (Salt, Colterra, Wild Standard), and attendees get to vote on the People’s Choice too.

General admission ($69.95) gets unlimited burger tastes from all competitors, open bar with craft beer, wine and samples of premium spirits and desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop & Sweet Action. VIP admission ($124.99) buys all that plus early admission to the event at 5:30 p.m. and reduced lines, exclusive VIP area with covered lounges, extra seating and private bars and specialty VIP cocktails (High Noon Vodka, Rebel Yell hiskey, Cane Rum, Fireball, Exotico Tequila, Buffalo Trace Bourbon or Tuaca), plus  unlimited desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop, & Sweet Action. The event is rain or shine, 21+ only and takes place at Tivoli Quad Park, Denver.

Weekend Options for Foodies and Wine Lovers

Food & Wine Classic and more on Colorado calendar this weekend.

The 35th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is America’s highest-profile culinary event — a place for culinary stars to see and be seen, for wine folks to dazzle their palates and each other, and for the well-heeled “rest of us” to breathe the same mountain air as the stars and learn some  of their secrets. Even if you just won the lottery, this star-studded weekend sold out months ago. What else to do?

Far more casual is the 24th annual Frisco BBQ Challenge, Friday, June 16, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday, June 17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..  More than 70 barbecuers are expected, along with seven bands, pig races, kids’ activities and the 3rd Annual Fire Fighter Cook Off on the BlueStar Kitchen Stage. There’s food to sample and cooking demos, the Breckenridge Distillery Whiskey Tour, the Bacon Burner 6k and what could just be the best BBQ in Colorado. Buy Hogback tickets at the event for $1 each. Most street food costs between $5 and $12. Proceeds supports local non-profits.

The granddaddy of food-oriented festivals is the 120th Annual Strawberry Days Festival in Glenwood Springs, June 16-18.
​It features live music and main stage entertainment, a FamilyFest area with interactive, entertaining and creative experiences for the kids; a Fine Arts and Crafts Fair, food court, an old-fashioned carnival and a parade down Grand Avenue.  Organizers serve free strawberries and ice cream on Saturday after the parade, a tradition for more than a century.

What about staying around Denver? If you, like me, favor rosé wines in summer, the third annual Drink Pink Vino International Rosé Wine Competition is the place go. Spend three hours in the Omni Interlocken Resort’s Outdoor Pavilion in Broomfield, sample wines, nibble on light fare and listen to live jazz. The event on Friday, June 16, 6 to 9 p.m., is one of the world’s few professional double-blind wine competitions dedicated to all styles of rosé wine. Judging are some of Colorado’s top sommeliers, master sommeliers and wine critics. VIP tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets remain at $70 per person or $200 for four. Click here to purchase.

“Train” for that competition with the Do at The Zoo, a fundraiser for the Denver Zoo on Thursday, June 15, 7 to 10 p.m. More than 55 of the city’s best restaurants and breweries provide sample dishes. Bartenders  pour unlimited drinks, including the region’s best beers, wines and cocktails (have a designated driver or take Uber, Lyft or RTD home, please). And there’s live music and entertainment.

Little Man Named Denver’s Best Ice Cream

Thrillist.com cites LoHi-based ice cream shop as “the best.”

I don’t envy “the decider” about which dipping store to crown “Denver’s Best Ice Cream”on Thrillist.com,  because there are so many good ones. But the site did name Little Man Ice Cream, whose flagship is in the vibrant LoHi ‘hood. Here’s what one Andy Kryza wrote for the round-up of “The Best Ice Cream in Every State“:

Denver – Little Man Ice Cream

Look, we’re suckers for anything served out of a giant version of its core ingredient, but it’s not just the fact that Little Man’s housed in a gigantic old milk bottle that has us excited. It’s also not the fact that the Scoop for Scoop program matches each order with its equivalent in rice in beans for those in need around the world, though that’s also great! But this place could serve scoops out of an outhouse and we’d still be stoked about flavors like Fluffernutter, Creamsicle, and Banana Pudding, plus ample gelato and sorbet options. Maybe not as stoked, but still pretty stoked. Given the typical lines, Coloradans seem to be stoked as well.

 

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.