Category Archives: Colorado

Great Ice Cream in Colorado

In Colorado’s Front Range, it’s been hot lately — really hot. Ice cream weather. It’s also been ice cream weather elsewhere, so gayot.com has released its list of best ice cream parlors in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami/South Florida, New York, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix/Scottsdale, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington DC — but not Colorado. So here are some of my favorites, and a few even make their own ice cream:

  • Aspen – Boogie’s Diner might not serve the world’s best ice cream, but its hokey ’50s diner/ice cream parlor ambiance makes up for any slight lapse in quality. The inspiration was a Baltimore diner of owner Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass’s childhood. 534 E Cooper Avenue (970-925-6610).
  • Boulder – Lots of faves here, ’cause it’s local, so I’ve tried them all. Boulder is one of the few places where the HäagenDazs (1148 Pearl Street; 303-443-9032) subdivided its space and Cold Stone Creamery gave up, but which still supports local products. In addition the Boulder Ice Cream and Glacier Ice Cream (sold in markets and carts on the Pearl Street Mall), we have several really good local/regional ice cream parlors and dipping stores. We live a few blocks from the Pearl Street Mall so usually just stroll down there, but when driving or riding a bike, my favorites are Bliss Organic Ice Cream at 2425 Canyon Boulevard (303-443-9596) and Hatton Creamery at 3980 Broadway (303-444-9100). Glacier ice cream is made fresh daily and is available at 3133 28th Street (303-440-6542); 4760 Baseline Road (303-499-4760); 1350 College Avenue (303-442-4400); the cart on 1400 block of Pearl Street, all in Boulder, and in Longmont at 1749 Main Street (303-485-8834). For those in South Boulder, the Boulder Ice Cream Shoppe at 637 South Broadway (303-494-2002) is convenient.
  • Castle Rock – The Olde Towne Creamery, located downtown, is a favorite local sweet stop — or should I write, sweete stoppe? It’s at 350 Perry Street (303-688-1301).
  • Colorado Springs – RIP Michelle’s Chocolatiers & Ice Cream, a downtown institution for 55 years that has now closed. I’m not sure where to stop downtown for ice cream now. In Old Colorado City, as far as I know, the Colorado City Creamery is still in business at 2602 West Colorado Avenue (719-634-1411).
  • Denver – I’m downtown more than anyplace else in Denver and have become fond of Gelazzi at 411 Larimer Square (303-534-5056), whose wonderful gelato flavors are made fresh daily. In Cherry Creek North, my gelateria of choice is Gelato d’Italia Cafe at 250 Detroit Street (303-316-9154). Elsewhere, The Daily Scoop near Congress Park at 3506 East 12th Avenue (303-388-3245) scratch-makes one daily special flavor that sells out quickly. I’m sure the city is awash with other great ice cream options, but it’s not my pattern to have ice cream there.
  • Durango – The Durango Creamery at 600 Main Avenue (970-382-9278) is a tiny store that serves much better ice cream than the Cold Stone Creamery across the street. You might think I have it out for Cold Stone, but the truth is, while I like the idea of custom-mixed ice cream, I don’t find theirs very good.
  • Fort Collins – It’s been a few years since I’ve been to Kilwin’s Chocolate & Ice Cream (114 South College Avenue; 970-221-9444) or Walrus Ice Cream (125 West Mountain Avenue; Fort Collins; 970-482-5919 ), but I remember them both as being tasty. Time to head up there again.
  • Glenwood Springs – I love the name Chocolate Moose Ice Cream Parlor, which is at 710 Grand Avenue (970-945-2723), but I haven’t yet stopped there. Next time.
  • Grand Junction – No personal experience here either, but a friend who lives there loves Pappy’s Ice Cream Parlor at 560 Main Street (970-241-9565).
  • Idaho Springs – Sunrise Donuts is closed (the owners retired), but last time I looked, Skipper’s Ice Cream Parlor was still dispensing ice cream in a funky, toyland-style store at 1501 Miner Street (303-567-4544).
  • Longmont – Sugar’s is located in the Prospect development, one of the first (and still finest) examples of New Urbanism in Colorado. That would make it worthwhile even if it didn’t carry such first-rate products as Glacier ice cream, excellent gelato and sorbet, Wen chocolates and house-baked pastries. Sugar’s is at 645 Tenacity Drive (303-459-7942). As indicated above, there’s also a Glacier dipping store at 1749 Main Street (303-485-8834).
  • Steamboat Springs – You don’t see too many old-style drug store/soda fountain combos anymore, but Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain at 840 Lincoln Avenue (970- 879-1114) is one. You have to weave through the souvenir stuff to get to it, but the soda fountain is still around.
  • TellurideThe Sweet Life is a retro ice cream parlor in a downstairs location at 115 West Colorado Avenue (970-728-8789) is a visual symphony of black and white tile, turquoise banquettes and pink accents. And yes, they make their own ice cream.

Denver Lunch Recommendations

I received the following E-mail that I’ll answer here in case anyone else has a similar question:

“Hi Claire,
Since I believe you’re pretty well-versed with dining in
Denver, can you tell me of a place for lunch with seating outside that is
organic, or at least somewhat in that vein? On or near 16th street perhaps. I need
to meet someone for lunch in that area tomorrow….”

WaterCourse Foods (837 East 17th Ave, a few blocks east of downtown around Emerson; 303-832-7313) would answer your organic desires but perhaps not an optimum location. Mad Greens (1600 Stout Street; 303-464-7336) is right on the 16th Street Mall, but I can’t recall whether they have outdoor seating. Rioja (1431 Larimer Street; 303-820-2282) uses fresh, seasonal, local ingredients (though not necessarily organic) and has fine outdoor seating. Tamayo (1400 Larimer Street; 720-946-1433) uses fresh, again not necessarily organic, ingredients in its sprightly modern Mexican dishes. There’s a nice little sidewalk dining space and a dynamite rooftop deck.

Good luck.

Nederland Lunches: Old-Style, New-Style

Over the weekend, we went on two hikes in the mountains west of Boulder, each of which resulted in our being in Nederland right around time for a late lunch. It was also in time to pop in on Miners’ Days, an annual festival devoted to showcasing mining skills. The main food concessionaire was a no-show, so we ended up going somewhere each day because we didn’t view funnel cake as an appropriate mid-day meal.

Pioneer Inn

Saturday’s “somewhere” was the Pioneer Inn, which has been a Nederland institution for 35 years or so. Low ceilings, high wooden booths and a bar that looks as old as the hills, plus tables both in the bar and the next room provide an air of funky timelessness. The stuff on the walls has been on the walls for years, and the shiniest item is the ATM machine. Not all locals love it, but I’ve always found it warm and cozy after a winter ski or snowshoe, and on a blustery Saturday that had threatened serious rain and delivered, it also was suitable. Two of us had beer and two had margaritas.

We shared an order of onion rings (crisp and hot, which is all one can ask of onion rings) and an artichoke-cheese dip with chips (all of which were thick, and some of which were crisp, other soggy). Two of us had a good, spicy vegetarian egg dish, one an Tex-Mexy egg dish whose cute name I’ve now forgotten and one an order of smothered chile rellenos. No complaints about any of it after our hike. The Pioneer is located at 15 East First Street; 303-258-7733.
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Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery

Sunday’s “somewhere” was the shiny new Wild Mountain Smokehouse & Brewery, quite a contrast to the Pioneer. A high ceiling, big windows and an inviting deck (when it’s not raining) overlooking the creek give it the light and sprightly ambiance that the Pioneer would never wish to achieve. Objectively, Wild Mountain has better food and certainly better beer than the Pioneer (the brewmaster came from Boulder’s Avery Brewery), and the patina that fits will probably come some day. No apps this time. We cut straight to the food chase, with a couple of Caesar salads and a couple of orders of barbecue (choice of Carolina Mustard Sauce, Memphis Style, Texas Style Sweet, Thai and Wild Mountain Style, which is a “rotating” version of tomato-based BBQ sauce). Wild Mountain is at 70 East First Street; 303-258-9453.
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M’m M’m Good Zuppa

After a comfortable night at the Shrine Mountain Inn, a friend and I did our second annual peak-wildflower hike on the Shrine Mountain Trail — a hike that began in morning sunshine and finished during a cool afternoon shower. As we were returning home, a stop for hot soup seemed called for, so we pulled off I-70 at Frisco and headed for Mi Zuppa. This take-out and eat-in place specialize in soups that change daily, sandwiches, salads and wraps — all reasonably priced. There are four Mi Zuppa locations in the mountains — Breckenridge, Edwards, Frisco and Vail — and each offers a different selection of soups every day. So in a sense, it’s a small chain that does not operate like a chain.

I ordered the Nantucket Seafood Chowder, and my friend chose the Tomato Florentine Soup. My chowder was medium thick (thankfully, no cornstarch thickener) and even more thankfully not over-salted. There were more potatoes and celery than shrimp or crab, but there was a distinct seafood flavor, and I don’t think an abundance of shellfish can be expected for a soup and salad combo that costs just $6.50. My friend’s soup was thicker than my chowder (and this is a comment, not a criticism), with the distinct taste of tomatoes and rosemary. We each had a Caesar salad and shared a small loaf of whole grain bread.

The food hit the spot, but if I have one criticism of Mi Zuppa — the one in Frisco anyway — is that whether you eat in or take out, your food comes in coated cardboard or plastic containers with plastic utensils. In this eco-conscious age, it seems like a lot of plastic going into the landfill.

The Frisco Mi Zuppa is located at the Frisco Station Center (otherwise known as “next to Safeway”) on Colorado 9 just south of I-70. The phone number is 970-668-8118.

Upcoming Boulder Restaurant Fest

When he’s not roaming around the yard, supervising my neighbor’s gardening efforts or sleeping in the sun, Johnny Cash, The Cat in Black, sometimes sits on the window sill next to my desk, strolls across the keyboard, curls up next to my husband or me, follows me around the house and lets out a communicative meow when spoken to. We adopted him from the Boulder Valley Humane Society.

Therefore, the First Annual Boulder Food & Wine Festival benefiting the local Humane Society has my name all over it. I love good food and good wine, and I’m for anything that supports the animal shelter. The festival will take place on Sunday, August 12, from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. in Boulder’s Central Park (Broadway and Canyon).

Twenty of Boulder’s top restaurants (including Aji, Frasca Food and Wine, The Flagstaff House, Jill’s, Laudisio, The Kitchen, Trattoria on Pearl and Q’s Restaurant) will take part, as will 25 of Colorado’s 60 wineries pouring something on the order of 100 wines and meads. Colorado ingredients will also be emphasized in all of the restaurants’ dishes. The organizers believe that the festival will be the first time that Colorado’s produce, meat and wine have been offered all together on such a large scale.

From 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., instructors from the Culinary School of the Rockies’ will put on cooking demonstrations, and such experts as Doug Caskey, executive director of the Colorado Wine Board, will conduct classes on subjects such as food and wine pairing.

It wouldn’t be Boulder with a physical competition. The Waiter’s Race at 2:00 will pit waiters and waitresses against each other in skill, speed and “most entertaining performance.” Musical entertainment will be provided by The Swingin’ Seven Dance Orchestra, an eight-piece big band, and Bill Kopper’s band, Ginja, playing Brazilian bossa, samba and chorinho.

Tickets are modestly priced at $35 each in advance from the festival’s website or $40 at the event itself. The tickets include a $5 coupon valid toward the purchase of a bottle of wine, as well as food and wine samples, a keepsake wine glass and buffet plate, and a Colorado wine canvas tote. Wine sample bracelets are available only to those 21 and older.

Humane Society of Boulder Valley volunteers will bring adoptable pets, so you might come home with your own wonderful equivalent to our Johnny Cash.

The Fourth. The Sink. The Fireworks.

For many years, my husband and I had a Fourth of July tradition: a morning hike with friends in the Indian Peaks Wilderness to Lake Isabelle or, more appropriately, to the Fourth of July Mine. Then, we’d go home to clean up and gather picnic fare, and reconvene, usually with more friends, at Boulder’s beautiful Chautauqua Park for a potluck picnic and a free band concert featuring Sousa marches and other favorites. Later, we’d watch the fireworks, which are set off from Folsom Stadium at the University of Colorado.

This year, we broke with tradition. We didn’t go hiking at all, and the afternoon band concerts were discontinued a few years ago. Instead, we and good friends who live a couple of doors down walked to University Hill for a bite to eat before heading to the stadium for the show. We ended up eating at The Sink, Boulder’s most enduring student hangout. Clever cartoon murals cover the walls of this fabled watering hole, which was established in the 1920s and became The Sink in 1949 — before some of today’s students’ grandparents were born.

Hip-hop music blared as Rockies crushed Mets 17-7 on one soundless television screen and Venus Williams crushed Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon (6-1, 6-3) on the other, followed by the run-up to the 2007 Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest on Coney Island. Our eating ambitions were considerably more modest than stuffing down dozens of franks and buns in 12 minutes. We launched our evening meal with margaritas and beer. Our friends shared a medium pizza that they struggled to finish. My husband ordered a BBQ pork sandwich with crisp fries. I had a Yaki Taki Teriyaki Salad with chicken strips that weren’t quite as crisp as my husband’s fries but so tough and overcooked that they were almost crisp. I didn’t bother sending the chicken back when the waiter asked how everything was, because he had been congenial about turning the hip-hop sound down so that we — and other decidedly post-college-age diners — could carry on a conversation without shouting.

The fireworks were great — and maybe next year, we’ll go hiking on the Fourth again.

Ethnic Eating with "The Gyros"

I finally have had a chance to sink my teeth into The Gyro’s Journey, a lovely little guidebook by food writers Joey Porcelli and Clay Fong to some of Colorado’s wonderful eateries. The book’s subtitle is “Affordable Ethnic Eateries along the Front Range.” It’s really a guide to those restaurants in the Denver/Boulder area. The two southernmost are in Centennial. The two northernmost are in Longmont. There’s nothing from Fort Collins or Colorado Springs or Pueblo (all Front Range cities). While is fine with me personally, because this is where I live too, some foodies might appreciate a wider geographic spread.

The book spotlights 53 worthy restaurants, organized by type of cuisine, though in some cases, an ethnic category contains just one restaurant. For example, the Oriental Food Market in Boulder is the only Indonesian eatery, the Cafe Prague the only one under Czech Republic, Little Europe the only Ukrainian/Russian, White Eagle the only Polish, the Celtic Tavern the only Irish place and so on. Some other ethnic categories include only two entries.

The Gyro’s Journey does not purport to be comprehensive in the manner of Susan Permut’s Adventures in Eating series, the last of which was, I believe, published in the mid-1990s. Her Denver’s Ethnic Restaurants, for example, covered nearly 150 eateries in roughly the same geographic area as The Gyro’s Journey. Porcelli and Wong devoted more time and space to each restaurant

The great strength of The Gyro’s Journey lies in the thoroughness and tone of each write-up, invariably an admiring tribute to the restaurant, to its ethnic tradition and often to the individual owner and/or chef. Visit a restaurant vicariously with Porcelli and Wong, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been there before you walk through the door.

If they are contemplating writing Another Gyro’s Journey, I hope that in the Boulder area alone, they will consider including Pupusa’s (Salvadorian/Mexican), Mina’s Latin Restaurant (Mexican), China Gourmet,Khow Thai, Proto’s (great if yuppified pizza), Cafe Gondolier (southern Italian “with Italian-American flare” — a phrase that I coined to make you smile), Kim Food to Go (Vietnamese and Chinese; take-out only). Denver offers Cebiche (Peruvian) and Lakewood boasts Virgilio’s (pizza with just one degree of separation from its southern Italian roots).

Unless and until they do, The Gyro’s Journey should be enough to hold us all. It was published by Fulcrum Publishing and costs $12.95. You might also want to check out the authors’ blog.