All of us who love to eat treasure restaurant weeks. The format is similar: a limited menu of several prix fixe courses (usually three) at very affordable prices. These promotional weeks have become low-season staples in some of the most interesting food cities in the land.
Denver’s 13th annual Restaurant Week from February 24 through March 5. That’s 10 days of great dining options. Visit Denver is now organizing the promotion The DRW format has evolved over the years. This year, instead of one price point, restaurants have the option of three: $25, $35 and $45 per person. That also gives diners the option of how much to splurge — or not. The bottom line is that some 150 restaurants are participating. The website enables diners to find restaurants by cuisine or neighborhood with just the click of a mouse.
Perhaps an anomaly — or perhaps wait staff has gone downhill.
I’m not much of a shopper, but I do my modest best to support local independent businesses on Small Business Saturday, an annual antidote to Black Friday frenzy. A downtown Boulder bead shop had the earring wires I needed, one bookstore always has good deals on calendars, another carried the Pam Houston book I wanted to read and one of the two arts coops had a jigsaw puzzle I had my eye on to bring as a host/ess gift to friends’ annual holiday open house.
Even that little shopping made my husband and me hungry (in our defense, we’d eaten tiny breakfasts and hadn’t had lunch). We decided on Centro Latin Kitchen, whose weekend brunch was still in effect. We took a table on the covered patio, ordered drinks and food. The drinks — mercifully strong enough to mellow the irritation that followed — were more or less promptly delivered, but when it came to food, we waited and waited and waited. And did I mention that we waited? One adjacent table turned over completely, but our food was nowhere in sight — and neither was our server. Abducted by aliens?
We finally flagged down a runner and asked where out food might be. That appeared to speed things up. When the waiter himself brought our order, he said he was “sorry” for the delay. I replied, “We’re even sorrier.” He offered to comp a dessert.
From the dessert menu, we selected tres leches cake, served cold so it should be delivered quickly — especially since by that time, the brunch crowd had gone. But again, we waited and we waited and we waited. Again, invisible waiter. This time, we flagged down a busser.
Again, I expressed my/our frustration at the disappointing service. The waiter offered to get the manager, who seemed able to determine from the register tape that we weren’t blowing smoke about our long waits. He gave us some reasons, and I said that it might have been nice it the waiter has stopped by our table with a work of explanation or at least apology. He agreed and offered to comp all the food.
For what it’s worth, Centro’s nom de cuisine is the ponderous Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, which no one uses. Not ever,
Price check: At weekend brunch, small plates, $3-$8; tacos, $4.5; specialties (i.e., entrees), $7-$18; sides, $1-$5; desserts, $3-$6.
Centro is at 950 Pearl Street, Boulder; 303-442-7771.
Bidding farewell to long-time Longmont Mexican restaurant.
When my husband, a fan of Mexican favorites, worked on the IBM campus in northeast Boulder, he occasionally drove to Longmont for lunch — and then often to Deli Cioso. I had only been there once before (click here for my write-up). I enjoyed the funky laid-back ambiance then and appreciated it again.
Saturday will be the restaurant’s last day, so my husband and I went there for a farewell lunch. It is the antithesis of the excessively sanitized chain restaurant. People either love or detest the food. Ditto for the service. The owner is retiring and Boulder’s Gondolier is setting up a second location there.
It is located at 1217 South Main Street, Longmont. Hurry. Only a couple of days left.
The chips and salsa were the first things delivered to the table when my husband, two friends and I sat down for lunch at the Old Santa Fe Mexican Grille in Louisville. I dipped a large chip into the dish of salsa, bit into it, swallowed and started coughing as soon as it hit my throat. I like hot and spicy, but there must of been some ingredient in that salsa that got to me. No water had been delivered yet, and no waiter or busser was in sight, so it was a while before our waiter appeared and brought some relief in the form of tall plastic glasses filled with water. No one else was affected the way I was.
The food when it came was standard-issue, comfortable Mexican — the usual dishes and combination plates — which is to say that there was shredded iceberg lettuce, chunked tomato and shredded cheese. I can only identify what my husband and I ate, but here are all four plates:
Price check: The cheapest items on the menu are some apps for $7.99; the most espensive, an order of steak, pork sausages and more, $19.99.
592 McCaslin Blvd. (physically just behind the McDonald’s), Louisville; 720-890-8456
Restaurants vie for honors in four categories of Colorado favorite.
We may think of tacos as being cheap, filling and casual food. Hole-in-the-wall taquerias, food trucks and upscale restaurants helmed by gifted chefs crank out this favorite food type, as do such disspiriting mainstream chains as Taco Bell and Taco .
Top Taco on Thursday, June 23 from 6:30 to 9:30 is a competition where a panel of judges determines the best tacos in three categories (traditional, creative and vegetarian, plus tequila cocktail) . It also provides an opportunity for taco gluttony. Guests get unlimited taco tastes and also some 100 unique tequila samples from more than 40 brands, beer, wine and live music from Sambadente.
The event on the Auraria campus is pricy, with general admission tix at $69 and VIP admission for $90 .
Temple Grandin Colorado’s sole honoree; Chimayo also cited..
No Colorado chefs or restaurants were James Beard Award winners at a glittering ceremony in Chicago last night, but the remarkable Dr. Temple Grandin, an animal rights expert and advocate at Colorado State University, was named to 2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, an honor roll of major influencers. Click here for the entire list of 2016 honorees.
Media awards are presented separately, and one Coloradan is coming home with one. Toni Tipton-Martin of Centennial was honored in the reference and scholarship category for The Jemima Code: Two Centuries of African-American Cookbooks. The history of American-American food books appears to be a mini-niche in Denver. Historian Adrian Miller for his book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time.
Also recognized was Rancho de Chimayó Restaurante and owner Florence Jaramillo as being one of the 2016 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics honoree as a long-running heritage. As it happens, I ate at this sprawling half-century-old restaurant just last week as part of a day tour from Santa Fe.
Chimayo is famous for its chile-centric dishes, and this restaurant uses almost the entire annual crop. It accommodates groups in a large garden extension in the back and small individual parties in the front, which is the original ranch house. Note the similarities between the settings and the chairs.
300 Juan Medina Rd. (Santa Fe County Road 98), Chimayo, New Mexico 87522; 505 351-4444 or 505-984-2100.
On previous visits to Santa Fe, lunch or dinner at Cafe Pasqual ‘s has been on the food docket. I always enjoy this cheery eatery a couple of short blocks from The Plaza. The breakfast items are unusual, with flavorful versions of popular New Mexican favorites plus items I’ve never seen before.
Price check, breakfast entrées, $9.75-$17.75.
121 Don Gaspar, Santa Fe; 505-983-9340.
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news. For address of any restaurant, click on the Zomato icon at the end of the post.