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.
Small plates shine at happy hour at Boulder’s Zolo.
Late yesterday afternoon, my husband and I went to Changes in Latitude to shop for maps and books for an upcoming trip. While we were at The Village shopping center, we heeded the siren call of Zolo Grill‘s happy hour. By the time we left around 6, it seems that every table and every barstool has been taken.
Price check: At happy hour, drinks, $3-$5 plus $8 for a beer and a shot. “Eats,” $2-$5.
Zolo Grill is on the Araphoe Avenue side (that is, the south side) of The Village, whose street address is 2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder.
When we travel, we like to check out the occasional Mexican restaurant to see what other countries’ notion of Mexican food might be. Based on one Sydney experience at the Baja Cantina on multi-ethnic Glebe Point Road, it’s pretty close to US versions.
Baja Cantina echoes California-style Mexican dishes and does it quite well — better, in fact, than the Mexican food we have tried in London and Bavaria
Baja Cantina is at 43-45 Glebe Point Road, Glebe, NSW. The local phone number is 9571 1199.
When I tasted the green chili — both pork and veggie/vegan — at Lucky’s Market over the weekend, my palate rewound to Casa Alvarez, which for two decades was arguably Boulder’s most popular Mexican restaurant. Their green chili was the stuff of local legend. Customers used to pick it up by the pint or quart.
Even though Ernesto Alvarez and Betty Artes shuttered the restaurant in the Willow Gardens shopping center, their fabled chili is back. Casa Alvarez Foods is up and running, making these great chilies for retail sale, and Lucky’s is among the first (if not the first) to carry it. Frozen versions are to make their appearance soon as well, and salsas are probably in their future too.
The company’s website is not functioning yet, but news and recipes are posted on its Facebook page.
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.