Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

Chi-Mex in Loveland

Casual taqueria has surprising Midwestern roots.

005Taqueria Los Comales in a strip shopping center on the fringes of central Loveland has all the earmarks of a  real Mexican spot — a salsa bar with eight salsas and four other items, an absence of combination plates and menudo on the menu. The space seems to have been repurposed from something that wasn’t always Mexican. The black Styrofoam take-out boxes are labeled Church’s Fried Chicken.

I like the promise on the back of a waitress's T-shirt.
I like the promise on the back of a waitress’s T-shirt.

I didn’t grab a plasticized menu, and there were no paper take-out ones, so I went on-line and was surprised that Taqueria Los Comales was born in Chicago and still has restaurants there, as well as in northern Colorado and elsewhere. The graphics and menus are identical, but there is no obvious ownership or franchise link between the Midwestern taquerias and the outliers.

Multi-item salsa bar. Guests may take as much and as many little portions as they wish. The tortilla chips brought to the table are double-thick and crisp.
Multi-item salsa bar. Guests may take as much and as many little portions as they wish. The tortilla chips brought to the table are double-thick and crisp.
The fajitas come in a hot cast-iron pan, but there the resemblance to typical Colorado fajitas ends. The meat and vegetables are chopped, cooked and topped with white cheese.
The fajitas come in a hot cast-iron pan, but there the resemblance to typical Colorado fajitas ends. The meat and vegetables are chopped, cooked and topped with white cheese. Two huge flour tortillas, rice, shredded yellow cheese and mashed refried beans come on the side.
The veggie burrito contained rice, onions, peppers and a bit of tomato wrapped in a flour tortilla. Too bad it was barely lukewarm. Smothered burritos are, of course, an option.
The veggie burrito contained rice, onions, peppers and a bit of tomato wrapped in a flour tortilla. Too bad it was barely lukewarm. Smothered burritos are, of course, an option.

Price check: Tacos, $1.75 or 3 for $7.99; tortas, $5.25; burritos, $5.85; dinners, $11.99.

1518 Madison Avenue, Loveland; 970-667-9998.

Taqueria Los Comales Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Post Brewing on New Year’s Day

Fried chicken, booze and black-eyed peas.

063 The Post Brewing Company opened a couple of years go in a former VFW Post in downtown Lafayette, but good intentions aside, it was only yesterday that I finally got there. My husband and I went for a New Year’s Day walk at Barr Lake State Park near Brighton, so East Boulder County was a logical place for something to eat. The pickings are slimmer than in the Boulder orbit.

I have high regard for anything David Query and his Big Red F Group put together — a gaggle of distinctive eateries that are all so different that they don’t feel like part of a group. several Jax Fish House locations, Zolo, Centro, the West End Tavern and Lola are really cut from different culinary cloths, and The Post Brewing Company, operated in partnership with former Zolo executive chef Brett Smith, was different from all the rest. We were glad to show up just as happy hour was starting, but in truth, the very limited happy hour menu didn’t really appeal to us. Everything else is à la carte, a format I don’t love.

The large space contains a tempting pastry case right at the entrance, booths, high-top tables, a couple of bars, the brewery run by Bryan Selders in the back and both enclosed patio and seasonal outdoor seating on the west side of the building. It certainly can handle a crowd, and as we were leaving, people were pouring in.

Oak tables hold flatware wrapped in cloth napkins.
Oak tables hold flatware wrapped in cloth napkins and water glasses, the casual look du jour.
Happy Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime) was an appropriate way to celebrate 2016.
Happy Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime) was an appropriate way to celebrate 2016.
It was New Year's Day, so we had to order the black-eyed peas.
It was New Year’s Day, so we had to order the black-eyed peas, served cold in a little handled pan.
Small side salad make with Romaine lettuce. Like other Post Brewing dishes, it comes in a choice of sizes.
Small side salad make with Romaine lettuce. Like other Post Brewing dishes, it comes in a choice of sizes.
Dave Query hails from Kentucky, so he has a knack for fried chicken. The plate holds four generous pieces of crisp-fried bird pieces.
I don’t know where Smith grew up, but Dave Query hails from Kentucky, so he has a knack for fried chicken, and I suspect his influence is strong here. This plate holds four generous pieces of crisp-fried bird pieces. It is served on a small pool of country gravy.
My husband loves mashed potatoes, here served with gravy ladled over the top..
My husband loves mashed potatoes, here served with gravy ladled over the top..

075Price check: I don’t have a menu, and none is available on-line, but the five items above plus an additional 50¢ for a biscuit came to $32.25, plus tax.

Geographically challenged Zomato claims that Post Brewing is in Louisville, but it’s really in Lafayette, specifically at 105 West Emma Street; 303-593-2066.

The Post Brewing Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Viva, Viand!

Former fondue place now a “modern American” eatery.

Viand-logoThe co-joined restaurants at 15th and Arapahoe have been several things. Until recently, the corner space was a steakhouse, a place that looked uninviting due to lattice obscuring the windows, and the next space along 15th specialized in fondue. Now, the steak space that was Gallagher’s then Hickory Prime and then just Prime Steakhouse has become the “Cheers”-like, lattice-free Reunion Gastropub + Wine Bar, and the old La Fondue/Le Chateau space is the light and attractive Viand Modern American.  Where’s my scorecard?

Rodriguez and Menu over the head of one of Viand's media guests.
Rodriguez and Menu over the head of one of Viand’s media guests.

I went to Reunion for lunch on November 13 and had a long chat with manager Martin Hammer, a Front Range veteran restaurateur. By the time I returned for a media gathering at Viand on December 1, both Hammer and the young chef were gone. The current headliners are consulting chef Dana Rodriguez and executive chef Victor Mena. Both go back a long way, when they worked together at Tamayo, at Rioja and most recently at Work & Class, Rodriguez’s  brainchild/dream-come-true on the southern reaches of RiNo.

House-made burrata with a house-made pretzel, a curl of sweet red pepper and walnut pesto star on this board.
House-made burrata with a house-made pretzel, a curl of sweet red pepper and walnut pesto star on this board.
Poached pear with shaved Pecorino, grilled radicchio, hazelnut vinaigrette and pomegranate reduction.
Poached pear with shaved Pecorino, grilled radicchio, hazelnut vinaigrette and pomegranate reduction.
Asparagus, pork belly and poached egg with strips of shaved Pecorino.
Asparagus, pork belly and poached egg with strips of shaved Pecorino.
Beautifully seared scallops atop zucchini cakes with a nut-free Romesco-style tomato sauce and a few olives alongside.
Beautifully seared scallops atop zucchini cakes with a nut-free Romesco-style tomato sauce and a few olives alongside.
The menu calls this unusual and delicious dessert,
The menu calls this unusual and delicious dessert, “Avocado-Lime Pie.” It’s a combo of avocado and lime topped with crunchy pistachios and whipped cream — served in a coffee cup.

Price check: Small plates, $8-$12 (plus $18 for large risotto); #14-$21 (plus $28 for New York strip).

Zomato.com has not yet discovered Viand, which is at 1040 Fifteenth Street, Denver, just a block from the Denver Performing Arts Center. I’m hoping they will soon offer a pre-theater menu.

Lunch in Long Beach

Crepes & more in downtown restaurant.

P1060752We paid a long-overdue visit to friends in Long Beach, and after a gabfest at their home, we headed downtown for a bite of lunch.  French fare always hits the spot, so I was happy to visit Crème de la Crepe, a delightful little restaurant — and perhaps our own little food tribute to the recent tragedy in Paris.

This appears to be a small local chain. The Long Beach one is light, airy  and has French literary quotes stenciled on the ceiling. Yellow appears to be the theme color, carried out with yellow cloth napkins and a yellow rose on each table. I am generally not a fan of chains, but I would not be unhappy if someone from Colorado would buy a franchise.  One reason: at least at lunch, the fresh mixed salad with an authentically French salad dressing, not the bottled orange glop, that came with each dish four of us ordered.

Crème de la Crepe is a
Crème de la Crepe is a “restaurant tres charmant.”
Chicken Panini with potatoes au gratin.
Chicken Panini with potatoes au gratin.
Crab (not crabcake) Benedict, with hefty French bread slice.
Crab (not crabcakes) Benedict, with hefty French bread slice and also potatoes au gratin.
Croque monsieur with the customary accompaniments.
Croque monsieur with the customary accompaniments.

P1060754

A dessert crepe was called for. Caramel-mango crepe with a zig-zag of chocolate sauce on top, and ice cream and whipped cream alongside.
A dessert crepe was called for. Caramel-mango crepe with a zig-zag of chocolate sauce on top, and ice cream and whipped cream alongside.

Price check: None to add. The menu is not on-line, and since I assumed it would be, I didn’t take notes.

The restaurant is at 400 East First Street, Long Beach, CA; 562-437-2222.

Crème de la Crêpe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Harvest Market at Union Station

Boulder Farmers’ Market organizes 1-day market in Denver.

FarmersMarket-logoDenver’s Union Station hosts a Harvest Market this Saturday, October 10 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wynkoop Plaza. Expect market 10 Colorado farms, including The Fresh Herb Co., Cure Organic Farm, Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms, Jodar Farms, Oxford Gardens and Plowshares Community Farm. Union Station restaurants, including Mercantile Dining & Provision, Stoic & Genuine and Snooze, prepare foods for market day.

The exemplary Boulder County Farmers Markets, a nonprofit organization that has operated producer-only farmers markets in Boulder County since 1987, is organizing this market too. The Union Station Alliance, which BTW just won a Phoenix Award from the Society of American Travel Writers, is eager to explore “new ways to offer travelers and locals alike more quick and curated options at Denver Union Station,” said Joe Vostrejs, partner in the organization that redeveloped the historic building. A fine farmers’ market is one of those “new ways.”

‘Dining Out’ Mag Readers’ “Prime Picks”

Diners select their Denver & Boulder favorites.

PrimePicks-logoDining Out magazine — mostly menus but some features too — invited readers to select what they considered the best in various categories. Like all such reader selections, the results are heavily weighted toward what’s “hot” and “in” now, not necessarily the best. How, for example, would Black Cat and/or its sister restaurant, Bramble & Hare be left off the farm-to-table list? And not to put to fine a point on it, but Chez Thuy is not really Chinese and Sherpa’s is not really Indian. But here, with that caution, is the Prime Picks list. Clicking on a category should bring up details on the winner:

 Denver

Continue reading ‘Dining Out’ Mag Readers’ “Prime Picks”

Nederland Grocery Store’s Burger Stand

040I’ve passed B&F Mountain Market in Nederland, say, a million times  and never been in the store. Until today. I’ve seen the sign for Mountain Burgers but never spotted a storefront.  And that’s because there is none. Today, after a gorgeous fall hike,  we finally went in to put puzzle pieces together. The little market in Ned’s shopping center is whistle-clean and stocks a find variety of good food — lots of organics include. In a corner is a small stand that sells burgers and other hot foods.

We opted for burgers and something cold to drink. The grill was really busy, so there was a bit of a wait, but definitely worth it.

The regular burger is a huge half-pounder, hand-formed and piled into a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, pickle and cheese, if desired. The combo adds excellent skin-on fries and a soft drink.
The regular burger is a huge half-pounder, hand-formed and piled into a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, chopped onion, pickle and cheese, if desired. The combo adds excellent skin-on fries and a soft drink.
That was too much for me, so I ordered the kid's burger -- essentially the same thing but a smaller patty.
That was too much for me, so I ordered the kid’s burger — essentially the same thing but a smaller patty.

The market and its burger corner are at 60 Lakeview Dr, Nederland; 303-258-3105.