The Daily Meal selects casual spots with memorable food — only one in Colorado.
Yes, I’m at it again — scouring yet another list of noteworthy eateries to see which (if any) Colorado restaurants appear. This time, it’s The Daily Meal’s annual list of “The 101 Best Casual Restaurants in America.” In Colorado, the site likes Bones, one of Frank Bonanno’s Denver restaurants, and only Bones. I give The Daily Meal credit for acknowledging that Colorado is one of the fly-over states, but the 101 selected are so top-heavy with New York (with strong representation from Texas, California and New Orleans) that there’s little room for others. Sigh. The Daily Meal wrote:
#82 Bones, Denver, Colo.
The home page animation on Bones’ website shows old-timey Chinese warriors invading Paris, and that’s basically Bones in a nutshell: French-inspired Asian noodles and buns, with menu items you probably won’t find anywhere else on earth. Escargot potstickers; chilled vermicelli with shrimp ceviche and chimichurri; lobster ramen with edamame, beurre blanc, scallion, and miso lobster broth; green chile ramen with braised pork shoulder, hominy, queso fresco, and a fried egg… Wait, that last one isn’t French, it’s Tex-Mex! Well, whatever, it’s still insanely delicious. Bones is a culinary jumble in the best way imaginable.
Last night, I watched some TV program about street food. It came to my screen via Netflix, so I don’t recall the name of the program. I do know that the only slightly annoying English host was in Mumbai and ate at lot food stalls. So when my husband and I wanted lunch to fortify ourselves for plant shopping, I was pre-disposed to an Indian buffet. The Tandoori Grill in the Table Mesa Shopping Center was convenient. We were at the front door (along with about a dozen others) when it was unlocked, so all the food was still hot and freshly prepared.
Price check: The lunch buffet is $9.89, plus tax. Beverages additional.
North Boulder restaurant’s cheery ambiance and breakfasts.
On a gloomy morning with day-long rain promised again, Tangerine‘s allure was irresistible. We entered beneath the tangerine-colored awning into the cheerful and sunny tangerine-rich décor. That started the smiles, and the excellent breakfast dishes made with the tastiest, freshest, most nutritious ingredients continues to fuel the day the most upbeat day. We got there early. That was a good thing, because a line built quickly and soon guests were being seated in the flexible space between the it and its sister restaurant, Arugula Bar y Ristorante.
Juice, coffee, fine breakfast entrées and prompt courteous service warmed our bodies and lifted our spirits beyond the rainclouds. Tangerine’s full bar provided some temptations that we resisted. What willpower!
Price check: At breakfast/brunch, Pancakes, French Toast & Waffle, $7-$9.50; On the Lighter Side, $3.50-$7.50; Eggs, $5.95-$13; Benedicts, $10.50-$13.50; House Specialties, $9.50-$13; Extras, $1.50-$4.50.
The capitals of Colorado and New Mexico lay claim the best of this Southwestern fave.
Ask a Coloradan which city makes the best green chile cheeseburger, and the instant answer is Denver, The Mile High City. Ask a New Mexican, and the reply is Santa Fe, The City Different. There are plenty of reasons to visit beautiful, artistic San Fe, and its Green Chile Cheeseburger Trail is one of them.
Here’s what Santa Fe claims: Santa Fe, NM is a burger lover’s paradise, and ‘The City Different’ spends 365 days celebrating the Green Chile Cheeseburger. Santa Fe’s indigenous cuisine dates back to the area’s Native American roots and their staples of beans, corn and squash. With the introduction of foods brought by the Spanish like onions, tomatoes and of course, chile, the table was set for what became the distinctive New Mexican fare with its enduring emphasis on the use of chile in and on almost everything. The green chile cheeseburger has been a staple on menus around the state of New Mexico since at least the middle of the 1900s.
Argentine specialties & ‘futbol’ decor in Boulder.
Rincon Argentino brings a bit of Argentina to central Boulder. This fast-casual eatery in The Village shopping center specializes in empanadas — those tasty little pouches of dough that are filled and either baked or fried — at Rincon, they are baked. Fifteen appear on the restaurant’s menu, each with a different shape. The cognoscenti recognize what filling is in which empanada shape (or at least, which is the favorite). For the rest of us, there are sheets with pictures and captions.
In addition to moderately priced Argentine specialties and futbol, Ricon Argentino is also the place to go for mate (traditional, yerba or iced), various espresso options, local beer or wine from Argentina. There is also a small selection of Argentine prepared foods and grocery items.
The website is currently (still) under construction at this writing. It does indicate when the restaurant is open (closed Sundays, it says), The take-out menu that I picked up indicates that Monday is the closed day. Advice: double-check.
Price check: Empanadas, $3.40 each; gluten-free tartas (empanada pies), $6.50; salads, $3.40-$4.50 for side salads and $9.80 for entrée salads; sandwiches, $5.75-$9.50; desserts, $3-$4.99.
Downtown Durango spot for good food, drinks & service.e
My husband and I drove to Durango to take my son out for his 21st birthday, complete with a bottle of bubbly to celebrate. His choice was Seasons Rotisserie and Grill. A good choice it was too. On that warm late September evening, we sat on the patio and happily acknowledged an important milestone in his life. That was in 2003, and since then, Seasons has undergone a lot. In 2008, a devastating and fire ripped through the block. The restaurant and neighboring businesses were destroyed. Fortunately, Seasons rebuilt, more attractive and welcoming than before.
On Easter weekend 2015, with winter still over our shoulders, four of us went to Seasons and were seated in a cozy booth. The food was even better than I remembered, and the beverage list and fine service matched the cuisine. As the name implies, the menu changes seasonally, and as can be expected, local purveyors are used and acknowledged on the menu: James Ranch, LB Coop, Banga’s Farm, Rainbow Springs, Adobe House Farm, MT Roots, Bob Laitsch (known locally for his heritage pigs), Southern Roots Farm, Southwest Farm Fresh and Rohwer’s Farm.
Price Check: Starters, $3-$13; Soup & Salad, $7.50-$10; Pan roasted & Sautéed, $20-$24; Wood Fire Grill & Rotisserie, $17-$28, plus several at market price.
Boulder is about to lose a wonderful Mediterranean restaurant.
My jaw dropped in sadness and in surprise when I learned that owners Jon and Eleni Deering, owners of Volta, are closing the restaurant and planning to move to Portland, Oregon. Sunday, March 29 is the last day, ending with a farewell taverna dinner where the tears will surely flow along with the wine. The couple put their hearts and their passion into this terrific restaurant located at Canyon and Folsom next to McGuckin’s. The location, it turns out, was too challenging. Downtown, the couple feels, would have made a world of difference. This is actually surprising, since people tend to complain about the lack of parking in downtown Boulder, and the McGuckin’s lot provided ample parking.
I’ve been there a number of times, mostly for happy hour in the restaurant with modern art on the walls or on the enchanting patio. I also had two fabulous multi-course dinners there: once with a group of food bloggers not long after it opened (click here) and just last October when it celebrated its first anniversary with a special menu (click here). Sadly, there will not6 be a second anniversary. My husband and I went to Volta this evening, again enjoying the tapas menu at happy hour where we made farewell toast and ordered favorites from the small plates menu — for the last time.
Price check: At happy hour (which Volta calls “tapas hour,” small plates range from $1 to $10.
Best wishes to the Deerings for the next chapter in their lives. Lucky Portland!
Claire Walter's Colorado-oriented but not Colorado-exclusive blog about restaurants, food and wine events, recipes and related news.