When we come back from the Western Slope, we often stop at the Ali Baba Grill in Golden for Lebanese/Middle Eastern food that is tasty, healthy, moderately priced and served quickly. Boulder has its own Ali Baba Grill — the fourth location. We’re happy.
It is on the same block with the new (and instantly popular) Rayback Collective. The décor is beyond simple — just a few Middle Eastern touches, but this is a place you don’t visit for its appearance. We seem to have neglected photographing the chicken kabobs, here are pieces of most and tender chicken served off the skewer. Sorry. Portions are generous at Ali Baba — always enough to bring some home.
Price check: At dinner, appetizers, $4.95-$9.95; entrées, $12.95-$19.95 (plus Lebanese meats, $29.95 for two); soups and salads, $4.25-$5.95); “pies” (savory empanada-like pastries), $2-$3 (plus 6-iem combos, $10-$12.
It is located in the building once occupied by the Siamese Plate Too and since then, a couple of other short-lived eateries. 3033 28th Street, Boulder; 303- 440-1393.
Zomato hasn’t yet discovered the Boulder location, so this box is for Golden.
Chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, partners in life and in business, are the culinary brains behind Avelina, a big new restaurant carrying a name that means “little bird.” Individually and together, they have produced exquisite fare in a number of restaurants, and Yasmin has been a James Beard finalist/semi-finalist pastry chef more times than I can recall.
I first encountered Broening at Primitivo, at the time the only fine-dining restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs, and again at Brasserie Rouge in the Ice House before Union Station’s major make-over. He joined Udi’s on Broadway, where and Yasmin met. They were in turn at Duo, Olivéa, Spuntino and now Avelina, which is owned by North Carolina-based Urban Food Group out but thanks to them and their team, it has a distinct Colorado flair.
The enormous space. which is proportioned like a big bank with high ceilings, large light fixtures and commodious furnishings, made for a grand setting for the grand opening party. The food — small bites or this and that — was as delicious as it was beautiful and vice versa. The servers were busy as worker bees ferrying out platter after platter (and beverages as well). Sometimes they had time to let guests know what we were eating. Other times not, so here are some uncaptioned food pictures.
Price check: Shared plates, $5-$16, charcuterie, $11-$12; large plates, $19-$39.
The new issue of 5280Magazine features its annual list of the 25 best restaurants in the Denver area — “area” meaning that Boulder is well represented. It is also the swan song for food editor Amanda Faison piloting this formidable project. After 20 years in the Denver office, she is leaving an in-house staff position and moving to the mountains, but she will still be contributing investigative and other features to the magazine.
The list, which must be more difficult every year as the local food scene keeps growing and improving, includes new names and returning ones as well:
Conor O’Neill’s, downtown Boulder’s Irish pub, has that time-worn ambiance of a place that’s been around for decades. In truth, became an instant institution a mere 17 years ago. It is closing on October 2, collateral damage from Boulder’s construction boom. First, its cozy back room and congenial patio fell victim to demolition/construction virtually in its backyard.
Little wonder that it felt so genuinely Irish. The owners has the whole restaurant built in Ireland. “The light fixtures, the furniture, the antiques and even the paintings on the walls were all made in Ireland and shipped over,” co-founder Colm O`Neill told the Daily Camera in 1999. “We even have four Irish bartenders who have come over to the states to work for us.”
With the shuttering of the pub, the fate of the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade that “marches up and down the block is in question. Meanwhile, the other Conor ONeiil’s in Ann Arbor, Michigan presumably will remain open.1922 13th Street, Boulder; 303- 449-1922.
…and in Denver
The Campus Lounge, a popular Bonnie Brae watering hole, closed yesterday after 40 years. Click here for the local CBS News report on its last day.
All you can eat and all you can drink at DCPA event.
More than 40 Denver restaurants and other food purveyors are doing their culinary thing in the shadow of the “Two Dancers” sculpture at the Denver Performing Arts Complex tomorrow, September 25, 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the 22nd annual Westword DISH food festival. It’s a bargain as such things go — $20 general admission and $75 VIP early entry. Both levels include unlimited food samples and beverages (Stella Artois beer and others).
Syrup, Little Man Ice Cream, The Real Dill, Aikopops, Onefold, Biker Jim’s, Roaming Buffalo BBQ, The Vegan Van, Dirt Coffee Bar, Interstate Kitchen, Neighbors Wine Bar, Milk & Cake, Brazen, Il Porcellino, Frijoles Colorado, Amore Gelato, Jozi’s Kitchen & Sheebeen, Americatus, the Nickel and more will all be dishing samples at DISH. It’s not a family event, however, as it’s 21+. (Take RTD and bring an ID.)
You can buy tickets online or at the entrance beginning at 10 a.m. with no service fee.
Former John’s Restaurant location reborn as River and Woods.
The small house at 2328 Pearl Street in Boulder long was John’s Restaurant, an atmospheric, romantic, family-run restaurant. Chef-restaurateur John Bizzarro operated the place for decades, and then Corey Buck took over. Eventually, Buck moved on and the quaint cottage stood empty. John and his wife Nancy still own the building, and they were determined that no chain would occupy the space. It took a while to find a team to renovate and operate it.
That team, publisher/restaurateur Josh Dinar and Denver star chef Daniel Asher, have created River and Woods, a new paradigm in Boulder dining. There is neither river nor woods nearby, but the name implies a simpler, more natural approach to food. Asher was behind the cutting-edge food at Denver’s Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s. Dinar is a co-owner of Boulder’s T|ACO, co-founder of First Bite Boulder and publisher of DiningOut Magazines.
River and Woods is a sprightly new space with a terrific outdoor backyard. A few rustic tables and wooden barrels were scattered amid the trees on pre-opening weekend, and there’s also an outdoor kitchen that wasn’t yet operating. The new menu uses local ingredients to create food that is both familiar and infused with innovation. Some of the recipes are tributes to the Bizzarro days. Others derive from contributions solicited from Boulder foodies. Still others come from the fertile culinary mind of Daniel Asher.
We were invited to the Friday night opening party where wonderful small bites were passed around (spicy corn dogs were the best — and I don’t generally like corn dogs all that much). And today, we sampled the real thing at a Friends and Family Brunch.
The old John’s Restaurant was a special-occasion place to dine, and judging by our initial experience, River and Woods will be that as well.
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
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.