Category Archives: Restaurant & multiple restaurants

Top BBQ in Colorado

Smokin’  Dave’s and GQ Championship BBQ on national list.

Adrian Miller, Denver-based lapsed lawyer, author of the James Beard Award-winning Soul Food: The Surprising Story of American Cuisine and The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our Fed Our First Families from the Washingtons to the Obamas, is also a certified barbecue judge. He just posted news that two Colorado restaurants (four locations total) have been named on the list of “Best of the Best Barbecue Restaurants in America” by National Barbecue News. Just 29 restaurants nationwide made the list.

In winter, when it’s not crowded, we have sometimes managed to score a table at Smokin’ Dave’s in Estes Park but usually end up stopping in Lyons on the way home. The meats, the chicken, the sauces, the even the sides (especially the sweet potato fries, slaw and the beans) are great. The funky automotive décor is run too. I don’t post every time we stop there, but occasional do, particularly the Lyons location après la deluge of 2013. We’ve never been to GQ Championship BBQ in Westminster, but it’s now on our to-try list.

Interestingly, neither of these restaurants appear on his Soul Food Scholar blog’s selection of his own favorite spots in the state and elsewhere. However, Durango-born Serious Texas Bar-B-Q (two in Durango and one each in Fort Collins and Loveland) meets his standards.

Upcoming Food Fests in Denver

Two alliterative competitions to find the best tacos and burgers.

Attendees at the massive Top Taco coming on Thursday, June 22 may sample unlimited taco tastes from and signature tequila cocktails  from 45 popular Denver restaurants. They can also vote for favorite in Top Creative Taco, Top Traditional Taco, Top Vegetarian Taco and Top Cocktail categories. Add live music, creative tequila lounge areas, and Top Taco is a hard to beat summer event.  Hours are 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. with early entry for the two most expensive tickets. General admission is $69, 1st Tasting is $90 and a VIP ticket is $125. Click here to purchase.

Last minute tickets available:
$10 OFF USE DISCOUNT CODE “LASTCHANCETACO” WHEN BUYING TICKETS AT TOPTACODENVER.COM FOR $10 OFF. OFFER GOOD THROUGH MIDNIGHT, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017.

Four local burger-meisters compete in the annual Denver Burger Battle on Thursday, August 3. They have to impress a picky and knowledgeable panel of judges — all chefs and restaurateurs — with their creativity and skills. Each chef prepares four types of burgers. Contestant restaurants are The Cherry Cricket, Stoic & Genuine,  and Park Burger. Heavy-hitter judges are Josh Wolken (Steuben’s, Ace, Vesta), Elise Wiggins (Cattivella), Bryan Dayton (Oak on Fourteenth, Acorn, Brider) and Bradford Heap (Salt, Colterra, Wild Standard), and attendees get to vote on the People’s Choice too.

General admission ($69.95) gets unlimited burger tastes from all competitors, open bar with craft beer, wine and samples of premium spirits and desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop & Sweet Action. VIP admission ($124.99) buys all that plus early admission to the event at 5:30 p.m. and reduced lines, exclusive VIP area with covered lounges, extra seating and private bars and specialty VIP cocktails (High Noon Vodka, Rebel Yell hiskey, Cane Rum, Fireball, Exotico Tequila, Buffalo Trace Bourbon or Tuaca), plus  unlimited desserts from Little Man, Glazed & Confused, Happy Bakeshop, & Sweet Action. The event is rain or shine, 21+ only and takes place at Tivoli Quad Park, Denver.

Himalayan Fare in North Boulder

Mandala Infusion serves Tibetan and related dishes.

My husband and I recently visited the Himalayan region (Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan). Let’s just say we were there for the culture and the mountains, not for the cuisine. Most of out meals were in hotels and tourist-oriented restaurants — mostly family-style and mostly blanded out for perceived American tastes.

This innocent-looking pilaf, in a little restaurant in Lhasa, was booby-trapped with small chicken bones.

I suppose it was just as well. On one free night in Lhasa, we went across the street from our hotel to a cute local restaurant whose exterior had a curiously Alpine roofline. The inside was cozy. The food was simple, and with no momos on the menu, I ordered the simplest of dishes, rice with chicken. The cooked chicken, bones and all, was hacked into tiny pieces — unpleasant.

Still, feeling a longing for things Himalayan, we went to Mandala Infusion, a sparkling restaurant on North Broadway that had previously been the ABC Café and a Thai restaurant — even concurrently with the café operating in the morning and the restaurant for dinner. Now, a large prayer wheel is stationed at the entrance.

The dinner/small plate menu does offer momos, no yak (but yak cheese), as well some dishes (notably Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad and Cabbage Kimchi, that that don’t seem Tibetan, but what do I know?

Traditional low-sitting sanngha tables remained unoccupied during our visit.
Golden Beet and Quinoa Salad on greens with tomato, cabbage and more. (Sorry, I didn’t write down all the ingredients.)
Momos available with lamb or veggies.
Tingbuns, which are sliders available filled with pork belly (shown here) or tofu.

Price check: At dinner Small plates, $6-$12; larger plates, $15-$19; sides, $3-$5.

4479 North Broadway, Boulder; 720-370-5800.

U.S. Restaurant Named World’s Best

Colorado restaurants and chefs have done passably well in domestic “best” and “top” lists, but even our finest have never been on a key global list. New York’s Eleven Madison Park was named the best restaurant on the planet by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, a list that bears the implication of an organization whose name seems self-serving.

The four leaves of Eleven Madison Park’s logo is a vague monochrome echo of that of the late Four Seasons’ trees.

Other U.S. restaurants in the top 50 are Blue Hill at Stone Barns,  Pocantico Hills, NY at No. 11; Le Bernardin, New York at 17; Alinea in Chicago at 21; Saison in San Francisco at 37 and Cosme in New York at 40.

Melbourne’s new designer hotel, QT Melbourne, has partnered with the World’s 50 Best Restaurants,is proud to be the official hotel of the 2017 event program. The World’s 50 Best chefs are set to experience the unique hospitality of QT Hotels and Resorts, with the entire group staying there during the program.

Time for Taste of Pearl ’17 in Boulder

Shops and galleries host restaurants, wineries & distilleries.

Fifteen downtown Boulder shops and galleries are again the venues for tastings from 15 local restaurants and 15 Colorado adult beverage purveyors during this year’s Taste of Pearl.  Terrific tasting and a congenial stroll-about along Boulder’s Pearl Street on a (hopefully sunny) spring afternoon — Sunday, April 23 from 2 to 6.

Click here for participating restaurants, here for wineries and distilleries and here for shops and galleries, some of which offer discounts to Taste attendees.  Ticket for general admission price is $65 in advance and $75 on event day, if any are left. VIP ticket is $75.  Note that the Flagstaff House and Frasca Food and Wine, on the pinnacle of Boulder’s top restaurants, are participating. Doesn’t happen that often.

The Kitchen On Best Farm-to-Table List

Food & Wine asked bloggers and other food experts in every state about “The Best Farm-to-Table Restaurants” in the state where they live. A number of Colorado restaurants now have their own farms, but Toni Dash, who blogs as  Boulder Locavore, selected a pioneer in farm-to-table sourcing and sustainability. Her choice  was The Kitchen, a Boulder baby that now has other Front Range locations in Denver and Fort Collins:

Colorado: The Kitchen

“Over the past five years in Boulder and Denver, I’ve noticed a big shift towards a vibrant restaurant scene with a palpable verve around sustainability,” said Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore. “Restaurants like Black Cat, Potager, and Fruition have really stepped up to the plate to deliver inspired seasonal cuisine.” Paving the farm-to-table way in Colorado is The Kitchen, which has establishments in Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins and applies its strong eco-friendly philosophy—that includes everything from the locally sourced ingredients to wind power to composting—in each location. Founders Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Husk have also created a nonprofit that’s built over 200 Learning Gardens in schools in Colorado, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis for 120,000 students to discover the benefits of growing and eating fresh healthy food.

I don’t know who changed the spelling of the name of one of the co-founders. It’s actually Kimball Musk, not Kimball Husk. He’s the brother of Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, but his commitment to good, healthy food does not end at his restaurants. Late last year, he launched Square Roots, an urban farming incubator program in Brooklyn, New York.

Good Greek Food in Boulder

Casual, independent eatery’s fresh food.

I wanted to stretch my legs on the drizzly day of errands, so I walked from McGuckin’s to REI. Boulderites will know my route. As I passed the shuttered Volta Restaurant, I rued its loss, but it did put me the mood for Greek food. I recalled a little Greek place in a nearby strip mall. Our errands completed, my husband and I headed for the Kalita Grill Greek Café.  Good decision.

The kitchen is visible from the order counter. The small staff (family?) delivers food to the table.

This is an order a-the-counter place. While it is not a hip open kitchen, the whistle-clean kitchen is visible as you wait to order. Hot food is delivered to the table hot; salads are cold; desserts are room temperature. I don’t know whether every single phyllo thing is made in-house, but everything we had was fresh and tasty — and the portions were generous.

Two skewers of moist and tender chicken breast meat, nicely seasoned and perfectly grilled, are the main attractions of the Chicken Souvlaki plate. It comes with a good Greek salad (feta held at my husband’s request), pita and a small side of house-made tzatziki sauce.
Spanakopita is one of my favorites. Kalita serves two phyllo-wrapped spinach pies that are crisp and flaky, Alongside is a feta-sprinkled Greek salad and some of that fine tzatziki sauce.
Sweet stuff in phyllo. On the left, walnut-filled flogera, a tube-shaped pastry squiggled with dark chocolate. On the right, pistachio-heavy baklava with honey.

If I have one criticism of this wonderful, reasonably priced café, it is the music selection. Greek tunes would be far better than the elevator music-style light jazz — just for the ambiance.

Price check: Soups, $3.50 for a cup, $3.99 for a bowl; gyro sandwiches and shawarma warps, $6.50-$8.50 (plus $2.99 for coma with fries, salad or soup and soda); salads, $8.50-$10.50; plates, $8.99-$12.99;  sides, $1.50-$5.99; desserts, $3.25-$3.99.

Zomato has not yet discovered Kalita, which is in at 2426 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder; 303-443-0596. It is in the row of businesses between JoAnn’s Fabrics and Doug’s Day Diner.