La Choza Gets a Brick-and-Mortar Home

After a couple of moves, Mexican hut set for “lucky” space.

LaChoze-logoAs we’ve discovered through two locations in dirt parking lots (first on the west end of the Diagonal Highway and currently behind the ReBay pawn shop on North Broadway), La Choza has aced the preparation of down-to-earth Mexican food at down-to-earth prices. When we stopped there a few days to refuel after a hike, we saw an encouraging sign that La Choza was moving around the corner.

The sign of things to come.

The sign of things to come.

Meanwhile, customers are always waiting around the hut for their orders.

Meanwhile, customers are always waiting around the hut for their orders.

The food is cheap and good. Here is a puffy quesadilla.

The food is cheap and good. Here is a puffy quesadilla.

Burrito wrapped in foil and ready. Customers select their red or green chile sauce.

Burrito wrapped in foil and ready. Customers select their red or green chile sauce.

The space that launched Pupusa's and Julia's will next house La Choza.

The space tucked in next to ReBay at 4457 Broadway that launched Pupusa’s and Julia’s will next house La Choza.

My hopes that La Choza would alight at 4457 Broadway are coming to pass. Both Pupusas Sabor Hispano and Julia’s Kitchen started simply there and moved onto to bigger, better spaces. I think of his little storefront as “lucky.” I hope the luck continues for the hard-working owner of La Choza.

Looking in on Lindsay’s Deli Remodel

Pearl Street Mall classic looking good & expanding menu.

HaagenDasz-logoThere is no shortage of places to buy frozen treats in downtown Boulder. Ice cream and frozen yogurt shops and carts abound in the Pearl Street Mall and on adjacent blocks to the east, west and south. One long-timer is on the southwest corner of Broadway and Pearl. When a Häagen-Dazs shop opened in 1981, little Lindsay Shaw helped her parents. She gave out samples and dipped the popular ice cream — one of the first boutique brands. A decade ago, she became a Häagen-Dazs and became a franchisee a decade or so ago. She transitioned into the deli realm, first adding soups and later sandwiches, baked good and breakfast. She also added the words “Lindsay’s Boulder Deli” to the awning.

LIndsay's Boulder Deli sports a clean new look, with all the seating up front near the Pearl Street windows.

Lindsay’s Boulder Deli sports a clean new look, with great wood finishes and lighting.

The ice cream/shop deli had enjoyed immense popularity, but the place was nothing much to look at. Shaw put covered the windows paper and embarked on a total renovation and expansion to nearly 3,000 square feet that took the better part of spring. The wraps are off now, so I popped in for a look. The layout has been reconfigured, and the floors, walls, counters, seating and lighting are new, as are the restrooms that I didn’t check out. The soup and sandwich menu offers both deli classics and modern combos of ingredients. As for ice cream, Lindsay’s is still dipping.

Lindsay's Boulder Deli on Urbanspoon

3 Tasting Rooms = Boulder Wine Studios

North Boulder boasts the city’s new “winery row.”

boulder-wine-studios-logoBookcliff Vineyards, a family-run operation that makes wines from grapes grown in its own Western Slope vineyards, has operated a tasting room in North Boulder for several years. Two newer wineries have now joined it. Settembre Cellars, founded in 2007 and now graduated from being a home operation, prides itself on hand-crafted, Old World-style wines. What We Love Winery is just the opposite — a non-traditional winery founded on the Aussie-born, Kiwi-trained winemaker’s love of chardonnay and offbeat diversion into bottled sangria under the Decadent label.

The trio now have wineries and tasting rooms within a few feet of each other, and today was the grand opening of the Boulder Wine Studios, as they promotionally call themselves, at 1501 Lee Hill Road (at US 36). Just as Colorado Winery Row at 46th and Pecos creates a wine destination in Denver, the Wine Studios are now doing so in Boulder. The grand opening was, well, grand, with $10 buying five tastes at each of the three wineries, a quality wineglass and a coupon for $5 off a single bottle. My husband and I were there and took full advantage. If you weren’t there, here’s a bit of what you missed.

Bellying up to the tasting bar at Settembre Cellars.

Bellying up to the tasting bar at Settembre Cellars.

Winemaker Michael (whose last name I don't yet know) offered a bonus barrel tasting.

Winemaker Michael Hasler offered visitors a bonus barrel tasting of his chardonnay.

Bookcliff Vineyards are the veterans at Wine Studios. Ulla Merz and her husband John Garlich established the vineyard and winery in 1992.

Bookcliff Vineyards are the veterans at Wine Studios. Ulla Merz and her husband John Garlich established the vineyard and winery in 1992. At her side is Justin, whose last name I don’t know, a sommelier and John’s assistant.

Weekends are tasting times at the Wine Studios. Click on the individual wineries’ links for hours. They overlap, but they are not identical.

Top Taco’s Winning Tacos & Margs

New competition crowned champions in Mexican categories.

TopTaco-logoI had a prior commitment and unfortunately could not attend yesterday’s first-ever Top Taco competition in Denver, but Eater Denver (or is it Denver Eater? — I never know) was there and posted a report. Here’s the site’s list of winners:

Traditional Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Comida for its Stella pork carnita taco.
2 Pinche Tacos for its own version of the carnita taco.
3. Billy’s Inn for its fish taco.

Creative Tacos (judges’ selections)

1. Machete for its cricket taco on a house made hibiscus tortilla.
2. Los Chingones for its mini lengua taco.
3. The Squeaky Bean for its steak and shrimp taco.

Traditional Tacos (people’s choice) 

1. Pinche Tacos
2. Billys Inn
3. Highland Tap

Creative Tacos (people’s choice)
1. Moontower
2. Comida
3. Zengo

Margarita (judges’ selections)
1. La Biblioteca
2. Comida
3. Adelitas

Margarita (people’s choice)

1. La Biblioteca
2. Machete
3. Adelitas

Presumably, a good time was had by all.


NY’s Tavern on the Green Back in Business

Renowned Central Park restaurant restored, reopened, reviewed.

TavernOnTheGreen-logoWhile perusing the New York Times a few months back, I read a piece about the renovations of the historic Tavern on the Green, an iconic restaurant in Central Park that morphed from simple to extravagant to closed. I learned a lot from that report: It dated to 1871 as “an 8,000-square-foot Sheepfold — an ornate shelter for the woolly, four-legged lawn mowers that once grazed on Sheep Meadow.” I now also know the origin of the phrase, “the sheep left (or returned to) the fold.”

The Sheep Meadow now hosts summer concerts, political demonstrations and recreational sports that require an expansive lawn, but from 1931 onward it was a restaurant. Its crescendo of opulence reached is climax in the days of Warner LeRoy, who expanded and glitzified in a fashion more suited to the Las Vegas strip than to a park in the middle of Manhattan. The gigantic 31,000-square-foot over-the-top restaurant closed in 2010, ending an era that some thought should not have been in the first place. “The restaurant has been closed since then. What the city got back was a mess,” the Times continued.

Two years later, the city granted a 20-year license to Philadelphia’s Emerald Green Group run by chef/restaurateurs  Jim Caiola and David Salama to restore and operate the restaurant. At that time, the Times reported that plans were to reopen in the fall of 2013. Delays of various sorts pushed the opening to April of this year.

According to Times restaurant critic Pete Wells, who just reviewed it. He loves the new old look , ( ), but is less enthusiastic about the food and service:

“The chef, Katy Sparks, may rethink some of the overworked, underdelivering recipes. The hosts may learn how to read their reservations screen so they don’t tell a customer he’s the first to arrive and ask him to wait while the rest of his party is already in the restaurant’s inner recesses, wondering if he’s gone for a carriage ride. Somebody may tell the servers not to drop the check while people are still eating dessert. The sommeliers may turn down the thermostat so that red wines aren’t the temperature of a kiddie pool.”

Still, next time I’m in New York, I’ll be willing to give it a try. It might have gotten its act(s) together by then. I sure hope so, because it’s a wonderful piece of New York history..