Colorado

Restaurants in Boulder
I’m lucky to live in Boulder, CO. At every level of dining, there are really good choices. Now, when we travel, it is much harder to impress us. While I’m listing places where we’ve recently eaten, we eat out so much that it would take too long to talk about everyone and I don’t want to say anything negative. You can always contact me if you want to know about a restaurant.

*Frasca: This is a consistently top restaurant. We’ve enjoyed both their regular menu nights and their special Monday wine nights. Everything is great from the food to the service. The restaurant itself is beautiful, airy and not too noisy. It’s not impossible to get a table; you can even show up and eat at the bar (which allows for fantastic conversation) or at the salumi bar (where you can watch some plating).  [Frasca has expanded to Pizzeria Locale – worth waiting or making reservations – and Frasca Caffe – which has fresh baked bread, hot/cold sandwiches, and pastries.]

*The Kitchen (solid food – local and organic choices throughout; since early 2009 they stopped taking reservations for small groups)
*Jax Fish house (noisy but food is good)
*Tahona (unusual choices on the children’s menu)
*Aji (many tasty, unusual items – Latin, not Mexican)

*Arugula (French bistro feel in both food and atmosphere; good choice of wines;  extremely expensive unless you can show up on Monday for the prix fixe or during Taste of Boulder)
*Black Cat (really well-prepared, local food; small room – tables along the middle are not as comfortable as those along the edges; views of the kitchen throughout)
*Salt (similar to The Kitchen, very good local food; noisy atmosphere)

Less expensive places that we also really like:
*Southside (breakfast/lunch)
*Southern Sun brewery

First Bite Boulder:  For the last few years, in October, several local publication firms have sponsored (probably organized) an event where many local restaurants offer a set price (prix fixe) meal.  The price has only gone up mariginally in the last few years. I think it’s a great way to re-visit favorite places and try new places.  This year (2009) we tried Salt and Arugula.  It’s a lot of fun.  The only hint is that if you can make reservations in advance, do so.  Every place was busy, even in the middle of the week.

Noodle houses & Dim Sum:  There are many little noodle houses around Boulder now (as well as Nepalese/Tibetan/Indian).  Zoe Ma Ma has very authentic northern food.  A short drive away in Broomfield, you can find dim sum and a number of Pho places near the Pacific Ocean supermarkert.

Other food to consider: Udi’s breads — buy them as full loaves (not sliced) at the farmer’s market or at local stores. Hazel Dell mushrooms (also at the farmer’s market) and often at Whole Foods Pearl Street. Three Sister’s Pantry – They sell their dumplings at the farmer’s market, freshly made, or you can buy them at Whole Foods in the frozen section. In August and the beginning of September, you have to get the peaches and cream corn from Munson Farms and the peaches from Morton’s.

Restaurants in Denver
*Mizuna (On our last visit, the service was good, the savory items were great – enough to make us go back or try some ideas at home – but the dessert was mediocre. The food was so good that any downsides could be easily overlooked.)
*Vesta Dipping Grill (This is a fun place to eat with a group. We ordered 3 different items (scallops, duck, and lamb) and many different sauces. Then we could share the sauces. Note that they have a 3 course kid’s meal which includes an in-house ice cream sandwich for dessert. The adult dessert choices were just OK. The sauces had good flavor but were too thin, especially to dip.)
*Fruition:  (The food was fresh and the wine selection was good.  The most unusual dish was an oysters Rockefeller that was made by wrapping a very thin slice of potato around an oyster.  They also have a 2 course vegetarian selection which was very tasty.)

*Cholon:  (The food was innovative and gives fusion food a good name.  The restaurant decor is modern and vibrant.  The service was great.)

Breckenridge

I recently wrote about our trip to Breck at https://etudesinfood.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/breckenridge-co/.  You can find some information about restaurants and such.  There are a lot of good choices at the mid-range level.  Many of these places do not take reservations and so during high season, be prepared to wait. On the nicer end, Modis was a very pleasant surprise and I’d go back there again.

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