Azitra Restaurant – Indian Culinary Nirvana

Chana Masala

Chana Masala… Chickpeas + Diced Potatoes Cooked In Punjabi Style Sauce

I’ve been told, in no uncertain terms – by multiple folks, that the Indian food available in Boulder is nothing to write home about. Generally, people point to a few rough diamonds here and there, but for the most part, I’ve heard little aside from faint praise. So I went to Broomfield.

You’d be hard pressed to overhear, “Oh yeah… you want authentic Indian food? Head to Broomfield, Colorado!”

You’ve probably never heard that. Until now! 

Azitra is solid. The staff is awesome, the food is delish, and they have a decent selection of craft brews on tap and by the bottle. And I’m not kidding about the staff – we’ve received nothing but high-end service in five or six trips to Azitra.

Azitra lies just south of Flatiron Crossing. They have stunning views of the Front Range… and Walmart.

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Restaurant Kevin Taylor in Hotel Teatro

Just a few foodie highlights from Restaurant Kevin Taylor at the Hotel Teatro in Denver… many thanks to the Boulder Food Media Meetup group for pulling it all together!

Talk about a treat – six mini-courses paired with six gourmet cocktails at one of Denver’s finest restaurants in a luxurious, historic hotel. I swear I have no idea how to live this large, so I just play along and hope for the best…

Foie Gras Mousse at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Foie Gras Mousse donning turnip marmalade paired with Van Gogh Apple Vodka, Disaronno, and Lucien Albright Rose – is there a yuppie in the house?

Scottish Salmon Rillettes at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Scottish Salmon Rillettes – sweet potato cake and buckwheat granola with earl grey compote paired with Stranahan’s Whiskey, grapefruit juice, and muddled cucumber – probably my favorite course of the night that wasn’t dessert

Braised Bison Short Rib at Restaurant Kevin Taylor

Braised Bison Short Rib – cumin, olive beet relish, and prune puree paired with rye whiskey, Campari, Bitters, and root beer – no one may ever know how many of these I ate.

Delectable dessert at Restuarant Kevin Taylor

“Snickers” – peanut butter powder, burnt caramel, and nougat paired with a chocolate martini, Godiva Liqueur, Frangelico, and Baileys, which amounts to zero calories, if you’re unwise in the ways of counting calories. They also dipped the glass rim in melted chocolate and then coated it with some kind of sugary perfection prior to serving.

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Fruition Restaurant

Briefly, but more commentary to come… Fruition is my favorite restaurant in Colorado. It scores a 99 out of 100 on each of the following points:

– food quality
– food presentation
staff attentiveness, knowledge, and enthusiasm
value for a high-end meal
– date-night atmosphere
attention to every detail contributing to a wonderful dining experience

duck with a side of duck at Fruition

Fruition in Denver is one of very few restaurants exhibiting the wherewithal to serve duck – with a side of duck

Fruition Denver duck

Fruition: where ordering the duck is always a great idea.

Fruition lemon meringue

Fruition’s Lemon Meringue Pie with Graham Cracker Crust & Fresh Blueberry Compote – the upper 90% is gluten free! Also, the meringue kinda looks like the pointy DIA “tents”.

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Date Night in Boulder… It’s Business Time.

30-something kids on date night

Me + my much finer half @ Flagstaff House. They created a customized menu for G’s b-day *and* gave us a loaf of fresh pumpkin bread to take home. Yum. Needless to say: we love this place.

Business socks – check.
Sitter – check.
A night on the town with your sweetie – check.

You’re now ready to inhale half your weight in yuppie-riffic food at a local Boulder eatery. And you’re going… where? Here are some ideas…

More romance-y:

L’Atelier ($$$$) – French… fancy, awesome wine, excellent meat/cheese plate
Frasca ($$$$) – Italian… pricey, but arguably the best restaurant in the state
Black Cat ($$$$) – French inspired… slightly less expensive than Frasca, but at par, quality-wise. I haven’t actually eaten here yet, but my lovely girlfriend and I will make an evening of it this summer…
Flagstaff House ($$$$) – super romance-y, awesome views, stellar staff, top-notch fine dining, and top-notch prices (as in: expensive – but it’s time to spring for Date Night, so the sky’s the limit! Go big or go home.)
Dushanbe Tea House – very unique ambiance, eclectic blend of eastern European /Middle eastern /Indian /Asian cuisine

More hip:

Brasserie Ten Ten – French… reasonable prices, consistently excellent happy hour /dinner /brunch /dessert /wine /service
Pizzeria Locale ($$$) – Best pizza this ¼-Italian dude has ever had… fantastic charcuterie (fancy meat) plate, killer wine list (Frasca-owned)
Riffs (music-themed tapas destination next to the Boulder bookstore)
Aji Latin American – all-day food/drink happy hour every Sunday (3-9 p.m.) – seriously, the two of you can fill up on empanadas, taquitos, ceviche, gaspacho, and mojitos for under $15/each. Plus, the bartender’s name is Norm, and he looks like a slightly younger George Hamilton. Two more great reasons to go!
The Med – Mediterranean tapas… hard to beat The Med for absolutely any reason to celebrate in Boulder

Thanks to Teresa for inspiring this list, and I hope she takes full advantage of indulging in several of the above locales after Kid Number Two makes his appearance. Bon appetite!

And… for those of you Flight of the Concords fans… here’s the video so you don’t have to Google it. You know the song’s stuck in your head now… 🙂

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

Fonseca 'bin 27' ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port... consumed right to left.

Fonseca ‘bin 27’ ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port… consumed right to left.

Who knew the best place to taste test port in Boulder was at a fish house? This isn’t the world’s best photo, but if you drink enough port, it won’t matter. Full review to come…

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Kasa Japanese Grill & Bar

Snow Beauty sake at Kasa in Boulder

Pair your unfiltered sake with the best sushi in Boulder at Kasa

My best advice for your visit to Kasa in Boulder: Trust the sushi chef.

Your first step in dining at Kasa should be to return the warm greeting you received upon walking through the front doors from Mimi – the most enthusiastic and charming host in the universe. She makes you feel as though you’re a long-lost friend who just happened to wander into her home. If you’re feeling down, Mimi will brighten your day with a smile and a boatload of friendliness, so at least stop by and say hi.

Back to the sushi chef… after Mimi guides you to the best table in the house, she’ll hand you the nightly sushi features, which have been painstakingly scribed in colorful Sharpie-esque markers on a large, white dinner plate.

Kasa Sushi specials plate

Kasa Sushi specials plate

So here’s what to order: Ask the chef. Ask the chef to prepare whatever he has featured for the night, and you can’t go wrong. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know better than a sushi chef when it comes to ordering sushi. Unless you happen to also be a sushi chef, you will lose. This also means I can only suggest you consider trying whatever sashimi Kasa has on offer when you dine. If the sushi chef agrees you should try it, then go for it. Do not take my word for it. I’m not a sushi chef, nor am I a regular chef. I sometimes make a pickle/olive/cheese plate for dinner, so what the hell do I know?

Chefs, sushi and otherwise, are proud of their craft. Sushi chefs in particular, however, typically have closer interaction with customers than other chef-y types. If you’re sitting at the sushi bar, they’re typically standing right in front of you, waiting for your face to light up in moderate-to-full-blown ecstasy as you indulge in the fruits of their talent. Cooking – or not cooking, in sushi’s case – is their artwork, so feel free to take their word for it when it’s time to order.

you'll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your order at Kasa

you’ll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your meal at Kasa in Boulder

chef's choice of sashimi at Kasa in Boulder

Kasa’s sushi chef, per usual, delivered sashimi perfection.

marmalade cocktail

Kasa’s refreshing orange marmalade cocktail… one is all you’ll need.

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Pizzeria Locale

 

Pizzeria Locale bartender

Treat yourself to the Charcuterie plate and a handsome bartender at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder.

Pizzeria Locale dough tossing

The artisans at Locale in Boulder toss the dough before your eyes at a sushi-style pizza bar.

Pizzeria Locale Mais

If Locale’s sweet corn & prosciutto pie were a presidential candidate, it would win the electoral college by a gigantic landslide.

Pizzeria Locale dough toss

The Locale flour is flyin’ everywhere – behind the protective glass, of course.

Pizzeria Locale Ripieno Calzone

The basil/ricotta/prosciutto Ripieno is Locale’s answer to calzone, and, as my mom would say: “It’s to die for.”

Pizzeria Locale Basil Margherita

Locale’s Margherita pizza is topped with Perfect and served with a side of Awesome.

When the goods are this good, it’s wise to be economical with words. I’ll just say this…

Several weeks ago while indulging at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, my friend Ryan turned to me – in mid-bite of his sweet-corn prosciutto pie – and said:

“I think they must use a secret ingredient in their crust that makes it taste better than any other pizza in the entire universe.”

There you have it.

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Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

If you’re craving vegan or vegetarian fare, Leaf should definitely be one of your top choices for a romance-y dinner in Boulder.

portobello mushroom steak at Leaf in Boulder

Jedi Mind Trick from Leaf in Boulder: this looks like a giant steak, but it’s actually a portobello mushroom

I recommend starting with the Raw Wrap (rainbow chard, pea shoots, mixed sprouts, carrots, basil almond pâté, cashew “ricotta”) and following it up with the Vegetable Wellington (mushroom, onion, tomato, spinach & fontina in puff pastry, bordelaise, twice baked potato, sautéed greens, endive) entree. There’s a fair chance you won’t be able to finish the Wellington because it’s huge and awesome. The puff pastry and accompanying sauce are incredible.

It turns out it’s probably just as well you don’t finish the Wellington as Leaf features a prix fixe option where you choose three of one small plate, one salad, one entree, and one dessert. It’s a great deal for a boatload of high quality food.

Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake

We inhaled the Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake in less than 90 seconds.

As an aside, Leaf is owned by Aji Latin American Restaurant, which has one of the best happy hours deals in town on Sundays because it lasts for six hours – food and drink. Go get some.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant in Boulder

What Leaf has, Aji has, and vice versa

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D’Corazon Mexican Comfort Food

There’s one place to go in Denver if you’re craving mole sauce: D’Corazon.

D’Corazon offers any and all traditional Mexican dishes – a la carte or combo style – but the main reason to seek out The D is to experience their mastery of the mole sauce. It’s the perfect balance of spicy, sweet-chocolate-y, and savory. My favorte combination is the Mole Poblano, Traditional Style (below).

D'Corazon's Traditional Style Chicken Mole in Denver

D’Corazon’s Traditional Style Chicken Mole topped with sesame seeds… Spicy goodness! Wash it down with a frozen mango margarita.

The great irony of D’Corazon is that it’s directly across the street from the Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant on Blake in Lodo. There’s always a line out the door for the Rio, whereas it’s typically easy to find a table rather quickly at D’Corazon. And while the food at the Rio is occasionally decent, D’Corazon is the eatery of choice for quick, quality Mexican fare in Denver.

Further: there’s no question the Rio is the destination of choice if you’re looking to drink yourself into oblivion in a hurry. Rio margaritas are easy to drink – and easy to drink too much of before you realize how little time has passed. But if you’re in Lodo, and you’re hoping for stellar Mexican food, head east from the Rio – about 50 feet, and check out The D. It’s one of Denver’s lesser-known gems. Their $3 frozen mango margaritas are pretty tasty, too.

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Basta – A Wood Fire Eatery + Pizzeria

asparagus soup and bacon salad

Basta lunch: chilled asparagus soup followed by a baby lettuce salad with dates, walnuts, blue cheese, and awesome, enormous chunks of bacon — plus a New Belgium Heavenly Feijoa Tripel

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta:

baked herbed ricotta

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: house cheese – baked herbed ricotta, cherry tomato and sliced sunchoke

Basta Farro Salad

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: Farro salad – pomegranate, butternut squash, kale, hazelnut, and Colorado goat cheese – paired with slightly less Hog heaven

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: 24-hour slow-cooked, red-wine chuck flap, fingerling potato + root vegetable - paired with not much Hog Heaven left at all

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: 24-hour slow-cooked, red-wine chuck flap, fingerling potato + root vegetable – paired with not much Hog Heaven left at all

Basta campfire vanilla ice cream

First Bite Boulder at Pizzeria Basta: homemade Basta campfire vanilla ice cream – paired with a local Boulder porter

Basta's all wood fire oven

Basta’s all wood fire oven with a reflection of my enormous hair in the protective glass

Basta wood fire vegetable salad

Pizzeria Basta – wood fire vegetable salad – radicchio, beets, croutons, wood fire balsamic, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes

Basta House red

House red at Pizzeria Basta in front of firewood used to stoke the oven

Basta Daisy Pizza

Basta Daisy Pizza – tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil, olive oil – This pie rivals Pizzeria Locale’s Margherita. Exquisite!

Basta burnt caramel ice cream with sea salt

Pizzeria Basta dessert – burnt caramel ice cream with sea salt – Try it with a Porter!

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Watercourse Foods

Full review coming soon!

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Steuben’s Food Service

Full review coming soon!

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Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizzeria

Read the full Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizzeria review here.

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Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza Denver menu

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Root Down

Full review coming soon!

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Salt the Bistro

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Salt Bistro Boulder menu

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