BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Ian Clark, formerly of Centro and Jax Fish House, has officially nailed it with Bru handbuilt ales & eats in Boulder.

He could have stopped at unfiltered ales and sourdough pizza. That would have clinched it for me, but he took it to eleven. Here’s what to try at Bru:

Citrum IPA: this is one of my favorite Colorado IPAs (the others being Bootstrap’s Insane RushOdell, Avery, and Ska’s Modus Hoperandi).
– Sourdough basil (margherita) pizza… they’ll substitute locally available spinach if basil is not in season.
Beer mustard butter – are you kidding me? This is the peak of culinary creativity. Do I bathe in it or eat it? Hey, I can bathe in it *and* eat it! (thanks, Gaffigan)

Bru should top your list of Boulder brewery destinations, and happy hour is a steal. Check out special Bru beer events here.

Drool factor follows…

Bru's 5-beer sampler

Bru’s 5-beer sampler is whatever you want it to be. You choose, they serve, everyone wins.

Bru trail mix

At Bru, trail mix means almonds, caramel corn, pecans, and spice. Order from the happy hour menu, and a huge portion is $2.

Citrum from Bru in Boulder

Bru’s Citrum is Colorado’s finest unfiltered IPA, IMHO.

Bru sourdough pizza

Why isn’t all pizza made of sourdough? I just ate a ‘Merican-size dinner, and this still makes me hungry.

Bru salad with poached egg

Sometimes you have to pass on pizza and eat salad, so your salad should at least have a healthy damn poached egg on it.

Bru bread and beer mustard butter

Slather your loaf with Bru’s tasty beer mustard butter.

Bru wood-roasted veggies

Wood-roasted veggies w/beer vinegar. Beta carotene, anyone?

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Black Shirt Brewing Co

Black Shirt Brewing front door

The Red Door opens to Black Shirt Brewing in Denver.

I was lucky enough to score a spot at the Black Shirt Brewing tour/tasting via the BrewDEN Meetup group in January 2013. Black Shirt is unique in that they brew only incarnations of red ale. At first that may seem odd, particularly if red ales aren’t your thing, but taking a closer look, they craft:

  • red saison
  • red ale
  • pale red
  • imperial red rye IPA
  • and… I heard discussion of a red porter on the horizon. Pretty cool. You’ll need to check their taproom “now playing” board to see what else is on offer at the moment, but those listed above are what I know of.

I found myself practically pounding the IPA (out of BSB’s custom-designed glassware) because it was so tasty and drinkable. At some point, I had to remind myself (again) to be careful with high-ABV IPAs. Yikes.

The beer was excellent. I was pleasantly surprised because red ales aren’t typically the first style I reach for, but I’m now a believer. Never doubt a craft brewer. Well, maybe not “never” but certainly “seldom”. These guys know their stuff.

Black Shirt Brewing is less than two miles from Coors Field. Just sayin’. Stop in to say hi to brewers Chad, Brandon, and Carissa, and visit them here.

Black Shirt Brewing custom glassware

Black Shirt Brewing worked with a vendor to create angled, custom glassware so patrons could fully experience the unique taste and aroma of their beers. It *does* make a difference!

Black Shirt Brewing tank

Where the beer happens at Black Shirt Brewing

Sarah and Sara – Besties in Boulder!

picture of Sarah and Sara

The Sara(h)s… about to show Boulder who’s boss…

Did somebody say Girls’ Weekend in Tropical Boulder? In March? Hells yeah. S&S are hitting the town, and I’m just sayin’… these are the places most loved by locals, so check ’em out. Have fun!

When money is no object

Black Cat
Frasca
L’Atelier
Pizzeria Locale

Most hoppin‘ & happenin’

The Med

For my favorite brunch

Brasserie Ten Ten

Vegetarian/vegan

Leaf

Best cocktails

Salt
Bitter Bar

Largest cocktails

Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace

Best sushi

Kasa Japanese Grill

Off Pearl Street, but not too far by cab or designated driver

Radda
Agave (happy hour in the upstairs bar from 7-10 p.m.)

All-day happy hour on Sunday

Aji Latin American Restaurant (food *and* drinks)

Boulder restaurant women seem to love most

Dushanbe Tea House

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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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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100 Percent Mexicano – CLOSED

Boulder's best enchiladas @ 100% Mexicano

Best chicken enchiladas in Boulder at 100% Mexicano – $9. Oh yes.

UPDATE: Sadly, 100% Mexicano has closed… they’ll certainly be missed.

Without a doubt: This is the best Mexican food in Boulder. For all of you who’ve been patiently waiting for a replacement for our beloved Juanita’s, the search is over. In honor of this search finally concluding, I feel it necessary to enlist Survivor to really drive this point home:

What a tender offering. Thank you, Survivor.

So… several items to note about 100 Percent Mexicano:

– This is the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.

They even have an item made from pork throat on the menu. And I think we can all agree: it doesn’t get much more authentic than pork throat.

100 Percent Mexicano is perfect for your next night out in Boulder.

Allow me to plan your night for you:

  1. Between 5-6 p.m., drive to the strip mall where the DMV is in Boulder. Yes, that one. Yes, it’s in a strip mall at 28th & Iris.
  2. Are you still with me? Good. Park your car in the FREE parking lot (extremely rare in Boulder).
  3. Head toward the DMV, then happily stroll past their doors into 100 Percent Mexicano.
  4. Order a margarita or one of their authentic sippers, such as the Jamaican Flower Juice.
  5. Place your food order – my favorite is the chicken enchiladas with green sauce.
  6. Remove your jaw from the floor when you get the bill because it’s so cheap.
  7. Eat the free chips and awesome salsa they serve you.
  8. Prepare to eat the best meal you’ve had in ages.
  9. Savor your meal, then head to downtown Boulder after 7 p.m. By this point, you’re already fed, you’re not spending way too much money or standing in line for mediocre Rio food, you just had the best Mexican food in Boulder, AND parking is free because it’s after 7:00. Go do whatever you want now.

To be clear, 100 Percent Mexicano is several orders of magnitude better than Juanita’s. True, it doesn’t have the world’s most perfect atmosphere (read: strip mall), but it more than makes up for dim lighting and cheesy, sweaty drunk college kids with excellent food, smiling staff, free parking, a quaint outdoor patio, and a heap of value for the money. This place is a no-brainer, so enjoy!

Also, a note about 100%’s happy hour… check out Wednesday. This is some low-maintenance activity to get discounted quesadillas.

100% Mexicano Boulder - Loco Face happy hour

Make a crazy face for a cheap quesadilla? Sí!

 

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Rueben’s Burger Bistro

"The Spoke" burger at Rueben's in Boulder

“The Spoke” at Rueben’s in Boulder: crumbled bleu cheese, applewood smoked bacon, crispy onion straws, and a pinch of ground black pepper – which, incidentally, pairs perfectly with sweet potato fries and a 2-0 Red Wings’ playoff win over the Blackhawks.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 on draft in Boulder

Rueben’s in Boulder is one of a small handful of Colorado pubs offering the St. Bernardus Abt 12 on tap.

How many reasons do you need to go get a burger and a beer? I can think of seven thousand, but I know you’ve got stuff to do, so here are three reasons to go to Rueben’s:

Red Wings shirt

The Red Wings are not particularly popular in Colorado for some reason.

1. The Detroit Red Wings — There are two places in Boulder to watch the Red Wings play hockey. Reuben’s is one of them. Their bartender (Dan) loves the Red Wings. I hope he never quits so I don’t have to edit this post. And – Colorado is not the friendliest state in which to watch the Wings so it’s nice to have a home away from home, especially since you’re looking to load up on…

Pauwel Kwak Belgian Strong Pale Ale at Rueben's in Boulder

The famous Pauwel Kwak Belgian Strong Pale Ale in its lab-beaker-esque glass

2. Belgian Beer — If you’re in the mood for a tall, cold Coors, well… Reuben’s is probably not the place for you. But if you like potent, flavor-rich beers made in a country you’ve likely never visited, Rueben’s is your spot. Add to this the Paul Kwak Amber on draft, served in a funky glass that looks more like a lab experiment, and you’ll be in Hog Heaven. Or Burger Heaven, as it were, which is a great reason to order the…

3. Best Burger in Boulder — Simply put, I haven’t eaten a better burger in Colorado – although the Waterloo Icehouse potato/beef burger in Louisville comes close.

Rueben’s is great because the owner and staff know their beer. They have a good happy hour (aka “Halfy Hour” named for half-priced beer), and you can’t beat their food for an upscale burger joint. Also, they appear to have a talented artist on the payroll. Meet me up there sometime, because I’m pretty much guaranteed to be there once a week, usually with my friend Dave.*

*Two notes about Dave:

1. Some time ago, while eating dinner at Rueben’s bar, he dropped the quote of the night:

“This right here,” Dave said, pointing to his Trappist ale and Eddy Merckx burger, “this is perfection.”

I tend to agree.

2. As my great grandma would say, Bless Dave’s Heart for ordering and attempting to keep down a HORRIBLE gluten-free beer at a place known for its awesome Belgian beer. Way to take one for the gluten-intolerant team, Dave… even though you’re not on the team.

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BNI Boulder – get your happy hour on!

BNI Boulder group concensus on where to gather for happy hour

BNI Boulder group consensus on where to gather for happy hour

Everyone knows Boulder loves happy hour. Here are a few tried-and-true locales to consider for your monthly after-work gatherings. I’m not a happy hour expert yet, but God knows I’m practicing! Here’s the list…

Avery Brewing Company

This is obviously an easy one… Avery has long, high-top tables, $2-ish beer tasters, great pub food in “sharing” sizes – including pizza – and a friendly staff. It’s not the largest dining/sipping area, but that just makes networking easier. And you’ve gotta hand it to them for building a patio in an office park.

Bitter Bar

Cocktail artistry and creativity is not dead! Particularly not at the Bitter Bar on Walnut.
Hint: When a place serves a drink called That Green Drink, you don’t think about it – you just order it. Their food is certainly on the rich side, and that’s generally a good thing if you’re enjoying a Bitter Original Cocktail. Did I mention they serve S’mores? Another no-brainer on the ordering front…

Rueben’s Burger Bistro

I can think of at least six reasons to go to Rueben’s for happy hour:

45+ Belgian beers and microbrews on tap
– Premium cocktails, wine, and draft beer are half off from 3-6 p.m.
– Appetizers are half off from 3-6 p.m.
– Rueben’s has a large bar area with plenty of seats and standing room.
– It’s a block from Pearl Street.
– You can order jr.-size cheeseburgers for $1.25 each.

Brasserie Ten Ten

The Brasserie doesn’t boast the largest bar area in Boulder, but it makes up for its modest size with one of the best kitchens – and a French wine selection that would influence even those most ardent supporters of “freedom fries” to order a glass or two. You can happily stuff yourself on small-plate appetizers ranging from $1-5, and beer/wine/cocktails are around $3/each. Plus, they have a 17-inch TV in the bar!* Woo hoo!

*Yes, a 17-inch TV. That’s not a typo.

The Med

I love recommending the Med, and I hate recommending the Med. I love it because they appear to have the best happy hour of any Boulder restaurant. I hate recommending it because everyone knows this, and they all usually get there before I do. So… if you get to the Med by 4 p.m., you’ll probably have a great experience. If you get there at 5, you’ll still have a great experience, but you may have to wait an hour or more to enjoy that great time. Regardless, the Med should be at the top of your Boulder happy hour list.

Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro (at St. Julien)

I hate to get too geeky here, but allow me to describe Jill’s special dining room (which may technically be part of the St. Julien Hotel, to which it’s attached). It’s a circular area next to the bar with low lighting and a giant, circular (of course), wrap-around booth. I’m saying I dig the ambiance. I also dig the half-price appetizers. And yes, to answer your question: they serve tater tots. The tots are on the fancy side, but they’re still tots, and they rule. Happy hour food is half price from 4:30 – 6:00, and if you’re lucky, you might catch some Latin dance on the patio outside. Maybe not in March, but you never know.

Bistro Tots at Jill’s Restaurant in Boulder

Delectable Bistro Tots at Jill’s Restaurant in Boulder with truffle aioli & reggiano cheese. Tot Heaven.

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If this isn’t quite enough light reading, you can find more Boulder happy hour ideas here: Happy Hour Boulder.

Beer snobbery in Boulder: Top-5 beer-friendly restaurants

beer snob

Are you a beer snob? You should be.

1. Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

50 beers on tap! 25 are static, and Backcountry frequently serves Russian River Blind Pig IPA, which is reason enough to go there nearly every day. The other 25 are rotating taps, and this is one of the few Colorado eateries that carries Pliny the Elder and, extremely rarely, Pliny the Younger. Top it off with $2 pizza slices, and this is win-win all over the place.

2. Rueben’s Burger Bistro

This place has so many Belgian beers, it created a separate Belgian beer menu just for you. Rueben’s also has the best burger in Boulder, in my opinion. Order the Abt 12 on draft at happy hour for $5 – definitely a steal.

3. West End Tavern

West End used to have one of the best rooftop views in Boulder, then some jokers erected a building just west of it and bogarted half their view. The good news is, West End now shows a variety of movies on the monstrosity of a wall constructed just to its west. Anyway, the important thing is: they have great pub food, two levels of restaurant & bar, and a staff that knows their way around hops, malt, yeast, and other buzzy beer terms. I recommend ordering anything spirit-barrel aged and starting your meal with sweet-potato chips and house-made guacamole. Yum.

4. The Med

I’ll just say that I’ve always loved The Med. Even before I moved to Colorado, I wanted to be a local at The Med. Best tapas around, consistently great food, awesome happy hour specials, $5 pizza… what more could you want? Well, apparently, I could want to buy bombers at around a dollar or two above retail store cost. I’m not sure how they do it, but The Med sells (gasp) reasonably priced bombers of very good beer: Dogfish Head, Russian River, Bear Republic, Lost Abbey, Firestone-Walker… I’m impressed. Get there early!

5. Avery Brewing Co.

Here’s all you need to know: Avery has 4-oz tasters for $2-ish each. Yeah. Sign us up. They also serve pizza, sandwiches, etc. from a gourmet catering shop across the parking lot. Get a designated driver!

Bonus round:

Lucky Pie Pizza and Tap House

For those of you Denver types who aren’t interested in driving all the way to Boulder — just go to Louisville (Colorado – not Kentucky). Lucky Pie has a couple dozen microbrews on tap, phenomenal pizza, and a little appetizer known as Joe’s Nuts that’s fun to order, particularly if you used to watch Beavis and Butthead.

Avery Brewing Company

Avery IPA Sampler

Trying to recall what these were… Columbus/Chinook IPA, Maharaja, and Hog Heaven… possibly? Yum!

Avery - The Beast Grand Cru Ale

Bubbly goodness crowns The Beast Grand Cru from Avery. As you can imagine, at 16-ish% ABV, it’s super light.

Avery is one of Boulder’s best bets for happy hour… and, frankly – for any time after 11 a.m. Here’s why:

Avery has long, high-top tables, 4-oz beer tasters ($2-ish/each!), and great pub food in “sharing” sizes from Savory Cuisines – a local catering establishment across the parking lot. Sign us up!  And you’ve gotta hand it to these folks for building a beer-friendly patio in an industrial office park.

Some hearty brews to sample while you’re there:

Hog Heaven Barleywine (for those who love sweet, bitter, extremely hoppy IPAs)
Maharaja Imperial IPA (102 IBUs – yowza!)
Samael’s Oak Aged Ale
Anything barrel-aged – I’m serious. Try one of these, and it will be a winner. And you typically need just one.

Order tasters of all of the above and the Sweet Potato Tots… then get a designated driver! Salut!

Hog Heaven Road

Chance street sign sighting paying homage to Avery Hog Heaven – displayed 1200 miles from Avery Brewing at Oink’s Dutch Treat in New Buffalo, Mich.

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Steuben’s Food Service

Full review coming soon!

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Root Down

Full review coming soon!

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The Bitter Bar

Seasonal “light bites” are provided by Chef Hosea Rosenberg and the Blackbelly Market culinary team.

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Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace

Full review coming soon!

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Centro Boulder menu

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Salt the Bistro

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Salt Bistro Boulder menu

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