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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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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Cheese Importers – Artisan Cheese & Specialty Foods

the great wall of cheese, yeah

The Great Wall of “Cheese–Yeah”. Just one of many refrigerated, cheese-filled walls at Cheese Importers in Longmont

Cheese Importers' delectable olive/pepper/antipasto bar

also in Cheese Importers’ cooler is a delectable olive/pepper/antipasto bar… adding a sultry element to Longmont’s allure

Spanish cheese

I have yet to sample this particular Spanish “Capricho de Cabra”, but any cheese housed next to “Cockles from Spain” gets its own patch of real estate on the Unchained Eatery blog

spinach salad at Cheese Importers

Light spinach salad lunch at Cheese Importers’ European Cafe/Bistro was fantastic… the Cafe is conveniently attached to the cheese/specialty shop so you can refuel following what promises to be a spirited morning or afternoon of artisan cheese sampling.

Cheese Importers' Cafe counter

Cheese Importers’ Cafe counter made us feel as if we were in gay Par-ee… but alas… we were in Longmont.

French macarons

French macarons at Cheese Importers in Longmont. Dessert, anyone?

bought lots of cheese

We went a bit nuts on the cheese and chocolate purchasing… we followed it up with wine tasting at Boulder Creek Winery. I gotta say it was a good day.

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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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Denver’s Best Wiener?

Denver's best hot dog - Continental

Best hot dogs I’ve ever had. And please note: they come six to a package, but I wolfed down two before I had the chance to take a picture. They’re that good!

Just a quick note for those of you firing up the grill for the summer: these are the best hot dogs in town. And they’re literally *in* town – Continental Sausage is headquarted in north Denver, where they source beef, pork, and chicken from farmers who raise their animals on sustainable family farms without sub-therapeutic antibiotics or growth hormones. You really can taste the difference, so definitely put these delectable wieners on the list for your next bbq.

I’ll follow up with a full review of the Continental Deli (Cherry Creek) and Black Forest Deli (Arvada), where you can find the aforementioned wieners and some of the best deli sandwiches in Denver, but I wanted to get the word out on these stellar wieners in time for grilling season. Because who doesn’t like talking about wieners?

I can think of no one.

Khow Thai Cafe

To a certain extent, apparently, I like spicy food. I like the kind of spice that sort of kicks your ass, but doesn’t continue to kick you while you’re down. It turns out I was kicked while down at the Khow Thai Cafe, but it was completely my own damn fault.

The server saw that I was struggling to make an ordering decision, so she said, “Do you like it spicy?

I, grinning like an idiot, said, “Of course!

She went on to recommend the “Pad Kee Mow”, which, in the Thai language means “Melty Hot Uranium in Your Mouth”.*

hot lava picture

Lava is typically a hot substance — of high temperature; it is boiling, hot, and generally the opposite of chilly.

 
*This is a complete fabrication and means nothing of the sort.

Quoting Khow Thai’s online menu, here are the Pad Kee Mow ingredients: Spicy Flat Noodles with Fresh Chili, Garlic, Bell Pepper, Basil Leaves, Tomato, Onion & Chinese Broccoli. Note also that this menu item had a tiny little pepper next to it, which means “Painfully Boiling Lava Hot, But You’ll Still Love It”, which I did. I will absolutely go back to this place. The food, while cooked with Satan’s palate in mind, was excellent. Next time, I’ll take care to specify that I do NOT like it spicy, because, as their menu states: you have your “Choice of Mild, Medium, American Hot or Thai Hot”. I’m not sure if I received American or Thai Hot, but I definitely got what I deserved.

Khow Thai is perfect for lunch, and parking is free, which is nearly unheard of in downtown Boulder.

Multiple thumbs up for Khow Thai. Thanks for kicking my mouth’s ass!

Khow Thai parking lot in Boulder

Khow Thai in Boulder has ample, free parking – a Boulder rarity

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West End Tavern

Boulder West End cheeseburger

This is as American as it gets, people.

Boulder West End Tavern beer

Barrel-aged brew lovers and Belgian beer fanatics usually end up at West End in Boulder.

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Steuben’s Food Service

Full review coming soon!

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Parisi Italian Market and Deli

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Parisi Denver menu

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Root Down

Full review coming soon!

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The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Full review coming soon!

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Continental Deli

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Continental Deli Denver menu

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Brasserie Ten Ten

Years ago, my friend Steve and I would visit the Brasserie pretty much every Friday for happy hour. It was (and is) simply one of the best spots in Boulder in terms of quality, value, service, and atmosphere. In fact, the Unchained Eatery may not be around today if it weren’t for Brasserie Ten Ten. It left an impression!

In 2007 – on a somewhat less sophisticated food blog (before I figured out that pairing actual *photos* with food blogging was a good idea) – I wrote my first restaurant review, which just happened to be about the Brasserie. Read it here.

For my money, there’s no better brunch in Boulder, but the Brass is also stellar for lunch, dinner, happy hour, and particularly dessert. Definitely check out the Parisienne Macarons, served four-per-plate for $3. Couple those with a glass of 20-year Taylor-Fladgate Port to end your night on a near-perfect note.

Parisienne Macarons at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder

Boulder’s Best-Kept Dessert Secret: Parisienne Macarons paired with Taylor-Fladgate 20-year Port at Brasserie Ten Ten

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