Vine Street and the like.

Recently, I went to Vine Street in Denver. This was my first time there. Normally, I go to Southern Sun in Boulder which is part of the same brewery chain as Vine Street and Mountain Sun. Vine Street is smaller than Southern Sun but offers the same food options. I am not quite sure if any of the restaurants deviate from one another with different beers or food. I’ll have to ask my friend who works at Southern if he knows. I always gravitate towards the wings or a basil blue cheeseburger when I go. They are both so delicious. The wings are tender and plump and juicy. YUM. My mouth is watering just thinking about them right now. Not only is the food good but the beer is delicious and the service is always pretty great. A few times I have had meal mistakes and the servers have always been generous enough to comp me or make things right. I love a lot of their beers. What you choose mostly comes down to individual preferences. Whether you are an IPA guy, a dark beer gal, or the like you will be able to find an option that you will enjoy. Their ‘number one’ beer is one of my favorites. Very high in ABV, tasty, and a Belgian Tripel this beer is the trifecta of good. If you haven’t been to any of these locations you know where you have to go next. If in Denver go to Vine Street and if in Boulder go to Southern. You will not be disappointed, especially on a beautiful day like today where you can sit outside on the patio. Oh yeah did I mention they have books to read and games to play? WHAT? I’m sold.

http://www.mountainsunpub.com

P.S. Check out their music calendar on their website for a list of shows at their different locations. Thursday = Under the Sun, Saturday = Vine St., Sunday = Mountain Sun, and Monday = Southern Sun. ©

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Aji

This past weekend I ended up at Aji for breakfast. This was my first time going here to eat and I was excited because I had wanted to try them and I really like their sister restaurant next door named Leaf. I am a strong believer in supporting restaurants that farm and harvest their own ingredients as these two restaurants do. Since Leaf is so great I thought Aji would be the same way. Unfortunately I was underwhelmed by their Sunday brunch performance. Aji, features a Latin American cuisine and I was expecting something great. I ordered a bloody mary and the benito de carnitas which came with poached eggs, carnitas, pepper rajas, corn tortillas, hollandaise, and pico de gallo. The bloody mary wasn’t particularly special. I think it may have been too salty, but I did like the slice of bacon it came with. The benito de carnitas did not really have any redeeming qualities except for the potatoes that came with it. My eggs were not poached. The yolk was hard in the center which completely ruins a meal for me. The corn tortillas only added an unnecessary heaviness to the dish and there was nothing remarkable about the hollandaise or peppers. My carnitas were also fatty, chewy, and tough. I will not be returning to Aji anytime soon. I may try out their happy hour at some point to see if they can produce a better dinner meal since the breakfast was utterly subpar. The most redeeming quality of the meal was the unexpected spicy tiny cornbread muffins and butter brought to the table before the meal. Also I did not like that their water was not very cold. ©

http://ajirestaurant.com

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The Dark Horse

The Dark Horse remains held in my heart as an extremely special place. It is hard to describe why I love this dark, overly cluttered dive bar so much. Perhaps it is because I have never had a bad experience here or because the burgers I continue to get taste like juicy heaven and the kitchen staff sing Sweet Caroline into the mic when my order is ready. Or maybe it is because every time I go I see something on the walls or hanging from the ceilings I have never seen before.

Expect consistent good quality burgers and beer here. I guess The Dark Horse and I go so well together because The Dark Horse remains unpretentious and predictable. I can count on this bar to cheer me up or lift me up when I am already feeling great. The Dark Horse also hosts some pretty awesome events during the week. Tuesday is trike night, Wednesday is trivia, Thursday is Karaoke (somehow I have always avoided this event), and Friday is my beloved bingo night where sometimes you can try and win a much needed 500 dollar cash prize. Fingers crossed next time I go. Last night I ended up at The Dark Horse for trike night. I still have not participated but love to go and watch the fun. The initial trike course required driving around on the trike from the back bar to the stage, taking a shot and spinning on a bar stool on the stage, and then continuing the ride back to where you started where you had to chug a beer before your partner could do the same thing for their turn. This is all timed of course and teams get to choose their song to trike to and their team name. Yesterday I found out that the shots are no longer a part of it and the beer chugging cannot be enforced so the event isn’t as epic. Lame. But of course if you want to follow a traditional trike course you can still make that happen. One pint of beer (bud light) comes free per team member. Then after every team goes the scores are tallied up and prizes are handed out. Tshirt’s, pitchers, and the like. Of course if both team members fall off the trike in the exact same spot which does happen sometimes, as it did last night, those teams are guaranteed to win something for such a valiant effort. The MC is always on top of his game and ready to make fun of you so be prepared. 🙂 Here’s a link. Go! You won’t regret it. http://www.darkhorsebar.com. For the most recent info check out their Facebook page. ©

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Thai Kitchen

For my mom’s birthday this past Sunday we decided to try Boulder’s Thai Kitchen because we had heard some good reviews. Normally we get all of our Thai food from Buddha Thai but we were looking to mix things up. We decided on takeout and ordered one order of the vegetarian egg rolls, an order of the fried wontons, one sweet basil pork fried rice, and one goong cashew dish. The fried wontons were horrible. I would not recommend them to anyone. They were too crisped up almost the point of being burnt and it seemed like they maybe came frozen. Nothing seemed fresh about the wontons and they were completely lacking in a lot of filling. It seemed there was just a tiny pork ball in the center. I was highly disappointed with these. The vegetarian egg rolls were alright. At least they were hot to the touch unlike the wontons and had a good crisp, but something about the flavor was off to me. I did like the sweet sauce that came with these but what isn’t to like about a sugary sauce. I did not try my mom’s dish the going cashew but she seemed to enjoy it. I did however like my sweet basil pork fried rice. It had nice flavors and was not very greasy like how Buddha Thai can be. Thai Kitchen seems to be trying a healthier, lighter approach to Thai food which I can appreciate. I can say that I would try some of their other dishes again but would not even waste my time thinking about getting the fried wontons. ©

http://thaikitchencolorado.com

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The Rio

Why do the people keep coming back here? Because the margs are sugary and tasty and they give you free chips and salsa. The food at The Rio is nothing spectacular. In fact I will never go there again to get any food. Yet the margs are good, not because they are served with good alcohol but they are STRONG STRONG STRONG. That is why they keep you to a 3 marg maximum. Let me tell you three is definitely enough to get blotto. The mango marg is especially tasty in my book. I cannot wait for summer to arrive when the outdoor patio and rooftop are open and you can enjoy gorgeous flatiron views and lots of sun. ¡Salud! ©

 

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Japango-Happy Hour

Recently I went to Japango for happy hour, because as usual my intense craving for sushi hit me with a vengeance. I went with linds and we decided to split the gyoza appetizer which are homemade panfried pork and chicken potstickers. The potstickers were alright, nothing too extraordinary. The sauce that comes with the potstickers on the side just slides right off the potstickers. Lindsey got a hot sake and I got the house wine which was nice and dry and not sweet. For our entree we decided to split three speciality rolls. We chose the Colorado roll, the Hawaiian roll (rainbow roll), and the Aquaman roll. The Colorado roll is spicy tuna, cucumber, albacore tuna, fried onions and ponzu sauce. The fried onions were delicious, definitely could not get enough of those. The Hawaiian roll was your basic rainbow roll with 7 different kinds of raw fish around a center filled with crab meat, avocado, cucumber & smelt roe. I love to get a rainbow roll because the variety of fish is refreshing and it is fun to navigate which ones you and your dinner mate will get to try. The last specialty roll called the Aquaman was the most unique one that we tried. It includes salmon, cream cheese, tempura asparagus, tobiko, onion, and is topped with avocado, macadamia nuts & honey. I liked the juxtaposition of the sweet and sour combination with this roll and thought the honey was really great and not as weird as it may sound. Plus the nuts gave the roll a nice crunch. When you think about it salmon can be complimented extremely well with savory and sweet ingredients. The special rolls were $2 off, hot sake was $3, and house wine was $4. I was very happy to finally get my sushi fix and writing about this all right now makes me think I just may need another one. A friend just told me about Sushi Leo in Longmont, CO and I think that will be my next place to try out and compare. Stay tuned! ©

Website Link. Facebook Page.

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Basta

My goodness, so I went to Basta with the momma the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day and it was fantastic! The service was out of this world, I felt like a VIP. My mom definitely knows how to get spot on service from a place. In case you are not familiar, Pizzeria Basta is located in Boulder and is known for cooking all of its dishes in the wood fire oven. We were told that another restaurant similar to Basta with more of a lunch eatery concept will open in Denver in a few months so look out for that. I will also note that the restaurant is particularly hard to find at first because it is inside an apartment complex off of Arapahoe Ave. Enough of that, let’s talk food!

We started our meal with the buttercup cheese which comes with crispy crackers I guess you would call them. The cheese was very good. It needed to come up to room temperature before we could truly appreciate it though. The waiter told us that they were just starting the process of airing the cheese on a wood block before serving so that it would be up to temp. The kitchen staff also brought out a cherry mostarda to go with the cheese plate. Basically this is a ball of cherry like jam substance with mustard seeds. It complemented the cheese very well but I am not the biggest cherry preserves lover. I find cherries to be too sweet unless they are fresh fruit. Next we tried wood roasted clams. These clams were delicious. This was my first time experiencing hard shell clams as opposed to soft shell clams. It was also a nice change of pace to have clams instead of mussels. Next we tried the arctic char pate and the chicken wing confit. My mom is a vegetarian so the wings were all for me. How divine. The wings were in a delicious spicy sauce and had a truly unique flavor I cannot place. You just have to try and see for yourselves. The pate and fish skin was delicious and had that healthy fatty taste and also the wood burn fire taste. Basically they throw the entire skin of a fish in the oven for 5 seconds so that it puffs up and turns crispy like a chip. We were clearly indulging ourselves with this meal and decided we must split a salad and pizza. We chose to try the romaine hearts salad because it was dressed with olive oil and lemon, two fresh, light, and airy ingredients. For the pizza we tried the daisy which is a classic margarita pizza. Unfortunately the pizza was taken out of the oven a few seconds too soon was too wet. 😦 After all that I was hoping the pizza would have been perfect. Besides the wetness you can tell that it would have been divine because the ingredients were so fresh and I liked the red sauce they used. Overall the meal was great and I will definitely go back. It is great to be able to sample a few small plates and split a dish with a friend. They also have three entrees you can try from, but if I got an entree I wouldn’t be able to eat with such great variety as I did this time. To top it all off we got the Tiramisu which was great. Drinks of the evening allude me. I know there was a mixed drink, house red, a white of some sort, and a dark beer but they have since changed the drink menu so I cannot recollect everything that was tried. They do have a good selection though and the cocktails are all enchanting concoctions.

As always, here is a link to the restaurant. Give it a try. For mouthwatering images click here. ©

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J&L Distilling Company

Chautauqua Cocktail with Flatirons View

Chautauqua Cocktail with Flatirons View

Chautauqua with Basil Garnish

Chautauqua with Basil Garnish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now this place is the absolute bees knees and no one really knows about them yet. Partially because they are new, partially because they are in a weird location, but most of all because they need more publicity! J&L’s tasting room opened last summer and I cannot wait for them to pop off this summer.  Their liquor is starting to get into more stores and restaurants in Boulder so I think their popularity is bound to grow. Also, they will be more popular in summer because the tasting room extends out on to their balcony which is amazing to sit out on when the weather is warm. The tasting room is very tiny. There are three two person tables and maybe 8 bar stools. Now the space might be tiny, but the service, alcohol, and drink concoctions are fantastic. J&L does not serve food, but they do put out some tasty pretzels. They distill three types of alcohol, a gin, a vodka, and a liqueur. Now I never gravitate to any of these types of alcohol but man oh man J&L can make me come back time and time again. They use quality ingredients and every drink tastes and feels fresh and light. My favorite drink is the Chautauqua which comes garnished with fresh basil. It’s my favorite because it reminds me of a Lime Ricky, my favorite sweet summer drink when I was a kid in New England. What is also great about J&L is that you get free tasters of each kind of their distilled alcohol when you go for the first time and you can also sign up for their mailing list and learn about cool happenings like their bottling parties which I will be signing up for soon! Here is a link to their website for hours and location information. Cheers! For events and bottling party info go to their Facebook page. ©

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Boulder Cafe

I went to the Boulder Cafe this past Monday evening to kick back with some friends. The initial draw for going to the Boulder Cafe is the cheap happy hour. All drinks and all appetizers are half off. Plus the location of the Boulder Cafe is great if you want to keep bar hopping because it is right on the Pearl Street walking mall. While there, I ordered the Apple Cider drink and added tequila. As a speciality drink this cost about twice as much as the beers but since it was still half off it was well worth it. The temperature outside was frigid and the sidewalks were icy so I wanted a drink that would heat me up. This one certainly did! I couldn’t even taste the tequila which means this drink was dangerously delicious! For food I ordered the Chicken Quezza which is a Mexican pizza. Basically its a tortilla with cheese, chicken, and I think  jalapeños on top? They serve it with sour cream and a very spicy salsa. The quezza was alright but nothing to talk about. I still haven’t ordered the mussels or oysters yet which my friends always brag about. For my second drink I got a trusty Sawtooth which is always good. Don’t forget friends that Monday night at the Downer (Sundown Saloon) is mystery cans where a mystery can of beer is only a dollar. You can get classic favorites like Colt 45, PBR, and Hamm’s. How could you possibly go wrong? Until the next shenanigans. 🙂 ©

For more info: http://www.bouldercafeonpearl.com/

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