Café Aion (happy hour)

by Andrew Woodman on April 5, 2011

1235 Pennsylvania Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80302
Café Aion’s website

HAPPY HOURS: Tuesday all night, Wed-Sat from 5-6:30pm & 10-11pm
warning: heavy use of peanut oil

Tapas! Woohoo!

It must be hard for Boulder’s very own Burnt Toast to rest in peace with such an amazing establishment taking it’s place.  Although… with an executive chef coming from The Kitchen, a vintage-esque sign honoring the bookstore that used to be there long ago, and food & drink that are excitingly delectable, Café Aion does a pretty solid job in honoring this precious, relatively upscale Hill location.

It’s pretty weird that a restaurant located on the Hill can attract such a crowd of young professional foodies who come off as intimidating because eating at Café Aion is probably a step down from their normal Pearl Street dining ventures… but they are still there enjoying the excellent food fare that Aion has to offer, and are coping with their proximity to student life in order to do so.

My roommates and I happened to come here during Café Aion’s 1st birthday (April 2), and also during that day’s happy hour. Because of this, our meal was full of deals.  To my pal Will’s misfortune, every fried item on the menu is done so in peanut oil*, and he has a nut allergy… Aside from that, everything we ordered was a deal in some way or another.  I want to lay them out in all their awesomeness for you, so here you go:

I got the Aion Sangria [$5 happy hour].  It was delicious and beautiful… and even though it lacked actual fruit chunks besides an orange wedge, it still had that sweet fruity sangria flavor that I was hoping for.  Other drinks at our table were a House Infused Aion Bloody Mary w/ Aion Bacon [$5 happy hour], an Aion Margarita [$5 happy hour], and the local Avery Karma brew [$2 birthday special].  I’m not a huge tomatoe juice fan, but I had a sip of the Will’s Bloody Mary and actually enjoyed it (the bacon garnish was a pretty trendy addition, too).  I didn’t taste Matt’s margarita, but he describes it as “just incredibly brisk and smooth, but still strong… went down like lemonade.”  After my sangria, I had one of those Avery Karmas, which tasted like a typical, ideal beer.  If beer only had one category, it would be an Avery Karma.

potato chips [$2]*
Semi-thick potato slices fried in peanut oil, then seasoned with smoked paprika + cumin.  They had an extremely satisfying crunch.  The smoke paprika + cumin flavors came through as they were described on the menu; however, the salt was pretty heavy and slightly stole some of the flavor stage. GREEDY SALT!  Still awesome though, especially because they were the same color as the table. Neat.

fried cauliflower [$4]*
Even though all of things I ordered were my favorite, I have to give special attention to this cauliflower dish, as it was one of my favorites : )  The cauliflower tasted amazing by its-peanut-oil-fried-self. It has a light crunch to the outside, but a nice moist feeling to the inside, and when dipped in the the cumin + saffron spiced yogurt really, and slightly drizzled with some lemon juice, it’s really something tasty. Seriously… get this.

toasted coriander hummus [$3]
The Aion hummus is exceptional.  It had the perfect combo of smooth and airy, yet there were some chickpea chunk that gave it enough texture to have its own personality.  To help activate my keen human flavor detectors I opened and closed my lips rapidly while clicking my tongue against the roof of my mouth, and the coriander still wasn’t there.  I only had a small taste though, and because the hummus was damn good I’ll just say, “keep bein’ yourself.”

moroccan spiced pork sliders [$4]
This dish was an easy winner, and its parents should be real proud.  I expected hamburger-style sliders, but thats not what I got.  The sandwich-style was a unique thing to label a “slider,” but the juicy flavorful pulled pork really came through to not make me give two craps about sandwich nomenclature.  When I was eating it, I admit I mistaked the creamy spread as some kind of aioli, when really it was a spiced yogurt.  Either way, the “sliders” are insane.

chicken wings [$4]*
These are some 3-step wings, which means they are fried (peanut oil*), a sauce is made, and then they are coated in that sauce.  I’m not sure what the sauce was, but my mouth confirmed that it was the right sauce.  The lemon mixed with yogurt on the side offered a refreshing flavor and texture to the greasy crunch, making for some awesome wings.  Just wish I had a wet wipe for my greasy fingers.

Not that I have a lot to say about them, but these olives are really pretty:


Some other things to keep your eyes open for are the platters to share, like the half chicken [$20], or the Wednesday night deal of paella + bottle of wine [$35].  Maybe a bit of the snobbery brought on by a heavy young professional scene that makes up a big portion of the restaurants crowd can be brought back to earth by the $35 special turning into a wine-chugging, paella-eating contest.  Next Wednesday night with Adam Richman from Man v. Food? Please? You never know.

Café Aion is a great place if you like the quality that most expensive restaurants offer. You can get that same “expensive,” creative style in form of smaller tapas, try however much of the menu you want, and still have enough money to eat for the rest of the week without surviving on rice and beans (and if you are lucky, some salsa).


I loved Burnt Toast but it sounds like this place could make me equally happy.

by Hayley Hudson on April 5, 2011 at 6:05 pm. #

In the article you mentioned that your friend is allergic to peanut oil. Peanut oil is one of the most widely used frying oils due to it’s neutral flavor and very high smoke point, and I would be surprised if any other oil is used in Boulder for a deep frying application.

In defense of nut oils, the allergens in nuts is carried in the proteins, not the oils. So once the oil is pressed, filtered and gone through the very small amount of processing, there are no allergens that remain.

Think about the eating opportunities that is now open to Will, The Kitchen’s garlic fries, the fried peppers that are currently on Cafe Aion’s menu, hmmm yum.

by Anonymous A on October 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm. #

That’s way more clever than I was excietpng. Thanks!

by Andi on October 24, 2016 at 9:06 am. #