The Ultimate Bar Crawl

by Jessica on March 11, 2012

So much to do, so little time! For the busy foodie, it might be time to multitask with a few spots in one evening. Of course, adventurers may create any combination of Boulder’s finest hotspots, my arrangement wasn’t half bad.

Stop #1: Bacaro 921 Pearl St./ Menu 


Bacaro’s variety of small plates and large cocktails was an easy pick for our first stop on the crawl. Immediately upon grabbing a stool at the bar, my partner-in-crime and I ordered up two ice cold glasses of red sangria and a little aperitif of mixed olives. Sangria is one drink that I can never resist and although Bacaro’s wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (a little on the weaker side), it is hard to pour a disappointing glass of fruity wine. Plus, this cool cocktail was ice cold and the perfect pick to be enjoyed at the bar in one of Boulder’s trendiest spots. If you can’t make it by dinner time, stop by for a lively late night bar scene, best enjoyed during summer months on their rooftop patio.


Amongst Bacaro’s large selection of tapas, pizzas, pastas, salads, etc., we boldly vowed to save our appetites by ordering two small tapas to share, the warm brie with toasted bread, and the grilled artichoke with a lemon garlic aioli. I can confidently say that Bacaro deserves props for its European-inspired carte and variety of menu items, complimented by a similarly tasteful atmosphere. Nevertheless, both dishes we sampled were good, but not great, served at a mere room temp, and not memorable.


Stop #2: Cuvee 946 Pearl St./Menu 


Craving something alternative to the typical Pearl St. hangouts, a glass of wine and assortment of cheese sounded strangely refreshing. Upon entering the cozy, dimly-lit room, the overly friendly hostess (and waitress) showed us to a cozy two-person table  just adjacent to the piano, which was just beginning to entice diners with some laid-back tunes.

Though, truthfully, I am easy to fool, Cuvee’s wine list and knowledgeable server seemed to be top-notch. Check plus: a wine bar that delivers! Every restaurant serves wine, but what set aside Cuvee as a wine bar to me was wine pairings for every item on the menu and a paragraph describing each glass. To the amateur wine-taster, these Spark Notes came in very handy, and allowed us to enjoy two excellent glasses of wine!

Unfortunately,  it seemed to me that Cuvee’s menu sacrificed consistent quality for creativity. With items ranging from a Smoked Salmon Pizza to Sticky Apricot Bites, lucky for us a little cheese was the only thing on our minds. However at a wine bar, I would have expected more options to customize the plate, or at least be sure to delivery a superior product. Yet to our dismay, the plate was average, at best, crowded with some dried fruit and nuts, slices of bread, a mild goat cheese, Spanish manchego, brie, and something French and smelly (after living in France for 6 months, smelly cheeses rarely phase me, but this was SMELLY).

If a glass of wine and some live piano is what’s on your mind, look no further. But for the empty belly and curious eater, opt for another one of Pearl St.’s stellar selections.

Stop #3: The Bitter Bar 835 Walnut St./Menu 


Often in life, the best things come last: dessert, senior year, and the Bitter Bar. Tucked away off the bustle of the Pearl St. Mall, this gem could easily go unnoticed. But once you step foot inside, unnoticed is the last thing you will become in Boulder’s newest trendy hot spot. No steezy students, hazy hippies or havoc-wreaking high schoolers in sight here. Instead, look out for designer jeans, dating youngsters, and the finest and most fabulous people watching in town. And after one of their powerful cocktails, I could have been easily convinced that this swanky social scene was in New York, Las Vegas, or Tokyo.

As a college student, I often pride myself in my ability to expertly select the ideal cocktail off any drink list. Yet after about five minutes of blankly staring at the menu (was it even English?!), the knowledgeable bartender quickly observed the panic on our faces and came to our rescue. The Bitter Bar swapped out Cosmopolitans and Mojitos for bourbon with spiced apple cider ice cubes and whiskey with cayenne-pepper infused maple syrup. So our new friend surveyed our preferences (we indicated vodka and tequila) and quickly poured, spritzed and garnished two delicious creations. Both were truly unlike any cocktail I had ever had before, and mysteriously were sinfully sweet while surprisingly strong. And I hate to say it, but each was well worth the ten+ bucks.

Because this was the last stop on our crawl, we didn’t roll into the Bitter Bar until after 11pm, leaving us with just enough time to satisfy our sweet tooth. Among all the fancy menu items on the dessert page, there was something irresistible about the foodie spin on a childhood classic: S’mores. Forget the Hershey’s and Jet Puffed, the Bitter Bar sandwiched a massive toasted vanilla bean marshmallow and plenty of organic milk chocolate between two cinnamon graham crackers. It was so good, I didn’t care when the beautiful hipsters hovering over the bar were watching the crumbs tumbling out of my mouth as I attempted to tackle this finger food.

When S’mores season rolled around during my pre-teen summers, I always solicited a buddy to build my treat for me. The best part about the Bitter Bar? A perfectly toasted marshmallow, plenty of chocolate, all made my someone else, but enjoyed by me.

With dozens of options all within blocks of each other, a restaurant/bar crawl is the ideal alternative evening for any hungry or thirsty local, tourist, or student. From small plates at Bacaro, to cheese at Cuvee, to bliss at the Bitter Bar, this itinerary made for the perfect night on the town.

Tossa Pizza

by Jessica on February 20, 2012

2400 Arapahoe Ave./Menu


Move over frozen yogurt, upscale pizzerias are taking Boulder by storm! Tossa Pizza is one of Boulder’s newest additions to the pizza family, but this rookie is not to be overlooked.

Tossa seeks to create a welcoming atmosphere suitable for daters, families, and friends. On Valentine’s Day, it was just about the only spot in Boulder willing to take a last minute party of my girlfriends and I. Given that it was Valentine’s Day, my single soul sisters and I found it appropriate to indulge. Luckily, Tossa’s hefty menu (including small plates, salads, pizzas, pastas and wine) and humble prices favored our appetites and wallets.

When was the last time you saw anything on a menu for two bucks? I’m not talking a side of bread or a happy hour plate of olives, but a real dish with prominent real estate at the top of the page. Well, my friends, here it is: the Tuscan White Bean Dip, served with their signature house-baked bread and drizzled with Italian olive oil. This was the perfect way to satisfy our hunger while the real stuff bubbled in the oven. The bread was fluffy, warm and perfectly spiced, and dip was rich, creamy and yummy with the basil, tomatoes and EVOO.

We also opted to try the Warm Olives tossed with herbs, olive oil and citrus, also served with their brilliant bread. I was first introduced to olives served warm last week, so I insisted that my olive-virgin friends give them a fair shot. I quickly became very popular. Though not quite the same bargain as the dip, it was equally delicious. Yet among all the delicacies that landed on our table throughout the evening, perhaps it could have been skipped.

In an effort to balance our shameful carb intake with some greens, we also opted for a salad. We ordered one of the specials of the day, a romaine salad tossed with fresh mozzarella, garbanzo beans, parmesan cheese, roasted red and yellow peppers, olives, Tuscan roasted chicken, and their specialty scrumptious sun-dried tomato vinaigrette. It was the perfect combination of special toppings, without it taking over the salad and becoming too filling.

And finally, the big hoorah: pizza! Tossa’s menu is rather short and sweet for a pizza joint, but also allows diners to customize any pie to their liking. For the quality and size, I’d say their menu boasts knockout prices. My group settled on one of their specialty pizzas, a large Mushroom and Truffle Arugula salad pizza. Piled on top of the fluffy dough (white pizza) were mushrooms, parmesan, mozzarella, aged provolone, fresh basil, fresh arugula, truffle oil, and some more parmesan. My recent philosophy is that truffle oil makes everything better, so combined with mouth-watering dough and other fresh ingredients, this pie was sublime.

Within the niche of Boulder’s upscale pizzerias, Tossa gets my vote for takeout. The atmosphere is lacking and food is not as gourmet as Pizzeria Locale, but for a true foodie, skip Cosmos and head to Tossa (hold the spicy ranch).

Boulder Creek Market

by Jessica on February 18, 2012

1801 13th St. #120/Menu


Prior to seeing their ad on Groupon the other day (regretfully, I didn’t purchase it), I had never even heard of this small lunch spot in downtown Boulder. In fact, the only reason I even discovered it was because we went ice skating on the temporary rink right outside (also highly recommended!). Though I can imagine the Market being filled to the brim with lunching workers, I was surprised it was not a more popular student hangout. But for my crew, it might be from now on.

Immediately upon walking in, I loved the casual, communal-style dining. So Boulder. Ya, ya, ya. But for lunch, you’re supposed to be talking to your neighbor!

The menu was diverse in sandwiches, not in categories. One of the most shocking elements of the Boulder Creek Market was, in fact, their creative and hard-to-find sandwich options, such as ostrich and buffalo. Nevertheless, my friend and I bargained to share a chicken and a turkey. I know, kind of lame.

First up, and my personal favorite, the Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Panini, loaded with chicken breast, sun-dried tomatoes, monterrey jack cheese and basil pesto, pressed on Foccacia bread. When I think of my dream sammie, here it is. Though not the best I’ve had (I typically can’t resist when I see this combo on a menu), it was pretty damn good. And its no surprise considering they use only freshly-baked bread, quality ingredients, and made with love by the smiling man in the kitchen.

We also shared the Picante Turkey Panini, packed with gourmet turkey, pepperjack cheese, and chipotle mayo. I must admit, this sandwich achieved no where near the level of satisfaction that the above produced. But look at that oozing cheese! Nothing with that much gooey cheese could be bad. Perhaps I would have loved some more veggies or tasty ingredients, but it was still pretty delicious.

Last up, customer service. Often this goes unnoticed in busy establishments. But at the Boulder Creek Market, this is clearly a priority. Immediately upon walking in, the cashier engaged us in conversation and was ready to answer any questions we had about the menu, and I always have plenty. Upon payment, he proudly announced that they offer free drinks on Saturdays. And here’s the kicker…he offered us to help ourselves to free gummy bears while we waited. COME ON! They probably could have fed us dog food for lunch and my (21 year old) friends and I would have continued to drool over the free candy. But luckily, the food was far above par!

There are plenty of great sandwich spots in Boulder, but none of them offer stellar service, complementary drinks on Saturdays, and free gummy bears while you wait. Pair some ice skating with Boulder Creek Market, and it sounds like a pretty epic day.

You and Mee Noodle House

by Jessica on February 18, 2012

1301 Broadway St./Menu


I have probably passed by this place literally hundreds of times during my four years of residency on The Hill. Sometimes, I wrote it off as being sketchy. Others, I actually thought it was part of Tra Lings. And recently, I have been meaning to try it after creepily staring at happy diners during lunch time. I like to do my research before visiting a new spot, and everyone said to head to You and Mee for the Pho. On this snowy evening pre-Snowday, nothing sounded better.

The menu was short and sweet. A few appetizers (think spring rolls of many varieties), a few noodle/stir fry dishes, and then various combinations of build-your-own pho. I ordered my pho with chicken broth, then loaded with tofu, mixed vegetables and noodles. But what made my soup even better was the topping bar adjacent to the register, equipped with bean sprouts, cilantro, jalapenos, lime, chili sauce, brown sauce, soy sauce, siracha…you get the point.








I’m not sure if it was all the condiments that made it so good or just the soup itself, but it was very tasty. For me, I like to add tons of lime and tons of spice to my pho, so I loved that Y&M allowed patrons to add flavor to their liking, and had all the condiments right there for their use. Though not the best pho I’ve ever had, it was pretty good.

We also decided it was an absolute must to sample some dumplings (an apparent rather new addition to the limited menu). I was impressed by the variety of dumplings offered, all with the choice of either having them steamed or pan-fried. I felt like the push-over husband when my dieting friend insisted on having ours steamed. Nevertheless, they were simply delicious. Stuffed with veggies and tofu, they were flavorful (especially in the HOT chili sauce), cooked perfectly, and a great compliment to our soup.


Though I cannot speak to the remainder of foreign items on the menu, the Pho and dumplings are reason enough for me to head back to You and Mee. On a cold night, nothing is better than some warm soup, and this one is worth the five minute walk.

Kims Food To Go

by Jessica on February 5, 2012

1325 Broadway St./Menu


Perhaps the only Asian street food that exists in the area, Kims is likely known by most as “the hut on University.” Embarrassingly, I lived on The Hill for months before even realizing it was there. Yet despite being frequently overlooked, Kims Food To Go is a stop not to be missed by Asian food enthusiasts like myself.

The menu at Kims ranges from typical Chinese dishes like Lo Mein and Fried Rice, to more traditional Vietnamese specialties like noodles, Vietnamese egg rolls, and Pho. In the past, my visits to Kims have been to cure my craving for some greasy noodles. But today, I was in search of some good pho soup. And it was a success.

Pho soup is one of the most well-known specialties from Vietnam, made up of beef or chicken broth filled with meat/tofu, veggies, rice noodles, and a variety of condiments such as jalapenos, cilantro, lime or brown sauce to name a few. Because Kims is largely for take-out, they serve their Pho a little differently. When I opened the bag when I got home, I found a jug of broth accompanied by a box filled with noodles, tofu, steamed mixed vegetables, japalenos, and containers of Siracha and brown sauce. Though initially surprised, I later decided that this was a great way to serve an otherwise intricately-assembled dish without sacrificing any of the add-ons (though I would have loved some cilantro and lime). Since anyone can really steam some noodles and veggies, what really makes Pho great is the broth. I found Kims’ soup to have immense flavor, especially after adding a generous portion of brown sauce and Siracha.

Overall, Kims Food To Go is a great quick and easy stop to cure a craving for basic Asian food. However, not all my previous experiences there lived up to the quality of the Pho. Why only three stars? Inconsistent quality, lack of seating (only two rickety outdoor tables) and lack of creativity. But in a shack on The Hill, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

Brasserie Ten Ten

by Jessica on February 4, 2012

1101 Walnut St./Menu


I would be willing to argue that Brasserie Ten Ten is stereotyped by the vast majority of the student and Boulderite population as a snobby, perhaps overpriced, fancy, French establishment. During happy hour, the only description I bought into was French. Otherwise, the laid back yet trendy vibe, diverse and delicious menu, all at stellar prices, makes for a very happy hour (or two).

The happy hour menu boasts many of the best items from their regular dinner menu and a variety of cocktails at bargain prices. From olives, to oysters, to sliders, the menu is diverse enough without being overwhelming. The first thing that spoke to me was the mussels. Lucky for me, my fellow seafood-loving snackers agreed to share all three: Pistou, Basque, and A la Mariniere, from top to bottom.

Typically, I have enjoyed mussels in some variation of a white wine and garlic sauce. Leave it to the French to create a more flavorful, but heavy, alternative. Of the three, my favorite was defintely the “A La Mariniere,” with cream, butter and herbs (no wonder they were so tasty), yet the pesto was a close second (possibly simply because there were huge chunks of garlic). I was impressed by the flavorful sauces, quality of the seafood, and offering of extra French bread to mop up the juice.

No surprise here that the fries were just as fabulous, largely in part thanks to the truffle aioli. You could throw truffle aioli on a Mcdonald’s burger and I’d probably be wowed. Yet these fries were thin but not flimsy, crispy and overflowing out of the bowl. Though I can’t remember the last time I ate bad French fries, luckily these spuds belong no where near that list.

The olive tapenade could be the perfect salty snack for the observant diner with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Though obviously I could have eaten the dip with a spoon, the fluffy baguette was the perfect accompaniment to this fresh and flavorful olive spread.

Cauliflower, as strange is it may be, is one dish that I can never pass up. When my handsome waiter suggested the Choux Fleur, milk roasted cauliflower with lemon-almond brown butter and shaved compte, my only thought was YUM. What an inventive spin on the crowd-pleasing roasted cauliflower! The lemon and almond flavors were infused into the vegetable, packing extra flavor into the perfectly-roasted florets. As many times as I have sampled some variation of roasted cauliflower, this dish was impressively innovative without sacrificing flavor for creativity.

Lastly, you can’t go wrong with olives. Again, leave it to Brasserie Ten Ten to put a creative spin on a traditional item. The genius chefs served this snack warm, alongside roasted garlic, with rosemary and lemon. The small portion, jammed with a variety of flavors, was a great compliment to the rest of the meal.

From the white marble bar to the well-crafted menu, entrez, s’il-vous-plait! After giving five stars to my new favorite upscale establishment, I have shamefully learned not to judge a restaurant by its appearance (or stereotype). You can’t judge unless you’ve tried it! And for Brasserie, I’ve tried it, and my judgement is excellent.

Boulder Cafe

by Jessica on January 29, 2012

1247 Pearl St./Menu


Undoubtedly the most prime real estate and outdoor seating area on the main drag of Pearl St., Boulder Cafe regularly draws the meandering freshman, chronically happy tourists, and dehydrated shoppers. But for the true foodie, this eatery is somewhat disappointing in the service, quality of ingredients, and creativity a la carte.

The aspect of this cafe that does perhaps deserve the frequent attention is their bizarre, but wonderful, happy hour and specials. They advertise Bloodys and Mimosas for half price for breakfast and brunch every day, and half price appetizers 3-close daily. I’d assume most follow a similar thought process as me- why not just chop the price in half? Regardless, customers absolutely get the better end of this bargain, and can be seen enjoying the specials on the patio and in cozy indoor booths year round.

The Boulder Cafe definitely speaks to comfort food (where else in the area serves fondue?). So in an effort to fit in (or perhaps just an excuse to indulge…) we started our leisurely lunch with some Spinach Artichoke Dip, served alongside some fresh veggies and bread. Normally I’d say this is an easy dish to fluff up- serve the dip in a fancy dish, surround it by bread or raw vegetables, or even put the whole load on a bed of lettuce. However, the presentation delivered to our table was rather disappointing. Though it did come with the normal fixin’s, the plate was sparse. As for the grub, the dip was good, but nothing special.

My lunch date is a complete Mexican food addict. She sees anything containing beans or with a Mexican twist, and she’s all over it. The White Chicken Chili, topped with monterey jack cheese and a tortilla, was calling her name. This warm and savory stew was definitely the best dish to land on our table that afternoon. However, that very well could have been thanks to the heaping layer of cheese and generous distribution of meat, not because of flavor or anything out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, it was pretty good.

As for my wrap, I wish I could say that my photo didn’t do it justice. In fact, this is probably the best photo I captured after a small photo shoot of a sandwich. Problem #1: it was served in tip foil…Problem #2: no garnish, no sides, nada. Problem #3: it was just plain bland. I guess it would be fair to explain that the wrap was a Turkey and Feta Wrap with romaine, tomato, calamata olive and a balsamic drizzle. I know, the description caught my attention too. However when words look more appetizing than food, I’d call it a bust.

Boulder Cafe passes my (slightly harsh) test because of one thing: the location. On a sunny day, nothing beats a day of people camped out on their luxurious patio, avec mimosas, of course! But for the food, don’t come expecting to be wowed, or even satisfied.

Amaizing Corn Tamales (at the Farmers’ Market)

by Jessica on January 25, 2012

1900 13th St.


My quest to try every food stand at the Farmers’ Market prevails. Though I love Mexican food, for some reason the tamales stand is never where I head to first. Possibly it was the fear of the unknown (I was previously a tamale virgin), but I now feel like a fool for waiting this long.

The tamale tent is one of those places with a loyal and loving pool of customers. As I waited for my lunch to be prepared, I watched the other patrons interact with the staff. Each customer had memorized his or her order and the staff was ready to make it. Customer service: always a plus.

Upon recommendation from my fellow foodies and the tent’s staff, I ordered the cheese tamale (I know, I was also surprised at this recommendation). However, I am a big believer that simple is better sometimes with food. When offered the option of green chili sauce (mild or hot) and black bean salsa for seventy-five cents, I said absolutely.

I had no idea what to expect upon digging into this eggroll-like cuisine. Was there a corn husk to peel? Would it be too spicy? Was it going to be weird?

To my surprise, the tamale was filled with not only cheese, but also corn and tons of other flavors that I could not even name. It was smooth but textured and the mild green chili sauce added awesome extra flavor and is an absolute must!

My only complaint was I wish I ordered two. Though it was filling, I didn’t want it to end. This might take the cake for number one spot on my Farmer’s Market food chain.

California Pizza Kitchen

by Jessica on December 14, 2011

1711 29th St. #1180/Menu


One of Boulder’s most notorious chains among students and families alike has historically been one restaurant that I stay clear of. But after visiting California Pizza Kitchen last weekend,I discovered that it might be time to readjust my views.

The aspect of this national favorite that has always deterred me is the atmosphere: loud, big, generic. While often times the service is speedy and waitstaff accommodating, the menu is clearly mass-produced and geared towards the masses. Nothing organic or farm-t0-table here.

Nevertheless, the menu was tempting, featuring specialties from countless pizzas, to salads, to pastas, to appetizers and small plates, in addition to delicious-looking specialty drinks. I selected the Roasted Vegetable Salad, one of the newer additions on their menu. This big bowl of romaine was layered with roasted artichoke hearts, asparagus, eggplant, roasted red and yellow peppers, corn, sun dried tomatoes, avocado and homemade balsamic dijon vinaigrette (and I chose to top it with chicken). CPK’s portions are so huge that I opted for the half portion, and still walked out absolutely stuffed. To my delight, the roasted veggies were fresh and flavorful and I loved the variety of toppings.

CPK is absolutely one of the best options in Boulder to go with a group of unadventurous of diverse eaters. The mega-chain delivers fresh and healthy options, or plenty of more hearty selections. But for those looking for a more creative, local menu, Boulder has plenty of other options to better suit your tastes.

Whole Foods- Salad Bar

by Jessica on December 11, 2011

2905 Pearl St.


My quest to sample every item in the store continues at my favorite healthy hot spot, Whole Foods. I have become one of those suckers for organic, believing that just because it is organic, it must be good for you. At a place like Whole Foods where nearly everything is organic, that belief does not bode well for my spring break diet.

On this excursion, I decided to go for the salad bar. During my previous ventures, I cruised by the salad bar yet decided to be a bit more adventurous by sampling their other specialty counters. But this time, after examining each colorful vegetable, salad and grain, I just couldn’t resist.

While making my way down the bar, scooping a little of everything into my bowl, I experienced a classic case of my mind becoming larger than my stomach. I started with the basics, some lettuce, tomatoes, beets, corn, the usual. But as I approached the more exciting options, like chicken caesar pasta salad, parmesan noodles, edamame succotash, roasted vegetables, and plenty more that are buried in the mess, my salad quickly became quite heavy (and pricey). Clearly, I was more excited about the mixes of proteins and carbs and less tempted by the veggies. I love that Whole Foods’ unconventional and tremendously fresh salad bar allows diners to combine greens with Indian specialties, pasta salad, or roasted turkey. The salad bar is truly the cure for the indecisive diner.

I am nearly there in completing my 360 degree tour of Whole Foods. As much as the salad bar pleased my taste buds, there is much unconquered territory to be discovered!