The Med

by Jessica on September 29, 2011

1002 Walnut St./Menu


For as many new and happening happy hour spots there are around town, I always end up coming back to this consistent favorite: The Med. Though it is true that by now I have sampled almost everything offered on the impressively large happy hour menu (embarrassing?), there is something about this place that keeps us coming back for more.

Every day from 3:30-6:30pm, The Med offers up a huge variety of happy hour tapas, ranging from $2-$5, in addition to various drink specials, but all that matters is the house sangria for $4, red or white.

I am a bid advocate for tapas, possibly because it reduces my chances for food envy. Smaller portions, more food, better options. For the same price and amount of food, you can try more variety. And, its great for sharing, as is common during happy hour, or at least with my crew. That being said, it is far too easy to go overboard.

Though my table (we were a group of about 20 for a birthday) ordered literally one of everything, I’ll just highlight some of my favorites…

First and most importantly, the sangria, one of my all-time favorite drinks. I opted for the red. It was the perfect balance of sweet and strong, which is hard to achieve in a traditionally fruit-based drink. The one criticism I have is I would have liked more actual fruit soaking in the drink.

Next, the pizza. For five bucks, this is always part of our Med happy hour ritual. The crust is paper thin yet flavorful, cheese is rich in flavor, and shredded basil on top makes for a great presentation. Hint: at five bucks for a pie, we always order an extra to take home!

My absolute favorite thing on the menu is the “championes:” sauteed whole mushrooms in garlic. The mushrooms are juicy, flavorful, and doused in a garlic sauce. It is almost scary how consistent The Med is; every single time I dine there, the mushrooms always pleasantly surprise me, I always seem to forget how good they are. And, they are the perfect compliment to a typically carb-heavy meal.

From the fried options, my top pick is the “artichauts,” or fried artichoke hearts, drizzled with an aioli. Sadly, this photo does it no justice. The artichokes are lightly fried, just enough to give it a crunch while still preserving the rich, creamy flavor of the vegetable. As my love for aioli prevails, I couldn’t get enough.

You can never go wrong with a caprese salad: who doesn’t love tomatoes and mozzarella chese? Perhaps if I wasn’t a regular at The Med, I would not have taken up table space for this widely-popular dish, nevertheless it is always a crowd pleaser.

These are just a few of the items that crowded our happy hour table. If you can’t make it for the early bird special, I have no reserves in saying that the normal dinner menu is just as good. Yet on a college budget, why not sample some of the best cuisine at a bargain price?



Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill

by Jessica on September 26, 2011

1905 29th St./Menu


After falling in love with Pickled Lemon on the Hill, I was reluctant to try this similar spot on 29th St. I felt as if I was cheating on my loyal boyfriend. Nevertheless, after sampling Garbanzo, I now have two loves for mediterranean cuisine in Boulder.

While waiting in line, Garbanzo employees offered each customer a hot sample of their falafel. Not only did this temporarily satisfy my hunger, but it helped Garbanzo earn some brownie points for customer loyalty and friendly employees, both important factors in my dining experience.

After stewing over the choice between a pita or a plate, and chicken versus falafel, I settled on a chicken schwarma plate. Garbanzo is a nightmare for someone with chronic food envy and indecisiveness like me. Therefore to aid my decision, I said “yes” to each option presented to me.

Though the Menu is simple, the options are endless. The bases for your meal are pita, a plate, laffa (similar to a wrap) or a salad, each served with chicken, steak or falafel, and endless toppings and sauces. I chose a chicken schwarma plate with hummus, chopped onion, tomato and cucumber, lettuce, feta cheese, grilled eggplant, tabuleh, red cabbage and babaganoush, topped with the creamy mediterranean garlic dressing and a little tzatziki, and served with whole wheat pita.

The plate is probably enough food for at least two meals and is essentially everything you would want in a pita, but all side by side on a plate. I could see this as a nightmare for those people who can’t stand the thought of having different foods touching on the same plate. But for me, I tried to scoop a tiny morsel of everything onto my fork for each bite. Salty and sweet, smooth and textured, soft and hard, all stuffed into a little bite of pita: heaven.

The Kitchen [Next Door]

by Jessica on September 22, 2011

1035 Pearl Street


The Kitchen [Next Door], a spin-off of the literally next-door, more upscale location,  The Kitchen, was recently opened to appeal to a more casual crowd. Though perhaps still a little “fancy” for some, I fell in love at first bite.

Despite The Kitchen [Next Door]‘s reasonable prices for fresh farm-t0-table cuisine, their happy hour every day from 3-6 solidifies the bargain. The menu features specialty items, such as a vegetarian antipasti plate, hummus (both served with freshly grilled bread) and sliders for $4, house wine for $3, and all snacks/sides for $1.50. Though the antipasti plate and hummus would have been more than enough to satisfy my three friends and I, we went ahead and ordered almost the entire menu.

As our eyes grew bigger than our stomachs, my friend and I made a deal to split the grilled chicken sandwich, prepared with arugula and garlic aioli. Anything served with aioli is a no-brainer in my book, but the freshly-baked bread and smoky chicken took this sammie from a home run to a grand slam.

The vegetarian antipasti plate is one of those dishes that glides by you on a tray, and you quickly pull aside the server to ask what that dish was, and if he could please add one to your order. We followed that exact protocol. The dish was a sampling of roasted beets, cumin carrots, marinated beans, spiced chickpeas, topped with toasted bread. These flavorful spins on local, healthy veggies either are a total turn off or absolute deal maker. For me, I was sold.

Upon recommendation from several friends, we also opted for the hummus, which the original Kitchen is famous for (or at least in my book). In addition to the generous portion of homemade hummus, The Kitchen [Next Door] served the dip alongside cooked, spiced chickpeas. The unique combo of the cold, smooth hummus with the hot, textured beans was out of this world.

In addition to the items above, we also sampled a variety of “snacks,” most of which were also included on the vegetarian antipasti plate (we didn’t know this until everything arrived).

As our waitress came to scoop our empty plates and offer up the check…

“Wasn’t there an ice cream sandwich on the menu?” My friend asked.

We all immediately snapped out of our food comas and readily agreed to satisfy our sweet tooth. When I hear “ice cream sandwich,” I often picture a dry, wafer-like sandwich filled with freezer-burnt, flavorless ice. The treat that arrived at our table was the sandwich of my dreams- two freshly baked cookies filled with rich, homemade vanilla ice cream. After dividing the sandwich in four, it was gone in one second.

Though perhaps off the radar screens of many students, the quality and prices offered during The Kitchen [Next Door]‘s happy hour should not deter any population. If you miss happy hour, the sandwiches are no more expensive than somewhere like The Sink, yet the quality is superior. To add to it all, the “Boulder-like” atmosphere, such as exposed brick interiors, makes the bar a cool-hangout anytime.

Smooch Frozen Yogurt (previously Ce Fiore)

by Jessica on September 18, 2011

1926 14th St


Only one thing is sure to pull me, and I would assume any girl, out of a minor depression: ice cream/frozen yogurt. So when a friend intruded on my solo movie night and proposed walking to Pearl for some fro yo, it was simply an offer I couldn’t refuse.

About three shops away from Pearl St. sits this brightly-lit, small yogurt shop. Though the silence in the store is almost alarming considering its Pearl St location and decor may be rather bland, the simplicity is refreshing. Smooch offers about four flavors, with one changing daily or weekly, and about 15 toppings, including the standards you would find at any yogurt shop.

Per usual, I ordered up their original tart yogurt, topped with mochi, chocolate chips, kiwi and strawberry. Though it is a complete rip-off that they charge 95 cents for a topping, their offer of unlimited toppings for $1.45 is a little more reasonable. Yet after watching them measure my yogurt on a scale and carefully only tip half the spoon of chocolate chips into my cup, I realized this bargain for “unlimited toppings” is not really as great as it seems. Though the tart flavored yogurt was some of the best I’ve tried, the mochi was hard and stale and the toppings in general were not enough.

Smooch, previously Ce Fiore, was one of the first frozen yogurt shops to open in this town, if not the first. Following the trend of tart yogurt shops on the West Coast, like Pinkberry, this overpriced trendy hangout appealed to the masses. Five bucks for a cup of swirled goodness was nothing when it was hip and unique, right?

That might have been the case when Ce Fiore opened years ago, but now I worry for its existence when competing with massively popular do-it-yourself establishments like Spooners and Ripple. More variety, fresher toppings, and better prices bump these newly-opened spots up Boulder’s fro yo hierarchy, leaving Ce Fiore at the bottom.

Cosmo’s Pizza

by Jessica on September 18, 2011

1325 Broadway St # 108


You haven’t experienced CU until you’ve been to Cosmo’s, late-night, with spicy ranch.

Pizza shops are one thing that The Hill is not short of. Abo’s, Papa Romano’s or Cosmo’s, take your pick. And that’s just on The Hill. Yet when the bars or parties clear out and hungry Buffs are on their way home, Cosmo’s is a clear winner.

The people watching alone is reason enough to make a stop by this local joint. Watch the crowds drift in and out, watch boys flirting as they wait for their slices, and watch patron after patron struggling to place their order. Regardless of one’s mental state, it is no wonder some have difficulty ordering when Cosmo’s serves up about ten different options of pizza by the slice daily (if you could even call it a slice).

Without fail, I always opt for cheese. Actually, it is really the spicy ranch dip that I go for, so I find that cheese is the best match. Cosmo’s slices are about double the size of my head, and are probably equivalent to about two normal size slices. And we wonder why Americans are obese?

Bubbly cheese, soft and doughy crust, flavorful sauce, and simply perfect spicy ranch. The combo is absolute.

I am probably preaching to the choir, since I have yet to find a CU student who has never made a trip to Cosmo’s. Nevertheless, skip the other options, and get in line.









by Emily Kane on September 17, 2011

1142 13th Street


Bubble tea, traditionally known as Pearl Milk Tea, originated in Taiwan in the 80′s and has become increasingly popular in the US.

The “bubbles” in bubble tea are small balls of tapioca starch, referred to as “boba,” and can be added to any of the teas sold at Lollicup. Boba adds a little excitement, and burst of flavor, to your tea. On my last visit, I ordered a thai milk tea, sometimes called thai iced tea, with boba for a bit of a sugar buzz. The tea is a strong black tea, reminiscent of chai, and the addition of milk adds a rich creamy element. My tea was fantastic but after a while the overwhelming number of boba seemed to get in the way of my tea experience. Next time I will be sure to ask them to go a little lighter on the boba.

In addition to their myriad teas, Lollicup also has a small menu of dim-sum options. This time around I tried the chicken pot stickers and shrimp dumplings. The chicken pot stickers were piping hot and full of flavor. I was also excited to discover the dipping sauce that accompanied them was filled with chopped chives and bits of ginger! While I thoroughly enjoyed my pot stickers, in all their deep fried goodness, I was not particularly fond of the shrimp dumplings. Oddly sticky and a little too fishy for my taste, I was disappointed by the lack of flavor in such a promising item.






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With countless tea options, both with milk and without, and a variety of blended smoothies and coffee drinks, Lollicup is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up!

Taaza Gourmet (at the Farmer’s Market)

by Jessica on September 17, 2011

1750 13th St


My feelings on ethnic food go two ways: the weirder, the better, and therefore I proceed without reserves; or it is simply too funky to fathom, so I stay clear, as is often the case with Indian food. Yet the smells from this Indian-inspired tent at the Farmer’s Market caused me to shift my views on Indian food from #2 to #1.

On this rainy Wednesday, many of the vendors decided to stay dry, so the options for made-to-order food was limited. That being said, despite the few other tents around, all the customers were crowded around Taaza Gourmet.

I quickly decided on the chicken naan sandwich. My decision was made easy due to my dis-like for pork and desire for something more satisfying than veggies; the menu was short. After waiting several minutes, my name was called, and it was well worth the wait.

The fresh, warm naan bread was stuffed with perfectly-marinated, juicy chicken, onions, tomatoes, and topped with a blanket of their homemade yogurt sauce. I am a big believer that the bread alone can make the sandwich. Not only was this fluffy naan worthy of this acknowledgement, but every other ingredient in the sandwich was also perfectly prepared and visibly fresh. I was almost speechless in what to type because it is one of those things that speaks for itself. Try it, you’ll understand.

Though I have vowed to sample something from each food stand at the Farmer’s Market, I cannot wait to re-visit Taaza. It is the perfectly filling, satisfying and healthy meal. I can literally taste it now.

La’aus Taco Shop

by Jessica on September 14, 2011

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Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt

by Jessica on September 12, 2011

1682 30th St.


After having been to Spooner’s for the first time last week, I decided to venture to Ripple to solve the ever-lasting Ripple vs. Spooner’s debate amongst my friends.

Similar to my previous experience, I went wild with the do-it-yourself, yet tried to stay moderately healthy with the toppings. It is impossible not the bubble with excitement immediately upon walking in the door. If the fun music and bright colors doesn’t put you in a good mood, the room full of candy certainly will.

Ripple’s selection of toppings is impressive, from fruit to freshly baked cookies. The topping bar features about eight different types of fresh fruit, at least twenty candy options, and about eight hot, baked goods.  Every frozen yogurt shop sells toppings such as strawberries and Oreo’s, but I have never seen a store go so far as to bake fresh toppings, including hot cookies and brownies, for guests to load onto their frozen treat. Other obscure toppings included puppy chow, thin mint cookies and cookie dough.

For my dessert, I started with a base of tart/berry swirl. The yogurt was a little sweet for my liking, but of course that could have also been due to the amount of junk I loaded on top. I added kiwi, strawberries, mochi (Japanese rice balls) and chocolate chips, with a few goodies on top just to cure my instant chocolate craving, including cookie dough and peanut butter cups.

So the verdict is…Ripple takes the cake. Though of course both options are sure to cure your sweet tooth, in my opinion Ripple has better yogurt and fresher, more diverse toppings. Nevertheless, it would be difficult to get me to find an excuse why not to go to any store with “frozen yogurt” in its name.

Pickled Lemon

by Jessica on September 11, 2011

1155 13th St.


I have been dying for a healthier option to appear on the Hill. So here it is, amongst the copious sandwich shops and fast-food restaurants, the health-nut’s oasis: Pickled Lemon.

Mediterranean cuisine is absolutely one of my favorites, when it is done right. I have to admit, I was very skeptical of how good a Mediterranean joint on the Hill would be, especially one called the Pickled Lemon. But my guilt immediately sunk in the moment I dug in.

Basically, Pickled Lemon’s menu offers the selection of falafel, hummus, chicken or beef in a plate, pita or salad, along with the option of tons of toppings. This time, I went with the falafel plate and went a little crazy on the toppings. I added Moroccan carrots, beets, feta cheese, tomato/onion/cucumber salad, chickpeas, hummus, and a side of pita bread. Possibly one of the best aspects of this restaurant is your choice of over a dozen free toppings, in addition to another dozen condiments and sauces which are do-it-yourself. So in addition, I went for the spicy harissa sauce and tzatziki sauce (which I mixed together), and topped it all with a pickle. Though I would recommend trying as many toppings as possible, I could not dream up a better combo than this. Better yet, I washed it all down with an ice cold Coors Light.

Though I have talked up the selection of sides and sauces, it is the falafel which really pulls through in this dish. I consider myself a true critic of falafel, and most fails the test due to being too mushy or too hard, too fried or not fried enough, or general lack of flavor. I was honestly shocked at how smoothly Pickled Lemon’s falafel passed my test. It was crisp on the outside, smooth on the inside, and packed with spices and flavors. I love the flavor combo of the falafel paired with the hummus and sauces because it combines a mixture of consistencies and spiciness.

The Pickled Lemon is definitely my favorite spot on the Hill for a healthy yet satisfying meal any time of day. Between the veggie and meat options and the endless toppings, it would be hard to get sick of their menu no matter how often you dine there. My previous visit I tried the falafel pita (as opposed to the plate) which was just as good, if not better. I literally dream about this place and cannot wait to make a habit out of going more often, especially before the word gets out and it becomes insanely popular.