My “editor’s picks” for Yellow Scene Magazine’s annual “Best of the West” issue are out. Check out my favorite BoCo (that’s Boulder County) places:
Best “freebie” with dinner: Beehive‘s gougères
The warm, French cheese puffs called gougères that Beehive serves gratis with your meal or beverage take the concept of restaurant freebies to an impressive new level.
Biggest disappointment: Il Mondo Vecchio closing
It’s a sad example of what’s wrong with our country’s food safety program when a small business making artisan products, with no safety violations, is forced to choose between cost-prohibitive additional testing, putting additives in their product, or shutting their doors. Food safety is an important function of our government, but the process is broken, especially when it comes to small artisan producers, and our only Colorado-based salumi operation is one of the latest casualties.
Biggest BoCo Restaurant Trend: Taquerias
In 2011 it was pizzerias, and in 2012, taquerias seemed to dominate our restaurant landscape. But we’re not complaining. Taste the trend at Comida in Longmont, Pica’s Taqueria in Boulder, or La Revolucion Taqueria y Cantina in Louisville.
Best place to grab a beer in Niwot: Bootstrap Brewing Company
This family-run neighborhood Niwot brewery is already a favorite of the locals, and it’s worth the trek for the rest of us for the excellent brews and the “everybody knows your name” atmosphere.
Best Brisket: Lulu’s, Louisville
We can debate all day long who has the best BoCo BBQ, but this Texas girl gives Lulu’s the title for brisket, hands down.
Best Dining Experience: FORK Social Lab
It’s not a restaurant; it’s not a club. FORK is in a category all its own, offering culinary classes and intimate social dining experiences that cannot be replicated. Sign up for a delicious one-of-a-kind experience.
Best Use of Kale: Oak at Fourteenth‘s Honey Crisp and Kale salad
Move over, lettuce. This salad—with thinly sliced Honey Crisp apples, parmesan and candied almonds—will make even kale haters crave their veggies.
Best Coffee: Boxcar Coffee Roasters
Ordering coffee at Boxcar is a little like visiting a mad scientist in his lab: whirring machines, glass beakers, precision timing, strange contraptions. Order a cup and be mesmerized by the process (and the handsome baristas in waistcoats).
Best New Dessert Place: Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery
This little shop is like something out of a modern fairy tale, with giant whisks for light fixtures, platters of ethereal glittering candy floss behind the counter, and display cases full of the sorts of treats to make any sweet tooth sigh with pleasure. Outstanding cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pastries, and gelato for the asking.
Best Pork: El Milagro del Cerdo dinner at Pica’s Mexican Taqueria
Gather 10 of your best friends and book yourself the milagro del cerdo dinner at Pica’s to experience the miracle of the pig.
Best Restaurant Worth a Second Look: Jill’s at the St. Julien
If you haven’t been to Jill’s in a while, it might be worth another look. Order something en flambé tableside for a memorable date night or take advantage of their weekday Tuscan Table lunch, which is one of the best values in town (all you care to eat for $11.95).
Best Cooking Class: Piece Love and Chocolate classes
Learn to whip up the sorts of desserts that will make you a legend in your own kitchen: chocolate soufflés, flourless chocolate torts, molten chocolate lava cake, truffles, eclairs… The chocolatrices here make it all seem infinitely doable.
Best Eating Class: Cured‘s Cheese 101
Learn to appreciate more than just cheddar in this comprehensive yet digestible introduction to the cheese plate.
Best New Mexico-Style Enchiladas: Kachina Southwestern Grill
When it comes to enchiladas, it takes a lot to impress me, but the New Mexico-style stacked, blue corn chicken enchiladas with green chile at Kachina in Westminster come as close to Santa Fe as you can get this far north of the border.
Best Breakfast: Café Aion
I’ve tried a lot of Boulder breakfasts in the last year, but the house-made pastries, French press coffee, and perfect accompaniments at Café Aion still make the top of my list. When I dream of breakfast, it looks like a Café Aion bagel and lox.