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Nibbles: Want Fries With That?


I’m starting to feel like I’ve moved to Swallow Falls, the mythical town in the film Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs where cheeseburgers rain down from the sky.

The Boulder-Denver area has become ground zero for ground beef. This revelation came to me as I was sitting at Larkburger, created by noted Vail chef Thomas Salamunovich. The recent Boulder addition sells an exceptional burger and addictive thin fries.

Across Arapahoe I spied a Red Robin, a sit-down burger group that calls Colorado home, as does Good Times, the chain that has an outlet nearby on Pearl Street.
The latest local, Smashburger, is one of the country’s hottest new chains. The nearest one is a short drive east on Arapahoe to Lafayette in the former site of Icon Burgers, the eatery that spawned Smashburger. Boulder gets one in 2010. Smashburger, and the equally good Five Guys Burger and Fries chain, on Main Street in Longmont, are both modeled on the West Coast cult favorite, In-N-Out.

It’s also not hard at all to find topnotch independent examples starting with Bradford Heap’s new Salt Bistro where the iconic Tom’s Tavern burger has been reborn and significantly upgraded. You can also find stellar patties at Radek Cerny’s Full Belly bistro and at the Empire in Louisville.

That’s why I had to tsk-tsk when I saw that The Sink was recommended in the September Sunset as the best place near CU to grab a burger. It may be a historic hangout but the burgers are nothing special.

I know I’m asking for trouble any time I recommend or criticize burgers. In the September Yellow Scene, I noted that I occasionally enjoy the Bambinos cheeseburger sliders at Good Times. I received an email (see Fan Mail below) from a reader from which I had to edit offensive language.

I respect his passion. Hell hath no furry like a disappointed burger devotee, but your point is ridiculous. Those of us who work—and who don’t want to burn the gas, are not driving to Denver for steak house sliders, no matter how yummy. Go try all the burgers mentioned above and then we can debate.

If you’ve got a beef with me, or a better burger to recommend, let me know at: [email protected]. Just don’t address it to “Dude.” 

{eatery update}
Fast, casual Modmarket opened recently at 1600 28th St. in the Twenty Ninth Street mall serving house-baked, whole grain flatbread pizzas plus salads and wine. Printed receipts offer nutrition info for the dishes you order. Nearby, Gindi Café opened during the summer at 3601 Arapahoe Ave. in the Boulder Peloton development. The organically-oriented menu includes smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, and pressed sandwiches including ones filled with Nutella and bananas.
Chef Hosea Rosenberg of Jax Fish House is taking a five-month sabbatical after the whirlwind that resulted from winning Top Chef: New York. You can follow his culinary vacation at whereishosea.com. …Happy 40th anniversary to Celestial Seasonings and we lift a toast to 30 years of Boulder Beer, Colorado’s first microbrewery. …A recent issue of Bon Appetit proclaimed Boulder as one of the great small cities for foodies because it boasts “a good culinary school, artisanal breweries, an active Slow Food chapter, and an eco-conscious community with notable eateries.” …Tired of trying to infuse flavor into your autumn pot roasts, turkeys and pork loins with rubs and marinades? It may be time for you to blast flavor into meat with Season Shot. These shot gun shells are filled with flavoring pellets instead of metal shot and are designed to kill wild fowl and “accurately season at 45 yards,” according to the company’s website: seasonshot.com. Flavors of the environmentally safe ammunition include Cajun, teriyaki and honey mustard. …A Gourmet magazine feature on the new breed of artisanal delis notes Jimmy & Drew’s 28th Street Delicatessen house-smoked salmon and house-rendered schmaltz (chicken fat).

The Peaberry Coffee chain, launched  20 years ago in Denver, has shut its doors. Michele Harris, owner of the Boulder Peaberry shop at 2721 Arapahoe Ave., has reopened that location as Flatiron Coffee.

We’re still waiting for Pizza Fusion to open at 1738 Pearl St., formerly location of the Gondolier, and before that, the Good Earth and Harvest restaurants.

The four-course menu for the Oct. 14 wine dinner at Westminster’s Asti d’Italia features pumpkin risotto with sage brown butter matched with a nice Valpolicella. Cost: $55. Reservations: 303.457.3900. …See stars at The Blending Cellar’s Oct. 15 Champagne and sparkling wine tasting. Cost: $30. Reservations: 303.447.0475.
The best things I’ve tasted at North Metro area eateries in the past 30 days or so include: a Lebanese-style gyros pita wrap with Greek salad and extra feta plus a honey-dripping diamond of nut-middled baklava at Mumtaz Mediterranean Food, 588 N. Highway 287, Lafayette; a thoroughly craveable spinach calzone with marinara sauce and an almost-East Coast cannoli at Dolce Sicilia, 3210 Wadsworth Blvd., Wheat Ridge; excellent dense (not fluffy) blueberry pancakes with Louisville-made chicken apple sausage, and eggs over easy at The Huckleberry, 700 Main St., Louisville, and aromatic kimchi pancakes griddled and dished with sriracha and cilantro-soy mayo dips at Bimbamboo, 1710 Pearl St., Boulder.

“Dude, next time you’re in Denver, go downtown to Morton’s for their sliders. They are $6 for three during their happy hour. They are unbelievably tasty. While I like Good Times, their sliders are foul. …I can’t believe you’re hyping them.”
“The cold truth is that family dinners are more often than not an ordeal of nervous indigestion, preceded by hidden resentment and ennui and accompanied by psychosomatic jitters.”—Legendary food writer M.F.K. Fisher


emailed aug 12, 2009

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