The launch of Longmont Restaurant Week

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Sugarbeet owners Ari Kara (left) and Ben Wheelon.
Susan France

There was a time when nobody thought about “dining” and “Longmont” in the same sentence. “When I was growing up, my parents always had to drive to Boulder for a date night dinner,” says Karen Stallard, membership director of the Longmont Chamber of Commerce.

However, this is not your Mom’s and Dad’s municipality. “If you haven’t been to Longmont and dined here in the past year or two, you really don’t know Longmont,” she says.

“So many new food and drink options have opened that people in Longmont and in Boulder don’t know about,” says Leah Winkler, event and program director for the Chamber.

That lack of awareness was the spark that led to the inaugural Longmont Restaurant Week — actually 10 days, from April 20-29. Winkler says that more than 42 Longmont restaurants, bakeries, breweries and pizzerias stepped forward to feature multi-course prix fixe meals, food specials and sipping experiences priced at $18.71. The cost is to honor the year Longmont was founded and to make this showcase of the food scene affordable and accessible.

What will $18.71 get you? At SAMPLES Restaurant, it’s a meal of roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, a short rib poutine burrito and a Wibby Downtown Hop, while Next Door American Eatery dishes a wild Coho salmon burger with cucumber relish, sesame aioli, garlic smashed potatoes and organic garden salad and a craft ale or wine.

“We’re so happy that Longmont has its own restaurant week. We hope to see new diners who haven’t discovered Longmont’s dining scene,” says Ari Kara, new co-owner with Ben Wheelon of Sugarbeet restaurant.

At Sugarbeet, dining week visitors have a choice of four entrees. The first is pan-roasted ocean trout with couscous, asparagus ribbons and lemon thyme beurre blanc. Other options include pasta puttanesca with meatballs, salsa verde-stuffed chicken with fingerlings, and mushroom fettucine with braised fennel. Wines paired to the dishes are available separately.

Kara dispensed with a few “myths” about Longmont, especially for Boulder diners. First, Longmont is close, only a 15 minute drive away. You’ll spend more time than that driving in circles around Boulder’s Downtown Mall trying to find a spot. Parking in Longmont is “much less of a hassle,” Kara says.

Longmont’s event is inspired by winter and spring restaurant weeks that have become hugely popular in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, but with some only-in-Longmont twists.

April 21’s Food Truck Pair-Up to benefit Longmont Food Rescue is a three-course, $18.71 feast with sips from Left Hand Brewing Company, St. Vrain Cidery and Longtucky Spirits, and appetizers from three local food trucks: Summit Tacos, Yolk’n Around, and The G-Spot Noshery.

Restaurant weeks have tended to focus on bistros, trattorias and finer dining establishments, but Longmont welcomed any hospitality business that asked to be part of the events. For instance, Longmont’s long-standing Blackjack Pizza delivers a family-of-four pizza deal, and La Momo Maes Bakery, 900 S. Hover Road, offers a friends’ get-together deal of three large specialty coffees and one fruit and cheese ring.

The dining week has multi-course meals to satisfy any dietary approach. At Breakers Grill, it’s a Caesar salad plus a six-ounce prime rib with baked potato, horseradish and au jus topped off with apple pie. At Bin 46 Craft Bar & Restaurant, the vegan and gluten-free feast features beet tartare, an entrée of roasted Aspen Moon Farm spaghetti squash, acorn squash, carrots and butternut squash with coconut cream and pomegranate, and mango brûlée for the finale.

Other Longmont Restaurant Week participants include longtime institutions like Mike O’Shay’s as well as newly opened spots like Treat Snack House. Others include Flavor of India, Georgia Boys BBQ, Jefe’s Tacos & Tequila, The Post, Martini’s Bistro, Dickens Tavern, Rosalee’s Pizzeria, Caprese Trattoria and 2020 Food and Wine Bar. longmontrestaurantweek.com

Local food news

Peachy’s Superfruit Cafe has opened at 1926 14th St. in Boulder … The Sun Rose Cafe has closed at 379 Main St. in Longmont after nine years in business. … Brandon and Lisa Boldt of Lafayette’s Odd13 Brewing have launched another specialty brewery, Primitive Brewing, 2025 Ionosphere St. in Longmont. Primitive lives up to its name by making sour beer fermented in an open container with spontaneous yeast from the air. This carbonation-free Lambic-inspired beer is sold like wine in 1.5-liter bags in cardboard boxes with a spigot. Primitive’s tasting room is open only on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. … Boulder’s Centro Mexican Kitchen now accepts pesos for certain items on the weekend brunch menu, including Bloody Marias and huevos rancheros. Biscuits and gravy is $10 or 100 pesos, a fairly favorable exchange rate. (Now we need a place to ditch leftover Euros.)

Chef vs. chef

Two major battles — one live and one on film — star at Rumble in the Rockies: Get Your Chefs Challenge On, taking place April 29 at The Riverside in Boulder. The live chefs challenge will be emceed by chef Theo Adley of The Populist and features two teams. One team is led by chef Ryan Gorby of Denver’s Cho77 (who worked with legendary chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten) and the other by Kyle Mendenhall of Boulder’s Arcana (who recently cooked at the James Beard House). Other team chefs include Steve Redzikowski (OAK at fourteenth) and Thach Danny Tran (Ace Eat Serve). Each team cooks two dishes to be judged by the audience and by a team of judges including Kelly Jeun, new co-executive chef of Frasca. The tasting is followed by a screening of the Hong Kong chefs challenge comedy Cook Up a Storm. Proceeds benefit Boulder’s Flatirons Food Film Festival. Details: flatironsfoodfilmfest.org

Taste of the week

Sunday brunch with my sister at Lafayette’s Morning Glory Cafe was a perfect formula of two crispy potato latkes with mild peach salsa, two eggs over easy with black beans and sour cream, one nice blueberry pancake with butter and raspberry jam, plus a steady supply of good coffee. 

Words to chew on

“Many people hate the taste of beer to begin with. It is, however, a prejudice that many have been able to overcome.” — Winston Churchill

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles 8:25 a.m. Thursday on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, kgnu.org), podcasts at news.kgnu.org/category/radio-nibbles.