Best of Boulder 2012: Staff picks


Best Big Breakfast for the Bucks


4479 N. Broadway, 303-449-3663


2716 28th St., 303-449-1323

We couldn’t make up our minds, so we gave them both first place.

Since the beginning, no self-respecting climber would even contemplate heading off to the rock without first loading up at North Boulder Café. It
was the home of “lots for less.” It’s been a mainstay since back in the
days when North Boulder was pretty much the place where everybody who
didn’t cash trust fund checks for a living called home. The area didn’t
have NIMBY issues like today because the whole place existed as a
collection of all the places and people that were rejected because of
NIMBY issues somewhere else. It was a beautiful thing.

And as for Dot’s Diner, where else would
Boulderites wait an hour and a half for the opportunity to eat a giant
plateful of breakfast at a gas station? Well, the gas station location
is only a memory now, but the great breakfast at a reasonable price is
still available. If you love good food in good quantity at a good price
in the morning, give these places a go. You won’t be disappointed.

Best Block for New Restaurants


Looking for a new restaurant downtown but don’t know where to look?

Do we know the block for you. Head on down to 13th Street between Pearl and Spruce! Now,
I know you’ve already been to those two restaurants. But have patience!
Since 2007, there have been seven (yes, seven!) different restaurants
occupying those two spots. They include RedFish, Boulder Draft House,
Los Oasis, b.side Lounge and Trilogy. All signs say newcomer Shine is on
the path to success. Let’s hope it and whoever moves in next door can
buck the trend.

Best Place for a Wisconsin Fish Fry That’s Not in Wisconsin


11229 Colorado 93, 303-499-4242

Friday night at the Rocky Flats Lounge is the
closest thing to a small-town Wisconsin community fish fry you will ever
experience without actually being in Wisconsin. We have no idea where
all these transplanted cheeseheads come from, but they come out of their
hiding places on Friday nights at the RFL to create one of the area’s
best-kept secrets.

If you want to have some fun that is most definitely a
change of pace, hit the Lounge on a warm Friday night this summer. If
you intend to go, here are some helpful hints to ensure you are
entertained as opposed to becoming the bar’s source of entertainment.
Don’t make jokes about Brett Favre putting his cell phone down his pants
for a photo-op. Don’t suggest that they put a Peyton Manning poster
over the Favre or Rodgers wall art already on display. Don’t ask what
constellation Bart Starr is in. If someone says the word “Nitschke,”
they aren’t mispronouncing the philosopher, just down a shot and say,
“They don’t make ’em like that anymore.” Don’t ask, “Are you from
Boulder?” They aren’t. And finally, if you are wondering if you should
call for reservations … Please stay home.

Best Place to Eat Breakfast in Last Night’s Clothes


1605 Folsom St., 303-442-9689

Ever wondered where CU students end up when they finish their walk of shame on a Saturday morning? They all go to The Village Coffee Shop, judging
by the mass of bleary-eyed, dolled-up youngsters patronizing said café
on any given weekend. “The Village,” as its devotees adoringly call it,
is a true gem in Boulder, one of the last true greasy spoon diners in
town. Cheap food, sassy waitresses, blazing fast service and to-die-for
hashbrowns explain the place’s popularity, and if it’s your first visit,
make sure you tell your server. Just trust us.

Best Single-Term Mayor Who Also Owns a Kickass Restaurant


In January, when Longmont Mayor Dennis Coombs stuck
his neck out for equality and became the second mayor in the state
(Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was the first) to sign on to “Mayors for
the Freedom to Marry,” he may well have guaranteed that he won’t be
re-elected in a city that has traditionally leaned conservative. But the
times, they are a-changing, as evidenced by the Democrat’s victory last
fall. We laud him for his stand to support same-sex marriage, and we
like the burgers and brews at his Pumphouse pub on Main Street.

Best Culinary Religious Recruiting Operation


When we heard the allegations that a local restaurant had been opened by a
fundamentalist Christian cult, we were naturally skeptical.
Luckily, when we took a closer look, we found good, God-fearing folk
that denied taking radical positions. But their beliefs are
controversial, to say the least, and when you dine in this establishment
near the corner of Ninth and Pearl, you are enticed to peruse not just
the tasty menu items, but pamphlets about their belief system. Enjoy the
amazing Reuben sandwiches, even if you don’t digest their version of
the father, son and holy toast.

Best Place To Eat Wings Like a Savage


Wings should be spicy, sloppy and saucy. The more ranch and blue cheese to cool you down, the better. Fatty J’s Pizza
has changed ownership and location several times through the years, but
one thing has stayed constant, and that is the heavenly deliciousness
of its garlic parmesan wings. They’re big, mouthwatering pinnacles of
chicken wing perfection. Get some, but don’t eat them in front of anyone
you’re trying to impress: Social decorum places a distant second to
getting these bad boys into your stomach.

Best Experimental Taproom


5763 Arapahoe Ave. #E, 303-440-4324

Going to Avery Brewing Company’s taproom is like
hearing a jam session with Sun Ra, King Crimson and Philip Glass.
Actually, that sounds pretty cool, which is fitting, because Avery’s
taproom is a haven for the avant-garde beer-lover. Avery makes a lot of
frankly strange beers that are great once in a while, but you might not
want to buy them six bottles at a time. Which is why the taproom is so
great. You can get glasses of good-once-a-year beers like The Beast
Grand Cru Ale or the 15-percent-ABV Mephistopheles Stout. It’s also a
classy joint with warm wood paneling and a cozy atmosphere. So if you
like your beer like Ornette Coleman likes his jazz, check Avery out.

Best Coffee Shop Patio


637 S. Broadway, #R, 303-449-2985

Not only do these folks make great coffee, you can enjoy
it on the patio with a spectacular and close-up Flatiron view. Equally
attractive, Caffè Sole leads a second life when evening rolls
around. When the sun moves low behind the Flatirons, the coffee shop
transforms into a great jazz venue on Monday nights. Live music can also
be heard at the café Thursday through Saturday evenings when, in
addition to coffee, a stellar wine list and great food offerings are
available. Their website says that Caffè Sole is all about community,
and it shows. So grab a table outside and relax.

Underappreciated Bar


555 30th St., 303-444-3330

Stepping into the Boulder Broker Inn’s bar is like
stepping back in time a few decades. It’s a place where day-drinking and
casual alcoholism are not just ignored but tacitly approved. A small,
colorful group of regulars fuel some lively conversation should you hop
on a stool and order a cheap beer during happy hour. Plus, we happen to
know that this was the bar of choice for a certain gonzo journalist
named Hunter S. Thompson when he visited our town. Like him or not, the
man knew a thing or two about a good bar. So come on down, the people
here are gold, Jerry, gold, and the antique ambience of the place can’t
be beat.

Best Way to Burn Calories While Bar-Hopping


Picture this, if you haven’t already seen it in downtown
Boulder. It’s a big, covered bar car on wheels, with seats for 16. The
front end is a bicycle. The catch is, there are 10 seats, five on each
side, from which you need to pedal to get the thing to move. You can
rent My Handlebar to cruise around downtown Boulder, stopping at
restaurants to gain sustenance between cycling sessions. If you’re not
near a bar, they can serve brews while parked on private property. The
concept is brilliant, especially in Boulder, where we love our
libations, food and exercise. If you’re feeling a bit lazy — or you’ve
had too much to drink to be trusted to pedal — pick a seat in the back
where you can relax and enjoy the ride. Check out

Best Local Non-Beer Alcohol Maker


This was a close one, because we are also quite partial to
Roundhouse Spirits, which makes a couple of great gins. But we sure
like 303’s back story. Distiller Steve Viezbicke found his Polish
family’s treasured potato vodka recipe tucked away in his grandfather
Pete’s old steamer trunk. Pete’s parents apparently placed the recipe in
the lining of the trunk when they sent Pete to America in 1907 to avoid
World War I. “Steve tinkered with the recipe until he created a smell
he remembered as a child,” according to the 303 website.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Bloody Mary


2124 14th St., 303-442-4743

518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814


1801 13th St., Suite 180, 303-442-7427

1920 S. Coffman St., Longmont, 303-772-8264


1235 Pennsylvania Ave., #A, 303-993-8131

Before the battle over who should win best Bloody Mary
gets, well, bloody, we decided the best method was to honor all three of
our top choices for ways to ease out of your hangover and into your
Saturday. Lucile’s has a great, spicy Bloody Mary that gets its
own Lucile’s creole spice — a secret formula — around the lip to make
the perfect start to your day. Personal touches continue at The Rib House, which uses its own barbeque sauce to add flavor to its Bloody Mary. Café Aion’s is light enough to not feel weird drinking it at night… That’s a direct quote from a Boulder Weekly staffer, but it’s up to you to sort out what it means. We say try them all and you decide.

Best Innovation


1265 Boston Ave., Longmont, 303-772-0258

Lefthand’s Milk Stout was already an arrow in every
serious beer drinker’s quiver, but what the company has done with this
particular beer of late is groundbreaking. You may recall that Guinness
made news a few years back when it added a widget to its cans of stout
in order to create a more draught-like product. The widgets released
nitrogen into the beer instead of carbon dioxide. Enough, Mr. Science.

Nitrogen makes stout taste creamy with an appropriately thick head. Lefthand figured out a process to bottle its Milk Stout Nitro with
nitrogen without using a widget. We don’t know or care how they did it
(no cows were injured in the process). We care that the results are
delicious. Just remember to pour the beer hard for best results.

Best Coffee Liqueur


5311 Western Ave., Suite 180, 303-819-5598

All right, we admit it. We went to the Roundhouse
Distillery because we heard the place was producing great gin, and it
is. But somewhere along the way we became distracted by the small craft
distillery’s Corretto Coffee Liqueur. This stuff is great, as in
“the last bottle disappeared in less than 48 hours” great. In fact, we
think it is hands-down the best coffee liqueur we’ve ever tasted. Less
sugar than the others, more alcohol than the others, better flavor than
the others. More alcohol than the others (this can not be overstated).
If you haven’t tried this liqueur, you are truly missing out.

Best Not-So-Veiled Trampling of First Amendment


This one is easy. When the Occupy movement and the
homeless, who seemingly could not be curtailed by the city’s draconian
anti-camping ordinance, became an inconvenience, our esteemed city
leaders decided to take things into their own hands. They passed a rule
closing public areas between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Not that they were
targeting anyone, they insisted. Um, who else could be affected? Lost
pizza delivery drivers? Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, our sage elders
decided to yank our right to jury trial for such offenses. Um, last we
checked, the Constitution protects our right to peaceably assemble, and then there was something about being judged by a jury of our peers. On another First Amendment front, CU wins for best censorship due to its poor handling of the 4/20 protest on campus, including asking musician Wyclef Jean to censor himself.

Best Biker Bar for Karaoke


30 S. Main St., Longmont, 303-772-9797

While this may sound like some form of an insult, nothing
could be further from the truth. We freaking love this place. Karaoke
night at McCarthy’s makes reality TV shows like American Idol, The Voice and America’s Got Talent look
like the boring tripe that they are. Stop living vicariously through
your cell-phone by voting for people you’ve never seen or heard of via
1-900 numbers. Come to McCarthy’s and vote with your wolf whistles and heckling for people you’ve never seen or heard of.

Don’t let the long row of Harleys outside keep you out.
This place is friendly and downright hysterical when the karaoke machine
gets turned on. You won’t be able to hold back the tears as one
muscled-up, bike-riding crooner after another sings their favorite
hair-band ballad. This place rocks. Drop in and have some fun.

Best Local Example of Corporate Personhood


Gosh, this was a tough one, so we just called it a draw.
Last fall, both Xcel Energy and the Colorado Cable Telecommunications
Association (CCTA) distinguished themselves in this category. Xcel
poured thousands of dollars into trying to defeat a City of Boulder
measure to explore municipalization of its electric utility. And the
CCTA, funded at least in part by Comcast, launched a scare-tactic
campaign designed to convince voters that allowing Longmont to use its
own fiber-optic system would be wrong. Thankfully, voters in both cities
saw the light and elected to distance themselves from corporate
interests and place their utilities future in local hands. Power to the

Best Fat Guy in a Little Coat


During metal’s heyday in the late ’70s and ’80s, shock and horror and gore ruled the airwaves. Guys like Glenn Danzig of
The Misfits and other bands like Slayer and KISS built their careers
making dark, heavy, horror-inspired metal. Danzig, in particular, took
the testosterone-fueled machismo to a whole new level, appearing in his
music videos with goth strippers and making a big deal out of how he got
a black belt in Jeet Kune Do. But the years have not been kind to the
Evil Elvis. He just hasn’t been the same since he was photographed
buying kitty litter while wearing a frickin’ Danzig shirt. Not to
mention the viral video of him getting knocked to the ground by a single
punch to the face. His attitude (and gut) was on display at the Boulder
Theater last May, when he confiscated a camera from an audience member
and kicked a photographer out of the photo pit. At least someone’s
keeping the shock-jock death-obsessed machismo of the ’80s alive. Keep
on rocking, Danzig.

Best Display of Wealth-Enabled Eccentricity


Boulder real estate mogul Stephen Tebo, whose
development company owns more than 200 properties, made for some very
strange headlines in January 2012 when he purchased the Cadillac hearse
used to transport President John F. Kennedy’s dead body for $176,000.
The move prompted some speculation as to what he would do with the car.
Would he keep it in his private garage? Take it for casual spins? Drive
the vehicle in the Frozen Dead Guy parade? But mostly, it just reminded
us that there are people in the world who can wake up and think, what
should I spend $176,000 on today? Now, Tebo says he intends to open a
museum of cars connected to historical events, so we applaud his good
intentions. But you can’t help but notice that without massive amounts
of wealth, most of us lack the means to express our innermost weirdo.
What would your chain-smoking, ex-Marine neighbor buy with unlimited
funds? Maybe the world is better off not knowing.

Best Answered Prayer for a Broncos Super Bowl Win


When Tim Tebow asked God for Denver to get the team to the
Super Bowl, he may have been surprised by the results. Hey, the Tebow
era was a nice novelty and all, and was generally good publicity for the
team, but let’s be serious. Peyton Manning, even with Frankenstein neck
bolts, is head and shoulders above Mr. Tebow when it comes to the
quarterback department. It’s like comparing John the Baptist to Jesus.
OK, maybe that’s a bad analogy. Forgive us.

Best Advocate for Local Business STAN GARNETT

It’s kind of nice when your local politicians stand up to
the big bad federal government. Back in March, Boulder District Attorney
Stan Garnett sent a strongly worded letter to Colorado U.S.
Attorney John Walsh to back off the marijuana dispensaries. “I can see
no legitimate basis in this judicial district to focus the resources of
the United States government on the medical marijuana dispensaries that
are otherwise compliant with Colorado law or local regulation,” Garnett
wrote in the letter. “The people of Boulder County do not need
Washington D.C. or the federal government dictating how far dispensaries
should be from schools, or other fine points of local land-use law.”
Booyah! In your face federal government!

Best Van Down by the River


It was a normal Friday at Boulder Weekly headquarters
last fall, all of us laboring to bring you the best local, independent
news you can’t buy, until a brightly colored truck and camper shell
pulled into our parking lot. A strange man with a wide smile on his face
emerged from this vehicle, which was painted with colorful messages
like “Smile” and “I am love,” and he gave us a big hug, figuratively, of
course, and asked us to pimp his upcoming event. It was Jeffrey “Yahva” Krumholz, and
it seemed like he was truly just out to spread the joy. He was throwing
a party on 11/11/11, all in the name of love. We haven’t heard from him
since, but he made our day, if not our year.

Best Location for a Monitoring Well VALMONT BUTTE

For months now we’ve been explaining all the reasons that
we think that the city or Honeywell or the Environmental Protection
Agency or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment or
anybody else with the authority to do so needs to drill a monitoring well below the dike dam on its Valmont Butte property. This is the contaminated chunk of land where the old Allied Chemical mill used to operate.

Strangely, we’re not the first ones to think of putting a
monitoring well between the dam that holds back the million tons of
contaminated tailings and pooling groundwater and the drinking water
wells across Valmont Road to the north. The EPA and U.S. Geological
Survey both thought it was a good idea at one time or another. The EPA
even scheduled the well to be drilled on numerous occasions, only to
inexplicably back out at the last minute each time.

If it’s a matter of money, Boulder Weekly will be
happy to hold a fundraiser to offset the relatively paltry $9,000 cost
for the well. Somehow, we just don’t expect anybody to take us up on our
offer. After all, if the well were to find contaminated groundwater in
the aquifer north of the dam, somebody might realize that Valmont Butte
isn’t a good place to store a million tons of radioactive, lead- and
arsenic-contaminated tailings. Besides, what we don’t know can’t hurt us
… right?

Best Names of New Climbing Routes

“Supposed Former Grade Inflation Junkie” (5.10) Third Advisor in the Flatirons

“Clyncke Punched a Hippy” (5.11a R) Eldorado Canyon Redgarden Wall

“The Dispensary” (5.10a) Eldorado Canyon Redgarden Wall

“Everybody has an Opinion” (5.8) Third Advisor in the Flatirons

“Unsolicited Advice:” (5.8) Third Advisor in the Flatirons

“Good Advice You Just Didn’t Take” (5.8 PG13) Third Advisor in the Flatirons

“Some Advice Is Hard to Follow” (5.9 PG13) Third Advisor in the Flatirons

“Cleopatra Says Happy Birthday to Anthony” (5.10 PG13) Eldorado Canyon Redgarden South Buttress

Best Way to Exacerbate the Upcoming Drought


March was bone dry, and snowpack in the mountains is pathetic.

The ski season was pretty sad. The conditions are setting
up for a summer replete with lawn-watering restrictions like we had a
few years ago. So, with water at a premium, the stage is set for a
showdown with oil and gas companies, which need hundreds of thousands of
gallons of water to perform hydraulic fracturing, the
controversial method of extracting energy resources from underneath our
feet. The problem is, people near these fracking operations, curiously,
are developing health problems. To what extent will our elected
officials clamp down on this promise of energy production — and water
sales revenues — in the name of public health and safety?

Best Agricultural Fashion Accessory


The alternate title for this was “Best non-existent
grassroots movement.” There was quite a change of pace when it came to
genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Boulder County on Dec. 8, 2011.
While previous meetings of a countyappointed group charged with
recommending how to deal with Frankenfoods had been largely dominated by
those who prefer natural foods, this time Big Ag rallied farmers from
all around these here parts to show up to a hearing on the issue, and
they were all issued green hats sporting the acronym FAIR, which
few knew how to define. Turns out, the fingerprints of outside ag
powerhouses like the Farm Bureau were all over this one. Oh, and FAIR
stands for Farmers Alliance for Integrated Resources, and it came
complete with a tweeted threat from a state legislator to pull county
funding if the GMO question didn’t go their way. Turns out it did. Nice.

Best Press Release of the Year


When this City of Boulder announcement landed in our inbox
on Dec. 15, it piqued our interest. Sure, we had heard bits and pieces
about the butte’s sordid history, but once we started poking around,
it’s safe to say that we uncovered a cesspool. After looking at dozens
of aerial photos, historical maps and documents from the feds, state,
county and city, we identified strands of a tangled web of mistakes,
deceit and denial that boggle the mind. It’s taken us eight installments
(so far) in the “Ghosts of Valmont Butte” series to tell the story of
what we found. And yet city officials are still repeating their tired
old reasons for why their subpar remediation is sufficient, despite the
fact that we’ve presented evidence to the contrary. By the way, the
alternative title for this one was, “Best place to get cancer in your
sweat lodge.”

Best Blended Business


Oskar Blues Brewery made a name for itself by
daringly bottling crafted microbrews in cans. This bold move was cheered
by river-rafters and campers everywhere who could upgrade to bringing
Dale’s Pale Ale and Mama’s Little Yella Pils along for the ride, then
crush the cans and pack them out. Yay, innovation! Once again, the
fellas at Oskar Blues are playing with what you can do with metals. This
time, they’re putting it to a use that will have more outdoorsy types
excited: They’re making bicycles. It’s a hand-crafted, steel-framed bike
with a belt drive and 29-inch wheels big enough to crush your beer
cans. All hail the multitasking business.

Best Way to Support the Chinese Economy


Various locations

The once-strong American economy continues to slide,
thanks as always to unions, Obama, health care, gun control and
socialism (also those pro-choice people).

And so more and more of Boulder County’s hippie freaks
turn to the “buy local” movement. “Shop local,” we hear them drone.
“Save the economy and support your community and blah blah.”

We don’t think so. We’ve had enough of this entitlement
economy, and supporting our lazy fellow Americans is what got us this
recession in the first place — whether they happened to be millionaire
bank CEOs is irrelevant. We’re hereby jumping ship to a fast-growing,
powerful, robust economy and society that isn’t hung up on silliness
like coddling workers with “safe conditions” and “reasonable hours.”
We’re on board, China, and we’re doing everything we can to send our
dollars your way. That’s why when our mantels need a cheap plastic
decoration, or when our pets need a cheap plastic toy, or when our
children need a cheap plastic coat, we turn to WalMart.

Best Place to Take Some Fashion Cues


Various locations

Boulder has a well-documented fashion problem. GQ called it one of the worstdressed cities in the country last year, and we’ve got to say they have a point.

Nobody in Boulder seems to know the first thing about
fashion. Which is pretty perplexing, considering the city’s got a few
excellent models to follow not far away, and we may be getting one of
our own soon. We’re talking about Walmart, of course, where low
prices and incredible deals are just the beginning. Walmarts are also
widely respected fashion meccas, places to check out your fellow
shoppers for the latest style dos and don’ts. This year, sweatpants,
Crocs and Taz tees are in — although when are they not? — while it’s a
major fashion boo-boo to wear colors that go together or clothes that
cover more than 85 percent of your lumpy flesh. Take a tip from your
neighbors, Boulder: If it doesn’t say “TAPOUT” or “JUICY” somewhere on
it, it had better at least be tie-dyed.

Best Fair Trade Store


1625 Pearl St., 303-440-7744

Shopping at Momentum improves the lives of real
people from all around the world. We know it sounds like a brochure, but
it’s true. The fair trade movement helps to eliminate the middleman. In
other words, when you purchase a beautiful, handcrafted item via fair
trade, a much larger portion of your money is going directly to the
person who made it. By buying fair trade and creating employment
opportunities for people who have been largely left out of, or exploited
by, the economies in their home countries, those of us fortunate enough
to live in Boulder County can make an enormous difference. Our dollars
feed, house and educate people when we eat, drink, wear and gift fair
trade. If you haven’t gotten on board with this future of retail yet,
now is the time. And kudos to all the shops, from coffee to clothes,
that are making fair trade a priorty in their their business decisions.

Best Place to Buy an Out-of-Print Book


1737 Pearl St., 303-938-1778

Behold, the virtue of a bin of books for $1 — brought to your home without shipping and handling charges.

Boulder boasts plenty of used bookstores, each of which
has a special place in our bibliophile hearts for their leftist
tendencies or their beat-poetry affinities. But Red Letter Secondhand Books, for
its shelves of obscure field guides and a backroom for secretly
browsing genre fiction, its array of art books up front and that
aforementioned bin of discounted books, wins as the best place to go and
browse among dusty shelves and take home a few literary surprises.

Best Camp Coffee


This group almost got second place for best tent
configuration in front of city hall, but with so many boutique coffee
shops on Pearl Street, this was just too easy. Granted, the dedicated
members of this movement have embraced worthy causes like opposing
corporate personhood and the ridiculous local camping ban, but
seriously. Are we really to believe that the eight grungy folks who poke
their heads out of North Face shelters at the courthouse lawn can’t
stroll down to the ATM and pull out $20 for a latte and bagel? This is
Boulder, and while we can sympathize with those who are truly in need
around the country and world, the real way we can make a difference is
to write a check to a reputable charity and vote our conscience. But if
things really get bad, we should join them and storm the castle.