I live in Lafayette, Boulder County’s hot new food, drink and dining destination.
Right. If you are laughing to yourself, don’t feel bad: You have a lot of company. Lafayette — Boulder’s cousin twice-removed on the other side of Louisville — has not been on the culinary radar for long. For many years, diners drove to Lafayette for Mexican food the way they headed to Louisville for Italian-American eats, but that was about it. Things have changed dramatically in both cities.
It’s Lafayette’s turn for a food boom. The city has room for more eateries, the leases are more affordable and parking is not the hassle it is in downtown Boulder or Louisville. Lafayette picked up steam when the Big Red F group opened The Post Brewing Company, drawing crowds for fried chicken, pie and award-winning beer since the day it opened.
Now, eateries are opening almost every month, but you have to know what to look for in neighborhoods around the city. The focus is South Public Road, Lafayette’s Main Street, where recently opened restaurants include a second location for Fort Collins’ whiskey- and bacon-centric William Oliver’s Publick House, and self-described “non pretentious eatery” Community (with a giant flaming caldron on the patio). Nearby is the canine-focused Romero’s K9 Club & Tap House, (in a former Sonic Drive In). The happily relocated Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant has good ethnic-dining neighbors with Udon Kaisha, Panang Thai and Pho Café less than 100 yards away.
Coming soon on South Public Road are the Black Diamond Restaurant & Tap House as well as Chocolaterie Stam, the first Colorado location for a nine-store Midwestern chocolate maker. In June, the new Lafayette Farmers Market will be open every Thursday evening on South Public Road.
Out near Wal-Mart on U.S. Highway 287 more food attractions are popping up. At the new U-Turn BBQ, you can sit and eat at the brewery/barbecue, but six-packs and smoked ribs are also served through its drive-thru window. That Lafayette neighborhood includes the Isabelle Farm Store, open year-round selling local produce, meats, dairy products, breads and gifts. Nearby is another recent opening, Sushi Aji, and two old favorites — Proto’s Pizza and Mumtaz Mediterranean Food. U-Turn joins a first class Lafayette craft ale roster that includes The Post, Front Range Brewing, Liquid Mechanics and Odd13 Brewing.
Muffins, cakes and all-important pies are on the menu at Button Rock Bakery, which just opened near Morning Glory Café in the area around the 95th Street and Arapahoe Road crossroads. Lunada Cantina and Reelfish Fish & Chips have joined the Super Mini Walnut Café and the Brewing Market in the same shopping center as Atlas Valley Purveyors, a cool market that is part grocery/ liquor store and part pharmacy.
Lafayette is still a hotbed of Mexican cuisine but the veteran restaurants like Santiago’s, Efrain’s and Senor Gomez have company. The Taco Wagon parked outside El Mercado grocery store on South Public Road dishes righteous carne asada tacos on warm corn tortillas with cilantro, lime and salsa.
South Boulder road has seen the opening of two new authentic taco spots — La Esperanza Taqueria and Tacos Aya Yay. Boulder’s FATE Brewing Company will open a second location, a 5,380-square-foot brewery and restaurant, next door to a recently opened coffee roaster/mixology venue, Proper Coffee & Cocktails.
Finally, Denver’s Stem Ciders is already building a big new cider tasting room and production facility complete with an orchard in Lafayette.
What is American food really? That’s the subtext for an upcoming volume for libraries and classrooms called We Eat What? A Cultural Encyclopedia of American Regional Food. The editors are soliciting contributions on hundreds of categories and I have my eye on these: Fluffernutter, Bialy, Frog Eye Salad, Red Eye Gravy, Shoofly Pie and Watergate Salad. My New England childhood featured Fluffernutters — peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiched between slices of squishy, white bread — until Mom realized it was just dessert disguised as lunch and cut the Fluff. Modern Fluffernutter upgrades add Nutella and banana. Others brulee the marshmallow with a hand torch for a subtle s’mores nuance. The whole sandwich can also be dipped in egg and milk and French toasted.
Local Food News
Has your grocery shopping experience been lacking in the fun department lately? Lucky’s Market, 695 S. Broadway, hosts its first Sip ‘n Stroll 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 6 featuring $2 pints of beer, tacos, live music and patio games. The Boulder-based supermarket chain recently opened its 24th store. … Chef Dakota Soifer of Boulder’s Café Aion cooked at March 28’s Taste of Colorado press event in Washington, D.C. using ingredients from the state. Soifer served a savory tart using chilies from Pueblo, caramelized onions and Haystack chèvre cheese. The crust was made with flour ground from Colorado grain. … The Taste of Pearl on April 23 features tastings of 15 Boulder restaurants and 15 Colorado wineries at 15 stores and galleries. Contributing eateries include Frasca, Flagstaff House, Salt, Riffs, Aji and Jax with beverages from Bookcliff Vineyards, Decadent Saint Winery, Deviant Spirits and J&L Distilling. tasteofpearl.com. … Lafayette’s Three Leaf Farm hosts a Mead Making Workshop on June 3 … Thinking about drinking at every American brewery? In 2016, the number of breweries rose 16.6 percent to 5,301, including 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brew pubs, 186 regional craft breweries, and 67 large or otherwise non-craft brewers, according to the Boulder-based Brewers Association.
Taste of the Week
Toast is the, uh, the “New Toast.” Who knew avocado-spread toast was such a big thing on menus across the country? My new favorite meal toast is the Labne Toast served at Etai’s Café and bakery in the hip new food hall, Denver Central Market. Izzio’s artisan toast is spread with labne (yogurt cheese) and a dukkah, a minced salad of mint, flat-leaf parsley and cilantro plus pecans, almonds, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. Another toast — 100 percent rye — is topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, dill and sweet-tart Austrian cucumber salad. The café’s Love Toast features house-ground almond butter, fresh berries, local honey and bee pollen. Etai’s Café is part of the Baron family of local food businesses including Louisville-based Izzio’s (formerly Udi’s) artisan bread company.
A Spring Love Letter
“Pray, how does your asparagus perform? I would give three guineas for a barrel of your cider. Not one drop is to be had here for gold.” — John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail.
John Lehndorff is a former cook at Alpha Phi Sorority House in Boulder. He hosts Radio Nibbles at 8:25 a.m. Thursdays on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM, streaming at kgnu.org).