Open & Shuttered

365 days in the life and death of Boulder County restaurants

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TEOCALLI bartender Lindsay Balgobin serves beverages at one of the county’s best new restaurants.
Susan France

Dear Future Food History Researcher, 

As the year 2020 arrived, we heard that Ralphie’s Bar and Grill, which only opened in February, would close by the end of the year. 

That’s the way the restaurant world churns in Boulder. I’m assuming that all restaurants have closed in future Boulder because all food is personalized and delivered at home. Back in the 2020s, we were still going out to eat. 

I’m guessing your future doesn’t include sports bars, which were doomed by personal technology. The location at 2860 Arapahoe Ave. had been the sports bar Harpo’s for 15 years, but people had been eating and drinking at that address for decades. Pop culture historians revere the building. It’s one of the few remaining swoop-roofed Big Boy restaurants. Downtown, another sports bar, the Lazy Dog Bar & Grill, also closed after 22 years at 1346 Pearl St. 

The biggest local restaurant news of 2019 was the opening of Rosetta Hall, Boulder’s first food hall featuring a movie-set design and a roster of new places to eat: Folsom Foods, Jacaranda, Petite Fleur, Confit, Ginger Pig, La Tigella, Tierra, Eridu, Boxcar Coffee and Barceloneta Oyster Co.

Downtown Boulder also saw Arcana open Jungle, a tiki bar, in the former PMG space at 2018 10th St. Meanwhile, nearby Wild Standard, 1043 Pearl St., was re-invented as Pepper The Noshery, located next to Salt The Bistro. 

Off the Mall, Ted’s Montana Grill at 1701 Pearl St., famous for its bison, shuttered after eight years in business. Nearby, Emmerson closed after 17 months, and Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant moved to 1710 Pearl St., former site of Zeal. Chef Radek Cerny’s L’Atelier closed at 1739 Pearl St., where Strade Bianche Café opened and closed in 2019. Snarf’s Sandwiches’ flagship shop closed at 2128 Pearl St. On the Hill, Gakku Ramen opened at 1119 13th. St. and chef Mathew Koury opened the rotisserie-oriented Chicken on the Hill at 1335 Broadway.

In North Boulder, short-lived Lunetta closed at 2785 Iris Ave., former site of Arugula, Laudisio and A La Carte. Mojo Taqueria is open there now. Blooming Beets Kitchen closed at 3303 30th St. and AOI Sushi and Izakaya opened. Nopalito’s began serving Mission-style burritos in Diagonal Plaza near the state DMV office.  

Chef Kelly Whitaker opened Dry Storage near his Basta bistro at 3601 Arapahoe Ave. serving breakfast, lunch and heirloom baked goods. Lee Yuan Chinese Cuisine closed at 4800 Baseline Road and was replaced by Noodle House Kitchen near the new Coma Mexican Grill. Morning Table opened at 6565 Gunpark Drive. 

In Longmont, the award-winning Babettes Artisan Bakery relocated from Denver to the Prospect neighborhood. Tangerine opened its third location at 379 Main St. (formerly the Sun Rose Cafe). Blue Corn Tacos opened at 1515 Main St. LoCo Gastropub started serving at 380 Main St., formerly Breaker’s Grill. 

In Lousiville, Empire Restaurant was bought by chef Jeff Osaka, known for his 12@Madison, Osaka Ramen and Sushi-Rama. Punch Buggy Shave Ice opened at 640 Main St. 

In Lafayette, Black Diamond Restaurant closed at 103 N. Public Road, and Teocali Cocina Tequileria, a regional Mexican eatery, opened. Tip Top Pie Shop began dishing crust at 105 N. Public Road. Brew Tea & Coffee House opened inside Due South, a clothing and gift store, at 802 S. Public Road. Meanwhile, Uturn BBQ Brewery closed at 599 Crossing Drive, Cow-A-Bunga Ice Cream opened at 1455 Coal Creek Drive, and Simple Greek is serving at 520 W. South Boulder Road. 

In other communities, pie-lovers mourned the loss of My Mom’s Pies in Niwot. The Happy Trails Cafe in Nederland shuttered after 25 years in business. Ward’s Utica Street Market was renovated into Jackleggers offering snacks, sandwiches and coffee. The iconic Donut Haus closed in Estes Park. 

Pizzerias were in flux in 2019. Fringe Pizza opened at 5400 Spine Road in Gunbarrel. Boulder’s Adelia’s Street Legal Pizza closed at 3060 Pearl Parkway, as did 1000 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria (1310 College Ave.) and PizzaRev (1650 28th St.). Oregano’s Pizza Bistro opened at 2690 Baseline Road (formerly Beau Jo’s Pizza, Two Bitts and Fiasco’s). Rosati’s Chicago Pizza is now deep-dishing at 1067 Courtesy Road in Louisville. 

In beverage news, BOCO Cider opened in tasting room row at 1501 Lee Hill Drive. Washington-based Locust Cider launched a taproom at 5446 Conestoga Court. Hoplark Tea opened a taproom at 3220 Prairie Ave. (All in Boulder.)

Boulder’s culinary influence spreads. Ku Cha House of Tea has three locations now including Cherry Creek and Fort Collins. Osaka’s takes Japanese-American okonomiyaki (cabbage bun) burgers to Guangzhou, China. Frasca Food & Wine will open Sunday Vinyl, a music-oriented wine bar near Union Station, on Dec. 22. River and Woods chef Daniel Asher launched Denver’s Ash’Kara serving modern Israeli fare. Boulder’s Rincon del Sol added a new location in Nederland.  

Coming attractions in 2020 include Avanti, Denver’s food hall opening in the former Cheesecake Factory in Boulder. Torchy’s Tacos will open at 2805 Pearl St., formerly Turley’s. Shake Shack is expected to open in the Twenty Ninth Street Mall. The Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food is set for 1100 28th St. Ska Brewing and Peach Street Distillers hope to open an eatery, brewery and micro-distillery in the former Fate Brewing facility in Boulder.

Finally, Liquor Mart will close in January after 53 years in business.       

A Great DIP Recipe Shared

I learned a great deal about entertaining from my late, older sister Barbara who believed gathering your tribe was so essential to life that it overrode any concerns about fancy attire, décor and food. This dish was her go-to party treat for the holiday season. 

Barb’s Artichoke Soufflé 

1 8-oz can artichoke hearts, drained, chopped

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan 

3 to 4 tablespoons finely minced fresh garlic 

Barb writes: “Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. I usually bake it in a pottery bowl or two for a party and garnish the top with olives. Great with Triscuits. This can be made ahead and cooked at the last minute. Do NOT use microwave to bake or reheat.” 

Variations: Add chèvre, chopped spinach or green onions, hot sauce, and buttered panko breadcrumbs on top. Can also be served in an oven-warmed scooped-out bread boule.             

Word to Chew On

“Some foods are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey. To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness.” — Eli Brown  

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles on KGNU (kgnu.org). Comments: nibbles@boulderweekly.com.