Surviving the Hill

Ado’s Kitchen and Bar is just what the Hill needs

Breakfast eggplant Florentine at Ado's Kitchen & Bar
Susan France

For reasons I won’t attempt to detail in this column, University Hill proves to be a difficult place for many locally grown restaurants (and other businesses) to survive. That being said, there’s more than a couple of eclectic hometown joints that have survived the test of time to become not only community favorites but also landmarks.

I’m hoping Ado’s Kitchen & Bar becomes one of those beloved, time-testing joints.

Great businesses — the time-testing sort — usually have a history, and if that’s any real indication of future success, Ado’s has a leg up.

Ado Salguero started his culinary venture in the summer of 2011 with 503 Cafe in Lafayette, serving up a diverse mix of cuisine, from American to Latin to Italian to Chinese. (503, for the record, is the area code for El Salvador, where Salguero is from.)

Salguero moved his business from its original Public Road location to the Lafayette Marketplace in 2013 when Jon Quinlan, owner of Jax Merchantile, bought the plaza and revitalized it.

But Lafayette’s Flatirons Community Church took over half of the Lafayette Marketplace shopping center about a year and a half later, and Salguero (along with a number of other businesses) decided to relocate the restaurant to Boulder, landing on 13th Avenue. This time the restaurant took the moniker Span-ish — a name which, to be perfectly honest, was a little confusing on its face. (Long story short: the fare “spans” across a number of international gastronomies and the “ish” refers to the diversity of the menu’s offerings.)

Just this year the restaurant rebranded to Ado’s Kitchen & Bar, a vast improvement in my humble opinion, as it quickly introduces patrons to the owner and chef, a man who will often come out and greet you and ask how everything is tasting.

Ado’s is still dishing out fabulous international cuisine for reasonable prices — a difficult act to balance. A number of dishes on the menu blur the line between “breakfast” food and “dinner” food (but as I’ve written before, Americans didn’t always make the distinction as clearly as we do today).

There are breakfast pupusas and a crab cake benedict, plantains with eggs and a New York steak and eggs burrito. Most fascinating to me was the breakfast eggplant Florentine.

In its traditional form, eggplant Florentine is a variation on lasagna, with alternating layers of fried eggplant, tomato sauce, spinach and fresh mozzarella cheese. There are variations on this, with some folks adding ricotta cheese, or some simply dropping sauce, spinach and cheese a top a single slice of fried eggplant instead of the multitude of layers. There’s really no wrong way to go about this.

Ado’s brings eggplant into the breakfast universe, placing two thick, panko-crusted, fried slices of eggplant into a shallow bath of simple marinara sauce. Atop the eggplant is sautéed spinach — not mushy from overcooking, but firm, with a hint of garlic — then a layer of smoked salmon (like the kind you would pair with cream cheese on a bagel) and two eggs cooked however hard or soft you want them.

The resulting dish is a case study in how to get creative with traditional breakfast staples.

Ado’s is what the Hill needs: a casual, quiet, affordable place to relax and order a few dishes with a table full of friends, taking every opportunity to try a bite from everyone’s plate.

Ado’s Kitchen & Bar. 1143 13th Ave., Boulder, 303-465-9063.