Beet-Cured Trout Benedict
Chautauqua Dining Hall, 900 Baseline Road, Boulder, chautauqua.com/dining-hall
It’s a warm spring morning, and you’re lounging on the lawn at Chautauqua Park, reading a book, lifting your head occasionally to watch the runners and birds and yoga practitioners. Just watching that exertion is likely to make you hungry, and luckily the Chautauqua Dining Hall is steps away. What a place to get a breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea or whatever you’re craving. A unique, Colorado-inspired menu and unparalleled environs make it a dining experience like no other in Boulder County. We dove into the beet-cured trout benedict: rich, beautiful small filets of trout are piled onto crispy potato cakes and topped with spinach, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Balanced in flavor and texture, it’s just what you need to get back out on the lawn. $12.
Basta, 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, bastaboulder.com
Basta’s Kelly Whitaker has been making moves over the last few years, opening several culinary hot-spots, including a new heritage-grain-focused bakery with esteemed pastry chef Jeb Breakell. But don’t let that obscure the fact that Basta is still at the top of its game with a menu of Italian specialties, and of course the wood-fired Neapolitan pizza. Simply put, there’s no better pizza of this style in the state. Taste for yourself — the crust is like nothing you’ll find outside of Southern Italy. Light, but chewy, perfectly crisped and lightly charred, it’s the star of Basta’s artisanal pies. It doesn’t hurt that on the Cart-Driver, sausage, mozzarella, crispy kale, chile and fennel pollen ignite your taste buds and satisfy your stomach. $18.
Ralphies Bar and Grill, 2860 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 303-995-6017
It was sad to see Harpo’s on Arapahoe go — a classic sports bar in an area where there are few casual places to sling back a few light beers and watch a game. Luckily, Ralphies came into the spot with a similar vibe, but an updated menu of bar staples, including Buffalo wings. Sauces range from sweet to spicy, and we opted for the extra hot classic Buffalo sauce. The star, however, were the crispy-skinned wings, with tender, plentiful meat underneath. $9.99.
Palenque Mezcaleria, 13 E. Louisiana Ave., Denver, palenquemezcaleria.com
Located in Denver’s Platte Park neighborhood, Palenque Mezcaleria is dedicated to the art of mezcal, a line of Mexican spirits that includes, but is not limited to tequila. Along with a variety of unique mezcal cocktails highlighting the spirit’s rich heritage, the menu boasts traditional Oaxacan cuisine, with a strong emphasis on mole, rich sauces featuring various combinations of chili peppers, nuts, seeds and chocolate. We went with the tlayudas, a Mexican pizza of sorts. A fried corn masa tortilla was smothered in black beans, carnitas, and a rich, salty and savory mole rojo sauce, all topped with melted Monterey jack. The mole made each bite feel decadent, while the tomatoes, lettuce and avocados on top added a bit of freshness. $9.95.