Five Spice Asian Cuisine, 3325 28th St., #5, Boulder, fivespiceboulder.com
What goes into the basil duck dish at Five Spice Asian Cuisine is not rocket science: duck, baby bok choy, basil and jalapeños. But the combination of savory, spice, sweetness and salt will feel a little inexplicable. The duck, for starters, is pulled off the bone and remarkably tender. The baby bok choy is crunchy and bright. The jalapeños are fresh and fiery. And the basil, slightly sweet and slightly funky, brings everything together. Served with choice of rice, the plate makes for a full, substantial meal that’ll leave you curious as to what else is on Five Spice’s menu. $12.95.
The Foolish Craig
Foolish Craig’s Café, 1611 Pearl St., Boulder, foolishcraigs.com
Serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner to the Boulder community since 1998, Foolish Craig’s Café has been a Pearl Street favorite throughout its three decades. Recently, we decided to try the namesake dish, a hearty crepe that warms the belly and soul any time of the day. A scramble of bacon, mushrooms, onion, roasted red pepper and house potatoes are folded inside a perfectly constructed crepe and topped with eggs any style (we chose over-medium so the yolk could drizzle onto the rest of the dish). A healthy portion of salsa adorns the whole thing, adding the perfect amount of spice to the savory meal. $10.95.
Red Agave, 2845 28th St., Boulder, agavecolorado.com
If it’s upscale Mexican you want, there aren’t a ton of choices in Boulder County. But Red Agave is good enough to compensate for the lack of options. The elevated Mexican fare is worth seeking out and preparing your stomach for. Take its enchiladas poblanas. Juicy, shredded chicken, queso fresco and purple onion are rolled into a tortilla and smothered in robust mole sauce. The sauce is kind of figgy, kind of sweet, a little chocolately, a little herbaceous… in short, it’s everything you dream mole can be. $14.
Ceviche de Pulpo
Leña, 24 Broadway, Denver, lenadenver.com
In general, you have to like seafood to enjoy ceviche, and more specifically, raw seafood. Served throughout Latin America, ceviche is prepared by soaking seafood in citrus juices to allow the citric acid to break down the meat proteins and become denatured (appearing cooked), while remaining raw. At Leña in Denver, Spanish octopus is soaked in lime with some tomatillo, red onion and aji jalapeño. The octopus is perfectly tender and smooth, not too chewy or tough. It’s then topped with avocado and served with a healthy portion of freshly fried plantain chops. Whether you like seafood or not, we hazard to guess you’ll enjoy this dish. $14.