Old Fashioned Bavarian Bakery, 613 Frontage Road, Longmont, 303-678-1014
In a world of cronuts and artisan cupcakes, the traditional ethnic bakery serves a vital purpose: providing classic pastries with no frills and big flavor. Longmont’s Old Fashioned Bavarian Bakery doles out a selection of European baked goods, and their éclair is something to marvel at. Two long choux dough wafers manage to feel air-light in the hand and butter rich on the tongue. It’s filled with an eggy custard, which is powerfully sweet and rich. All together, it makes for an understandably decadent bite. The dough, topped with a thin layer of chocolate, is crispy and retains structural integrity, while the filling is something worth striving for on each bite. $2.
Rincon Argentino, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, rinconargentinoboulder.com
If you haven’t yet sipped yerba mate and chowed down on empanadas at Boulder’s Rincon Argentina then, seriously, what are you doing? Their stuffed hand pies are expertly crafted, robustly flavored treats. They come in a variety of traditional Argentinean styles, with various combinations of meat, cheese, vegetables and herbs. The “tradicional” is packed with chopped steak, onions, red bell pepper, green olives and spices. The steak is tender, and the green olives and onions perk up each bite. The “criolla” empanada is a star, with powerfully spicy ground beef, sweet caramelized onions, robust olives and a tasteful application of spices. And the “hongos” — crimini, shitake and oyster mushrooms — is earthy, funky and a solid change of pace. Served beside cool salsa verde and garlicky chimichurri, it’s easy to pack away three and want many more. $3.65 each.
Larkburger, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, larkburger.com
Ah, Larkburger. Colorado’s answer to the Five Guys vs. In-N-Out vs. Shake Shack debate. Now, we might be the only ones inserting Larkburger into the conversation, but, objectively, it stacks up against those burger titans. It starts with a whopping black angus beef patty. The cooks in back seer it perfectly, and it’s just so thick and juicy that it shames other, thinner burger styles. The truffle burger, in addition to the traditional burger toppings, adds a truffle aioli, which is, importantly, not too overpowering. It smells stronger of truffle than it tastes, and it adds the ideal amount of umami — just enough to indulge but not enough to make you sick. With a chewy, glossy bun and a side of shoestring fries, we’d like to submit Larkburger into the next dumb debate you have with your East/West Coast friends about burgers. $7.69.
Wisconsin Beef Melt
Mike O’Shays Restaurant & Ale House, 512 Main St., Longmont, mikeoshays.com
Mike O’Shays has been a Longmont staple since 1981, and founder Mike Shea himself served us our food on a recent lunch outing, when the place was packed full. With everything from seafood to Irish fare on the menu it was hard to choose, but we went with the Wisconsin beef melt, intrigued by the tiger sauce — a mayonnaise and horseradish mixture. Slow roasted top-round roast beef is piled high with sautéed onions and mushrooms, held in place by melted Swiss cheese in between slices of lightly toasted marble rye. The tiger sauce was served on the side and we couldn’t help smothering each bite with the spicy horseradish mixture that burned the sinuses — in the best way possible — ever so slightly. $11.99.