Here we go again, still enthusing about American breakfast. It used to be the case back home that the British breakfast was the thing that most tourists raved about, but the breakfasts I've had here in the US far surpass most in the UK, both in quality and choice.
The Egg and I was no exception. This is a small chain of breakfast/lunch diners in several locations in Wyoming and Colorado, WITH the formica tables (although the blousy peroxide blonde waitress with the cigarette hanging from the corner of her mouth was sadly missing). We ate at the Estes Park branch, on Elkhorn Ave.
The 3 page menu has all the old favourites, ranging from simple bacon and eggs, through Eggs Benedict, various omlettes, pancakes etc. and then branches out into a few Mexican influenced dishes.
Favorite Dish: Tempted though I was by the Huevos, I finally plumped for the scrambled eggs with sweet peppers, sausage, wholewheat toast and accompanied by "Green chilli pork sauce".
This was spot-on, really tasty scrambled eggs with a hint of chilli, fresh herbs, peppers, tomato and spring onions. The sausage served as a side as was the delish "Green chilli pork sauce" - a sort of spicy relish, a bit like a cooked salsa with what I assume was finely diced pork fat through it - perfect way to awake the taste buds and to set up for a long drive.
Katherine had the Eggs Benedict, which she also enjoyed, though reckoned they weren't as good as the Arapahoe's - but then that's a difficult act to follow.
Including copious, and excellent, coffee and orange juice the bill came to just over $20. The service is also excellent , prompt and friendly, and the food appetisingly presented.
Well worth a visit!
The Colacci family opened the Blue Parrot in 1919 and is still operating the restaurant four generations later. It specializes in a full menu of Italian dishes that are made from scratch "grandma style." The restaurant is noted for its homemade thick-noodle spaghetti, ravioli, tangy spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and Italian sausage. The ambiance of the Blue Parrot is decidedly informal, with formica-topped tables and old wallpaper and paneling, making it reminiscent of small-town diners of a generation or two ago.
The Blue Parrot is, in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in Colorado. What it lacks in ambience it more than makes up for in its food. I can remember eating at the Blue Parrot when I was a small child living in Boulder in the mid-1960s. Even after I had left Colorado, I always remembered how good the spaghetti was. When we moved back to Colorado in 1977, we frequently went back to the Blue Parrot, and the quality of the food had not changed.
Favorite Dish: The Blue Parrot's homemade spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, meatballs, and Italian sausage are the best I have ever tasted anywhere, even in Italy.
While staying with a friend in Aurora as a pit stop on a recent roadtrip, she introduced me to this wonderful take out place! Tasty Basil provides dine in, take out, or delivery. Since we had our meal delivered, I have no idea what their dining room is like, but the food that was delivered to our door as fantastic!
The menu is a combination of Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, with a dash of Japanese thrown into the mix. We had a little of each of these ... Pad Thai, Wor Won Ton Soup, Cashew Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Jumbo Shrimp, Spring Rolls, and even a dish with Jalapenos to add some local flavor :)
Each dish was unique, but worked together to create a wonderful multicourse meal for our little group as we lounged about the living room eating like kings and queens.
Price is approximate and per person.
This is a neat little place to dive into when you need a quick bite before hitting the hot springs pool in Ouray. The server was very helpful with suggestions. They have sandwiches, bagels, soups and desserts.
We spent under $10 for the two of us for an early evening meal.
This is definitely a "family" friendly place.
Now here is one place that did fit my pre-determined stereotype of small town America and I do not mean that to be, in any way, a disparaging comment. OK when one imagines a small town diner the first image that comes to mind is that of formica tables, blousy waitresses, the fat guy in the dirty T-shirt slapping stuff on the grill. The image that I had pre-dated the advent of formica: and The Arapahoe fitted perfectly.
The Arapahoe is basically a wooden shack, though I must admit a very upmarket wooden shack, with wooden interior, local photographs hanging on the walls, wooden tables and interesting condiment holders (salt and pepper pots). The staff are friendly and helpful and it has a very laid back atmosphere.
My companion and I breakfasted here twice in seven days and the food was excellent on both occassions.
Favorite Dish: Absolute favourite has to be Eggs Benidict, which was almost perfectly executed and a close runner-up was the biscuits and gravy - this is nothing like I had imagined it was going to be.
Firstly the biscuits were more like what I would call cobblers and the "gravy" was smoked sausage in a white sauce, accompanied by a couple of easy over eggs: this was also delicious.
It was almost worth going to Colorado purely to eat breakfast here and am seriously thinking about a return visit soonest, only because I haven't tried the Huevos Rancheros.
UPDATE 20-2-06 Had Huevos Rancheros for breakfast on Saturday - delish they were too!
ANOTHER UPDATE 27-02-06 Road House Hash - Corned beef hash with two eggs, wholewheat toast, add a splash of the Arapahoe hot sauce, ach this place is just too good - PS I am now 25 and a half stone!
The Arapahoe doesn't just do breakfast though, it also does, so I am told, excellent lunches and dinners and the happy hour is supposed to be well worth a visit too.
Unfortunately nowhere is perfect, I found the "smoking room" a trifle draughty! (see pic2)
This restaurant was located in one of the old buildings in the historic area of Durango. It looked fairly neat from the outside and I liked the decor inside. My waiter was a nice ethnic Chinese guy from Malaysia. The food was a bit of a disappointment, however. The Egg Drop Soup was too watery and had little taste. I ordered a Malaysian dish (don't remember what it was called, sorry) and it was fairly good. Overall, average. There are no doubt better places in Durango to eat but this might be okay if you really want Asian food.
If you are staying at the Days Inn in Montrose and want a great steak or some prime rib you don't have to go far. The Red Barn is right across the parking lot. The menu includes a wide variety of fare: Italian, steaks, seafood, and traditional items like meatloaf. Hours are 11 AM to 10:30 PM Monday through Saturday. Sunday Brunch is 9 AM to 3 PM.
Favorite Dish: Try the excellent meatloaf or really anything on the menu.
The crappy motel I stayed at has a restaurant associated with it. Talk about night and day. Obviously all the money and effort go into the restaurant. Nero's has a fairly varied menu of Italian dishes (but no Veal Parmesan). Decor is okay. The weight staff was efficient and professional. Be advised though it is NOT cheap!
Favorite Dish: Try the excellent Shrimp Scampi.
Very old place, fits right in with the rest of town. Assay office was in the ground floor and something else was on the second floor! Great atmosphere, fun for all ages. Parking in back.
Favorite Dish: The house pizza in a thing to see and eat. You buy it by the pound and can get just about anything on it. The real thick side crust, is in a word, GREAT. Put a little honey, yes honey on it wash down with a beer. This is life.
Rocky Mountain National Park has a fair sized gateway town in Estes Park so if you are in the eastern portion of the park, you can head over there for a meal or a drink in the evening. On my trip in 1994, I visited Estes Park Brewery and it's a no frills kind of place that serves typical pub grub and run-of-the-mill micobrews made on the premises.
On the our most recent visit in 2008, we preferred to spend the limited time we had in the park, well in the park. Moraine Park Campground was amazing that September, not overly busy except for elk bugling and wandering around. Our spot was on a little hilltop and we loved not only having meals there but also hanging out and having a few local beers right in the midst of nature.
Favorite Dish: Cheese is a great thing to keep in your cooler. It keeps well and goes with just about anything. It goes particularly well with beer, another staple in our cooler. We like to stock up on beers from small breweries while traveling around the US, especially ones we can't get back home. La Folie was a real trophy beer. This Rodenbach Grand Cru clone is very tart and refreshing and offsets a nice brie or cheddar well.
The tasting room at New Belgium Brewing may not be a restaurant in a strict sense as no food is served but their many beers deserve to be treated in a culinary sense. It's a big high-ceilinged boisterous room with a huge oval bar which is manned by three or four very able bartenders. These people are über servers but beyond that, they are entertainers and great promoters of New Belgium Brewing. This place would be worth going to even if you didn't like beer! If you do like beer, they give you four free samples of about four ounces each.
If you do not like beer, perhaps you have not tried the right ones. Mass-produced lagers made by the big American brewers tend to be tasteless affairs but there are many great beers being produced by regional brewers across this great land. Many times, I have given a beer to a friend who claimed to not like beer only to have them say this did not taste like beer to them. So, do not shortchange beer, it's the world's oldest fermentable beverage and its range of styles easily matches and perhaps surpasses wine.
They had 12 beers on tap the day we tried 10 of them in addition to La Folie: 1) Old Cherry-Light sourish cherry brew w/ fruity dry flavor. Not Rodenbach but perhaps easier to drink for the masses. 2) Loose Lips Saison-Semi sour dry session ale. Could be a tad hoppier but again all to easy to drink. 3) Abbey-Original New Belgium beer and its most highly awarded. Nice take on an abbey double. Clove & fried fruit plus lots of malt. Fairly dry finish for alcohol content. Not super complex but again hallmark easy to drink. 4) Giddy Up-Amber espresso ale w/ definite bitter coffee palate. Fairly dry finish & all too easy to drink. 5) Abbey Grand Cru-9.6%-Amped version of their Abbey to commemorate their anniversary and only been made three times. More pronounced dried fruit & alcohol notes but remained fairly dry. 6) Sunshine-Light golden filtered wit beer w/ corriander notes but lighter in body and flavor than a true wit. 7) Mothership Wit-Unfiltered honey hued classic wit w/ zesty coriander palate. 8) Trippel-Deep golden w/ lacy head. Huge malty palate w/ spicy notes. Bitters slightly in semi-dry finish. 9) Blue Paddle-Light bodied w/ fluffy white head. True to form pils in Czech style. Hoppy & bitter but well balanced. Crisp dry finish. More like a German pils actually. 10) Mighty Arrow Pale Ale-Deep golden w/ thin lasting head and nice lacework. Floral hoppy bouquet and palate. Dry but bitterness well-balanced by ample malt. Very nice.
As you can see, the brewery's hallmark is drinkability and that's why it has become a big player in the regional marketplace. While most of them are not ground breakers, they are well crafted and they do have their experimental beers like La Folie which do push the envelope a bit. La Folie is an intensely tart beer that takes on cherry notes though no fruit is in the beer. The wild yeast strains impart this very Flemish aspect. It is aged in big oak barrels so expect some of these notes as well. At $18 a 750ml bottle, it is a bit pricey when you consider you can get the same size bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru for half that much but it is a valiant (and successful) attempt at making a classic (and unfortunately dying) beer style on US soil. It is not more than a good bottle of wine and believe me, far rarer. It is an acquired taste but if you like tart things, this is just fantastic.
We paid $26 for a six-pack of their Abbey which came in true to shape abbey style bottles that really mimic those in Belgium and the big bottle of La Folie. The tastings, tour and fun were free.
Get there early or bring your German wife to ensure a spot on the tour. No German wife? I'd suggest getting one of those too. I LOVE mine!
Favorite Dish: If you are looking for something to eat before or after the tour, try Coopersmiths Brewpub at 5 Old Town Square in downtown Fort Collins. They have an extensive menu and their house-brewed beers are excellent too. I ate their on my first trip to Colorado in 1994 but did not have time to stop by on the recent 2008 one.
Man does not live on beer alone and brewpub food can get a bit repetitive. D & I love middle eastern food so when we were strolling around Boulder the day after our Boulder brewpub excursion and knowing we'd be eating dinner at yet another brewpub in Denver that night, we happened upon Falafel King. This very small eatery is right on Pearl Street so very convenient. They had outside seating and it was a glorious day so very happy with the choice. Your order inside and carry the food out cafeteria style so you avoid having to tip. It's a great place to people watch and enjoy the very carefree atmosphere of Boulder.
Favorite Dish: We ordered a Felafel Vegetarian Plate which came with six felafels and two Mediterranean sides, we chose baba ganoush and hummus. We split this as well as a schawarma sandwich on pita bread. They were nice and gave us a couple of free glasses of water, much needed by me after a night of sampling the town's great beers. It was not the very best middle eastern food we've ever had but we've had some very good stuff. It was certainly good and to be honest, it is rare to find truly bad food of this type. It's tasty and fairly healthy to boot.
We paid $17 for the two meals,
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Avery Bewing is the big boy of Colorado craft beer. Though it was around (just barely) on my 1994 swing through the state, it was not well known until winning a gold medal that very autumn at the Great American Beer Festival. It's been all up since then and we can even get their well-made beers in South Florida now. Despite their success, the remain a quirky affair and was every glad we decided to stop at their tasting room on our way back from Denver, heading towards South Dakota. It was the highlight beer-wise of our 2008 Colorado visit though I guess New Belgium was the most fun.
Avery Brewing is located in an ugly industrial complex on the outskirts of Boulder so the average tourist would never make it out there. With only one night in town, even a beer aficionado like myself didn't make it. But I did take the long way to South Dakota from Denver with a brief re-visit to Boulder only a day after the first for one reason only: Avery Brewing! Once you walk in the door of the tasting room, it's less than ideal location fades. It's a nice roomy, all wood bar with a small bar at which you place your orders. The bartender was very friendly. You get five wooden tokens for free and each one is worth a healthy six-ounce sample. The had many of their noted beers on tap. Since my wife was nice enough to drive the remaining leg of our escape from Colorado, she gave me most of her tasters so I had ten to work with. The bartender was a bit lax on collecting the tokens and I purchased a few extras so had more than my share. Hey, I don't know when I'll ever get back out here again!
At the time, they did not serve any food but I see from their website that they now have some simple items. Since they had no food, the bartender said we could order food from somewhere else for delivery. We opted to sit outside since it was a sunny warm day and broke out the cheese and Wasa bread, the perfect accompaniment to the great beers of Avery. 1) White Rascal-5.6%-Honey hued authentic Belgian style witbier w/ corriander/clove interplay. Nice clean finish. Well done. 2) Ellie's Brown-5.6%-Rich malty brown ale w/ spicy overtones, reminiscent of a Marzen. 3) Old Jubilation-8%-Mahogany Christmas ale, spicy from addition of fine malts rather than spices. Just the right hops to make for an amazingly clean finish for a beer of this strength. 4) Salvation-9%-Golden pale ale in the Duvel mold. Firm malty palate but drying well in semi-bitter finish. All too easy to drink at this strength. 5) Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest-9.5%-cask-Super rich malty fest style lager w/ some spicy notes. Not as crisp & dry as a true Marzen but then again about 4% stronger. A little disappointing, it sounded almost too good to be true.
Favorite Dish: 6) Collaboration-Avery's Belgian Double mixed with Russian River's (noted brewery in Santa Rosa, CA)-Unfiltered amber w/yeasty fruit palate. Semi-dry clean finish. Very nice. 7) The Reverend-10%-Huge malt presence w/ dried fruit & cherry overtones in Avery's attempt at a Quadrupple. Slightly sour semi-dry finish. Not bad for something so ambitious. 8) Liquor Mart Pale Ale-Deep golden Belgian style pale ale with fruit palate and clean fry finish. Bad name for a very good beer. Surprising. 9) Maharaja Imperial IPA-11%-Talk about huge malt. Talk about huge hops. Talk about all too easy to drink for 11%. A Beautiful mix of bready malt and citrusy hops. Clean dry finish. Another winner. 10) IPA-6.5%-Light golden firm hoppy brew well-balanced with Munich malt which imparts some fruitiness. Dry and bitter but not overly so. Very nice. 11)IPA-cask-Softer body but same same lovely interplay of hops and malt as above. 12) Ale to the Chief-dry-hopped-Rich malty toffee overtones w/ equally big hop presence making for a balanced complex ale with along dry finish. Lovely.
We bought some bottles for later too: 13) Out of Bound Stout-Black w/ tan head. Very dry and bitter stout that remains quite drinkable and smooth due to generous malt additions. 14) Hog Heaven-9.2%-Avery's barley-wine is slightly filtered w/ a massive head and citrus hop nose. Huge malt palate but easily balance by equally huge hop additions. 15) The Czar Imperial Stout-11.7%-Black opaque w/ dense tan head and dried fruit/anise nose. Full-bodied massive stout w/ roasty malt palate and bittersweet finish. Fairly dry considering how the strength.
We paid $21 for our extra beers and bottles to go plus tip. This is a great stop. Just make sure you have a designated driver or if staying in town, take a taxi! Thanks, D. :)
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Mountain Sun was one of the brewpubs from my 1994 first visit to Colorado that I wanted to return to most. It ranked second after Wynkoop in Denver for that honor. I remember it being this incredibly cool place, with a big oval bar, great friendly bartenders and locals that welcomed you like you had been coming there for ages. I was a little perplexed to walk into a narrow long restaurant with a very small bar all the way at the rear. It was packed, that much was familiar but grabbing a stool at the bar looked entirely out of the question so we queued up for a table. Once we got one of those, everything else fell into place. It was still this alternative-looking place but now it seemed to be more a restaurant and it had lost much of its charm for me. It was none-the-less a nice place to celebrate our successful stint at Rocky Mountain National Park.
After five days of camping, we were both dying for some meat. Beef being the choice, we both opted for the Bacon Cheese Burger ($6.95)-1/3 lbs of all natural, antibiotics/steroid free Colorado beef topped with cheddar, a few nice strips of bacon (not sure if this was so natural!), tomato and lettuce. It came with corn chips but we paid the extra buck to get their fresh cut french fries. They were well worth it and the burgers were top notch. They seemed a bit small but maybe we were just hungry from all the hiking!
Favorite Dish: The beers were good but nothing really special. I guess back in 1994, this was one of the first places I visited and to be honest, the overall quality of craft beer back then was not as good as it is today. At any rate, the they went down well. 1) Annapurna Amber-nitro-Unfiltered amber w/ creamy head and mouthfeel. Great mix of hops & malt. Nothing out of the ordinary but well made and easy to drink. 2) Colorado Kind Ale-Dark amber w/ run of the mill hops/malt mix. Would have been better if waiter had brought this before above as I had ordered it! 3) Isadore Java Porter-Black w/ thin tan head and coffee nose. Bitter chocolate palate and semi-dry bitter finish. Nice. 4) Old School Dry Irish Stout-nitro-Black w/ creamy tan head. A real Guinness clone with sourish malt interplayed well with roasty bitterness. Not my style but very well made. 5) Illusion Dweller IPA-nitro-Unfiltered amber. A very clean dry hoppy beer made smoother by intro serve. Decent malt presence. Probably the best of the non-dark beers. Stick to the porter if that's what you normally drink.
Sixteen ounce pints were $3.50. Eight once glasses are a whopping $2.75! Happy Hour 4-6.
We paid $45 for dinner, beers, and tip.
The Walnut Brewery was not on the agenda of my return visit to Boulder in 2008. Though it must have been good enough in 1994 to prod me into buying one of their t-shirts, it did not look overly promising when I check out their website prior to returning. It looked to have gone a bit upscale and corporate and with only one night in town, I figured Mountain Sun would do the trick. While walking around town after having dinner at Mountain Sun, we just happened to walk right by the Walnut Brewery and my wife nicely agreed to going in for just one beer. It was a very nice place but as I had envisioned, a bit corporate and upscale. We sat at the bar since we were not intending on eating.
Favorite Dish: Once we saw the menu, we realized were not exactly stuffed from our burgers at Mountain Sun so decided to split the special of the day: pork loin over mashed potatoes with green beans. Though pricier than Mountain Sun, it was heavenly and we probably could have eaten a whole one each despite having already eaten. Hiking and camping in freezing temperatures burns a lot of calories I guess!
The beers were surprising good. 1) Oktoberfest-Rich malty fest beer w/ some spicy notes. Not too sweet and semi-dry finish. 2) Devil's Thumb-Black w/ thin tan head. Roasty bitterness w/ some chocolate notes. 3) 1123 IPA-cask-Light golden w/ thin creamy head and soft mouthfeel. Dry and slightly bitter. Easy drinking session beer.
We paid $28 for three pints, the one meal and tip.