Thursday, August 16, 2012

Culinary Tour of Colorado, Boulder Edition

As I posted a few days ago in the Greeley Edition of my Colorado Culinary experiences, there would be a part 2. Well, here it is.

The second part of our trip was spent in Boulder with my husbands Navy buddies he served with in Rota, Spain in the early 1980's. We did this two years ago in Eureka Springs, AR and will reunite once again in 2014. These are a great bunch of folks who are lifelong friends and have a commaraderie I cannot begin to describe. 
Navy buddies forever
Our group is full of bikers (and some non bikers) and we travelled through Boulder, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park and up to Mt. Evans in Idaho Springs, CO. Along the way, we do get hungry and need to find a casual, yet tasty option for lunch or dinner. 

The first evening, six of us went to Walnut Brewery in Boulder. The area is really "hip" and fun. One street was converted to a pedestrian area with lots of shops and restaurants. Walnut Brewery was recommended by a lady in the visitors booth.  We actually went there twice with two different groups of friends.

The first was a Wednesday night and we were with two other couples. They have a nice patio area in front so we sat outside. Our server was prompt with water quick and she was friendly. Since it was our first visit ever, she gave us a free sampler of their 6 beers. My two favorites were the Red and Brown beers. I like 'em good and hoppy! Most of our group prefered something lighter.
I had the pecan crusted cedar plank salmon with lemon rice and veggies. My hubby got the fish and chips. The salmon was amazing! Moist, flavorful and the pecan crust was more of pecans with a sweet glaze then a crust. I normally do not like pecans, but this was exceptional. My hubby enjoyed his dinner as did everyone else.

The second visit was on Friday afternoon/early evening. There were 9 people this time and we sat inside since it was raining. The interior is nice and very "breweryish." It's clean and open which is good since it's not a very large place. The service was not nearly as good as the previous Wednesday but our server was friendly enough. I got the NY Strip with mashed potatoes and veggies. 
My hubby got the Southwest Shrimp and Chicken. 
My husbands pasta was inedible it was so spicy! The menu said nothing about it's mouth-burning heat, so he sent it back and got a top sirloin with a salad instead of potatoes.. which they charged $0.95 for. Really? I thought that was a bit much for a small salad. Our group did have a great time in this little brewery. 
After a rainy ride one day up to Mt. Evans, we stopped at the Buffalo Bar and Restaurant in Idaho Springs, CO. The ride up to Mt. Evans was beautiful, the narrow road with no guardrail and 1000 ft drop offs were enough to get the blood pumping! But the view from the top made it all worthwhile.
The specialty of the Buffalo Bar is buffalo. Surprised? They have buffalo chili, burgers, meatloaf and other dishes. I don't eat buffalo, but most of the other 12 people in our party did.  The restaurant is full of old signs on the wall and kitchy knick-knacks all over. It's fun to walk through and check things out while waiting for a table.  Since we were a large group, our wait was a big longer then we wished since the staff made an effort to get us seated all together. For that, we were thankful. 

Food came out quickly considering it was quite busy at the time. I had the beef burger which just as good as I remembered from 2 years ago. Nice and juicy and full of flavor. 
My hubby had the buffalo burger. We both got a salad on the side. One member of our group got the onion ring appetizer and I swear, they were as big as my head! And good too... not heavily breaded and not too greasy.
The staff was nice and pleasant. Our server was even nice enough to take a picture of our big group. Thank you!
One day we took a ride up to Rocky Mountain National Park. My husband grew up in Greeley so he has spent his childhood here and is very familiar with the park. It was a great ride up, lots of awesome scenery and even a couple of Elk on the side of the road. That was awesome!
Well after the elk, it really started raining. We were at the top of the park and started to head down, but not before it started to hail too. By the time we reached Estes Park, we were soaked. And hungry so we went to the Estes Park BreweryThere were 12 of us and they stuck us in the very back in a corner with tables and chairs that had to be moved in order for some of us to sit down. I felt like we were punished for something and ordered to sit in the corner. It's not like they were super busy, but at least we can all sit together. 
I think the server was intimidated by us bikers. He had that "deer in the headlights" look about him when he saw this wet, ragged group. Poor guy.. but we're all a bunch of sweethearts.....

I had the fish and chips for lunch. The menu said two pieces and I got two fishzilla pieces. They were HUGE! The fish was good, breading not too heavy and my fries were crispy. Can't ask for more, right?

They have a tasting room to sample the beers also, which I did not try. Was too hard to get in and out of my booth.

The following day, it was shopping time in Estes Park. There are so many cute stores here and I had to keep my wallet in my purse so I didn't go crazy. About 6 of us went to  Casa Grande Estes Park Mexican restaurant for lunch. 

The decor is nice, bright and colorful. Each of their chairs had colorful designs of flowers, parrots and the like. It was a super cute place and even had a patio right by the river with a nice view. 
The food was pretty blah for Mexican. We got chips and the runniest salsa ever. No flavor at all and it was basically colored water with a bit of onion. 

I got the Taco salad, my hubby got the taco plate and other folks got flautas or a wrap. My taco salad left a lot to be desired. The ground beef was greasy with some melted cheese on top. It sat on a bed of warm, wilted lettuce that was probably under the heat lamp too long. It had refried beans at the bottom that were runny like the salsa. They had a nice touch of originality with a spinach tortilla shell, but other then that... blah!

This concludes my culinary tour of Colorado. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed the experience!

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