Dave Query (of Cliff Young’s fame) created this place a few years back, and it’s nice to report that it just keeps getting better. It only seats about 90 (40 more with the summertime patio), and the decor is Southwest-funk — red chilis, cool tiles, great art, and slick booths. It’s the sort of place you can eat at more than once a week. I’m always on the lookout for a “signature” dish, and in the case of Zolo, it has to be the barbecued duck tacos ($7.95). This quack-quack is braised in red chili and served with traditional rice, beans, and salsa fresca. Killer stuff. Zolo Grill, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., 449-0444.
The Full Moon Grill & Pasta
It’s a scosh trickier to find, but the reward is there to be had, mostly because of the chef, Bradford Heap. If you need help finding the place, look for McGuckin Hardware and let your nose lead you the rest of the way. The room has its problems, mostly that the tables are too close together, and there is a decided lack of much atmosphere, but the food is tremendous. It’s Italian in essence, yet the daily specials take a variety of culinary routes. The Full Moon Grill & Pasta, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., 938-8800.
14th Street Bar & Grill
Again, it’s a place that unfortunately doesn’t take reservations. But due to its popularity, I guess I can understand why. There are only about 20 tables, and the first thing you see and smell is the open rotisserie. The bank of windows lets all of Boulder’s, err…colorful streetlife spill in and amuse you. The staff here is unfailingly nice — something you’ll find fairly consistent up in hale-and-hearty Boulder. The 14th Street Bar & Grill has been around for a while, and consequently, it has a nice lived-in comfort. Plus, the portions tend towards the “huge” range. I’m a sucker for that roast chicken ($10.95) served with homemade mashed spuds. Drizzle some olive oil over that mound and dig right in! 14th Street Bar & Grill, 1400 Pearl, 444-5854.
while no one was looking. He is well-known in Denver for Zenith and the now-gone Cafe Iguana, but Boulderites didn’t know what to expect. They probably got more than they bargained for, but not all the bets are in yet. Dandelion is what you might call “up market” for Boulder. It’s slick and urbane, and you won’t likely spot many snowboarder dudes there. The white tablecloths immediately tell you it’s something a bit more serious. However, the art glass, the warm blonde woods, and the curving walls add a level of necessary warmth. The halogen lighting seems to be some sort of beacon for the hip-Boulder and I’m-on-my-way-to-Aspen crowd, but don’t let that throw you off track. Kevin is offering a menu designed to be both non-threatening and comfortable, full of foods you know and aren’t afraid to order. Call it “nouvelle comfort food,” perhaps. Dandelion, 1011 Walnut, 443-6700.
Jax Fish House.
How I wish Denver had something even remotely close to this joint. And would you believe it if I told you that Dave Query owns this one, too? The guy’s hot, lemme tell ya. It’s easy to measure the popularity of this place when you see the ever-present line out the door at 10:00 p.m., even when it’s cold outside. The restaurant seats about 48, and they can cram about 400 into the oyster bar up front, or so it seems. With all those yupsters in there, it’s hard to tell what the decor is, but I guess you’d have to say that 10,000 people can’t be wrong: Either the food is incredible or they’re putting coca leaves in those oysters. Jax Fish House, 928 Pearl, 444-1811.