Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-3622, oakatfourteenth.com
The trend-spotting agencies—you know, the ones that hail from places like Manhattan and San Francisco—predict that shrimp and grits will become the dish of 2011. We say that the comfort food has already arrived. Find the best local rendition at the four-month-old Oak at Fourteenth in Boulder. Chef and co-owner Steven Redzikowski relies on freshly milled grits from Anson Mills in South Carolina, which he boils with milk and cream before baking in the oven for two-plus hours. What emerges is a nutty, creamy blend that smells like popcorn and yields a toasted bottom. While most chefs discard those golden bits, Redzikowski prizes their roasty flavor and stirs them through the mix. Then he adds Parmesan, seasoning, and butter, and crowns each serving with large rock shrimp sautéed in sofrito and tossed with olive oil, Tabasco, and lemon juice. It’s not health food by any stretch, but it is a perfect example of comfort food done right.