Category Archives: Local Love

Local Love – Finding My “Places”

Not to get all “80s TV Show” on you (and really show my age) or anything, but makin’ your way in the world today really does take everything ya got.
Having places of refuge, where you feel truly welcome and wanted can make a crap day (ahem, or week… or month,) feel just a little less awful.

Some times you wanna NEED to go where everybody knows your name.

When we left the city almost 4 years ago (4 YEARS!! WOW… did you think I would make it!?) it was one of the things I worried about most.  Where would I go, in the spread of the ‘burbs and all of those strip malls and chain restaurants?  It wouldn’t be like our little corner of the city, with my sushi bar and coffee shop just down the block: and my beloved little pizzeria/ wine bar just around the corner waiting to pull me in after a tough day and feed me  flatbread with olive tapenade and Rose and make it all better.

Where would we go when The Mr traveled for work?  Who would be as happy to see Jr and I toddling through the front door for dinner as the waitresses and chefs at our little sushi place? His baby self giggled and flirted as they passed him around, making googly eyes and feeding him little bits of things while I ate my miso soup, piping hot. (Hot food/drink = the ultimate mommy treat.)

Those neighborhood places are, quite literally, the center of the world in this mama’s heart.  What would I do without that?

Oh Keri-from-four-years-go….  you need not worry at all.

It is true, it took a while.  There were some false starts with places where the love affair ended when it had hardly begun.

Then came our discovery of the awesomeness that is Big Choice Brewing, a truly spectacular mix of spectacular beer brewed and sold by equally spectacular people. I never miss a chance to gush shamelessly sing their praises, and it instantly rose to the top of my list of places I want to go to celebrate or commiserate the ups and downs of life.

Slowly… slowly, I started to find my places here. A couple good coffee shops not too far away,  a great sushi joint from the city that opened a second location within walking distance from The Casa, a little diner where the waitresses call you “honey” and freaking ADORE my kid.

Then, just a few months ago, the cherry on top of my sundae of local hangouts came into being.  A perfect combo of great creative chef-driven pub food, a rotating craft beer list, really cool “Colorado Casual” decor, and a bookshelf full of games that keeps Jr excited to go back again and again.  It is the joy and beauty that is  The North Side Tavern.

Much like Keri does whenever something new is opening in this town, I was practically beating down the door to come in when they opened.  The location was sorely in need of a “something for everyone” kind of place, with great local personality to make it stand out.

BOOM – NST delivered.

The bar includes ample  electric outlets with both traditional plugs and USB spaces, and the owner Steve is all too happy to see you using them (as I frequently do during a working lunch when I get stir-crazy working at home.) Current favorites for me are the “construction zone burger” (so you can build your own,) the Colorado Cuban, and the traditional wings.  The crispy Brussels sprouts and naked nachos both call to me after a long day as well.

There are good happy hour specials on both drinks and appetizers, and a kids’ menu that Jr loves –  their chicken tenders are like preschooler catnip.    Andplusalso,  we lobbied to get get them to offer BBQ sauce, because it is Jr’s current favorite condiment, and TAH DAH – they did!! (No more tiny Tupperware of BBQ in this momma’s purse!!)

It has quickly become a true gathering place for the neighborhoods around it – a place where Gina or Anthony behind the bar will greet you by name when you walk in for happy hour or dinner with the family.

At night after the littles clear out to get tucked in, The NST hosts local bands on weekends, with the coming acts available on their website.

It’s been a minute (or a year) since I’ve done a Local Love feature here, and it hasn’t been for lack of the love.  Quite the opposite. I have found so very much to love, indeed.

So I have added a Local Love tab on the top menu – if you find yourself here in the perfectly in between spot between Denver and Boulder, for a visit or as a fellow resident, check out some of my favorite spots around the area.

Of course, I am always itching to try something new and wonderful – so if you know the area please do give a shout out to your faves down below, or in the comments on the Local Love page so we can all enjoy.

Finding “your places” where you live means so much more than just knowing who has the best burger or latte (although that never hurts.)  It is finding what speaks to you in a place – what connects you, and grounds you.  It’s finding the people and places that make you proud to call it your home.

 

 

 

 

 

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Local Love – Shop Small Saturday (North ‘burbs ed)

I *love* Small Business Saturday!
There’s nothing more aligned with my obsession to find the restaurants, shops, and services that make each place unique, than a day that encourages everyone to support those special businesses!!
I haven’t been great about keeping up with my Local Love features, probably because there are SO MANY amazing little places and awesome business owners in our lives here I never seem to know where to begin.

But I do know where I’ll  be heading to tick off some items on my holiday list today:
Precision Pours (Louisville) Gotta fuel up for the day, and a cup of coffee here is just what I need. Brice’s mobile-coffee-bar-turned-storefront is a fabulous small business success story. His passion for and knowledge of coffee means every cup is the best cup.
The Purple Poppy (Lafayette ) Fashion, jewelry, and home accents. Perfect for finding something special for my sister and sister-in-law, and for stocking up on hostess gifts.
Little Horse (Louisville)  This is where I find the answer to the “What to get for the husband who has everything?” question.  Vintage vinyl for rocking (or framing for manly office wall decor,) mod knick-knacks, and loads of books that always mean I find a little something for my Lit-nerd self too.
LUNCH TIME!!  But where to eat? There’s too much goodness around to guess where I’ll end up, but I am feeling fishy, I think…
Maybe Big Mac and Little Lu’s (Westminster) or Go Fish (Broomfield.)
Pigging out supporting local restaurants is my favorite activity any day.
A quick zip by Zoe’s Coffee House (Westminster) for a sweet coffee treat might be in order as well.
Wally’s Meats (Westminster) I confess I am content to eat leftover turkey all day every day until every last bit is gone, but The Mr is already side-eyeing my offers of another sandwich. Wally’s to the rescue with a big, beautiful hunk of red meat! I wouldn’t be a good Coloradan if I didn’t grill in the snow.
Twenty Brew Tap House (Westminster) I am not sure if these great guys do gift cards, but they are in the same parking lot as Wally’s, so I’ll stop in to say hi and ask (and maybe sample a few tasters from their wall of 20 rotating taps of Colorado Craft Beers.) Gift cards would be the perfect last-minute gift to tuck into a 6 pack when dropping by the neighbors’ with a plate of cookies!
Big Choice Brewing (Broomfield) Speaking of beer- after all of that running around a little R&R  “where everybody knows my name” and (if this weekend’s supply is still flowing,) a frosty Chill Out Peppermint Stout is what I’ll be looking forward to!

Hooray for the places that our neighborhoods, towns, and cities special – and for the great owners who make it a pleasure to #shopsmallsaturday !

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(Semi) Local Love: Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Thank you, North Carolina, and thank you, Good Times.

Why for, Keri, you say?

For bringing Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar into Colorful Colorado -first in Cherry Creek, early this year – and now right into “easy Keri lunch commute” distance with the opening of the 2nd Colorado location in the shiny new Webster Lake Promenade at I-25 and 120th ave in Northglenn.

The smarties behind Colorado native burger chain Good Times saw the delicious genius in the North-Carolina-founded Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, and boom – direct to Colorado came the GINORMOUS and creative burgers served in a rock-n-roll industrial setting. (Andplusalso, the best fried pickles I have ever had. And I have had my share of fried pickles… and your share… and the shares of many others as well. Trust Keri.)

I am not usually one to go tooting the horn of chain-y restaurants – but I was busting down the door to get inside when this location opened on Monday July 28th.   It isn’t THAT chain-y yet, but it will be, because it is just too damn good not to grow and grow. (You can’t keep a good burger down, people.)

Whatever the number of locations, the local connection and AHHH-MAZINGLY good food had me sold on this joint as soon as the Cherry Creek location opened. It is like North Carolina’s tasty gift to the Centennial State.

But here is the REAL reason I am writing about it and not just gobbling up bunless Frenchies and hoping it doesn’t get too crowded:

The staff at Bad Daddy’s is beyond just being “well-trained.” Each and every one of them is as knowledgeable as any staff member could ever hope to be about the Bad Daddy’s concept and menu, and that is awesome. BUT – on top of that, they are warm, genuine, inviting, and exude a true attitude of hospitality that isn’t fake or forced.

Breath. Of. Fresh. Air.

Tie the great food and stellar people up in a package that includes lots of great craft beer on tap (All three Broomfield breweries are currently representing – WOOP WOOP,  Big Choice,) and put a big “we have a sweet roof patio” bow on top of it, and you have a place that feels right at home in Colorado.

Check out their story and peruse the menu – which features not just burgers and bar fare – but also some tasty salads ,(or build your own with plenty of fixings to choose from,) and can we talk about the “Emilio’s Chicken Sandwich?” Because BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN, is where it starts, my friends. Seriously.

So….

Who’s ready for lunch? (Or happy hour. Or mid-afternoon snack. Or dinner. Or whatever – it’s burger time ANY time, just get me to Bad Daddy’s.)

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Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar Northglenn

100 East 120th Avenue, Bldg B, Unit 120

(Located in the Webster Lake Promenade)

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Local Love: Tiller’s Kitchen and Bar

Nothing gets by Keri.

Except when it does.

The opening of Tiller’s Kitchen and Bar in Westminster was an example of “when it does.”

Tiller’s opened at the beginning of April in the newly constructed Denver Marriot Westminster, and though there wasn’t much press surrounding the opening, I have NO CLUE how a new spot dedicated to using local ingredients in an approachable yet inventive way could’ve escaped creating a blip on my radar for almost a whole month! Quelle horreur!

Thank goodness their community-minded vision led the restaurant to participate in Project Angel Heart’s Dining Out For Life event on April 24th – I like to do at least 2 meals out that day, and lo-and-behold there was Tiller’s, listed on the website as I plotted the day’s culinary roadmap.

A preliminary Googling let immediately to a picture of their Beer Cheese Fondue (made with 90 Shilling) and toast bites.

Oh. Mah. Gah.

Liquid cheese? The mothership calling Keri home, yo.

TO THE KERI MOBILE!!

Tiller’s space is a lovely-if-fairly-standard version of an upscale hotel restaurant dining area. Good finishes and lots of light; spotless, serene.   It is comfortable and tasteful and allows for a good amount of room (no sitting on top of the next table here – YAY!)

The food?

Oh yeah.

First of all, there’s that Beer Cheese fondue. Broiled crusty on top, gooey and oozey inside, with a nice balemce between cheese and beer. Purrrrrrr-fec-tion.
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There are MANY choices on this menu I *must* try, (in case you were wondering where to find Keri,) but for this lunch the Lamb BLT couldn’t be passed over.

Fresh, hearty bread piled with butter lettuce, beautiful heirloom tomatoes, rosemary aioli, and one more thing: LAMB BACON.
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Yes. Bacon made of lamb. Really really REALLY good- salty bacon with an extra little earthy kick.
The sandwich is, no exaggeration, the best BLT I’ve ever had. (When I was pregnant, I ate BLTs at least once day for 4 months without fail. Keri has strong opinions about BLTs.)

If everything coming out of Tiller’s kitchen is this good, then I am really excited to eat my way through every dish they can dish out.

The top of Tiller’s menu says “Thinking Colorado First. Serving Food Less Traveled.”

That in itself is a promising statement, indeed.

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Tiller’s Kitchen And Bar Website
(in the Denver Marriott Westminster)
7000 Church Ranch Blvd
Westminster CO. 80021

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Local Love – Colorado Plus Brew Pub

It’s Colorado Craft Beer Week!

How can we possibly be so lucky as to live in the most beautiful place (ok, native bias MAY play a part in that statement, but come on,) AND have so many amazing craft breweries to enjoy too?

There are a wealth of Colorado beer-centric events happening this week, and I encourage you to let your fingers do the walking and Google away to get the best of those – as tastings, tappings, pairings, and full-on multi-course dinners abound.

YAY, Beer!

OR (or actually maybe and, because it is Craft Beer WEEK, and that leaves plenty of time to mix it up and get in on lots of fun,) you can point your navigation system toward Wheatridge and the Colorado Beer-a-poolza that is Colorado Plus Brew Pub.

56 taps adorn the bar of this large pub, and from every last one flows goodness that is brewed right here in Colorful Colorado. Even with the choice to build-your-own flight (3 oz of 5 beers for 9.00,) option anxiety is a gloriously unavoidable issue here.

They have all our front range favorites well-represented, but it is also an opportunity to see what breweries from other areas in the state are up to (and there is so much goodness to be explored.)

Additionally (because all of those alternatives just aren’t enough,) Colorado Plus brews its own beers, with head brewer Adam Draeger keeping things very creative.

Oh, and FOOD!!   Let’s face it, beer is good, but for Keri FOOD IS KING!

I have kind of a pork belly problem (well, the problem is how much I love the pork belly, actually,) so any place with “Pork Belly Fries” on the menu is going to get a visit from Keri.

Again, option anxiety is a delicious inevitability here. I  know I will leave with to-go boxes every time, because I can’t pick just one thing from the mouth-watering menu (or 2 for that matter. Shameless!)

The afore-mentioned Pork Belly Fries are an “always order” for me – chunks of pork belly fried along with the fries get crunchy-crisp on the outside, but stay buttery and salty on the inside. Have them with the Chipotle Roasted Garlic Mayo for fry dipping.

Other highlights include the Bison and Pretzel Skewers , anchored to the plate with a spoonful of the German Potato Salad, which it is imperative that you fight your table-mates for, just FYI.  (Ok, or just order a side, but where is the sport in that?)

The Beer Battered Fish and Chips are somewhat of a no-brainer here, because they have a glorious wall of beer options to experiment with in pursuit of the perfect golden crispy batter . (Also, the Chipotle Roasted Garlic Mayo for chip dipping. Possibly for finger dipping, or spoon eating, or anything else you can get down into the condiment cup to get the last bits of that goodness out.)

Parental sidenote for those toting the toddlers – the kids menu here is (giant sigh of relief,) very “typical kid” friendly. Chicken Fingers, Mac and Cheese, and other easily accepted alternatives mean that a meal out for the fam won’t be a fight. (Since Jr is 3, we are experiencing a bit of food stubbornness that hit by surprise, temporarily replacing my tiny culinary adventurer with someone eating only jello and chicken that doesn’t look like chicken. Sigh.)

There is no better way to buy local then to buy local beer, so go put together a flight of Colorado goodness and start finding some new faves while raising a glass to Colorado Craft Beer Week.

:::raising pint:::

Here’s to  Sun, Blue Skies, Mountains, and Great Beer!  (Seriously, how spoiled are we?)

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Colorado Plus Brew Pub

6995 West 38th Ave, Wheatridge 80033

720-353-4853

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