Category Archives: Local Love

Local Love: Big Mac and Little Lu’s

Trying to enjoy seafood in our beautiful-but-VERY-landlocked state can be a bit of a fool’s errand.  The options can be sketchy, and far-from-fresh; and the preparations sadly often range from disappointing to just plain destroyed.

Which is what makes Big Mac and Little Lu’s oh so very special, indeed.

When the sun-drenched, welcoming space opened in February of 2013, I confess it was a run-don’t-walk situation for me.  It all came down to the lobster roll.  Much as I had steam-rolled Steuben’s for the same reason the week it opened when we lived in the city, I NEEDED a lobster roll.

That first day I was chatting excitedly with the bartender while waiting for my roll, and a very friendly young woman started telling me the story behind the restaurant. I was in the presence of “Big Mac,” one of the two daughters of owners Paul and Ashley Brock who lend their names to the restaurant and market.

Did you see that “and market”  part? That is an important detail, don’t just run by it.

When Paul and Ashley moved the family here from a previous living situation that included Florida and the Caribbean, the lack of fresh seafood was a such an issue for the family, that they eventually decided to remedy the situation themselves and open a seafood market.  Personal relationships with the captains and fishermen help the family assure fresh, quality product.  So you can pop in and check the mouth-watering display case and take home the freshest seafood around.   Blessedly, they decided to expand the idea from just the market, and add a restaurant in for good measure.  (And it is such very, VERY good measure.)

The preparation here is as important as the product – these folks know what they are doing, and you taste that knowledge in each bite.  The lobster bisque reminds me of Alioto’s at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco – hot and rich and silky and full lobstery goodness.  The ceviche created an “incident” that almost ended in a hand-stabbing with a fork when a friend and I both went for the last chunk (ordered another one – clearly we needed it.)   Junior is a HUGE fan of the fish bites (and mommy sneaks some when he is watching the lobster tank, shhh.)  Or pick from the list of fish flown in this morning and have the Brock’s Fish Entree – they will cook whatever you pick however you like.  Not sure?  The staff is warm, friendly, and knowledgable, so just ask and they will guide your Colorado self straight  to seafood greatness.  If you aren’t feeling the seafood – they have added some great locally raised beef to the menu as well (and because HELLO – surf and turf!)

All of that being said – get the lobster roll (don’t worry, you’ll be back and you can mix it up with each visit.)  It is INSANELY tasty and stuffed to uber-overflowing with huge, perfectly-dressed chunks of sweet, firm, perfect lobster.  Dip the fresh, crispy “whale chips” into the housemade pepper jelly that is on each table.  Trust Keri.

The Brocks have built something special out here in the north ‘burbs – as unique and genuine as the family itself is.  We are so lucky to have them here.

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Big Mac and Little Lu’s

2851 W 120th Street

Westminster, CO 80234

Follow Big Mac and Little Lu’s on Facebook

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Local Love: Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company

Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company is hardly a secret.  I’m not letting any cats out of bags with this one, oh no no.

Peruse the reviews on their website to feel the love far and wide, by people and publications who know an amazing coffee program when they  see taste it.    This place is solid. (Also, say “peruse the reviews” out loud a few times.  Because fun.)

So why mention it Keri?  And why now?

Two words:  Anise Mocha.

Last week I got a tweet from fellow burbs resident and organic farmer/owner of Clear Creek Organics, Stephen (check out Field and Table , his blog about the farm, BTW,) regarding the above-mentioned Anise Mocha.  It’s an off menu, word-of-mouth/social media offering currently being created at Two Rivers, and it sounded like something that needed to be in my mouth pronto.

It was.  It is.   I can’t stop.  I have been back every day for my fix.  I hear it calling me, feel it pulling me.  “Keri… come.. sit… drink me.  Snack on the delish little cookie that comes on my saucer.  Stay a while.”  (What?  You don’t have conversations with your beverages? )

It’s hot and sweet and tasty – with a bite of spice from the anise that makes you warm inside and out.   If loving it is wrong, I could never even think about why I should be right.

My time with it is short – the holiday craziness approaches,  and Stephen’s tweet hinted that the new year might mean the end of this delicious offering.

Run don’t walk  to Arvada and ask them to craft one for you too.  Ok maybe drive. Or bike. You pick, just hurry over there and try it.

Well done, Two Rivers, well done.

Thanks for the tip, Stephen.  Long live the twitter friend tip!!

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Two Rivers Craft Coffee Company

7745 Wadsworth Blvd, Suite B. Arvada, CO 80003

 

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Local Love – Big Choice Brewing

We love craft beer.

Well, The Mr. LOVES craft beer.  I like a good beer, and I LOVE the craft beer community in Colorado.  It is an industry full of people who support and encourage their fellow craftspeople; the vast majority of whom are genuine, laid back, friendly, and wonderfully generous about sharing information and educating their consumers regarding the process and the product that they love.

Jr’s first family days out, when he was just a wee little doodle cozied down in his bucket carseat, were to Golden for brunch, a little window shopping, and some sun soaked relaxation in the Golden City Brewery beer garden.   We are very lucky in our beautiful state to have so many fantastic breweries to explore.

HOWEVER, Keri is a “where everybody knows your name” kind of gal when it comes right down to it, and we were sorely lacking a home base our first few months back in the old hometown.

Then we stumbled upon Big Choice Brewing’s booth at the annual town festival. BEER? In  BROOMFIELD?  And at Broomfield Days?  Things were looking up, yo.

Big Choice had actually opened their doors right around the time we were making our move into the burbs in spring/early summer 2012. (Divine intervention or just awesome timing?  I can’t say for sure…)

The Mr was hesitant as I instructed him through the industrial area where BC is located.  I, however, was sold instantly when I opened the door and Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies filled the space, followed by some old school Social D. It was like the place said  “slide off the tattoo-covering cardi and stay awhile, Keri – you are among your people now.”  Ahhhhhh.

For more about the back story on the awesome people who own and operate Big Choice, check out their website here, I will let them tell you their story.

Along with their affinity for the punk soundtrack of my teens and 20s, this place is also super  Jr. friendly – and not just because my kid’s wardrobe of pop punk band shirts is mad deep.  Every other Sunday they show a kid friendly movie on their big TV upstairs so kiddos can sprawl on the sofas and enjoy some popcorn and animated faves,  with trivia downstairs for the grown ups.  When we bring Jr’s booster seat and strap it to a chair and spread out the juicebox and goldfish crackers we have never felt anything less than 100% welcome.   They know their audience here.  Heck, they ARE that audience – Nathaniel and Andrea’s two bright, friendly offspring can be seen around the brewery, and sometimes even the family dog, Kenosha. (Who I want to snuggle, but won’t because nobody wants to be THAT girl.)

Here’s the thing that REALLY matters though.  The beer is good.  Like GOOOOOOOOD good.

I call the Disconnected Red my favorite liquid on the planet.  (A very big deal considering how I feel about wine.  And dirty martinis.  And Dr Pepper.)  I confess that when we go to a brewery for the first time, we leave the growler in the car, just in case we aren’t really feeling it after we sample a few.  Big Choice has consistently outstanding beers, from their regular repertoire to great seasonal beers (they are tapping a keg of Peppermint Stout every Friday in December.  Served in a glass rimmed with crushed candy canes.  Tasty stuff.)  Their motto is “Choose Wisely,” but you can’t go wrong with anything here.

These days the joint is hopping, and there are big things to come for and from this deserving team.

Disconnected Red and West Portal Colorado Common are both available in cans locally now, but with the friendly environment and great people at Big Choice, grab your growler(s) and take a field trip over to see them.

(I’m the blonde girl with the dice tattooed on her arm who is probably talking too loud while trying to cuddle Kenosha with my eyes.  Say hi.)   😉

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Big Choice Brewing

7270 W 118th Pl, Broomfield, CO 80020

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Local Love – Bean & Berry

*ETA: Bean and Berry has sadly closed.

While alternately adjusting to/fighting against life back in the old hometown, my reluctantly suburban sanity has been saved by a small (but growing) group of places. Places that are breaking the suburban mold and offering great services and blessedly individual character in a sea of chain restaurants and big box stores.

In the shadow of the approaching Small Business Saturday (after the dreaded, and avoided all together by me, Black Friday,) I thought there was no better time than the kickoff of prime shopping season to start highlighting some of the places in the area between Denver and Boulder that have captured my Local Love.
One of my favorite examples of unique and creative small business in the area, (and the location alluded to in a previous post,) is Bean & Berry, a hidden gem of a genius concept tucked into a shoppette at 305 McCaslin Blvd in Louisville. The signage from the street isn’t flashy by any means, so be on the lookout for it, because it is so, SO very worth finding.

That it is great local coffee shop serving up all of the usual suspects, (brewed from organic, fair-trade beans,) to keep you caffeinated is fabulous enough, but that is really just the teeny tiniest tip of this iceberg, people.
Because that is just the “Bean” portion of things – the “& Berry” is where Keri’s heart is truly captured.
If coffee just isn’t going to cut it, then let your eyes move right on down to Bean and Berry’s wine list.
That’s right people. Wine. Actually wine, spirits, and bottled beers – predominately Odell’s selections with a few others for good measure.
BUT WAIT!! That isn’t even everything!! This cozy little corner shop also has a great menu of satisfying sandwiches, sweet or savory crepes, fun tapas, and delicious breakfast burritos (breakfast items served all day!)
The food isn’t just there as an afterthought – it is tasty and fun and not too serious about itself, (a section called “fun with grits”? Indeed.)  I am particularly partial to the Flyin’ BLT with its peppered bacon and magical aioli that is a touch of saucy perfection.
Owners Michaela and Lisa (and their friendly staff,) have created a little haven for the neighborhood here, with local artists’ work for sale on the walls, music nights featuring local bands, and even a private room available for the community to use for meetings (call for availability of the “B Lounge” for your group.)
The vibe is decidedly “coffee shop-esque” in the best way possible – seating is a mix of tables, bar, and comfy upholstered couch and chairs so you can channel your inner Monica and Chandler (except that Central Perk lacked hooch, so you automatically win in this fantasy scenario.) Connect to the free WiFi over a cup of joe OR a glass of grape and decompress.

Current seasonal additions to the menu include biscuits and sausage gravy with scrambled eggs, all manner of pumpkin flavored beverages from the espresso bar, as well as Isolation Ale (what up, Colorado tradition,) and Dark and Stormys for “adult beverage” offerings. Yes ma’am.
Each day also offers a different Happy Hour offering (4-6pm), from Monday’s $7.00 Marg and Nachos combo, to $3.00 house wine Wednesdays, and (garnering Keri’s brunch-worshiping allegiance for all time,) $8.00 bottomless mimosas during their Sunday business hours. (BRING ON THE MIMSIES, Y’ALL!!)
A current Groupon offering makes it a perfect time to check Bean and Berry out, but really, no excuse is needed. Great, responsibly sourced coffee + a careful selection of wine, spirits, and beer + yummy food for any time of day = a place worthy of lots of Local Love.

Bean & Berry on Facebook

Bean & Berry on Groupon

Look for more Local Love offerings to come soon on Reluctantly Suburban!

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