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Food Review: Ten culturally unique and delicious Colorado eateries

Written By | Oct 20, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar

COLORADO – While some restaurants in this state have succumbed to the financial effects of COVID-19, many have survived. Now, they are coming back stronger than ever. Whether sweet or savory, casual or upscale, Colorado’s eateries are once again satisfying the palates of hungry residents eager to venture out and try something new, as well as enjoying old familiar favorites.

The following are ten Colorado food establishments that will surely excite your gastronomic senses.

Colorado, Food, Reviews

Mussels are always fresh at Jax. Photo courtesy of Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar

 Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar– Multiple Locations

In the mood for seafood? Why settle for mediocrity when you have an abundance of fresh quality gifts from the sea at any one of Jax Fish House and Oyster Bars many locations.

Their story is the stuff fish dreams are made of. Owner Dave Query became enchanted with what he saw at several Chicago fish markets back in the 1980s. After partnering with fresh fish purveyor Northeast Seafood and embracing sustainable seafood practices, he opened the first Jax Fish House on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder in 1994.

But how do you offer fresh seafood without oysters?

That problem was solved when they partnered with Rappahannock River Oysters (RRO) in Virginia to create their Emersum Oyster. The name is a clever play on words as in “em are some good oysters.”

Jax claims that these oysters, which are only available at Jax are “the freshest bivalve this side of either coast, with a size, taste, and texture…” that you can count on every time.” You can order them raw or chargrilled with creole butter and Padano cheese.

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By the way, while you are there, you simply must try their bacon braised collards. They are the best I have ever had. Also, their cast iron cornbread, and ginger beer spiced just right with cinnamon and cardamom.

Jax has locations in Boulder, LoDo, Ft Collins, Glendale, and Colorado Springs

Colorado, Food, Reviews

If you crave authenticity and spice, you will find it at Durbar. Photo by Ron Stern, all rights reserved

 Durbar Nepalese and Indian Bistro– Multiple Locations

My wife will eat, and sometimes does, Indian cuisine every day. She just can’t seem to get enough. But finding a good restaurant can be challenging. That is until now.

Serving up tasty cuisine from Nepal, India, Durbar has found a hungry clientele among Colorado residents. This family-run operation uses the perfect combination of spices to complement their menu which includes marinated butter chicken, rosemary lamb kabobs with garlic and lemon, and Tiger shark shrimp tandoori.

Their garlic naan bread is heavenly. It is thin, crusty on the edges, and doused with just the right amount of garlic and parsley. Don’t pass up their drink menu and their signature Curry Wow (Loveland only) infused with allspice, cardamom, turmeric, and cloves.

With almost a perfect Yelp rating, Durbar has locations in Winterpark, Lakewood, Loveland, Broomfield, and Cheyenne

Colorado, Food, Reviews

Cool, vibrant, and delicious flavors. Photo by Ron Stern, all rights reserved

 Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato– Multiple Locations

Okay, I admit it,  I love ice cream. I’d rather eat it than sip a fancy merlot, eat hoity-toity food, or swill back a couple of cold ones. At times, I try and sneak some out of the freezer before dinner, a habit of which my wife is quite adept at discovering.

I found a kindred spirit in Mark Mallen, creator of Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato. Based in Boulder he has branched out to locations in Denver, Castle Rock, and Fort Collins.

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Mark has created more than 1,000 extraordinary flavors since opening in 2001. Some of his favorites are salted caramel Oreo ice cream and chocolate mousse gelato. He also has a vegan-paleo line he calls Glacier Cream.

After sampling a bevy of his cool treats, I really liked his raspberry chocolate melt (gluten-free) and his vegan Mexican chocolate which was surprisingly creamy with a deeply rich and spicy flavor. His ice cream has garnered many awards including one of the best ice cream flavors by 5280 Magazine and  CU and Boulder’s Best Ice Cream by Colorado Daily.

Colorado, Food, Reviews

JoJo’s popular Not’cho mac and cheese loaded with flavor. Photo by Ron Stern, all rights reserved

 Jojo’s Barbecue and Sandwiches– Fort Collins

As the name implies, this eatery is serving up made from scratch barbecue meats and sandwiches. Owned and operated by Sabrina and Craig Henry, this tasty boutique eatery is located inside Munchies Supermarket in the Campus West area of Fort Collins near the CSU Campus.

Named after their 5-year old son, they opened just after COVID-19 hit. Being inside a store, however, meant their business was “essential,” so they slowly built up a loyal following and a high Yelp rating in the process.

Using brines and a tri-wood combination of maple, hickory, and cherry, Craig figured out the ideal way to prepare his smoked meats including his tender 12-hour brisket and root beer riblets made with Tommyknocker Root Beer and reaper sauce.

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The hands-down mouth-watering favorite, however, is the Beer Can Chicken. Popular in the south, it is relatively unknown in these parts. Craig first uses his proprietary rub and then inserts an open can of beer inside the cavity of the bird. The steam of the beer makes the chicken incredibly moist and tasty while not imparting the actual taste of the alcohol. You can order any number of sides such as Carolina white beans, O.G. Coleslaw, and house-baked honey wheat rolls.

Colorado, Food, Reviews

If you have never tried a Banh Mi sandwich, you are in for a treat! Photo by Ron Stern, all rights reserved

 Daikon Bahn Mi Shop– Boulder

Have you ever heard of Bahn MI? Me neither. Rob McGowan fell in love with the street food in Southeast Asia, particularly a sandwich called Bahn Mi. Traditionally made with vegetables, pork or pate on a baguette, Rob decided to launch his own Americanized version in the 29th St. Mall in Boulder.

“Many Americans didn’t know what this was,” says Rob. But after trying one of these beauties, many have become loyal customers. Rob who has been working in kitchens since he was 14, starts his creations with a crispy baguette that he sources from a local French bakery. He then layers it with house-made mayo, pork, cilantro, cucumber, and a pickled variety of carrot Daikon radishes, jalapeño, mint, and red onions.

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Customers can choose from several different proteins including original pork (most popular), chicken, 36-hour brisket, smoked salmon, jackfruit, tofu, or Unami mushroom.

My first bite was crunchy, sweet, and savory, all at the same time, “hitting every piece of the palette,” as Rob says.

Reaction from his customers has been overwhelmingly positive with many saying it was the “best sandwich they ever had.” A second location in Boulder on the Pearl Street Mall is opening soon.

Colorado, Food, Reviews

Crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. Photo by Ron Stern, all rights reserved

Click Here to read about five more Great Colorado Eateries, page 2

Ron Stern

Ron Stern aka "The Global Gumshoe," I am a travel photojournalist and the author of hundreds of international and domestic travel articles. I am the Denver City Guide Editor for The Daily Meal, and a staff writer for Communities Digital News. My articles have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sun Sentinel, Yahoo News, MSN, and others. Magazines include Shape, Cruise, AAA Motorist, Visit Los Cabos Guide, Destinations West, Key Biscayne and La Jolla Today. My contributions have been noted by PBS, Mobil Travel Guides and my photography/ videography has been used extensively by entities such as tourism boards and public relations firms.