Colorado, the land of the free… to smoke marijuana. One of many reasons people across the US are flocking to the state. But not the reason that my guy and I have our heart pointed in that direction.
Mountains. Snow. Outdoors. Cool people. Great beer. Chill vibe. Holistic lifestyle. These are the reasons we love Colorado.
Over the holidays we drove 12 hours to visit the state from our home in Dallas. We spent three nights in Boulder and two nights in Denver. We had a blast.
We ventured about Boulder on our first day in town. We caught the vibe, enjoyed the people, and dreamed about life in the small, college town. Spontaneity caught the best of us the next day as we ventured up the mountain for a day of snowboarding. Despite the unseasonably warm weather in Boulder, Eldora Ski Resort was cold with plenty of good snow.
The second leg of our trip took us to Denver. We spent New Year’s Even dining at a fabulous sushi restaurant and rockin’ out to our favorite band, Nahko and Medicine for the People. A divine way to bring in the new year. On our last day in Denver, we took a driving tour around the city. We scoped out neighborhoods far and wide as we envisioned our lives in Denver in a few years.
On our final night in Colorado, we ate at a hip local dive that filled me with energy. As we sat at the bar waiting for our table, I reflected on all the great restaurants we tried on our trip. None were planned in advance. Each one was picked one hour to 30 minutes prior to arrival. And yet we landed at the coolest locations. The Universe had our backs!
Here are the four greatest restaurants from our trip:
Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery: We chose this restaurant on our second night in Boulder after we walked the outdoor mall that day.
The hostess wouldn’t take a reservation. But we were able to get on the wait list, which saved us 45 minutes. The hostess showed us to our table 10 minutes after we arrived. We didn’t even have time to order a beer from the bar.
We sat down at a corner table that butted against the crowd of people who still needed tables. We ordered the brewery’s top rated beer and our meals. The food was delicious. I chowed down on a locally sourced hamburger while Evan ate the tempeh reuben. Good on him for eating vegan! I couldn’t resist the burger.
Our waiter was great. He was super happy and friendly. He explained that service was shared at the restaurant, meaning we could ask a question or make a request of any of the staff and they would help out.
It was a poppin’ local hangout. Every table was full. The bar was full. And more people were walking through the front door. And it was only a Thursday. Once we finished eating we decided to free the table for the people waiting to be seated.
Fresh Thymes: We ate at this restaurant the Saturday after snowboarding. That morning I spent two hours at Boulder Medical Center Urgent Care. Snowboarding takes a toll on the body, especially during a time when I’ve already been having neck problems. Everything was fine. And we got on our way.
We drove straight to Fresh Thymes for lunch. They offered healthy, unique foods like “Rad Thai,” which Evan ordered. It was a funky spin on the traditional pad thai. It was one of several meals listed on the board that could be prepared in the back.
Or there were options on the counter labeled “counter food.” You could choose three sides or proteins or mix and match. I chose three sides from the counter: cabbage/kale coleslaw, garbanzo bean bread, and chicken curry soup.
It hit the spot. Fresh, whole, warm and cool, and tasty!
Boulder offered sweet eats but we were ready to see what Denver had…
Sushi Den: We made New Year’s Eve a special event by eating sushi. I researched quality sushi places, but it was hard to choose. There were several restaurants with 4.5 stars and great reviews. I originally planned for another place but switched last minute. And it was a great decision!
The Uber dropped us off across the street from the restaurant. We stood on the corner a minute to figure out exactly where it was. We saw a restaurant on the corner with beautiful large windows and couples sitting at tables with low intimate lighting. I can remember thinking, “Oh, how romantic. I wonder what restaurant that is?” Then I saw the sign, “Sushi Den,” in small, slanted letters scrawled across the wall next to the door.
We walked into the dimly lit restaurant, put our name on the wait list, and took a couple seats at the bar. We ordered wine while we waited and discussed our trip. I soaked up the atmosphere. It was the perfect romantic and intimate setting for a New Year’s Eve celebration.
The atmosphere was on point and so was the sushi. It was pricey with drinks and dessert included. But we didn’t mind since it was a celebration.
The hostess sat us at the front by the beautiful, large windows I spied from the across the street when we first arrived. Heaven!
We ordered a couple classic rolls and a few unique rolls. Followed by tiramisu for dessert. The sushi was delicious, but I’ve had better tiramisu.
Sushi Den was the perfect date night setting. For me, it felt magical with the dimly lit dining area and the beautiful Christmas lights on the trees and storefronts that we could see from our table. It was the perfect way to end 2016.
City O’City: This was the last restaurant of our trip. We were cruising downtown the Sunday before we left, exploring what the city had to offer. We skipped lunch that day, so we were pretty hungry.
I had to find a place fast because Evan’s hunger monster was coming out. I googled vegan restaurants and this came up immediately – even though it wasn’t the closest one to us. It had 4.5 starts on google with over 220 ratings. I knew this was a keeper.
We made our way through downtown, taking one last peek at the city streets we drove by. We parked on the same block as the restaurant and questioned where to enter. It was hard to find since we didn’t know what we were looking for. I was suspicious at first. And I was unsure of how this would turn out.
We found the front door and entered into a crowd of people waiting to be seated. The restaurant was packed.
The vibe was a cool, chill, grungy, hipster vibe. Once we were on the waitlist we went straight to the back bar for a drink. We ordered a pretzel with vegan cheese and two beers. The pretzel and cheese were tasty, but the cheese could have been thicker. It was tasty but not as good as the vegan cheese we’ve had at HG Supply Co. on lower Greenville in Dallas.
We didn’t wait too long before we were seated. I ordered savory waffles with vegetable ragu and a scrambled tofu topping. Evan ordered pasta with vegetables and a vegan yogurt sauce. Both were tasty.
The atmosphere and vibe of this place were on point. It gave us a good idea about the scene we’d be getting into if we move to Colorado. It was fun to see groups of friends hanging at the bar and all the tables filled with customers.
Looks certainly were deceiving with this restaurant. Hard to spot on the outside but popping’ on the inside.
These are the four great restaurants we ate at on our trip. We didn’t only eat four times, though. We were blessed with free hot breakfast at our hotels. And other days we skipped meals, ate at cheap places, or ate on the slopes. It all worked out perfectly.
Even though Addison (the area where we currently live) is considered the restaurant capital of Texas, I was impressed by the what Colorado had to offer. And I’m excited to go back and explore more!