Best Tastes of 2016: Restaurant Edition

I really wanted to post this last week but Joey was adamant that I wait until we made it through the very last day of 2016 and HEY, he was right, because our very last meal of the year made it on this list and wouldn’t have otherwise.  He’s wise like that.

We were all over the country this year and so were the best meals we ate.  Burgers in Hawaii, po’ boys in New Orleans, miso butter in Chicago, cheese plates in Portland, roast chicken in D.C., Italian in Vegas.  Not to mention lamb sliders, Detroit-style pizza, steamed buns and, of course, ice cream right here in Denver.  2016 was, by all means, a delicious year!

P.S. Sorry I don’t have pictures of every single one of these dishes.  Sometimes it’s dark in restaurants and sometimes I feel like enjoying the moment without my iPhone camera 🙂

Best Toast:

Avocado Toast from Black Eye Coffee CapHill in Denver, CO (January 10) // cashews, housemade flax seed bread, cilantro + bacon


Best Burger:

HĀNA BURGER from Hāna Ranch Provisions in Pāʻia, Hawaiʻi (January 20) // house-made ‘ulu brioche, caramelized onions, horseradish aioli, cheddar

Best Entrée Plate:

Crispy CHICKEN Breast, 3 CHEESE-MAC & CHEESE with SAGE & BUTTERNUT SQUASH from Tables in Denver, CO (February 14)

Best Slider:

Colorado Lamb Slider from Root Down in Denver, CO (April 1) // Harissa Aioli, Irish Cheddar, Arugula & Garlic-Mint Yogurt


Best Sandwich:

Seared Gulf Shrimp Po Boy from Killer PoBoys in New Orleans, LA (May 2) // Marinated Radish, Carrot, Cucumber, Herbs, Special Sauce

There Denver (July 16)


Let’s be mature about that category, okay?

Steamed Bun Trio from Night Shift in Denver, CO (August 4) // pork belly PB & J, pork belly, curried cauliflower


Best Ramen:

Spicy Chicken Ramen from Uncle in Denver, CO (August 18) // spicy sesame broth, scallion, bean sprouts, soft egg


Best Chicken Dish:

Roasted Half Chicken from Tail Up Goat in Washington, D.C. (September 11) // semolina toast, aioli, cipollini onions

Spaghetti & Meatball at Roma Deli 1 & Restaurant (September 22) // I think this might be self-explanatory 🙂

Sweet Potato at The Nickel in Denver, CO (November 4) // poblano chile, hazelnut, toasted crepe, shallot


ADELE & Other Weekend Things

So it’s Monday, and that sucks, but you know what?  I totally don’t even mind because I’m still riding a weekend high that has a lot to do with brewery patios, family time, the Farmers’ Market, firefighters holding puppies, R&R, the most fun dinner EVER, coffee shop breakfast dates, shopping success, yoga, grilled pizza and last but not least… ADELE!


The weekend came early when Lori took me out to celebrate my birthday on Thursday night.  She gave me a Rockies jacket and now I can’t wait for cooler weather?!  It takes something really great to make me think that!  Also, we went to Vine Street Pub and gosh, I love that place with all my heart.



We met my family for dinner in Boulder on Friday but we had some time to kill beforehand so we figured we’d use it wisely and check out a new brewery/patio.  Wild Woods Brewery gets four thumbs up because Joey and I both loved it!  They’ve got a “beer inspired by the outdoors” thing going on that makes for some really unique flavors.  I got an Oaked Sorachi Ace IPA and Joey got a Campfire Red and we were both happy campers (pun totally intended).


My dad’s cousin was in town and since I’m all about meeting family members, I was totally excited for dinner.  Well — actually I was being a major brat about actual dinner because we were going to a gluten-free restaurant that had menu descriptions like “infused with Rose Quartz Essence, a homemade infusion of the energies of compassion, harmony & Unconditional Love” and I was like COULD THIS PLACE BE ANY MORE BOULDER??  But dinner ended up being really good and our server was awesome so what do I know?

After dinner, we strolled Pearl Street and popped into a bookstore where I almost bought a pocket version of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and a Hillary Clinton paper doll but I refrained 🙂  In all seriousness, it was great to A) Fit in our annual trip to Boulder B) See family and C) Eat good food.



Saturday morning we woke up and headed to the Farmers’ Market, where my life’s happiness was granted by a bike, a bell and a basket.  Yep, that’s all it takes.  We loaded up on market goodies — shishitos, yellow squash, tomatoes, peaches — almost picked up a puppy.  Just kidding, but the puppy rescue was at the market and there were Denver firemen walking around holding those puppies and it was all too much!

Free Noosa on our way out and you better believe I took them up on their offer to “take more than one!”


I got a facial later than afternoon and it was great and all but who cares because let’s get to the main event of the evening!  But first, let me tell you about how my mother is the only female in the history of females that had to be DRAGGED to an Adele concert.  WHAT IS THAT EVEN?!  She kept insisting that I take Joey and I was like “oh yes it’s ladies night and the feeling’s right I’M TAKING YOU!!!!”  She eventually gave in and also eventually admitted she was glad I made her go.  In other words, I won!

We all (plus Joey) went to dinner beforehand and OH MY GOD, it ended up being the most fun dinner!  I’m not even sure I can talk about it without writing a short novel.  We went There and it was INCREDIBLE!  And not just because of the food — though that was pretty killer too — but because the staff was THE BEST WE’VE EVER HAD.  Not even joking.  They were so fun and lively and at one point, a server stood on the bar and explained the menu to the entire restaurant and another server was playing a trombone?!  I don’t even know but I DO know we were all raving and had the best time.  Also, when you discover the table behind you is also going to the Adele concert you obviously celebrate with a shotski.  Please note that “Rolling in the Deep” is playing in the background.  Way too much fun.




(Don’t even ask where my sister and I are looking in that first picture…)

Adele was nothing short of amazing.  Honestly, I think I had goosebumps through the entire show.  I think we’ve all seen her perform so many times that we’re almost desensitized to just how incredible her voice is but seeing her live made me realize it all over again.  And she makes it look so easy.  It is just mind-blowing.  Apart from her voice, she is just so fun.  She’s chatty and real and just so comfortable in front of a giant crowd.  I loved every single second.  Me and my mama grooved to “Rolling in the Deep” and then she gave me a giant hug and thanked me for bringing her and I thanked her for giving me the tickets and that’s a moment (and an entire night) that I’ll never ever forget.


Sunday morning, Joey and I walked to Black Eye Coffee for breakfast, spotted this tour bus on the way home and then I decided to quit my job and become a roadie for Tuna and the Rock Cats.




I spent the rest of the day trying to rush around and do too many things with a quick car breakdown in the grocery store parking lot mixed in for fun.  But I made it to Sunday afternoon yoga and felt so much better afterwards.  Plus our first grilled pizza of the summer — only kind of burnt the crust — salad prep, Sunday night TV and because it was National Ice Cream Day and all we had was frozen bananas, I made some banana cream and topped it with a quick fudge sauce and some salted peanuts.  Gotta make due with what you got, right?

Looking back, this weekend was even better than I knew 🙂  Happy Monday!