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Odelay Tacos, Firemans Brew, The Tavern 

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click to enlarge Two lovely messy tacos from Odelay Tacos

Odelay Tacos

3014 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 720/389-8109, odelaytacos.com

Attached to the Beetle Bar and Thirty Fourteen, Odelay feels like the competitive answer to nearby Pinche Taqueria. But while it bests Pinche on prices, it simply can't touch it on gourmet finesse and cool factor — even if the wall-sized print of Elvis staring through Gloria Pall's shapely legs in Jailhouse Rock is pretty sweet.

Odelay serves two-for-one margaritas and $2 Tecate cans daily from 3 to 6, but Tuesdays are the day to go. That's when you get two tacos for $2, excluding the $2.99 tilapia taco and best-of-the-batch 3014 taco, a mix of crunchy bacon, chewy carne asada and flavorful bell peppers and onions bound by melted cheese. The fish sports a great habañero-mango puree (forgotten on my order, thus tried on another taco) and fresh cabbage. The tempeh-bearing, vegetarian Beetle Bar taco also stands out, while the Odelay, shrimp, carnitas, pollo and regular carne asada tacos are just serviceable. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge The Lobster Cobb Salad from the Broadmoor's revamped dining space, Le Jardin.

Tavern at the Broadmoor

1 Lake Ave., 577-5772, broadmoor.com/tavern

In late February, as it unveiled a bright, beautiful new atrium space called Le Jardin, this 74-year-old casual Broadmoor eatery also launched an almost entirely new menu. Under a striking new 16-foot chandelier earlier this month, I was treated to a media lunch as part of the resort's Sommelier Boot Camp. (And if you think you won't receive equal treatment, you just don't understand five-star service.)

Between three appetizers and five entrées shared among our table, absolutely nothing faltered, and several flavors stunned. Cases in point: slivers of grapefruit brilliantly paired with Maine lobster as part of the shellfish platter (for two, $38); yolk bleeding from a poached egg over a killer crab cake floating in spinach cream sauce ($13); and chimichurri with garlic confit over an applewood-smoked bacon that was more like thick ham ($10). Just go look at the photos in my recent blog post at csindy.com ... you'll see. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Three beers: a blonde, a brunette and a redhead from Firemans Brew, now available inColorado.

Firemans Brew

20954 Osborne St., Canoga Park, Calif., firemansbrew.com

Blondes, brunettes and redheads — respectively pilsner, Dopplebock and amber brews (around $10 for each six-pack). They're the trade craft of Firemans Brew, which donates a percentage of its proceeds to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The company only recently began distributing in Colorado (the first state outside California), marketing with cheeseball slogans like "Extinguish your thirst" and "Ignite the party."

All three of these have been mostly panned on popular online review sites, and we'll pile on in the case of the overly bready, heavy-on-the-tongue, 5-percent ABV Blonde. But the bittersweet, roast-forward, 8-percent ABV Brunette, with stout-esque chocolate malt influence, is pretty drinkable, while the 5.5-percent ABV Redhead is a solidly likeable amber. Though still heavily malt-bodied, its hops hit nicely for character — I'd head down the pole for one. — Matthew Schniper

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