Tag Archives: breakfast

Tour de Manger: Denver

Last week the Girl came out for a long weekend. We haven’t explored a lot of Denver so her trip was a good excuse to spend a couple of days in town, check out the neighborhoods and explore some of the various food and drink joints that I’ve been hearing about. Below are the places we checked out and our impressions.

Lohi Steak Bar: in need of a late night meal we were pointed towards Lohi Steak Bar (3200 Tejon Street ) in Highlands Park, northwest of downtown Denver. The meat centric menu was surprisingly diverse with open faced steak sandwiches to portabello mushroom burgers. Our shrimp po’ boy and steak sandwhich were good. Not huge portions for the price, but a good late night meal. The best part about Lohi is the atmosphere; great bar setup, lots of attractive people and a fun setting. Lohi also plays host to one of the most attractive waitresses I’ve ever seen. Wow.

Café Calienté: we hit up this place in need of a quick lunch and a cup of coffee. Located in Highland Park’s 32nd Street (think lots of restaurants, boutiques, coffee shops and bars), Café Calienté (3701 W. 32nd Ave.) has a lot of good sandwich and quiche options and the coffee is decent too. The owner is excited about every person that comes in, making you feel like her most valued customer before you’ve even made it to the counter.

Crema: I had heard about this new coffee joint located on Larimer, north of Downtown (2862 Larimer) through some Denver restaurant magazines. As someone addicted to the Bean I was intent on checking this place out. When we pulled up my high hopes climbed a little bit higher; funky industrial type facade, wood centric interior with a minimalistic design. Very hipster, very cool. And the coffee?…not as good. In fact, you could say it burst my little bubble. We ordered Americanos which were slightly watery, not very strong and definitely not what I was hoping for. They were still good, but no where near Portland’s Stumptown offering. However, they do French press the coffee, a good indication of a shop serious about coffee. The most glaring issue at Crema is the service, which was incredibly weird; the guy behind the counter was trying to do eight things at once while the other barista was hanging out and talking. It was almost like they were unprepared for more than two people ordering at a time. Hopefully they get it together, Crema would be a great addition to the Colorado coffee scene.

Bitters Bar (at Happy Noodle House): For happy hour on Friday we ventured up to Boulder to check out Happy Noodle and the Bitters Bar (835 Walnut Street). This is my new favorite happy hour place in Boulder. Fun and innovative drinks, great happy hour food at minimal prices and a really cool and cozy bar setting. Wood paneling, a subdued Asian motif and necktie and vest rocking bartenders make this place feel like a Prohibition style speakeasy, classy-Japanese style.

Hi*Rise: for our last breakfast in Denver we were told to check out Snooze (2262 Larimer Street, and 2 other locations), a local Denver breakfast spot that is highly touted as an indication of Denver’s improving dining scene. Unfortunately, it’s so touted that there was a line out the door. A good sign, but not a good strategic move when trying to quench the girlfriend’s need for food. So instead we hit up Hi*Rise (2162 Larimer Street), an artisan bakery with a variety of breakfast and lunch options. My egg and cheese sandwich with chorizo on a jalepeno bagel was good, albeit not nearly spicy enough (why can’t restaurants stop dulling flavors to appeal to Americans who are used to the blandness of crappy manufactured food?). The Girl’s breakfast sandwich on a croissant was also good, but again kind of benign. However, it tasted like everything was extremely fresh. And that is the appeal of Hi*Rise; nothing innovative or too out of the box but everything is fresh and simple. Not somewhere I would take out of town guests, but a good stop for a lighter meal.

Pho 95: our last stop in Denver on our way out of town, Pho 95 (1002 South Federal) is a hole in the wall restaurant strategically located in a rundown strip mall in a rundown part of Denver. It also served up the best meal of the trip. Giant bowls of noodles, veggies and meat accompanied by a giant plate of fresh bean sprouts (mung beans), basil and limes. My veggie bowl and the Girl’s seafood bowl where both amazing and incredibly fresh tasting. We also tried out one of the best coffee drinks I’ve ever had: espresso dripped into a cup of condensed milk. Heart attack in a cup, and I loved every drop. Pho 95 was incredibly packed but the service was incredibly quick and efficient. You know a pho place is good when you are the only doofy white person in there.  Definitely one of my new favorite restaurants in Colorado.

Having obsessed over the Northwest food scene for the last couple of years I was truly hesitant to embrace what Denver had to offer. But as we’re quickly finding about Colorado, the food scene here is good, and getting better all of the time. I’m not ready to abandon my loyalty to Portland as my favorite food city, but Denver is starting to make a strong case for mixed allegiances.

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TWW’s Cool Places: Pine State Biscuits

home_logoSometimes the best approach to competing in a city full of amazing breakfast places is to not compete. Instead of filling your menu with creative omelets and interesting meat and waffle pairings start with one basic food item: the buttermilk biscuit. From there, build a small menu that has nothing more complicated than a fried egg. Open a two table, three stool diner, get there early to get the smell of fresh baked biscuits going, supply your customers with Stumptown coffee while they wait, and watch the customer line pile up outside the door.

Pine State Biscuits has executed this strategy to perfection and as a result it has become one of the most popular breakfast joints in Portland and one of our favorite places to start the day. Their biscuits are huge and flaky and provide the perfect platform for menu items like the Moneyball (biscuit and gravy topped with egg over easy) and the Reggie (fried chicken, bacon and cheese, topped with gravy). Too much? Get just the biscuit and some of their amazing jam. Regardless of your order, the food is guaranteed to be good, the service fun and quick, and the line outside the door full of interesting people to talk to to pass the time. We love this place. As will you.

Pine State Biscuits

Location: 3640 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR and at the Portland Saturday Farmers Market

Hours: Monday thru Sunday, 7AM to 2PM

Contact: (503) 236-3346

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TWW Daily Feed for September 22: Race Week continued

Colorado managed to hand me a nice little “F you pal” in the form of a couple of inches of snow in the mountains. I’m not ready for snow yet. Snow means cold mornings, dark afternoons and less girls in small running shorts. For this weekend’s half-marathon, snow would mean a muddy course, ice and a general lack of desire to pound out 13+ miles as fast as possible. And less girls in small running shorts. Get with it Colorado! The Feed: Continue reading

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Bunk Sandwhiches

BUNK.logo.inddHave you ever taken a road trip and stopped at one of those highway-side diners that you spot periodically on the way? The ones where the waitress has been there for 30 years, the cook looks like he might be on his second trip through the parole system and the sandwiches are greasy piles of meat and cheese that stick to your ribs and make you love, and loath, the fact that you didn’t hold out for a healthier alternative. Think of Bunk Sandwiches as that diet destroying diner done by the hipster elite of the liberal arts college crowd; a greasy lunch counter packed with people and the smell of fried onions and toasted bread, replete with the mandatory Portland hipster staff and Northwest cuisine infused menu.

Tucked along SE Morrison in a neighborhood that looks like it has seen better days, Bunk can be spotted by the line out the door, a result of both the quality of food they serve and the limited seating space. Inside, the long room is divided between seating and the open kitchen, allowing you to watch and smell everything that goes into one of Bunk’s sandwiches.  The chalkboard menu, to the right of the door once you walk in, changes daily, but is anchored by some Bunk staples such as the Meatball Hero and the Italian Cured Meats sandwich. From there, the menu ventures into items like Bone Marrow and Snails on Toast and Tongue on Rye with onions and spicy mustard. Our favorite so far? The Elvis: peanut butter, banana and bacon done pannini style. Greasy spoon appearance aside, the sandwich chefs at Bunk create food that is wondrously flavorful, and surprisingly light on the stomach.

If the sandwiches alone aren’t enough to fill you up, the sides provide another avenue of food exploration. Items like Potato Salad with Bacon and Eggs and Roasted Butternut Squash Agro Dolce are mild enough to compliment the sandwiches, but flavorful enough to enjoy on their own. And no diner experience would be complete without cake and cupcakes, especially ones that are made locally by friends of Bunk’s proprietors. Bunk also does a very basic breakfast, with two basic sandwiches that are both amazing, and greats starts to a cold and dreary Portland day.

The staff at Bunk is knowledgeable, quick and generally friendly in that “I’m way too cool to talk to you right now but I’ll try and be overly nice” kind of way. On a recent visit the cashier was quick to provide recommendations and steer me towards some of the menu boards better items, entertaining my questions even though the place was packed (I was totally that douchebag asking questions while people where impatiently waiting).

For us, Bunk has become one of our go to food spots in Portland, a place we somehow talk about every time someone mentions the great food in the city. Don’t let the neighborhood or the greasy diner appearance scare you; the line out the door is testament to the quality of this place. Recently, a friend  summed up her first experience at Bunk by looking at me with a mixed look of satisfaction, desperation and loathing: “I can’t believe that place is so close to my house. This is going to be dangerous. I’m not sure if a ‘thanks’ is appropriate. Good find, douchebag.”

Location: 621 SE Morrison, Portland, OR

Hours: Open Monday through Saturday, 8 to 3pm

Price Point: Most sandwiches fall in the $8 range, with sides between $2.50 and $5. Breakfast sandwiches are $5.

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