Owners Manuel Sanchez and Joanne Keys lead a staff of oenophiles who stock West End’s intimate shelves with hand-selected, value-priced bottles from producers both foreign and domestic. The team rigorously tastes each wine that the store sells, then privately ranks them on a scale from “sangria” to “cellar” to “object of worship.” Shelves brim with such enological gems as the Sean Minor pinot noir ($18), which glides across palates with preternatural delicacy, and the robust Protocolo red from Spain ($9), which demonstrates its value for cooks by doubling as a rolling pin. Meanwhile, the Jordan cabernet sauvignon ($55) dons formal attire as it assumes its place among the West End Wine Shop’s elite selection of premium wines. Corks fly on Wednesdays as the staff pours complimentary tastes of choice elixirs, allowing customers to sample bottles and judge their lip-staining potential.
Chef Aaron Bennett and his culinary team combine the philosophies behind farm-to-table cooking with gourmet Italian dining at Bácaro Venetian Taverna. The menu features classic Venetian dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local and organic farms, including Talbott Farms, Isabel Farms, and Haystack Mountain, among others. Panzanella salads season tomatoes and garlic croutons with basil-infused olive oil and wild boar shoulder gets braised in chianti before being served with creamy, truffle-infused polenta. The kitchen makes all of their pastas in-house, and gluten-free spaghetti or penne can be substituted for wheat-free diets.
Bácaro takes its name from the lively taverns around Venice, which are noted for their laid-back atmosphere, simple furniture, and affable ghosts. Bartenders fuel lively gatherings with pitchers of sangria, housemade Italian liqueurs, and selections from their extensive wine list during daily happy hours. The eatery also hosts guests on its spacious rooftop patio, where chandeliers and the fact that it is on a rooftop heighten views of downtown Boulder.
Cuvée Wine Bar and Bistro’s oenophiles partner their flights of pleasant potables with French-influenced small plates and entrees. Wine flights sail through combinations of both reds and whites, themed around a single grape, multiple countries of origin, or the fact that the harvest was plucked by helpful sparrows. The international flight teases tongues with the dry kiss of an Italian pinot grigio and the sweet rush of a German riesling before hurling taste buds halfway round the globe to sample New Zealand’s sauvignon blanc. On the other end of the grape spectrum, the vineyards of Louis Latour, Bethel Heights, and Maysara find common ground in side-by-side servings of their pinot noirs. Six types of cheeses, acquired the same day at the market, join a medley of fresh fruit, dried figs, and bread on the cheese board, a practice first adopted by British sailors who had committed misdemeanors and were forced to eat the plank.
As a boy in Italy, Fabio Flagiello’s life was filled with family gatherings that centered around cured meats, aged cheeses, fresh pastas, and wine. As the chef at PastaVino, he recreates the food from his childhood for the masses, using fresh, organic ingredients that he sources locally or imports from Italy. For example, he slathers freshly made fettuccine with a rustic wild boar ragu. He cares as much about the restaurant's wines as the food, carefully selecting vintages—including some biodynamic options—to stock the wine cellar. Like its menu, the restaurant’s decor blends the rustic with the modern, as evidenced by its exposed ductwork, brick walls, and glowing, LED-enhanced bar.
The Hungry Toad's bare-brick walls and tin signs for long-extinct products lend the pub a touch of nostalgia that pairs well with Anderson-beef burgers, steaks, fish 'n' chips, and bangers and mash. Served in the same kind of 20-ounce, dimpled mug used in English taverns, an imported British beer helps wash down a Kermit burger—which, like the real-life Kermit, is filled with cheddar and guacamole—or a plate of shepherd's pie with Guinness sauce and whipped potatoes. The Hungry Toad's back wall is bedecked with colorful murals of toads playing card games, arm wrestling, and painting murals of toads with humanlike qualities.
With a menu comprised only of two sections—'before tacos' and 'tacos'—T/aco's chef Matt Collier understands the power of the white-glove approach. In a recent interview, he divulged to Thrillist that each tortilla, like everything else on the restaurant's menu, is handmade. Harnessing a diverse culinary palette of fresh herbs and ingredients to craft bold flavors, Chef Matt and his team top their braised pork belly, Ahi tuna, and veggie tacos with such gourmet fixings as poblano crema, queso cotija, and chayote-squash salsa. To add a touch of diversity to their taco-heavy menu, they whip up fresh ceviches and guacamole with housemade chips. T/aco's bartenders have also honed an all-important craft. They mix smoky and fruity margaritas with 25 reposado, anejo, and blanco tequilas—one for each year an American must live before she can eat tacos in the US House of Representatives.