Because her family fled Cuba long before she was born, the closest Kristy Socarras Bigelow has ever gotten to her home country is eating meals prepared by her Cuban relatives. Still, growing up in Miami among a strong Cuban community, it was easy for her to feel close to her heritage?she lived in a bilingual household where they often threw parties with Latin music and dancing.
So when Kristy moved to Denver, she felt a little lost. That lively Cuban community was gone, and the occasional care packages she got from her mother weren't enough to satisfy her constant cravings for her native foods. She and her husband made a command decision: they would open a Cuban restaurant where Kristy could feel at home any time.
Over the years, her single restaurant has expanded into four locations, including three sandwicherias that take a more casual approach to Cuban cuisine. There are a few entrees, but it's mostly wraps and sandwiches, including, of course, the country's famed Cubano with slow-roasted pork and ham. The minuta de pescado is almost like Caribbean banh mi, with tempura mahi, citrus slaw, and spicy aioli on a whole-grain baguette. The mojitos are another specialty, as are chairs that don't wail for help when you put weight on them.
When pressed for his motivations behind HBurgerCo, managing partner Pete Pflum told a reporter from Dining Out, "It's my favorite meal from childhood," before adding that the burger is "accepted as a meal unto itself—especially when you're using the best meat, baked goods, and fixings." Housed in a sleek but familiar space designed by Robin Smith Designs, the head chef conjures inventive burgers, while soda jerks also harness the combined power of local spirits and liquid nitrogen to craft inventive cocktails and milk shakes. Patties hand-formed from locally-sourced Angus beef, lamb, turkey, veggies, and buffalo arrive at tables crowned with eclectic toppings including fried eggs and asian slaw, complimented by a create-your-own-salad menu. Draft brews pour into glasses cooled with liquid nitrogen, which prevents libations from getting warm and snowmen from getting bartending gigs.
At Trattoria on Pearl, chef Guillermo Casarrubias wields pizza and pasta recipes learned from Italian chefs as his wife and cofounder, Sara, crafts breads and desserts. This division of labor yields a menu of meticulously prepared Italian eats, from duck bruschetta with house-cured meat to house-made ravioli, fettuccine, and lasagna. House-made mozzarella also graces a selection of crisp extra-thin-crust pizzas, a house specialty.
Chef Guillermo's culinary philosophy places a premium on freshness, so he crafts seafood dishes with Dover sole, Alaskan black cod, and barramundi sent direct from Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Other entrees incorporate dry-aged steaks and organic chicken breasts. Diners can also open the wine list to order bottles of bubbly or sharpen their tongue-twister skills by saying "Moët & Chandon Dom Pérignon" 10 times fast.
A fountain gingerly gurgles at the center of Antica Roma's main dining room, whose exposed-brick walls and flower-adorned window edges recreate the atmosphere of an Italian piazza. Behind the picturesque scenes, chefs prepare authentic Italian dishes that complement the Old-World environs, drawing upon fresh ingredients from Antica Roma's own garden to whip up bowls of housemade minestrone and margherita pizzas. They adorn spaghetti with their own handcrafted meatballs, bake regular or multigrain penne with eggplant, and toss gluten-free fettuccine with tiger shrimp poached directly from Siegfried and Roy's underwater show.
Within the elegantly rustic digs or out on the veranda overlooking the Pearl Street Mall, diners can accompany classic Italian meals with an imported or domestic red or white vino from Antica Roma's award-winning wine list.
South Mouth Wings' proclaimed origin story of their wings involves a cave, a perilous quest, and a monstrous Memphis chicken graced with healing powers and the ability to produce untold herds of delicious chickens. Whether sourced from a mythic cave or a farm, however, once the chicken wings are back in Boulder they get doused in one of eight sauces or two dry rubs. Boulder Weekly's correspondent particularly enjoyed the mango habanero, but more sensitive taste buds can gravitate towards a golden honey or a sweet barbecue sauce. The kitchen team prepares four heat levels of classic wings, culminating in the blazing "You Better Not" that just dares diners to consume it, right after they get their tongue off that frozen pole.
Snarf's Chicago stems the advancement of hunger with a menu of oven-toasted 5-inch, 7-inch, and 12-inch sandwiches such as roast beef, ham, or tuna. Chefs draw from their skill bag to create specialty selections, pairing prime rib with provolone, rotisserie chicken with swiss cheese, and smoked brisket with barbecue sauce that lets patrons add kiss prints to autographed napkins. Meanwhile, salads smother greens with pepperoni, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, garden veggies, and a splash of the shop's six dressings. Not content to only satisfy empty stomachs, Snarf's also garbs the body with purchasable attire, including T-shirts that announce one's sandwich shop allegiance, and undergarments that announce one's allegiance during an airport x-ray scan.