The soft sounds of live jazz flow through a low-lit restaurant, easing guests into a comfortable state as the aroma of grilled steak and seared fish fills the air. It's just another night at Bistro 135, a multi-level space that hosts local musicians throughout the week on a balcony stage, who spice up the atmosphere as diners savor a fusion of international and American cuisines. Pairs can share blackened jumbo scallops and manchurian cauliflower at high-top tables in the bar area and enjoy their meals in the cozy outdoor courtyard to soak in the warm weather or surprise eclipses.
The bean blazers at Boulder Coffee Company flame-roast their coffee before brewing signature coffees and espressos. Sink into a comfy couch or float lazily on the aromatic wafts of fresh coffee while sipping on the caramel macchiato, a vanilla latte topped with caramel sauce, or a spiced chai. An artful atmosphere beckons the caffeinated critic with walls lined with paintings and negative space for seeing what's going on outside. Boulder Coffee Company’s open-mic night allows anyone to sign up to deliver comedy or perform espresso spit takes; check the calendar for an idea of upcoming acts.
Welcoming those who are “gay, straight or somewhere in between,” 140 Alex Bar & Grill fosters a friendly atmosphere where everyone is invited to “drink, play, dance, sing, laugh, and hang out.” When they’re not too busy crooning at karaoke, applauding a drag show, or scoring points during adult trivia, guests of the brick-walled hangout sip brews and chow down on burgers and wings. The bar-restaurant’s calendar remains packed even during the holiday season, when ugly-sweater contests, Thanksgiving parties, and chess games against snowmen fill chilly Friday nights.
In Solera, owner John Fanning creates an accessible and inviting wine bar with knowledgeable staff, a wide selection of fine local and imported wines, and gourmet nibbles. Visitors can sip a glass of 2007 Mendoza chardonnay from Argentina ($6) or 2007 Jeanne Marie California merlot ($6) while grazing on an artisan-cheese board with three imported cheeses, sliced apples, baguette, and honey-drizzled apricots ($10). A bottle of French Domaine Dupeuble beaujolais from France ($28) or Indian Chenin blanc ($28) pairs well with both promising or tedious first dates, and effervescent conversation finds its match in a bottle of sparkling Australian shiraz ($32). Suds seekers can nab an Ithaca pale ale, Brooklyn lager, or Victory prima pilsner, among other brews ($4 each), while sampling an olive-oil flight with sliced baguette and sea salt ($7).
Southwedge Colony's classic pub cuisine quiets grumbling stomachs with a distinctive selection of freshly fired sandwiches. Furnish vacant table space with the loaded french fries, smothered with cheddar cheese, jalapeños, and bacon ($7.25). Or prove your love for hamburgers in a way that naming your first child, Hamburger, never could by adopting a black-bean burger, topped with crispy lettuce, succulent tomato, and zesty onion ($6.50). Meanwhile, the Colony Plate arrives with two 1/3-pound Angus beef patties stacked over macaroni salad, a choice of fries or tater tots, and slathering of meat sauce and chopped onions ($9.95).
Chefs at Toro Tapas Bar infuse their genre-defying tapas with creative fusion cuisine such as bison quesadillas and saffron lobster. Waiters transport small- to medium-size plates to glossy red tables, where diners share bites family style, as mixologists behind a dramatically backlit bar fill goblets with more than 100 wines. High ceilings with exposed girders soar above the space, and terra cotta walls bear abstract paintings that, if stared at long enough, reveal a 3D image of which diner will pick up the bill.