Find fresh flavors and new eateries during First Bite

Boulder’s trademark celebration of local food runs Oct. 20-29

Bohemian Biergarten. Photo by Colleen O'Toole.

Your friends and family have noticed that you only eat out at six or seven restaurants. Honestly, three of those are pizzerias. What happened to that adventurous diner who lived to sample new tastes in new eateries? You may need a dining intervention.

The 18th annual First Bite is back Oct. 20-29 to rescue your taste buds from the doldrums and give you an excuse to try new places. 

Don’t feel bad if your dining life has gotten boring. Even the producer of First Bite finds that her own Boulder-based family gets stuck on a narrow group of restaurants. “I’m excited to go out and try the new places, and familiar restaurants that are serving something new,” says Jessica Benjamin, owner of Savor Productions, the food-focused organization that presents First Bite and its sister event, First Sip.  

This year’s First Bite restaurants range from the Michelin-honored Basta to the uber-casual Hungry Toad. There are places like the Greenbriar Inn, which has participated for 18 years, and recently opened eateries such as Masas Boulder and Pasta Press.

This annual celebration of Boulder’s dining scene features 10 days of special meals and culinary events for every hungry mood. “Some nights, you are a fine diner, maybe it’s a birthday or an anniversary,” Benjamin says. “Tuesday night, you just need to go pick up dinner for the kids.” 

Swaylo’s Tiki. Photo courtesy Branded Beet.

First Bite has evolved to include brunch and a wider range of restaurants from the original one-price-fits-all, multi-course dinner model. The Greenbriar Inn’s five-course menu includes smoked duck roulade, seared Skuna Bay salmon, and chai and pumpkin panna cotta for $85, while Postino WineCafe offers small plates and a bottle of wine to share for $25. 

Dishes on these menus run the gastronomic gamut, from The Boulder Cork’s famous sake salmon, to short rib ravioli at Sforno Trattoria Romana, to River and Woods’ tableside s’mores.

Each food stall at Boulder’s Rosetta Hall will offer a dish using fresh apples, such as Korean-style apple bulgogi ribs at Shanghai Moon, to Petite Fleur bakery’s autumn bake sale showcasing a full counter of apple-centered desserts. 

Lager beer and a wurst case scenario 

“We’ve always encouraged the restaurants to lean into whatever they do best,” Benjamin says. “A good example is the Bohemian Biergarten. Its First Bite offer is quintessentially the way we dine there, sharing food and beer.” 

The Bohemian Biergarten’s Oktoberfest platter brings together the eatery’s best-loved dishes. “It includes our scratch-made spaetzle noodles, red cabbage and our sauerkraut with bratwurst and other sausages made for us locally,” says Angelie Timm, co-owner of the Bohemian Biergarten. 

Smokin’ Dave’s. Photo courtesy Branded Beet.

The sharing platter also includes house-made mustards and a big soft pretzel with beer cheese, all made to pair with tall German lagers. 

“First Bite brings people into the restaurant for the first time who would never have tried our food otherwise,” Timm says.  

Longmont: Loco moco and grilled artichokes

This year’s First Bite also expands into Longmont with a four-course dinner offering at Sugarbeet. The three-course menu at Swaylo’s Tiki includes Hawaiian dishes like ahi poke wontons, a plate of loco moco (white rice topped with a hamburger, a fried egg and brown gravy) and a slice of haupia pie (rich chocolate and coconut milk) with cocktail pairings available.

Other Boulder County participants include Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ in Lyons and Cimmini’s in Niwot. Grilled artichokes, shrimp and scallops, and cherry pie, are on the bill of fare at Louisville’s 740 Front.

Gemini. Photo courtesy Branded Beet.

From cooking demos to a documentary film

First Bite is also launching a handful of one-off culinary experiences. “We have some new special events this year like Saturday’s Farmers Market behind-the-scenes tour, and a cooking lesson with chef Daniel Asher,” Benjamin says. 

The Sink’s 100th anniversary celebration continues with an Oct. 23 big-screen showing of the eatery’s documentary film at the Dairy Arts Center. The gathering includes a nostalgic talkback session afterwards with tastes of some Sink menu classics. 

Lamb fans will flock to Gemini on the Pearl Street Mall for an Oct. 25 dinner with the Colorado-based American Lamb Board. 

Other participating eateries include Dagabi, Organic Sandwich Company, Roadhouse Boulder Depot, Sforno Trattoria, Jill’s Restaurant and Japango. Complete list of First Bite restaurants and events at:

There is a specific Boulder reason why this dining extravaganza is happening right now. “It’s the Coach Prime effect,” Benjamin says. “These are the only 10 [consecutive] days in this entire fall where there was no CU football.”

Charlie Papazian.

Local Food News: Historic Beer Guy 

Metropolitan State University of Denver recently opened the Charlie Papazian Brewing Education Lab. It was named to honor the former longtime president of the Boulder-based Brewers Association and founder of the Great American Beer Festival. As MSU Denver notes, the Boulder resident is “the most recognizable name in the homebrewing world.” Some of Papazian’s original brewing equipment is even installed at the Smithsonian. Meanwhile, Boulder has become an epicenter of the craft brew renaissance in the United States, largely because Charlie Papazian and like-minded folks decided to live here. There should be a historic plaque or a bronze statue noting his oft-stated mantra: “Relax. Don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” 

• Boulder’s Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) needs volunteers to help stock shelves and assist food bank participants. Apply: 

• Coming soon: Louisville will get a Home Cookin’ Cafe, and Boulder Baked will set up a second outpost in downtown Superior.

Taste of the Week: Truly Erie Sandwiches

Stacy’s Kitchen. Photo by John Lehndorff.

I stopped by Stacy’s Kitchen, a cool little sandwich and pastry shop, open in downtown Erie. You can’t miss the colorful dessert-oriented mural painted on the outside wall. 

I sat on the patio and appreciated Stacey’s cold pastrami sandwich loaded with high-quality ingredients. Pumpernickel was layered thickly with freshly cut meat and Swiss cheese slices, plus spicy mustard, pickles, onions and mayo. I appreciated the fact that the sandwich was a substantial handful made with high-quality ingredients. 

Don’t miss Stacey’s hand pies, scones, cupcakes and apple pie cinnamon rolls and savory specials including stromboli and quiche. 

Words to Chew On: Happiness Defined

“There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap.”

— Actor Kevin James

John Lehndorff hosts Radio Nibbles and Kitchen Table Talk on KGNU: Comments: [email protected]  


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here