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Boulder, CO: 22 Dec - 18 Jan 2020

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Interviewing for possible residence.

Lodgings: Boulder ain't cheap my friend and therefore our Airbnb lodgings at the corner of Arapahoe and Fourth St. were more than we normally like to pay. My wife negotiated and reduced the price from Boiiiing to Wow! And therefore we paid $155/night down from $175/night. When we extended our stay, she negotiated the rate down to $127/night. We both had caught the flu and were OOC for well over a week, so we decided to extend and offered our host a direct payment to avoid Airbnb fees, but he wanted to stick with Airbnb due to liability concerns (Airbnb provides each host with a $1 million insurance policy).


• The Yellow Deli: My wife asked if I wanted “to go to a deli that is run by a cult called the Twelve Tribes, the place is known for delicious sandwiches and carrot cake." "I'm in" I replied, "You had me at cult!". Opened in 2010 and built by the 50 or so members of The Twelve Tribes which is a commune that is "truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible and sharing all things in common." I'm from New York, so I'm quite familiar with a Jewish Deli, but a Christian Deli?! The inside was expertly built with repurposed wood to create a cozy fairytale cabin feel - I've never seen anything like it. And the music being piped in reminded me of an Appalachian George Winston. I had the Deli Rose (Roast Beef & Corned Beef Sandwich), the wife a Flatiron Special (Veggie Burger) and both were quite tasty. The menu states "We serve the fruit of the Spirit . . . Why not ask?" So we asked. And our server Ben Abi shared the word. Recommend you do the same. Hey, it wasn't Katz's Deli, though we did feel we had nourished our souls.

• Flagstaff House: This place is the most expensive place to eat in Boulder, but gets so-so reviews (Four stars on Yelp, not in TripAdvisor's Top Ten Boulder Restaurants). I felt it wouldn't be prudent (at this juncture) to pay $128pp for the Chef's Tasting Menu and another $108pp for the Wine Pairing, but still wanted to check out the place and sample the great views (it's located halfway up Flagstaff Mountain, looking out over Boulder), so I did what I always do, sat at the bar. We arrived at about 5:30 pm, complimentary valet parked (required), proceeded to the bar, and quickly realized we were the first customers of the night.

The wife split off and took the opportunity to record the great views. We ordered cocktails: a New York Sour (a Whiskey Sour with a few drops of Port sprinkled on top - $14) and a Hippies Cup (a kombucha gin concoction - $14), engaged our bartender/sommelier Elizabeth in conversation about living on the Front Range (she lives in Evergreen) and the restaurant backstory (built in the 70s and run by third generation owners). I then asked her jokingly if she had a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year old. She did! And pointed to a large display case. I immediately went over to get a closer look, as I had never seen a bottle. I always thought it might be an urban legend like the aerial water bomber picking up scuba diver, the JATO Rocket Car, or economical first-class airfare, but there it was locked behind glass) and for $327, an ounce of it could be all mine. They also had the 15 and 20-year-old, but you know me . . . the best or do without . . . so I did without.

Back at the bar, Elizabeth informed me that they get one bottle a year and I went back to my New York Sour, which no longer tasted nearly as good. A few minutes later I noticed that "the bottle" was now sitting on the bar and being decanted into two rocks glasses. It was that close! Apparently the third customer that evening had purchased an ounce for herself and an ounce for her date (he's one lucky man). I briefly discussed with her Pappy folklore, She mentioned that she had acquired a taste for it from her Father. I didn't mention that I acquired a taste for Schaefer beer from mine. And suddenly she was offering us a sample! It all happened so fast and the sample size so small, I can't really remember what it tasted like. Instead, I just remember her generosity. I then heard my benefactor's date say something like "is this bourbon, should I put an ice cube in it?". He was drinking the Pappy and not me!? I could have cried.

- Open seven days a week for dinner only. Great views and photos from the terrace.

- If you make reservations for dinner, ask for the corner table facing Boulder (Winter seating #6).

• Hazel's Beverage World: The best liquor store I've ever patronized (in terms of quantity, quality, and price). Numerous knowledgeable associates, I overheard one reviewing the finer details of Scotch, and with no wait checkouts. The most extensive inventory of quality vermouths (the secret to a great Flackhattan) I've ever run across. All at great prices.

- Must be the only liquor store in the world that pays homage to the 1,078 W.A.S.P. pilots who flew over 60 million miles during WWII; they transported every type of military aircraft; towed targets for live anti-aircraft gun practice; simulated strafing missions and transported cargo. Thirty-nine WASP members lost their lives. The Men's Room pays homage with a little cheesecake. Some may be offended, but I have a feeling most WASP's wouldn't give a damn.

• bartaco: While taking a walk I found a wooden token for a free bartaco taco on the ground and therefore felt duty-bound to redeem it. While bartaco is a chain, it's not evident as it feels like most trendy restaurants do: open and airy, with large windows and a cool bar area, which is where I chose to redeem my good fortune. They do a fine margarita (made to order from scratch), but they salt the entire rim. "So, this is the point of the story where you criticize something?" you say. Well, what if you don't want salt, or just aren't sure? If the salt is only applied to 1/2 of the rim, then the imbiber can select the option that best suits their palate/mood. Hey, this ain't just me talking, but the world's greatest bartender.

- Many people dream about following a passion to start their own business. A dream of mine has always been to make money. I know what you're thinking . . . you have the same exact dream, but mine is to print/mint my own money. Something along the lines of Canadian Tire money, Disney dollars, or the bartaco taco token. People give you real money and in return, you give them your money. In bartaco's case, they give out tokens for various reasons, including to customers they just really like . . . so now I have another token for a free taco.

• St. Julian Hotel for Happy Hour: The swankiest hotel in town does a very nice happy hour every day from 4-6 pm. Get there early so you can get a comfortable seat in the lobby by the fireplace. How swanky is this place? When I was there, the lobby was suddenly overrun with a bunch of teenage boys wearing jackets & ties and girls wearing dresses & gloves! They had just finished having a cotillion (I'm not making this shit up!).

• Bagels: As a native New Yorker I always thought there were two types of bagels in this world. Bagels from NY and bagels not from NY. Now Einstein Bros. Bagels (28th & Canyon) does a fine job for a "not from NY" bagel, but in the end, it is just a "B-" bagel, lacking both size and chewiness. And after I finished eating my toasted garlic bagel with a cream cheese schmear, I felt like standing on the faux leather high-backed chair (that faced the faux stack stoned fireplace) and yelling "you philistines don't know what you're missing!!"

- But then I was informed by a New York to Boulder transplant that there was a Montreal Bagel and they "bageled" some right here in Boulder. As I'm a man of science, I needed to investigate further, was there a superior bagel out there?

- Montreal-style bagels have three things in common: They’re hand-rolled, boiled in honey water, and baked in a wood oven. Hand rolling sounded kind of gimmicky to me, though supposedly it’s because the dough is so dense a machine cannot roll them, the honey water provides sweetness and depth and I’m not sure about the wood oven angle. They also have larger holes than their NY competition.

- WoodGrain Bagel & Deli: It is the #1 Bagel in Boulder and only makes Montreal bagels, so I felt we were off to a good start. I ordered a poppy seed bagel with cream cheese, which was delivered to my table five minutes later (the hand delivery was a nice touch, though it took a while). They had toasted it, which the bagel purist in me found abhorrent. It looked and tasted just like the Einstein Bros. bagel I had eaten the previous week. No big whoop.


Mork and Mindy's House at 1619 Pine Street. Nanu nanu.

Jon Benet Ramsey's House at 749 15th Street. Wasn't sure whether to include this or not. Still not.

Los Seis de Boulder: If I asked you if Boulder ever experienced terrorism, you might look at me like I was stoned (see below). Boulder seems like a pretty idyllic place, sunshine over 300 days a year, low humidity, it exudes a hippy-dippy, crunchy granola suite vibe that says paradise (for white folks). As I was walking to Trader Joes (I knew there had to be one), I came across this, a mural (26th & Walnut) dedicated to the "Los Seis de Boulder", six Mexican American activists killed in two separate car bombings in Boulder, Colorado in 1974, possibly the result of rival Chicano factions (or they might have accidentally blown themselves up or the FBI did it). Unsolved to this day.

• Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA): There are two different types of contemporary museums in this world, those that include a Cézanne, a Pollack, a de Kooning, a Rothko, a Picasso, and of course a Calder, and those that contain temporary exhibits like this place: a blind debossed 8½x11 print of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (in both Español and Inglés), a hand made lace body bag and a paper mâché Rock suspended from the overhead (when I first saw it I thought it was real and was intrigued by how such a large rock could be safely suspended from wooden joists. When I realized it was paper mâché, I lost all interest). Go on a Saturday and avoid the $2 admission fee.

• Pearl Street Mall is a four-block-long outdoor pedestrian mall, that is rated #19 out of 267 things to do in Boulder on TripAdvisor (4.5 stars). Numerous shops selling coffee, beads, puzzles, gifts, books, craft beer, cocktails, food, gelato, Starbucks, snowboards, etc. As malls go, it's a nice mall, a nice mall, but it's just a mall, let's not get carried away here.

• Colorado University (CU) Campus: As campuses go, it's quite nice. The architecture is that stacked stone look that you will see all around Boulder.

- CU Natural History Museum: It's a shoebox of a museum, you would think such a large university with a rather renowned archeology department could do better. A significant portion of the museum was devoted to the Mahaffy Cache. I am sure you have wondered how Mesolithic migratory hunter-gatherers could transport the incredibly heavy stone tools required to kill and butcher prey. Well, many times they didn't. They would bury their stone tools when they moved on from an area and then dig them up upon their return. The Mahaffy Cache consists of 83 stone implements ranging from plate-sized, elegantly crafted bifacial knives and a unique tool resembling a double-bitted axe to small blades and flint scraps, that were buried in Boulder 13,000 years ago and just uncovered in 2008 on land owned by Patrick Mahaffy. There wasn't any money available to test the tools for DNA, which could provide invaluable information about the tools and thier history, so Mr. Mahaffy paid for the DNA analysis himself (he owns a software company, which in Boulder is as uncommon as you might think). One of the stones tested positive for camel DNA (camels roamed North America until 11,000 yrs ago).

- CU Art Museum: It's a shoebox of a museum. You would think that such a large university with a renowned art department would do a better job. To be honest, nothing to see here. • Day Trip to Nederland: Nederland is a small town located about 30 minutes west of Boulder. Founded in 1874 by a mining company from . . . The Netherlands. It subsequently fell on hard times when the gold played out and now is a staging area for skiing in the local area. It's a sprawling place that has a ghost town feel, helped by a giant abandoned steam shovel that helped build the Panama Canal and a seasonal mining museum. Some of the streets are paved, some are not, as are the sidewalks. A lot of buildings with few people. I kept expecting Marshall Dillon to appear in the middle of the street to quickdraw with The Boulder Kid. Salto Coffee Works is a good place for a coffee and a nosh or a beer and a taco.

Coffee: There are many fine coffee shops in Boulder: Alpine Modern, Ozo, and Beleza, but none of them stand out, except for Precision Pours in Louisville (pronounced “Lewisville”) and the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder.

- Precision Pours: It's located in a small unassuming house next to a creek, behind an office building. Trust me, looks can be deceiving. The owner Brice is thoroughly knowledgeable, offers a variety of coffee, and is a genuinely warm human being. He offered multiple blends, handcrafted a drip coffee just for me, and provided some insights into living in Louisville and Lafayette.

- Dushanbe Tea House: The building was a gift of the eponymous sister city of Boulder. Most of it was handcrafted in Tajikistan, then shipped to Boulder. The outside and inside are quite stunning and the place offers an extensive selection of tea, a solid menu of breakfast fare, and excellent service. I could easily imagine myself in a seer-sucker suit partaking in High Tea with the Maharaja of Jodhpur.

- Beleza Coffee Bar was also interesting, but only for the company. I met a fellow New Yorker Katy Gunn (great name) who was visiting Boulder. We discussed the results of a poll in which Republicans were asked to choose who was the best president, Trump or Lincoln. As she is a violinist/singer/songwriter I also asked if she had ever heard of my favorite violinist/songwriter Ara Malikian, she hadn’t, so I played her his rendition of Kashmir.

Cannabis: I know what you're thinkin'. Well, the Mike Flack brand consists of numerous qualities: wit, fidelity, punctuality, that I've never watched the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, or gotten high. And it still does.

Looks like Boulder didn't make the cut. Next stop, Denver (same great weather, with hopefully more grit, culture, and diversity).


  • Required Drinking: Coors Banquet. After all, it was the MacGuffin that set the movie Smokey and the Bandit in motion.

  • Required Listening: I was going to go with Rocky Mountain High by John Denver, but then decided to go with this.

  • Required Driving: A Subaru.

  • Don't forget to hydrate. It's dry up here.

Boulder, CO from Flagstaff Mountain

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Mar 26, 2020

Always a pleasure read. Anthony Bourdain meets Rick Steve’s. AAR is my go to travel resource!!

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