I had a boyfriend in high school with the savant-like ability to flip a word on its side and pronounce it by its backward spelling, and fast. I can never seem to line up the letters that quickly; lucky for me, beer is a four-letter word, so REEB, Oskar Blues’ bike outfit, rolls off my tongue like flowy singletrack, just the stuff that Dale and the rest of the OB gang want you to get out and rip on. Preferably before — or after; hell, this is Colorado — you stop by Cyclhops, their new taco and tequila CANtina in Longmont.
Cyclhops opened its shiny new doors — everything in the restaurant is brand spankin’ new — to the sounds of Latin band Chicha and the clinks of cocktail glasses on New Year’s Eve. It is the fifth OB establishment in Boulder County, and the fourth in the burgeoning bike and beer hub that is Longmont. The space occupies a long-cursed location in the shopping center at the southeast corner of Nelson and Airport Roads, but, if recent crowds and their penchant for crafty brews, bikes, and street-inspired Mexican food are any indication, the skull flags outside of Cyclhops will be waving for muchos anos mas.
I know, this is a food and drink blog, but a quick bit about bikes (because bikes matter here): Oskar Blues, in addition to letting the world know it was ok for craft beer and aluminum to get hitched, is also in the throes of a sweaty love affair with bicycles. The relationship has become integral to the company culture — from the success of their bike brand REEB to their partnerships with groups such as Boulder Mountainbike Alliance and Bicycle Longmont. Cyclhops will serve as the showroom for REEB Cycles as well offer a meeting place and bike shop for any set of wheels, as long as the mechanics deem them safe for operation. One example of OB’s unwavering support of cycling in our community? They’ll stock Cyclhops’ very own bike parts vending machine with tubes and lube, with all profits going to Bicycle Longmont, the uber-energetic local non-profit. ColoRADical stuff, en mi opinion.
Foodwise, Cyclhops makes a sweeping departure from the typical OB’s cajun-inspired bar food and offers diners a different kind of “Southern” experience — one steeped in salsa and cilantro. The menu continues to evolve as the restaurant gains footing but currently centers around six taco options, all unique versions of Mexican classics: fish, carne asada, roasted pork ‘pibil’, chorizo, chicken tinga, and sweet potato with green chile. You get to choose whether to stuff this stuff into a corn or flour tortilla, or into a soft slider bun to make a torta. Three for $8, or $3 apiece. Also, be sure to ask about the “taco of the day” ’cause it might be something awesome and delicious like sauteed portabella mushroom.
Sides are fairly standard: black beans, refried beans, rice, and queso, to name a few. A personal favorite is the pickled jalepenos; they are so SoCal. Also on offer are “CyclNachos,” a pile of house-fried corn chips (the tortillas are handmade in the ‘hood) topped with guac, salsa, and your choice of chorizo, carne asada, or chicken tinga. If you need to pair them with something a bit “healthier,” opt for the kick-ass “Cesar Millan” salad and a cup or bowl of steaming posole soup. Your abuela would approve.
Now, on to dessert. And by dessert, I mean alcohol. Am I the only one whose brain works this way in the winter? Cyclhops does offer food-based dessert (sopapillas and tres leches cake, made in-house), as well as delicious organic coffee, but do not underestimate the medicinal properties of a smooth anejo tequila or creamy imperial stout to settle a full belly. The bar at Cyclhops offers both of these and more; in fact, you can choose from no less than 43 tequilas (including a few bottles of mezcal), 20 draught beers, various canned beers (if you must have a Corona with your taco… and, yes, they copied OB and can beer, too), and quite a few locally-distilled spirits (Lyons’ Spirit Hounds gin, and Loveland’s Dancing Pines bourbon, for example). The bartenders are muy guapos, muy intelligentes, and will let you taste anything you’re thinking about ordering.
Thus far, the only missing piece of the taco-tequila-cold beer trinity at Cyclhops is the sunshiney warmth that many folks prefer as the backdrop for such fare. Although the floors of Cyclhops have lately seen more snow than sand tracked in, that’s likely to change as soon as the winter winds die down. Garage-style doors will open to the South and West so that diners can enjoy their margaritas with a breath of fresh air. While we may lack a Caribbean sunset to sail into after dinner, pedaling a REEB westward into the foothills sounds like paradise to me.