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New Element to Explore

Boiled down, an ideal dinner or cocktail out has three essential elements: location, product, and atmosphere.

The new Element Bistro in Gunbarrel has hit fairly high marks on these goals in its first month. The location is unique– amid the trees and birds above the suburban traffic. The cocktail list is extensive and food menu creative, and progress is expected as they refine their focus. The greatest room for improvement lies in the atmosphere, which shows potential for a bright future once the Element decides what it wants to be.

The Element’s opening in August brought a new “high-rise” to the three-story Gunbarrel skyline and the revitalized former lumber yard at the corner of 63rd Avenue and Lookout Road. The eatery straddles the realms of chic cocktail lounge and upscale dining venue, boasting a broad southwest-facing rooftop space. The open-air lounge-cum-dining area offers a fusion of Boulder’s Pearl Street and Puerto Nuevo, Mexico with geometric rattan, oxidized iron, and stainless steel furniture, while still open to a casual atmosphere embodied by pale grey beanbags slung amid tea tables and lounge games.

View from Element roof top

View from Element roof top

The view makes the case though with unrivaled vantage toward iconic Boulder foothills, the rugged Rocky Mtn. background, and the commercial artery of the Diagonal Highway. While Gunbarrel was emerging before the Element arrived, the bistro’s introduction puts a bright light on the potential for this corner of Boulder County.

Under the ever-watchful eye of co-owner and manager Eric Lee, the Element menu brims with impressive selections, albeit tipping toward cocktails more than food at the moment (and a limited local beer list at that). Dinner specials are still a short list, as the kitchen develops its rhythm. The standard fare menu also takes patience; its non-traditional categories not immediately intuitive, e.g., “hand held”=sandwiches and wraps, and “basic elements” = entrees.

Savory spiced BBQ elk tacos

Savory spiced BBQ elk tacos

Nevertheless, among the more inviting entrees, the Bar-B-Que Elk Tacos leave nothing to be desired. Two amble flour tortillas come laden with richly spiced ground elk, topped lightly with colorful mixed cabbage slaw and soft crumbled chèvre. The side of pico de gallo is bright and aromatic, bringing a balance of heat and sweet to the dish. Quixotically, fries come on the side as well, though the dish is complete without them.

For the more adventurous, the Chicken and Grits and Pork Tenderloin entrees deliver creative interpretations on these well-known dishes. The chicken, a Cajun-spiced quarter with a golden leg rising from a fluffy bed of seasoned corn grits, melts on the tongue with a savory butter sauce. (Be sure to check whether the leg is done close to the bone!) The tenderloin is served on a platter reminiscent of the profile of a pork side or caldera, drizzled in warm brandy demi glaze, an auburn mashed sweet potato pillow and a savory apple sweet potato fritter.

Chicken and grits

Chicken and grits

Space is tight and the sun bright on the Element roof, and though service staff makes the most of the opportunity, the space is principally a cocktail lounge. The bar is well-stocked, but overburdened with televisions and pop music. The high tables are suited for small plates and drinks, rather than embracing the elbow room appreciated in a dining venue. Some of the dishes during our visit were undercooked and haphazardly plated, suggesting a kitchen still synching.

As the front and back of this house work through these start-up kinks, and the venue determines its true identity, the Element Bistro’s potential will emerge. Nevertheless, whether settling in as a suburban gem with a unique rooftop experience, or a chic cocktail venue above a bustling streetscape, as its elements align, it is staged to be an ideally spot for a drink or nosh after a day on the Res.

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4 CO breweries + East Coast IPA + Juicy goodness + Haze = Robot Librarian

It sounds extremely complicated but it isn’t. Four Colorado brewing aficionados of the sometimes hazy, always fruit-forward or tropical style of IPA that was popularized in New England are bracing themselves for a craft beer collab of epic awesomeness. Robot Librarian is the output of the brain activity of Lafayette’s Odd13 Brewing Company owner Ryan Scott, […]

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Redstone Meadery delivers ‘Mead for the Masses’ for past 15 years

There is no denying that Boulder’s craft industry is thriving. People are willing to support local, specifically in regard to “craft” wines, beers and spirits, but what some aren’t discussing are the thriving cideries and meaderies who are gaining popularity in the arena, as more folks explore alternatives to beer in the modern craft movement. […]

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Boulder’s West End Tavern delivers big, bold flavors on BBQ & Bourbon

Spring is here and beer and bourbon are flowing at The West End Tavern, a great place to start if you’re looking for a stiff drink and a piece of meat in Boulder. With 25 taps and 75 whiskeys on the menu, ordering can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily for you, we’re here to walk you […]

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Say “Howdy” to the new Post cans

The Post Brewing Co. has been a local favorite since it opened its doors in January 2014. Guests enjoy the ambiance, made from scratch meals, community feel and of course–the beers. The Post’s Brewmaster, Bryan Selders, has created several award-winning beers over the last year and a half. Both the Meathooks Session Ale and Townie […]

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A Whisky Story from Colorful (Lyons) Colorado

In the frenzied early morning hours of the flood, we got word that someone was trapped over at the distillery. As we debated putting kayaks into the swirling waters of the St. Vrain–then as wide as Highway 36–someone suggested that if anyone was stuck over there, he had plenty to drink and would probably fare just […]

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Sugarbeet Restaurant – Eclectic New American Cuisine

Neatly tucked in just shy of southwest Old Town Longmont, The Sugarbeet Restaurant is an eclectic blend of chef-prepared New American Cuisine, cocktails and fine wines in a destination which will entice and attract even the most selective foodie away from Boulder. Downtown parking issues and congestion are replaced with a high quality, small town […]

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Familiar Yet Unique: Under the Sun

In 1993, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery opened its doors on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder. The vision behind this new establishment was to provide excellent food and freshly brewed beer in an environment centered around community, comfort and conversation. Apparently, that idea appealed not only to Mountain Sun’s founders but to the community as […]

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Best Wine Bars Near Pearl Street in Boulder

Wood floors, exposed brick, salumi, cheese and the echoes of clinking crystal stemware, the Boulder wine scene is the cure for the Colorado wine enthusiast who may be seeking an alternative to the wonderful and plentiful craft brew scene. The smashed grape elixir, in its many manifestations, can be found in, around and off the […]

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Tequila 101: Slow Down and Smell the Agave

As we walked into the swirly snow outside, a hint of tequila on our tongues, my friend proclaimed that she was going to the liquor store to buy a bottle of añejo.  I’d say her proclamation was testament to a good “tasting.” Zolo Grill has offered Tequila 101 a few times over the years, and […]

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Tequila 101 @ Zolo Grill

Having just returned from the great Mexican state of Jalisco, I can think of nothing better to do on a snowy Saturday afternoon that sip tequila. This Saturday, February 21 at 2:30pm, our friends at Zolo Grill are offering “Tequila 101,” an educational and culinary tasting experience featuring Corzo tequila.  Like any tequila-maker worth its […]

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A Parliament of Good People

Lets do it.  Lets try to put our finger on the je ne sais quoi, try to define the intangible.  Wait, reverse that.  Since my first intimate encounter with Sanitas Brewing back in December of 2013, this brewery has worked its talons into my life and many of my close relationships.  A former employer and […]

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Passport to New Pubs and New Drinks in Boulder

A few days ago I met Eat Drink Boulder’s co-founder Paul for Happy Hour. I suggested meeting at 5:00 PM at the new License Number One pub which recently replaced the Catacombs bar under the Boulderado. Arriving at 4:55, Paul checked it out and was waiting outside when I arrived five minutes later. “It doesn’t […]

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Ella, a New and Decidedly American Style Eatery Looks to Transform North Boulder

This June, Ella, a refined and devotedly American diner, will open in the heart of North Boulder. The spot currently occupied by Radda Trattoria will soon be home to the new eatery. Edwin Zoe, the restauranteur and mastermind behind the beloved Zoe Ma Ma on Pearl Street channels his “love of rooted, regional dishes” into […]

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A Guide to Another Year of Devoted Drinking this National Margarita Day

Tomorrow, February 22nd, marks National Margarita Day once again. The tart and assertive citrus notes work so brilliantly with a nice aggressive bite of tequila. We all know that this refreshing concoction is a necessary element to our warm, dry summer evenings here in Boulder, but I have to say that no matter the weather, […]

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Tequila, Tacos, Bikes, and Beer: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

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 […]

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Fate: The Third Element

When I go out with Gabe, we need three things: we need a noisy pub, we need beer, and we need burgers. Decent ambiance and tasty sides never amiss either. Fate has these in spades: one of the newest breweries in Boulder’s lively scene, it has a lot to answer to in all these areas. […]

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Volta Knows Best?

SSSPLATT!!!  Paint flung hits canvas and bystanders alike.  The mad artist dashes over and swirls the colors, using her hair and elbows as a brush.  Finally, she staples a banana peel to the canvas, signs her name with a flourish and says, “Perfect!” There is something cool about an artist out to please themselves without […]

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The Rio Boulder Debuts New Shift Bar

  The Riogrande has opened a new concept bar within the existing industrial space on Walnut Street in Boulder. The first phase of  The Rio’s renovation includes the rooftop bar and the brand new “Shift Bar” inhabiting a newly renovated prime location, hovering above the main dining area on the mezzanine level, just removed enough […]

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Mixology Makes a Comeback: New Documentary, Hey Bartender, Screens at The Dairy Center

After premiering at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin this past March, the documentary film, Hey Bartender, was similarly well received in New York City at The East Village Cinema! We are proud to announce that the film will be screening this week in Boulder at the Dairy Center for the Arts from […]

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Come for the Burritos, Stay for the Margs?

There is something slightly unsettling about hanging out and drinking in a fast casual restaurant.  Does your “not cool” alarm sound at the thought of having a glass of wine at Burger King or a piña colada at Long John Silver’s?  Mine too, but it bears examination because Chipotle is now serving very respectable margaritas at […]

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Roundhouse Spirits; stop in for a spell.

The grizzled old timer has five randomly spaced teeth, he’s sitting on a bucket spewing country wisdom as he recklessly whittles at break-neck pace, wood shavings and chaw flying everywhere.  He’s often featured in this reality show, Moonshiners, and the way he talks, pronouncing “tired” as “tard”, “me” as “may” and law enforcement as the […]

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Deerhammer Distillery Will Leave You in Good Spirits

In case you missed it, spirits are back.  There was a dreary period, let’s call it the 80’s and 90’s when it seemed to be all about beer and wine.  Who doesn’t love beer and wine, right?  But sometimes you hanker for something more sophisticated, potent and exotic.  Hell, beer and wine are doing just […]

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Merry ‘Tails: Local Table Tours Does Holiday Cocktails

Back in March, after EDB sent Christy to the Boulder’s Best Mixology Contest, she came back with such an enticing report from the Boulder drink scene that I’ve been hoping for another chance to review cocktails for this publication. So when we were invited last month to join Local Table Tours‘ excursion through three downtown drinking […]

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Master Cocktailier Bryan Dayton at Oak at Fourteenth

If you are like me, you might think of the restaurant at Oak at Fourteenth as an upscale yet casual dining establishment. That it is. But if that is all you consider it, you would be missing out on an excellent experience: drinking cocktails at the bar made by proprietor and “Beverage Guy” Bryan Dayton. […]

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Tastes on the Terrace at The Flagstaff House; You Won’t Soon Forget

Leafing through a forgotten cookbook, a recipe from your childhood falls out on yellowed parchment; you make it and it tastes like home, flooding your senses with nostalgia and comfort.  An old friend calls, and your breath hitches as you recall fond memories.  You pull a pair of missing jeans out from behind the dresser […]

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Pearl Street Culinary Connector Tour

Culinary Connectors was started in November of 2008 when now president, Becky Creighton, woke up one day and realized she hated her job.  She thought, “If I could design a job, what would it be?”  She decided it would be something with her favorite things: food, wine and people.  She decided to leave her well […]

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Scotch me up, Beamie!

Is there a season for scotch drinking?  Should there be?  Maybe a national holiday, called, oh, I don’t know…National Scotch Drinking Day?  Maybe just simply “Scotchy Scotch Days.”  If there were such a celebration, the fest known as Scotch & Wild Game, held on April 28th, at the West End Tavern (Pearl, between 9th and […]

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The No Name Bar Brings Craft Beer to the University Hill

“I’m serious, this bar has no name”. The bouncer, the owner, the bartenders, the waitresses and the regulars all stuck with the same story. They all work and play in a mysterious nameless bar that even Columbus and his dependable compass would not have been able to find. I got lucky. Thankfully, the familiar vocals […]

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Peppermint; Better Than Prozac

The thing with good peppermint is this: it somehow gives you hope for a better day.  The potent blast of crisp, astringent flavor; the curious and powerful tang as you breathe in; the slightly dizzying “Am I high?” feeling as you exhale.  It’s all part of the nobility and mysterious restorative magic of mint. Don’t […]

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James Taylor, Salt, and an Education

[Editor’s Note: when our writer attended the Boulder’s Best Mixology contest several weeks ago, he took issue with how innovative he found Salt’s winning cocktail. in response, Matthew and Christy were invited by Salt’s Beverage Director Evan Faber to hear him talk about his vision for drinks and the innovative approaches he is taking to mixing […]

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Bitter Bar, Boulder, Colorado

Mixmasters

Don’t let Michael Cerretani’s relaxed demeanor and warm smile fool you: the guy is a killer craftsman, as adept with a cocktail shaker as a carpenter with a jigsaw. Tell him your mood, and he’ll fix you up with the perfect spirit, a birdhouse for your fluttering soul. The Bitter Bar is the re-incarnation of […]

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Bourbon for Breakfast

Video Recipe: Tangled up in Bloom “Do you want to drink this?” It’s 9:45am on a Thursday morning, I have a dentist appointment in 15 minutes, and Caroline Johnson (the Bar Manager at West End Tavern) is offering me a bourbon drink she calls “Tangled up in Bloom”.  Mmmmmm…bourbon for breakfast. The new Wheaties. And […]

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