2 Decades On, This Boulder, Colorado Institution Continues to Innovate with Elevated Southwestern Cuisine
In the competitive restaurant world, not all survive for the long-term. Boulder, Colorado’s Zolo Grill, however, is one notable exception, having developed a loyal following of its seasonal cuisine since 1994.
The ambiance of this restaurant is part pueblo-inspired (the ceiling is decorated with real tree branches) and part rustic-contemporary with dark woods and colorful artwork lining the walls. Either way, the atmosphere is casual and families will enjoy dining here.
With more than 175 tequilas and an enthusiastic mixologist, you won’t have any trouble finding a brand or cocktail that suits your taste — from their popular Zolorita (house) Margarita to coin varieties made from El Charro 100 percent agave.
Part of what makes Zolo Grill such a Boulder staple is its variety of seasonal dishes combined with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. CIA-trained executive chef Justin Goerich makes most of his menu items from scratch, including chorizo sausage, ribs, salsas, and desserts.
Attention to detail, beautiful presentation and gourmet touches are all part of the Zolo experience.
Starters include the queso fundido made with warm queso and Poblano chiles, served with chips, flour tortillas, and savory red pepper jam. The jam, in particular, is what makes this dish, according to manager Jen Soranson, who said “there would be a riot if they ever took that off the menu.”
The most popular entrees include their chicken enchiladas with three smoked cheeses (gouda, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack), achiote rice, pinto beans, and choice of red, green, or Christmas chili sauce.
Another signature dish is Zolo’s butternut squash and Poblano tamales with caramelized Brussel sprouts, sage brown butter, and apple chipotle chutney. You can order this with a side of their slow-cooked and tender barbecue beef brisket.
If you still have room for dessert, try their banana cream pie topped with loads of whipped cream, chocolate, caramel and almond crunch.
Well-run restaurants reveal themselves not only in the food they serve but also in the wait staff. Here they are friendly and attentive with some members having worked there for more than a decade. You might also hear about something called “Zolo Love,” a term that doesn’t seem to be a hyperbole but genuine affection they have for each other and the customers they serve.