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Foodie Friday: Bruxie Opens First Fast-casual Gourmet Waffle Restaurant in Denver

To all those Paleo-lovin’, carb-hatin’ eaters:

Step aside because there’s a new kid in town and Bruxie’s fast-casual gourmet waffle restaurant may just make a convert out of you. This popular eatery opened their seventh location–and their first outside of California–in Denver last week.

Buttermilk fried chicken breast

Buttermilk fried chicken breast

I love waffles as much as the next person but I was unsure how they would translate into savory selections like the Bruxie Burger ($7.50) or the Prosciutto di Parma and Gruyere ($7.95). Then I rationalized that I love crepes in all forms so figured Bruxie Waffles was worth a try.

All the sandwiches are built on light, crisp, yeast-risen waffles. If this sounds overly indulgent, each waffle is 250 calories. To put this into perspective: Chipotle’s flour tortilla in their burritos is 300 calories so eat up!

The menu is jam-packed with quality seasonal ingredients, fresh produce and hand-made sauces. I went the more trendy route with the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Waffle with chili honey, apple slaw and Vermont maple syrup ($7.50) while my husband Jamie went for the day’s special: a Cuban “Medianoche” – slow-roasted pork shoulder layered with shaved ham, Gruyere cheese, sliced sour pickles and yellow mustard.

I chose the waffle-cut fries on the side while Jamie opted for the Caesar salad, which he said was too strong but I countered it had just the right kick of anchovies.

If you want to just order waffle-cut fries, you could go a step further and try a Canadian delicacy: poutine (crispy waffle fries with cheddar cheese curds and old-fashioned brown gravy for $7.95).

Irish Nachos

Irish Nachos

Or, if you’re like me, just eat off your friend’s Irish Nachos ($7.95) with their Bruxie Cheese sauce with applewood bacon, sour cream and chives and they’ll eventually bring you out your own, likely because they can’t have you bilking off other customers like that.

The kid’s menu ($4.95) is for kids ages 8 and younger with three waffle choices (cheesy, PB&J and s’mores) that includes a small drink, waffle fries or fruit. Another option is the kid’s Brussels waffle with whipped cream, berries and a drink. My 7-year-old son said it was “the most awesome PB&J ever” and my daughter thought we were kick-butt parents for letting her order s’mores for dinner. On a waffle, no less!

There are also healthy offerings with six different salads including the Bruxie Salad ($9.95) with grilled chicken, roasted mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, chives, argula and romaine, served with a lemon vinaigrette and balsamic reduction.

Crème brûlée waffle and Dulce de Leche custard shake

Crème brûlée waffle and Dulce de Leche custard shake

Dessert options are plentiful. Try the Liege Waffle with caramelized pearl sugar and optional nutella ($3.95) or the seasonal crème brûlée waffle ($6.50) with classic vanilla creme with burnt raw sugar, cram-packed with fresh strawberries. The real Wisconsin frozen custard was a huge hit and you can’t go wrong with the more than a dozen house-recipe shakes and float options. One of the chefs also highly recommended the Lemon Meringue “Pie” waffle with lemon cream, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows for $5.95.

So, why did the owners of Bruxie Waffles choose Denver for their first out-of-state expansion? “Shortly after we opened our first Bruxie in 2010, we realized it struck a chord who diners who craved bold, flavorful combinations,” says Founder Dean Simon.”I see Denver as one of the most food-centric cities in the country. We believe we have created something noteworthy and hope the people of Denver will agree.”

As we were walking out, I asked Jamie what was his favorite item on the menu.

“Yeah.”

I’ll take that as a “yes” vote.

Bruxie is located at 1000 S. Colorado Blvd, Glendale, CO, (303) 963-9045.

Iconic family-friendly Denver restaurant Casa Bonita celebrates 40 years

When the doors of the legendary Casa Bonita restaurant on West Colfax opened 40 years ago, Marilyn Carmosino was astounded by the line of people stretching down the block.

On Thurday, Carmosino, now 67, sat at a table overlooking the cliff diving pool with her 5-year-old grandson as Casa Bonita celebrated its 40th anniversary.

“I come because of nostalgia, and fabulous entertainment for the kids all in one place,” the lifelong Denver resident said.

(Craig F. Walker)

(Craig F. Walker)

Casa Bonita, draped in kitschy Mexican-themed decor, is famous for the same attractions today that it was four decades ago: a trouble-making gorilla, cliff divers leaping from the top of a 30-foot-tall indoor waterfall, the Old West gunfight and many other trademark features.

“Forty years in the world of restaurants is like 400 years in real life,” said Denver restaurant consultant John Imbergamo. “That’s an incredible accomplishment.”

Surviving four decades in an ever-shifting industry is a remarkable feat, but one that highlights a tried-and-true business strategy.

“One of the things we have found is that our customers really like to know what to expect,” general manager Mike Mason said. “We try to stay true to the formula.”

Mason has been around the place nearly as long as the bottomless sopapilla basket. Now in his 38th year as an employee, he fell in love with the place when visiting on his 15th birthday and applied for a job at age 16.

Business has been up about 10 percent related to the anniversary, officially March 27, Mason said.

With slim marketing resources, the restaurant’s fame continues to spread primarily through word-of-mouth.

The decor inside Casa Bonita has not changed much since this photo was taken in 1988. (John Prieto, The Denver Post file)

 (John Prieto)

It received a friendly boost from “South Park,” which featured Casa Bonita in an episode a decade ago. The show’s co-creators hail from Colorado, and Mason said they grew up with personal memories at the restaurant they described as “the Mexican Disneyland.” (The episode is included in the Denver A-Z exhibit at History Colorado.)

“Our demographics have changed slightly because of the ‘South Park’ episode,” Mason said. “We are now cool with the 18-25- year-olds.”

The 52,000-square-foot restaurant is divided into sections meant to evoke various regions of Mexico. Guests place their food order cafeteria-style, then go around an amusement park-like maze, following the promising music of a mariachi band and the sight of a man-made pool lined with faux tropical trees strung with festival lights.

The Casa Bonita concept got its start in Oklahoma, opening four locations in the Southwest. The Lakewood site was the most lavish and is the only one still open.

“You can understand how Casa Bonita survived the first 15 years, but now … you can eat Mexican food everywhere,” Imbergamo said. “So it has to be all about the entertainment.”

By Kristen Leigh Painter