friends + burgers

Our neighborhood is undergoing massive changes. Store front after store front is coming up for sale, mostly being replaced by bars and restaurants. It’s sad. It’s exciting. It’s controversial. But when it’s 5pm and I haven’t planned any dinner, it is quite nice to have more food options within walking distance.

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Last week, we were lucky enough to have a good friend visiting, and a future family member in town as well, so we all met up and went to dinner at Royal Burger. We’d been a few times before, but I think they’ve finally hit their stride. We got there around 6 (a.k.a. baby hour, as shown by the baby present in every other party at the restaurant), and by 6:30 the entire place was packed. They have great burgers, solid fries, and decadent floats, as well as delicious salads. Another key to their success is that they’ve managed to strike a nice balance between casual and hip, making it a great place to grab a bite no matter who you are.

One thing to note: all of their burgers are cooked medium well unless you specify otherwise. Our server didn’t even ask. (She was just a teeny tiny bit surly though, so perhaps it was her?)

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DSC06879^^”the turk” with beef instead of turkey. (i ordered the veggie, which was good, but not something i’d get again.)^^

DSC06889^^i was quite pleased slash surprised that she chose edamame over fries with her kids meal!^^

DSC06892^^so happy to have marret in denver!^^

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great chinese food in denver?

Do you know how hard it is to find a decent Chinese dumpling in the United States? It’s hard. Really hard. And once you’ve had a real deal dumpling, you can never go back. Don’t even try to serve me your thick-skinned, meatball-y center nonsense.

Obviously, there are good dumplings to be had in New York City. In California. In Seattle. There is great Chinese food all over the world. But there’s a lot of really bad Chinese food too.

I’d pretty much given up on the idea that I could get really, REALLY good Chinese food in Denver. I had, however, heard there was a good place in Boulder: Zoe Ma Ma. I kept meaning to get up there to try it out…

But then, a second Zoe Ma Ma opened by Union Station. Score! Last weekend we took the bus down there (yay public transit and no carseats!) for an early dinner.

DSC06814^^fun decor! and yes, it’s empty. but it was also 4pm on a sunday.^^

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It was good. Really good. The owner, Edwin, was welcoming and friendly. His goal with Zoe Ma Ma is to celebrate his mother’s cooking (周妈妈 Zhōu māmā = Mama Zhou!). I gather they have roots in both Taiwan and northern China, and that’s the food they’re serving. Northern Chinese classics and some other crowd pleasers.

DSC06824^^炸酱面 zhá jiàng miàn^^

DSC06826^^红烧牛肉面 Hóngshāo niúròu miàn – Braised Beef Noodles^^

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Zoe Ma Ma nailed it. Homestyle Chinese food with high-quality ingredients. Everything is made to order and tastes fresh and delicious. I can’t wait to go back.

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Oh and the dumplings? Fantastic.

winter weekend :: crested butte

Willa’s first vacation was to the Black Hills, South Dakota. Last month, Cameron went on his first, to Crested Butte.

We were so excited to have a weekend away from the city, and Crested Butte is such an idyllic Colorado ski town. We’d been once before, and were excited to get back there to enjoy snow, skiing, and a lot of bacon. (Okay the bacon wasn’t exactly planned or essential, but we bought some and ate it for breakfast. Everyday. So it wouldn’t go to waste. Worse things could happen. And yay for a VRBO with good pans!)

Cameron was a bit too busy being cocooned in his fleece inside the baby carrier to participate in much of the winter fun that CB has to offer, but I think he had a nice time nonetheless. And the rest of us had a wonderful time, so it was by all counts a success!

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DSC06652^^our rental house // the view of the butte^^

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IMG_8651^^i was thrilled to have a chance to get out on the slopes despite cameron’s bottle woes and thanks to help from my mother-in-law who joined us for the weekend (thanks again!). we debated whether or not to have willa try out skiing, but we ultimately decided to wait until next year. she had plenty of fun just playing in the snow!^^

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DSC06708^^the town of crested butte is great. to me, it’s what i’ve always pictured when i thought of a colorado ski town. our rental house was easy walking distance to the main part of town, and one night we went to the brick oven pizzeria and pub. they had decent pizza and great beers on draft. (we’d actually wanted to go to the secret stash, where we’d been a few years ago, but we didn’t realize they’d changed locations.)^^

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DSC06739^^walk home after dinner. CB, you pretty.^^

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DSC06780^^such fun in the snow! (the snow was not that fun, however, when we had to drive home through monarch pass. that pass, man. scares me every time.)^^