Most people are a little hesitant when they walk into Paradise Bakery for the first time. It's missing all those little things that people identify with the retail buying experience: bakery cases, counters, a cash register. All there is on the other side of the door is a working bakery full of bread ovens, stainless work tables and Michael Bortz -- head baker and one of the most knowledgeable bread guys we've ever met. But trust us: You can walk right in. Bortz wants you to. He wants you to get flour on your shoes and the smell of yeast in your nose. He wants you to have a personal connection with your bread, to see where it comes from and who's making it. Whether you're just after a couple of his powerfully fragrant rosemary boules, a dozen crusty baguettes or one of Bortz's specialty breads (like his decadent, dark and sinfully sweet sour cherry and chocolate loaves), Paradise has real flour power.
Easily overlooked in the Russian Plaza strip mall, the oddly named, unassuming California Bakery does things with pastry that should probably be illegal, they're so good. Operating primarily for the benefit of the local ex-pat Eastern European community, this bakery stocks many baked goods you'll never see at your run-of-the-mill neighborhood spot. Fortunately, since all of the wares are right there staring you in the face, all you have to do is pick something that looks good and point. Among the don't-miss items: little horns filled with light-as-air pastry cream, dark and powerful tiramisu, flaky, layered squares of dough and sweet sabayon, and the absolute best piroshkis we've ever tasted.
Easily overlooked in the Russian Plaza strip mall, the oddly named, unassuming California Bakery does things with pastry that should probably be illegal, they're so good. Operating primarily for the benefit of the local ex-pat Eastern European community, this bakery stocks many baked goods you'll never see at your run-of-the-mill neighborhood spot. Fortunately, since all of the wares are right there staring you in the face, all you have to do is pick something that looks good and point. Among the don't-miss items: little horns filled with light-as-air pastry cream, dark and powerful tiramisu, flaky, layered squares of dough and sweet sabayon, and the absolute best piroshkis we've ever tasted.

Best Place to Watch TV While Waiting in the Checkout Line

Avanza

Yes, reading is an important and entertaining activity. The written word helps to remind us of the complexity of our fascinating world, even when we're bored out of our gourds. And yet there are many instances when reading is inappropriate. You should never read while driving, swimming, lovemaking or (dare we suggest it) standing in the checkout line of a grocery store. Sure, we've all tried it, what with all those magazines teasing with their headlines and maddening lack of numbered pages -- and then comes the frantic flipping to find the desired story (about the paralyzed office worker who commutes by hand dolly), the frustrated failure and the hurried stuffing into the wrong slot of the display rack because suddenly it's time to check out. Save yourself the torture by shopping at Avanza, where checkout-line boredom is chased away with America's favorite pastime: TV! Depending on your preferred shopping hours, you can enjoy fine broadcast programs that range from deportes (weekends), to Sala de Parejas (weekdays), to Primer Impacto (weekday evenings). Save the People to read at work.

Best Place to Watch TV While Waiting in the Checkout Line

Avanza

Yes, reading is an important and entertaining activity. The written word helps to remind us of the complexity of our fascinating world, even when we're bored out of our gourds. And yet there are many instances when reading is inappropriate. You should never read while driving, swimming, lovemaking or (dare we suggest it) standing in the checkout line of a grocery store. Sure, we've all tried it, what with all those magazines teasing with their headlines and maddening lack of numbered pages -- and then comes the frantic flipping to find the desired story (about the paralyzed office worker who commutes by hand dolly), the frustrated failure and the hurried stuffing into the wrong slot of the display rack because suddenly it's time to check out. Save yourself the torture by shopping at Avanza, where checkout-line boredom is chased away with America's favorite pastime: TV! Depending on your preferred shopping hours, you can enjoy fine broadcast programs that range from deportes (weekends), to Sala de Parejas (weekdays), to Primer Impacto (weekday evenings). Save the People to read at work.
Boulder Co-op Market
Some would say Only in Boulder, but we say About time! The old populist/hippie notion of mixing business and community is back at the Boulder Co-op Market, where members, who pitch in by paying an annual fee (after ten years, you're eligible for a lifetime membership), run the show and have a say in both how the store is run and what items it stocks. The emphasis, though, is on bulk foods and locally produced items, from fresh produce to soaps; the co-op also features a vegetarian cafe and serves as community hub by offering yoga classes, film nights, poetry readings and other activities.
Some would say Only in Boulder, but we say About time! The old populist/hippie notion of mixing business and community is back at the Boulder Co-op Market, where members, who pitch in by paying an annual fee (after ten years, you're eligible for a lifetime membership), run the show and have a say in both how the store is run and what items it stocks. The emphasis, though, is on bulk foods and locally produced items, from fresh produce to soaps; the co-op also features a vegetarian cafe and serves as community hub by offering yoga classes, film nights, poetry readings and other activities.


There was a time in Rockwellian America when things were simpler, when reality TV was The Ed Sullivan Show, when the bad guys were all Russians and screenwriters, and when the soda fountain was the focal point of wholesome teenage activity. Those halcyon days may have gone the way of Ovaltine, hula hoops and the living wage, but you can still find a genuine soda fountain in downtown Lyons. The Lyons Soda Fountain and Bakery has been in operation since 1921, and current owner David Chilson keeps tradition alive by offering old-time malts, shakes and fountain drinks, as well as more contemporary espresso drinks. The food (sandwiches, pizza and pies) is fine, but it's the nostalgia of the soda fountain drinks that makes this a required stop on the road to Estes Park.
There was a time in Rockwellian America when things were simpler, when reality TV was The Ed Sullivan Show, when the bad guys were all Russians and screenwriters, and when the soda fountain was the focal point of wholesome teenage activity. Those halcyon days may have gone the way of Ovaltine, hula hoops and the living wage, but you can still find a genuine soda fountain in downtown Lyons. The Lyons Soda Fountain and Bakery has been in operation since 1921, and current owner David Chilson keeps tradition alive by offering old-time malts, shakes and fountain drinks, as well as more contemporary espresso drinks. The food (sandwiches, pizza and pies) is fine, but it's the nostalgia of the soda fountain drinks that makes this a required stop on the road to Estes Park.


No one in Denver has a wine palate quite like Pete Marczyk who, along with wife Barbara MacFarlane, has made Marczyk Fine Foods and Wine one of the great additions to the Denver landscape last year. Humbly claiming to be a wine neophyte himself, Marczyk personally samples every vintage that comes into his store, bravely tasting all the good, the bad and the ugly that the wine world has to offer before deciding whether it deserves a space on his shelves. This means that you could walk into Marczyk's wine shop blindfolded, pick a bottle at random and still be confident that you'll walk out with something good. What's more, Marczyk has arranged his shelves not by grape or growing region, but by what food each bottle would go best with, so you never have to worry again about embarrassing yourself by bringing a Zinfandel to a wienie roast or a spicy Shiraz to a tea party. And even if, after all of this, you still can't decide? Just ask: The only thing Marczyk likes more than tasting his stock is talking about it, and all humility aside, this guy really knows his grapes.

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