Cafe Aion and Centro introduce dueling paella nights

Paella, with its chunks of hearty meat and rice infused with spices culled from the warm climes of the Mediterranean, sounds pretty damn good in the dead of winter. And doubly so when paired with a bottle of wine.

Which must be why two different restaurants in Boulder are suddenly offering a paella/wine deal on Wednesday nights.

Three weeks ago, Cafe Aion, 1235 Pennsylvania Avenue in Boulder, decided to lure locals up the Hill with a Wednesday night deal: a big platter of paella and a bottle of wine for $35, no matter how many people join the party (the platter feeds two to four).

The idea was to get people to the eatery on a normally slower night of the week. "We didn't want to offer a fixed price menu, because we're not really that kind of restaurant," says Dakota Soifer, Aion's chef-owner. "We thought paella would be a good way to get the neighborhood in to hang out and share dinner."

As a bonus, the deal has fueled culinary creativity. "It's been a fun way for us to experiment with different meats," the chef offers. "We're doing rabbit and almond next week."

And now Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, 950 Pearl Street in Boulder, is offering its own paella deal on Wednesday nights. The promotion is called Date Night, and it comprises paella for two people plus a bottle of wine for $30, with an additional $12 per additional person.

Is it a coincidence that two Boulder restaurants are now offering paella specials? Could be, since Centro's sibling in Denver, Lola, at 1575 Boulder Street, has been offering a paella deal on Sunday nights for years. That special runs $16 per person, and $13 for each additional diner.

Reservations are recommended at all three spots.

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