And now Knowlton is back with his nominees for the 50 Best New Restaurants in the United States -- restaurants, he says, that are "changing the way we eat in 2012." Among his picks are a trio of local dining meccas: Linger, Pinche Taqueria and Pizzeria Locale, the last of which is hardly new, considering it opened in Boulder a year and a half ago, in January 2011. Then again, Knowlton obviously has a hard-on for Boulder.
In any case, he'll narrow the roster of fifty down to ten and announce those restaurants, along with his choice for the best new restaurant in America, on August 14.
In the meantime, here's what Knowlton has to say about Linger, Pinche and Pizzeria Locale.
Pinche Taqueria 1514 York Street 720-475-1337 pinchetacos.com
Tacos are having a moment--both the traditional and the inventive varieties. Chef Kevin Morrison does both at his new brick-and-mortar spot, which means that fans no longer have to track down his taco truck for an asada (sweet-and-sour pork belly) fix.
Look For: Surf & Turf tacos (lengua and fried shrimp); chilaquiles (at brunch)
We Love: The extensive list of tequilas features dozens of choices, from blancos to three-year-aged añejos.
Linger 2030 West 30th Avenue 303-993-3120 lingerdenver.com
I'll admit that a menu that includes everything from ceviche and spring rolls to dosa and kofte sounds like culinary ADD, but the gutsy, globe-hopping street food is focused and expertly prepared. Above all else, this place is a good time--and even those pesky vegans (kidding!) will have plenty of options.
Look For: Sesame BBQ tacos; "pho-real" spring roll
We Love: Formerly a mortuary, the space features bar tables that were allegedly built from old casket-rollers.
Pizzeria Locale 1730 Pearl Street Boulder, 303-442-3003 pizzerialocale.com
What did we do before bona fide pizza napoletana came to America? I ask myself that question whenever I'm eating at spots like the pizzeria from Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey (who also run nearby Frasca Food and Wine).
Look For: "Mais" pizza: mozzarella di bufala, sweet corn, crème fraîche, and prosciutto cotto
We Love: A dough-proofing box ensures that the temperature and humidity match those in Naples. The 1,000-degree, hand-built brick oven is pretty cool, too.