Larimer Square's Bubu
is the love child of restaurateur Troy Guard and fast casual dining — and it's just what the downtown strip needed: quick, delicious and healthy meals in a multitude of mix-and-match options for almost any palate. Bubu's menu — from Mexican to Thai to Californian — is not limited to just one style of cuisine, and all of those styles can be made vegetarian. Self-proclaimed as “The Fresh Revolution,” with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, the establishment is definitely a game changer when it comes to the downtown business lunch rush. Gone are the days of a mediocre 3,000-calorie burrito or a sad salad from a chain down the street.
Bubu's cubbyhole location below street level looks a little cramped, but tables turn over quickly. It’s a great place to stop in for a quick solo bite or to grab lunch with a colleague. With dishes so nice, I had to try it twice. First time in was the paleo salad bowl; the next time, the Mexican bowl with tofu lured me in.
Black beans, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, jicama and pumpkin seeds are generously scattered atop a choice of base: rice, noodles or salad. Brown rice seemed fitting this time. Then cilantro and a side of house-made Mexican dressing top a selected protein — tofu, for me. The tofu is sprinkled with Guard's signature Bubu spice: a mixture of togarashi chili powder, sugar, salt and pepper. Between that and the dressing, it's a clear-your-sinuses spicy dish, but the cool jicama helps temper the fire while adding a nice crunch. The warm brown rice juxtaposes the cool yet spicy tofu nicely. And the corn lends a tiny surprise of sweetness amidst the whirlwind of spice. Every bite is filled with sustenance and flavor. If you’re intimidated by spice, just request a light touch on the Bubu spice and ask for avocado.
In a fast-casual realm of weekday lunches that have become synonymous with a sub-par dining experience that’s merely a quick nosh to get you through the rest of the day, Bubu does indeed stand out as revolutionary. And on my visits, the service was as fresh as the ingredients — a friendly server remembered me after only two visits. With a plethora of flavor combinations that will suit even the pickiest eaters and and an attitude as nourishing as the food, Bubu is true to its tagline. And I agree: Viva la Fresh Revolution!