There’s something very telling about Blackbelly‘s complete lack of fanfare. Situated along a busy stretch of Arapahoe Avenue, most cars simply whiz by the restaurant and its two simple black and white roadside signs, only pausing when the corner traffic light is red.
The eatery, along with its daytime market, occupies two-thirds of a nondescript brown brick building in a forgettable shopping center and is adjacent to a Quiznos sandwich shop. Nothing about its exterior is particularly pretty or eye-catching, almost as if they are going out of their way to conceal the slightest hint that the restaurant inside is ranked as one of the best in Boulder, Colorado.
Yet since its opening in 2014, Blackbelly has maintained an impressive level of buzz and recognition, winning over a loyal army of patrons. Enough so that even at 5:30pm on a Wednesday night, they have a steady stream of diners filling up the dining room, and by 7pm it will be packed.
With the exception of the tasteful neon homage to blackbelly sheep that throws a warm glow against the white tiled wall along the front bar, this place is the antithesis of the glut of restaurants desperately jockeying for exposure with their thirsty, “Instagrammable” design.
Here it is all about serving honest food in a comfortable space devoid of artifice or fuss. Under the eye of Chef de Cuisine Arun Moghe, they pull the best seasonal products from local Colorado farms and preparing them in a way to highlight the freshness and quality, pulling it all together with simple, but beautiful plating. It’s the type of crowd-pleasing place that you can safely bring your in-laws to when they come to town (which I’ve done), and the level of care and consistency in the food and service keeps people coming back.
On a recent visit, I sampled a number of summertime dishes, which of course included tastings of various items in their area of expertise – meat dishes. But as always, Blackbelly is highly seasonal and has an ever-changing list of daily specials influenced by whatever is good coming in from their purveyors, so it’s quite likely that upon your own visit the dishes might be slightly different, or only available in limited quantity.
Some highlights from my dinner:
We started off with the SkyPilot Ranch Charcuterie Trio ($21) with some meats from the Longmont, CO farm in the form of a pork lonza, veal rillette, and speck paired with an order of the Delizioso Burrata ($10).
The special that day was a beauty: a pretty plate of Goat Carpaccio dotted with Tahini crema, and sprinkled with picked asparagus, and herbs and nasturtium flowers from Blackbelly’s own garden.
I helped wash it down with one of their non-alcoholic cocktails called the Mullet Head ($5), which tastes like a grown-up Hi-C fruit punch thanks to it’s mix of pineapple juice, carrot shrub, lemon agave.
A little Beef Tartare ($15) with quail egg and some grilled bread.
A slight break from the meat came with the vibrant green Walking Onion Fettucine ($14 small / $21 large) served on a bed of forged mushrooms and a healthy shave of Parmesan.
One of our entrees was a plate of cuts of Carter Country Grass Fed Beef alongside a special Wagu beef they had that day.
The Heritage Pork (mkt price) main dish was summer or a plate with green garlic spaetzle, and colorful spring peas, alyssum, cherry jus, and pea tendrils.
We finished the meal off with a couple of desserts, of which the White Chocolate Namelaka ($8) blew me away with its creamy texture and tangy strawberry and passion fruit purées, with some satisfying crunch courtesy of the puffed rice & cashew crumble.
Have you eaten at this Boulder classic yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re interested in learning about Blackbelly’s daytime menu and Chef Hosea Rosenberg’s other restaurant, check out my post about the breakfast burritos at Blackbelly and Santo.
Blackbelly – 1606 Conestoga St #3, Boulder, CO 80301, (303) 247-1000
Please note: Financial compensation was not received for this post. I was invited by Blackbelly to come in to sample items off the dinner menu. Opinions expressed here are my own.