Spruce Farm & Fish Wine Club – Cambria Estate Vineyard and Wine Tasting- Wednesday, March 14th from 6 – 7PM

Head over to Spruce Farm & Fish for their March wine club tasting, featuring Cambria Estate Vineyard & Winery. Four wines will be featured, each paired with appetizer tasters from the executive chef! Wine tastings are every second Wednesday of the month at Spruce. Receive a complimentary Wine Club Membership when you attend a wine tasting. Membership includes: 20% off dinner the night of the vent, 40% off all wines by the bottle, 10% of all glasses of wine, and 10% of dinner. Click here to purchase tickets in advance for $25.


Learn to Code Boulder: Chocolate, Cheese, and Coding at Galvanize- Tuesday, March 13th from 5:30 – 7:30PM

Are you a mom interested in learning more about building a website? Thinking about a career change when the kids go back to school? Just interested in growing your technical skill set? Join Galvanize for a free class on the basics of HTML and CSS. All chocolates and cheese provided, mom status not necessary. Doors open at 5:30PM. Please bring a fully charged laptop and charger just in case. They will be using CodePen in class. Sign up for the “free plan” here. Don’t forget to register in advance here.


beast + bottle 5 Year Anniversary Celebration- Friday, March 16th from 6 – 9PM

Please join beast + bottle for their 5 year anniversary party! The celebratory evening will feature cocktails and passed bites paying homage to their favorite drinks and dishes over the past five years, presented by beast + bottle co-owner and chef Paul C. Reilly, Chef de Cuisine Brian Wilson, and five outstanding guest chefs who have been friends, supporters, and contributors to the restaurant since the very beginning. Tickets are $85 and can be purchased here. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Project Angel Heart, a Denver based organization that provides meals to those coping with life-threatening illnesses.


St. Paddy’s Hootenanny at Gunbarrel Brewing Company- Saturday, March 17th

What would a week recap be without a celebration at the end? Head to Gunbarrel for the best St. Paddy’s party on the Front Range. There will be traditional bagpipers and drummers, Irish bands, dancers, facepainters, giveaways, and a costume contest raffle. Farm and Smoke food truck will be on hand with a special Irish menu. Gunbarrel will also be releasing three special beers just for St. Paddy’s day! All events are free.


An Evening with Anderson Cooper at Macky Auditorium- Tuesday, March 6th from 7 – 9PM

Anderson Cooper, an award-winning journalist and host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, will speak at Macky Auditorium on Tuesday evening. The Distinguished Speakers Board, a CU Boulder student-led organization, is hosting the event. The board strives to bring diverse speakers to campus who will intellectually challenge the student body, as well as spark meaningful dialogue surrounding relevant issues. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., with Cooper’s speech beginning promptly at 7:30 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive no later than 7 p.m. to ensure they are through security screening and seated by 7:30 p.m. Backpacks and other bags will not be permitted inside the auditorium. For tickets, please enquire at CU, as this event is sure to sell out!

Frozen Dead Guy Days in Nederland, CO- March 9th – 11th

Known as one of the most unique and quirky festivals in the country, Frozen Dead Guy Days takes place in Nederland — three days of frosty merriment featuring 30 live bands in heated super tents and outrageous events like coffin racing, costumed polar plunging, frozen t-shirt contests and much more. Celebrating its 17th year in 2018, Frozen Dead Guy Days continues to be a world-renowned spectacle. The home-grown frosty fest pays homage to Bredo Morstol, who is frozen in a state of suspended animation. Thousands of adventurous, life enthusiasts come to participate in Colorado’s “most frigidly fun festival” and view the events along with local, national and international media and entertainment. Click here for a full event schedule.

Ryan Montbleau at Sounds of Simon House Concert- Saturday, March 10th

Ryan Montbleau has been an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and bandleader for more than a decade, but with his new album I Was Just Leaving, the New England-based artist brings a contemplative and richly emotive feel. Recorded at New Orleans Esplanade Studios over four days in January 2016 with producer Anders Osborne and engineer/mixer Mark Howard (known for his work with such icons as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and U2), the album marks Montbleau’s first full length release. “There’s no part of this record that I am unsure of,” Montbleau says. All the juice of the last fifteen years is in there. Click here for tickets to see Montbleau in this intimate setting.

Interested in Beekeeping or learning about the future of bees? Click here to “Bee” part of the solution with Growing Gardens in a hands on class series.

Boulder County Market Update and El Five Restaurant Review

It has been a great year at Stewart Ward Real Estate, and we wanted to say thank you and send a final newsletter wishing you a wonderful finish to the holidays, and a happy and healthy 2018.

Boulder County Market Update

Early December numbers indicate we may make up some ground and have a brisk start to 2018, but overall 2017 has been a year marked with 30% higher inventory in attached dwellings, 6% overall lower sales volume from 2016, and the beginning of a leveling off in this strong seller’s market of the past 6 years. It appears that 2015 will be recorded as the peak of this cycle, but who knows? Lou Barnes, a famous local mortgage broker and syndicated author for the past 20 years believes we may be in a “semi-permanent seller’s market”, where sales decline a bit year on year every few years to let salaries catch up to home prices. One thing seems clear driving around – Boulder County and North Denver are booming. Slowing appreciation this year is a good thing and the overall appreciation rate will most likely still end up higher than historical Boulder County norms of 5%.  If you’re on the sidelines saving for that 20% down payment, consider your target home value, imagine the same home a year later having appreciated 7% and a rising interest rate environment. Are you better off waiting vs. a 10% down payment? Call me and I will run the numbers for you!

Buyer and Seller Needs

Pocket Listings: I have a 3br, 2011 Duplex in Boulder available now for 820K, a great 4BR home that will come available near old town in Erie in January, and a remodeled mountain home only 10 minutes to Boulder in the low 800’s. Buyer needs: I have active buyers interested in starter investment properties around 300K, Prospect condos and an experienced investor looking to do a renovation or scrape, let me know if you know anyone who has off market property to unload!

EL Five Restaurant Review

Many debutante restaurants have graced Denver’s culinary catwalk in recent years, but few were more hotly anticipated than El Five.  From the Edible Beats family, El Five’s dance card has been full since she opened in May 2017 as the youngest of five daughters that include Root Down, Linger, Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, and Vital Root.  I recommend taking them all for a spin as each has her distinct personality; a bit quirky yet still pleasing to any suitor looking for a fresh face to spend time with.

El Five’s parking ramp entrance in LoHi makes one wonder if the address is accurate, am I really headed to one of Denver’s hottest spots? Fun happens in the elevator choosing the floor and doubts vanish realizing you are in the penthouse, with panoramic views stretching across the Denver skyline all the way up into the Highlands. The genre is Middle East meets Western high design, plastered with Arabic script and racy Egyptian movie posters from the 1960’s. I was bewildered at first by the magnificent vistas and off beat décor, but by the time my first cocktail arrived I was so cool I would’ve turned down an invite to Jay Z’s birthday party. One edible orchid later and sporting empty drinks with ice cubes branded by hand, we were escorted to Joey, one of the most hilarious servers I have ever met.

EL Five.jpg

Above all, the food at El Five is beautiful and creative, with its roots in Spain and accented by Lebanon, Turkey, and Morocco. Spanish food is mild and benefits from Western Mediterranean elements, so have one of the funky Paellas and a sampling of small plates. Both the Matzah Ball Soup Dumplings and Tabbouleh Lettuce Wraps stand out, and there is one dish you cannot leave El Five without tasting - the Moroccan Lamb Sausage. Magic happens mixing browned lamb sausage, hummus, feta, lemon and mint. I’ve shared this plate twice now and secretly resented losing bites to others.

El Five is a night out that captures the imagination with its swanky top-of-the building specialness, quirky vibe and beautifully prepared courses.  Perfect for date night or just feeling groovy with friends it is also not that expensive, you could end up with a higher tab at any of the Front Range’s finer restaurants and feel a lot less like Beyonce and JayZ. If you want a table on short notice you are unlikely to get one at any popular time so think ahead and make the effort, it’s worth it!

El Five, 2930 Umatilla St., Denver, 303-524-9193 |

Who do you know that we might be able to help buying or selling residential or commercial real estate? Call 303.704.7774 for a free consultation, we are never too busy for your referrals.

Boulder County Market Report and Rincon Argentino Restauraunt Review

Boulder County Market Report and Rincon Argentino Restaurant Review

Folks, it's almost August! It's been a great summer so far in Boulder, and with much to do in town we have been busy at Stewart Ward Real Estate! The market in Boulder County is propelling onward and upward as it has done more reliably than any other market in the country, although slower than 2016.  The median sales price in-county is down 2.4% from June of last year, and average days on market have increased 3.9% year on year.  The march back to a more balanced market is definitely happening, so what does this mean for you?

For Sellers:

Homes are spending a cumulative 47 days on market up 10.5% over last year, when homes spent a cumulative 38 days on market for the same 90 day time period. It’s still a seller’s market and great homes are selling fast in great neighborhoods, but if you want to sell this year in a location that is affected by heavy traffic, power lines, or other undesirable traits, it will take longer than in recent history.  As the market continues to level off, days on market will lengthen for these properties first.

 For Buyers:

The median sales price in Boulder County is still rising.  Year to date, overall inventory is up 13% over last year and it’s taking longer for homes to close. We can work together to find a home that will work best for you- since most homes have been spending longer on the market, we may have room to negotiate an excellent deal this fall.

Rincon Argentino Restaurant Review

Ah, Patagonia. No,not your favorite fleece or puffy, but the incredible region of breathtaking mountains, deserts, beaches, and grasslands that spans from Chile to Argentina.

The culture, wines, and foods of the Patagonia region are legendary- full of depth, flavor, and fine ingredients. When you gaze upon the otherworldly crags, glacial lakes and endless grasslands, it's no surprise that the food and drink that come from that region are so brilliant.

In case you're wondering, I haven't recently journeyed there though Mt. Fitz Roy seems like an epic and unforgettable trek.  I have recently been to Rincon Argentino, located at Arapahoe and Folsom in Boulder, where I was nearly transported to Patagonia through the excellent food, unpretentious atmosphere, and some of the best mate I’ve ever had.  

The full selection of empanadas at Rincon Argentino

Most of us have tried a handheld meat or veggie pie of one kind or another- English, Jamaican, Cuban, Indian, there are many varieties.  Most of these suffer from having been frozen, too much carbohydrate with little filling, deep frying, or other stomach-punishing preparation.  This is why the Rincon Argentino empanadas are such a revelation – The crust is light and flaky, the flavors complex and just two will satisfy for a tasty lunch.  I recommend the chimichurri sauce to start, and accompany with a glass of Argentinian Malbec or iced mate this summer depending on your mood. For dessert, a simple, not too sweet pasta frola satisfies without overpowering the palate.

Then, bask in the sun for a few minutes taking in the Flatirons, and imagine yourself atop Mt. Fitz Roy.

Rincon Argentino, 2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, (303) 442-4133


Who do you know that we might be able to help with Real Estate this year? 

We are never too busy for your referrals, thank you!

Boulder County Market Report and Thrive Restaurant Review

Happy July 5!  It has been a great year so far at Stewart Ward Real Estate, and we’d love to share a few updates. Investors, if you are looking to get into the downtown Boulder market I am privately marketing a triplex, turnkey and fully SmartRegs compliant with great renters near Walnut and 19th. My listing at 9032 Tahoe in Park Lake is now $829,000, an exceptional house and value on .7 acre.  I also wanted to congratulate Andrew and Christine and thank my team, who helped them list and close 5042 Lee Hill Drive for 3% over asking at $1,135,000, a first for the price category in Boulder Heights.

Summer is in full swing and it’s hard to imagine but the first half of 2017 is over. This time of year what should buyers and sellers be thinking about?  The average mortgage takes 30 to 45 days to complete so July 5 is a turning point – only a couple of weeks left to go under contract on a house in the summer season before the kids are back in school and people start pulling out of the market.

For buyers waiting for the perfect house to come along, it’s a lot less likely to happen from here as inventory tightens through the end of the year.  Levels are already 10% below this time last month, and a similar drop is likely for this month. Reduce your expectations and get into something good enough, unless you are happy to pay more for less next year.  The good news - houses that have been on the market over 30 days may be had for a discount. What is your price range? I’m happy to help with a detailed analysis of where a deal may be had.

For sellers, it’s time to get serious. Have a look at your home’s marketing, if the presentation has not been recently refreshed or staged, talk to your Realtor. Additionally, NAR statistics show that sellers who drop prices earlier than the competition end up selling for a higher price. For a free consultation on your home’s value, contact us.

Thrive Restaurant Review

Supersize Me, the documentary that chronicled Morgan Spurlock’s “McDonalds only” diet for 30 days, is a pivotal documentary that galvanized my support for a healthy, sustainable food system for all ages and incomes.  It is the reason I am on the board of Growing Gardens, the fantastic local non-profit that educates children of all economic backgrounds about urban agriculture and leadership. Our Farm Dinner is August 5 in the Hawthorn gardens, there is space left but It always sells out and I’d love to have you there. The evening will benefit our Food Project Farm, which donates 100% of its produce to low income Longmont community members.

The amount of words required to distinguish foods that are “non-conventionally” made - organic, non-GMO, free range, pesticide free, hormone free, gluten free, etc. says a lot about our corporate food system. It maximizes profit for shareholders, yet often conflicts with the moral responsibility to do no harm with cheap, unhealthy ingredients.  

To eat completely non-conventional alone would be a great reason to eat at Thrive, the raw, vegan, gluten free and organic order-at-the-counter spot across from Boulder high. The atmosphere is very sweet, walking in to Thrive one enters a bubble of time and space where everyone looks young, bright and shiny with big smiles. I assume all the staff are eating the food and it made me wonder – should I go on a raw diet? Is this how to stop looking like I’ve been standing in a wind tunnel eating Twinkies for the last 20 years?

For clarity raw means raw - no heat is applied to the strictly plant-based ingredients here - yet the creative preparation is surprisingly varied in flavor.  Fermentation helps; the Nori Wrap on the snack menu is a prime example. It looks like simple julienne of carrot and cucumber wrapped in Japanese seaweed but then the kimchi sounds off with a dash of heat.  Add a bit of mayo creaminess with mild tamari dipping sauce and welcome to savory veggie nirvana!

From the salad menu, the Pad Thai of spiralized zucchini noodles, marinated broccoli and purple cabbage with kimchi and cilantro stays true to its roots. Retaining a distinct Thai flavor and beautiful range of colors, I can’t remember enjoying a tastier Asian-inspired salad.  

                            Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Thrive- messy but worth it

                          Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at Thrive- messy but worth it

Wrap up your culinary experience at Thrive with the liquid nitrogen ice cream. Fresh cashew and almond milk is mixed with a chocolate or vanilla base, then liquid nitrogen is poured in for a lightly sweet and handmade frozen confection. It’s fascinating and just right for a summer dessert-

Thrive, 1509 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder 720 616 7785

How's your Sump Pump?

With all the rain and snow we've been having, you may already have heard the familiar whirr of your pump as ground water seeps down below your basement.  This water will continue to do so as the rains let up over the next few days, so why not check your Sump Pump? 

QUICK CHECK - open your sump pit lid and look in, is there water at or above the horizontal PVC pipe? If so, you may have a problem!  While you're there, unplug and replug the motor, and make sure it's ready for action! 

FULL CHECK - (from

Step 1

Locate the exit pipe, also called an outlet pipe, on the exterior of your home through which your sump pump directs the water from your basement. Inspect the outlet pipe for damage. Verify that the pipe has no clogs made of debris or ice, depending upon the current weather conditions. Make sure that the outlet pipe is clear and will direct water away from the foundation of your house. Remove any clogs or move the outlet pipe if necessary.

Step 2

Look over the sump pump in the basement of your home. You can usually find it near the interior walls of the foundation, typically in an unfinished area of the basement. Verify that the electrical cord for your sump pump is plugged into an outlet. Remove the lid to the sump pump, if your pump has a lid. Using a flashlight, inspect the interior of the basin for any clogs or debris. Remove any debris that you find.

Step 3

Pour approximately 5 gallons of water into the basin of your sump pump. Pour slowly (at approximately the same speed that water might flow into the basin from the basement) until the sump pump turns on and begins to pump out water. Do not pour in more water than the basin will hold. Expect the sump pump to begin pumping out water when the water level reaches approximately 8 to 12 inches below the surface of the basement floor.

Step 4

Look for a float on the sump pump. (Your sump pump may not include a float.) Verify that the float functions correctly and does not catch against the lid or basin, as its proper operation ensures that the sump pump turns on when the water level reaches the correct height.

Step 5

Make any necessary repairs based on your test of your basement sump pump. Continue to test your sump pump regularly (every few months) and replace your pump if needed.

Boulder County Market Report and Bramble and Hare Restaurant Review

It’s an odd year so far, and it’s also odd numbered, which means it’s tax assessment time and I’m here to help.  As an expert in Front Range home values, I would be happy to give you an accurate assessment of your home's value that could be used to appeal your property tax bill.  Give me a call to schedule a time and begin the process.

In this tight market more buyers are considering new construction;  I recently wrote about how to avoid common pitfalls on my blog where you will find a weekly event calendar, restaurant reviews and more.

 Boulder County Market Report February 2017

Boulder County sales statistics for February and year to date are just in.  New listings are up slightly from last year, yet overall sales are down 12% and average sale price is only 2.6% above last year, indicating the beginning of a plateau in this still strong seller’s market.  The percent of list price received reflected a 1.2% drop to 99.5% from 100.7% and shows that buyers are less willing to go over asking overall, but well priced homes in great locations are still triggering bidding wars.  Curious if your place might generate one? I’d be happy to let you know, and help you downsize with pocket listings around Boulder County I have uncovered the old fashioned way- by picking up the phone or knocking on doors in desired neighborhoods of my buyers.

Looking for a different kind of neighborhood? My listing at 9032 Tahoe Ln in Boulder’s Park Lake has .7 acres and is zoned for a horse, listed for 900K. What about the foothills? Space to stretch out, clean water, deer and fox could be a part of your future wake-up routine in Boulder Heights, the subdivision up Lee Hill Drive. I am listing a mountain enclave with over 11 acres, 4 Bedrooms 3 Baths, solar powered and updated with stunning views that will be available soon for private showings, and another 3 bedroom 2 bath that will list in early summer contact me for details. Starter Condo/Investment Property seekers, call me for a 1 Bedroom 1 Bath with attached garage and rare large outdoor space that will soon list in Lafayette and be gone in a flash. 

Bramble and Hare Restaurant Review

Like a favorite scarf that somehow goes missing, I lost my enthusiasm for beer about two years ago.  Betrayed by my own tastebuds I was adrift; how can this be? What has the world come to?  What’s next, morning without coffee? Dogs and cats playing together? Around this time wandering home after a concert I sidled up to the bar at Bramble and Hare, the closest restaurant you’ve probably never been to.  Focusing on the beverages I was racked by indecision, nothing sounded right.  Wine? Cocktail? If so which one? A nineteen year old bartender asked me for my order and I replied, “I don’t know”.  And then the moment that would make everything better- What alcohol do you like tonight? “Whiskey”. How sweet? “not very”.  Anything else I should know? “Winding down from a concert?”. Got it.  The libation that arrived a minute later was perfection, a combination of alcohols and extracts served in a vintage glass and composed just for me as I showed up in that moment. That was the beauty of it, being read like a children’s book and then knowing it in the experience of the cocktail. The bartender’s choice concoctions are art and not science, who could be blamed for ordering another while memory is still fresh?

“The outdoors is overrated” – Griffin. As it turns out, the nineteen year old is no nineteen year old. His name is Griffin Farro and Bramble and Hare is Griffin’s joint- technically the restaurant is owned by Jill and Eric Skokan and connected to Black Cat Bistro, but Bramble has its own chef, and walks its own path. The dark wood, dapper staff and industrial metals cast an alternate vibe to Boulder’s uber healthy go – getter sensibility, a place where great alcohols low light and tasty comfort food make time and space evaporate, with piano anytime someone wants to play.

On the small plate menu the farm-fresh deviled eggs with purple kimchi stick to the ribs with a bit of heat forming an ample platform for libation, but you might as well have whatever moves you as everything on this part of the menu is $5-$9 and rotates in and out with the seasons on Bramble Hill Farm.

Deviled Eggs and Purple Kimchi at Bramble and Hare

Chef Jay Clark keeps the menu concise from the compact kitchen and hits all the right savory notes on the entrée menu. The Chicken Confit was falling off the bone with mashed potatoes and celery root in red wine cream sauce.  It worked perfectly with mustard-dressed garden greens cutting through the carbo-fatty goodness, relegated to a memory within 10 minutes.

I like to bring my sweetie here because it seats about 20 and I can always hear her lovely voice. For this reason I recommend calling ahead for a table most nights, or you can roll the dice on getting space at the bar.  Pro tip – if Bramble is full head next door to the small but frequently empty bar at Black Cat, where mixology is alive and well but a quieter vibe prevails.

Bramble and Hare, 1970 13th St, Boulder, CO  303 444 9110

Sun - Thurs 5pm – 12am, Fri - Sat 5pm – 1am



Can you save money by not using a Realtor when buying a Brand New House?

 It's perfect!

It's perfect!

With available housing inventory at historical lows, many home buyers without a tight timeline are looking at newly built house or condos.  I recently spoke with a past client who is considering combining his family with his partner’s and visited a showroom.  He asked me: Because I do not require a Realtor to buy a house with a builder, can I save money by going with the builder’s (seller’s) representative and negotiating the 3% off? Great Question.  It seems like it would be: the home is brand new and has warranties on it, the builder will negotiate because they are saving money, the salesperson said a Realtor would not be needed because the builder is in control of the process, and I'm a good negotiator myself!

Here's the great news- you can get discounts when buying a new house, and it has nothing to do with whether or not you have a Realtor with you. In fact, you can benefit tremendously from having a skilled Realtor with you to know where the wiggle room is. Salespeople may lead you to believe that there is a direct relationship between commission and sale price or upgrades, but there isn't, according to the Home Builders Association of Colorado.  

Here are some things to consider when making this decision:

1.     Builders will generally not lower the price of a new home, especially not in this red-hot seller’s market. They have more of the same model for sale, and if they sold the same product to another buyer last week at full price and that buyer finds out they were undercut, lawsuits tend to follow.

2.     Even if they would, there is no incentive for them to reduce the price, why reduce their own comps unless they absolutely had to? According to a builder I talked to, a 6% sales commission split between buy and sell is allocated ahead of time as part of the marketing budget for the overall project.  If the commission does not go to to a buyer's Realtor, it will usually go to the salesperson, who gets two commissions.  

3.     The salesperson who claims “your realtor doesn’t do anything during this process” does not represent you, they represent the builder. Most home showroom salespeople are unlicensed and want to maximize their personal profit and the builder's. They may not point out the builder’s language changes to the Colorado contract that make it much more difficult to get your earnest money deposit back, nor the warranty indemnity clauses for any construction defects inspectors sometimes miss.   

4.     Newly built houses are often built in a hurry, and often have as many defects as existing houses.

5.     An experienced Realtor knows where you can save money, for example when dealing with builders, and makes sure you don’t miss any of those opportunities.

6.     Your Realtor’s license is on the line in every transaction and is obligated to inform you fully and look out for your interests. 

Counter to what it might seem in the sales office, you could easily end up with more discounts with a Realtor in your corner, and avoid a lot of risk should things go awry.

Boulder County Market Report and Classical Boulder Sounds

The Boulder County Real Estate Market is continuing on current trends of low inventory and double digit price appreciation. Incredibly, City of Boulder home values are up 16.5% from August 2015 and Boulder County as a whole is up 15.9%. Compared to historical averages of approximately 5%, this market is still considered “on fire” from a valuation perspective. Sales volume is not so fiery - down 7.4% in Boulder and 13.5% countywide, as inventory continues to tighten and properties become less price-accessible. One noteworthy statistic, average days on market in 2016 for Boulder single family homes in the 2 million plus category has lengthened to 191 days from approximately 100 days last year (all figures IRES MLS).  Canary in a coal mine? We’ll see.


It has been a fantastic year so far at Stewart Ward Real Estate and we have a full quarter left to assist anyone you know with their real estate goals. As always, thank you so much for your referrals, I am never too busy to help!  Pocket Listing Alert: A completely updated 4BR/3BA tri-level farmette in East Boulder, 10 minutes to downtown, .7 acres bordering unimproved land.  Large windows, Southern exposure, brand new kitchen. Pocket Listing- Investor Alert: A highly profitable 14 bed assisted living facility in Denver, call for details.


Classical Boulder Sounds


How many times do you think you’ve heard the “Star Wars” theme music? A hundred? A thousand? It has become so ubiquitous, you might not even register you are listening to it when it comes on. About a year ago, I experienced one rendition that has stayed with me ever since. I attended a fundraiser for the Boulder Symphony just before the new Star Wars movie was released. When the orchestra played the main theme it was a completely different experience- and absolutely magical. Not only hearing, but seeing so many skilled musicians playing that John Williams score live on the floor of Macy’s brought it home in a way that still has impact months later.  

Inspired in 2016, I made a New Year’s resolution that I actually kept – I have been attending classical performances regularly.  I have grown to appreciate modern symphonic pieces as well as pop hits from past centuries. (Don’t forget Mozart was the Bruno Mars of the 16th century)

 Devin Patrick Hughes Conducting the Boulder Symphony in Downtown Boulder

Devin Patrick Hughes Conducting the Boulder Symphony in Downtown Boulder


We are extremely fortunate to live in Boulder County, where we have so many options to enjoy symphonies, string quartets and chamber music year-round. For our limited population the quality and frequency are impressive. Recently I had the privilege of seeing the Colorado local yet internationally popular Altius String Quartet as they played some string classics and then renditions of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” “Kashmir” and other pieces familiar even to me. Follow them on Facebook and make the effort next time they are in town, I’ll probably be there and I’d love to share it with you. 

If it’s been awhile since you last heard the randy call of a French horn, the bright play of an oboe or the neurotic range of a cello, take advantage of Boulder County’s musical wealth in person by attending an upcoming performance of the Boulder Philharmonic, Boulder Chamber Orchestra or Boulder Symphony, which ramp up in October and continue all the way through May. Let me assure you there is no substitute for seeing it live and wide-eyed; even if you don’t consider yourself a classical fan, you owe it to yourself to experience the richness of this great music in person.  

Boulder County Market Report and Per La Gente Restaurant Review

Boulder County Market Report May 2016

Greetings from the trenches of the Boulder County and North Denver real estate markets, where the hunt for houses to buy or to sell is at a fever pitch now at the busiest time of year.  Tight inventory is suppressing overall sales in Boulder County in 2016, down 11% in the first 5 months of the year compared to 2015.  The number of available houses for purchase hovers at less than 30% of historical norms, (IRES MLS) but on the plus side for buyers or homeowners looking for a better mortgage interest rates so far in 2016 are the lowest they’ve been in 3 years. (  Amid the frenzy, a few trends have emerged. 1. Houses that are perceived as overpriced frequently end up neglected. This represents opportunity, we recently put a great house under contract at 11% under original listing price saving my clients over 100K. 2. There is a strong preference among buyers for houses with updated finishes, it pays to do the work while you live there. 3. Good floorplans with updates are selling quickly at all price points, but this does not mean these houses will be good investments moving forward.  There is no substitute for research in making a good decision, who do you know who may need my help entering this fast paced and challenging market?

Pocket Listing Alerts: A newly remodeled Niwot 4BR/3BA in Cottonwood, a 3BR/3BA on the golf course in Indian Peaks, a beautiful 4BR/5BA in central Indian Peaks, call for details.


Per La Gente- A Perfect Summer Repast


If you have not yet had dinner or lunch outdoors on the patio at Riverside’s Per La Gente in Boulder, you are long overdue.  Just below the line of sight as you drive across Boulder Creek on Broadway, tables and umbrellas under the trees provide an immediate experience of the creek roiling over its banks at this writing, and passers-by as they stride and ride along the creek path.  This captivating pastime of water and people watching would be worthy of your time under any circumstances and the food is so good Per La Gente makes you feel ignorant for not going more often. At a glance the historic brick building is easy to miss, there is no lot out front or large signage to greet the unfamiliar.  Parking is directly across Broadway next to Mustard’s Last Stand – the lot is free, never crowded so far and closer than you’ll get to Whole Foods with a handicap pass.


Chef Lewis Guarasi, former executive chef of Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell in Aspen took over the space in late 2015 with concise breakfast, lunch and dinner menus that have no laggards. The burger is a contender for the best in town, thick beef will satisfy your strongest carbo-fat cravings delivered on a pan-seared soft brioche bun.  House cured bacon, sharp white cheddar and burgundy onions highlight one of PLG’s overall strengths; every plate has subtle tangy elements that perk up the taste buds and add interest to commonly ho-hum factors. For example, I never expect much from a side of potatoes but the country potatoes at PLG surprise with pickled onions and bits of roasted red pepper for a creative and colorful balance of tart, sweet and starchy goodness.  


         The People’s Burger at Per La Gente at the Riverside

From the dinner menu, the ½ roasted chicken has gained widespread acclaim for its oh-so-chickeny pan scrapings and juicy bites, and what Boulder County resident couldn’t find a place in her heart for the Kale Lardon?  Organic Free Range Non-GMO Kale, tender with a sous vide egg on top and champagne vinaigrette, Gluten Free and decadently corrupted with 4 ounces of local pork belly.  Happy hour is early and stretches for 3 hours from 2pm to 5pm Tuesday through Friday, with old timey cocktails like a manhattan or sidecar on offer.  It’s hard to go wrong here any time of day –

Per La Gente Bistro at the Riverside | 720 443 7222 | 1724 Broadway St. Boulder, CO 

It is my pleasure to help and your referrals are always appreciated!


Boulder County Market Report and 2020 Food and Wine Bar Restaurant Review

Boulder County Market Report February 2016

 I Hope this finds you happy and healthy so far in 2016, it has been busy at Stewart Ward Real Estate since we last checked in.  Our Chautauqua Food and Supply Drive yielded two full SUVs of everything from canned goods to toiletries to winter coats and benefitted local charity Boulder Bridge House, we have also grown the company to include a transaction coordinator that will enable us to scale and provide even better service.  Thank you so much for your support and to the 42 families in Chautauqua who donated to the drive!

The City of Boulder crossed a milestone in January, the average sales price for a single family home surpassed $1 million for the first time in a single month.  Sales were January slow (45 homes vs. 238 in June 2015)(source:IRES MLS) and therefore a skewed sample, but this must be a harbinger of Future Boulder.  Or is it? One of the most common questions I am asked is “Have we reached the peak of this market?”  First let’s look at supply. In the City of Boulder 45% of available inventory is under contract, roughly 2 months worth(IRES MLS). A 6 month supply is considered balanced.  Now let’s look at demand.  Over 80,000 people moved to the Front Range last year from out of state in a trend that is expected to continue, and in-state migration to the Front Range from rural areas is trending upward(source: Denver Post).  At a little over 4%, mortgage rates remain at historical lows and in affordable categories, bidding wars remain the norm all over Boulder County and Denver.  What do you think for 2016? One thing is for sure – even though this seller’s market is still solidly in place it can change quickly and caution backed by research is necessary to understand selling and buying in different neighborhoods on the Front Range.  Choose a great Realtor to provide that insight! Online estimates of your home’s worth are accurate within 15% approximately 50% of the time, are you curious what your home is really worth? Do you know anyone who could use my help this year? 

Warm Nuts at 2020

 One of the highlights of Longmont is the hamlet of Prospect, an architectural unicorn of design and planning.  Prospect is the first example of New Urbanism in Colorado, where you will also find food truck icon Comida’s brick and mortar location, Urban Thai, and the Two Dog Diner. You could go to Prospect in daylight, cruise the neighborhood and easily see a Neoclassical house next to a Santa Fe adobe bordering an ultramodern stucco, but if you arrive before 4:00pm for happy hour you will miss dining at one of Boulder County’s gems, 2020 Food and Wine Bar. 

With a quality casual vibe chef and wife team Matthew and Sara Koury combine culinary prowess from the Culinary Institute of America and Chicago fine dining with unpretentious and knowledgeable service.  What is it about a bowl of warm nuts? Not all are created equal and 2020 does not disappoint with cashews and Marconi almonds, lightly salted yet still crunchy preparing you for the Salumi and Cheese combo.  The varying selections of Italian meats guarantee you will try something new among the featured French and American artisans, some stinky, some creamy, and some hard.  The country pate’ is made from scratch in-house and has umami in spades; the focus at 2020 is on food complementing wine so take advantage of flights that vary nightly from France, Italy, or more obscure appellations.  Keep an eye out for special nights that will please and expose you to new things as with the recent South African wine dinner - I attended the Dux and Tux food and wine pairing in the fall and waddled off to bed like an October penguin in rare form.

                       Chicken Saltimbocca with Farro, roasted Brussel Sprouts and Acorn Squash at 2020

                    Chicken Saltimbocca with Farro, roasted Brussel Sprouts and Acorn Squash at 2020

 From the regular menu Napoli style pizza is fired in wood with thin but chewy crust and toppings that resemble their counterparts elsewhere but have more interest on the palate.  Chef Matthew often curates savory entrée specials like the Chicken Saltimbocca above, so arrive ready to eat as well as sample the wines.  Space is limited, it’s a good idea to call ahead.

2020 Food and Wine Bar, 2020 Ionosphere Street, Longmont (720) 491-3578

Event Schedule:

Chautauqua Food Drive Benefitting Boulder Bridge House a Huge Success!

In December and early January,  the Stewart Ward Real Estate team hit the streets of Chautauqua and University Heights to gather and deliver food and supplies on behalf of Boulder Bridge House, a Boulder charity that feeds and helps the homeless get back to work in Boulder County.  We are pleased to report that the Drive was a huge success in its first year, filling my SUV twice!  Boulder Bridge House wanted us to say THANK YOU CHAUTAUQUA for your incredible generosity-  let's make it even bigger next year!  The 42 donating homes contributed the below items, which represented over 200 pounds of food, 3 contractor bags full of clothes, 2 boxes of sundries and supplies- and one fortune cookie.

26 jars peanut butter
51 cans beans
30 cans tuna
54 cans tomatoes
23 boxes of tea
5 hot sauce
1 jar of beets
1 brownie mix
3 boxes of rice
1 bag of milk chocolate morsels
1 jar honey roasted peanuts
3 boxes pasta
2 Men’s Leather Jackets
2 Men’s winter coats
16 jackets/vests
9 sweat pants
19 sweat shirts
1 pair leather gloves
9 pairs gloves/mittens
10 running shoes
3 boots
42 hot pockets handwarmers
24 pairs women’s socks
16 bras
12 undergarments
3 scarves
3 packs toothbrushes
8 pairs glasses
15 bottles ibuprofen
13 lip balm
3 shaving creams
2 Band Aid boxes

200 envelopes
16 notebooks
12 packs pens

Thanks again for your generosity!


Boulder County Market Report and Wayne's Smoke Shack Restaurant Review

Boulder County Real Estate September/October Market Summary

The chill of fall has not had much effect on the 2015 Boulder County real estate market. In September, year-on-year sales of single family homes were up 9% over 2014 and home prices were up 11%.  Initial October figures indicate countywide sales up over 20% from 2014 in single family homes, an extreme jump and an indicator of increased activity this fall over last (source:IRES MLS).  The world was expecting an interest rate hike in September that did not materialize and on the financial blogs “the markets” project a 50/50 chance of one in December, but it doesn’t seem that locally it will affect this market one way or the other much for now.

It was my pleasure to sell Michael and Ronie Pastko’s South Boulder townhouse in October after a bidding war got them 6% over asking price, setting a new record for the neighborhood and helping with a smooth relocation to New York City- continued success to you!  Client Beverly Murphy’s one acre ranchette bordering the Boulder airport also sold for a handsome price, who do you know that is most likely to need a great agent in the next year? 

Wayne’s Smoke Shack – True Texas BBQ Restaurant Review

 Thousands of years ago on the grassy hills and vales of the rocky mountain foothills, in the dramatic reflection of the Flatirons on a patch of earth we now call Superior many buffalo and other wild animals roamed freely, subject to the everyday perils of natural selection, hunting, and being hunted.  Among those surviving without any modern conveniences were the first Boulder County residents, wielding spears and charging forward in bearskin tunics to cull the herd and turn a spit over an open flame, just in time for lunch.

Remarkably, today in the very same geographical location that our most likely male ancestors used their enlarged brains to outsmart and eat those majestic animals stands a restaurant, in a strip mall across the parking lot from PetsMart, called Wayne’s Smoke Shack.  Wayne’s attracts throngs of large, hungry looking men who have cast off their bearskins in favor of Dockers twill trousers and traded in their spears for laptop computers.

Last week we arrived at 11:30, there were at least 30 men in attendance and not a single female. Be warned, 11:30 is often too late at Wayne’s to access the entire menu as certain items sell out just after opening and frequently much of it is gone by 1:30pm. At Wayne’s the cuts are served by the pound; there is something inherently satisfying about telling a man how much meat you want and watching him slice and portion it right in front of you with butcher paper for a plate. No serving spoons or tongs here, just knives and hands.

I am no BBQ expert but I’ve had my share, and without a doubt the Wayne’s brisket is the best I have ever tasted.  Requiring no knife, the beefylicious cut is akin to the most tender prime rib at the nicest steakhouse I have ever been to, with more flavor and a crunchy peppercorn rub.


Host L.R. Laggy of Blank Plate Boulder and I shared this memorable tray on my first visit

Each selection at Wayne’s has its own flavor profile; the beef sausage is savory with garlic, the chicken smoky and the ribs juicy with a rub like sweet Texas tea.  Normally with BBQ I am focused on sauce, there are 3 good ones on hand at Wayne’s but I noticed I used them less as the preparation stands on its own.  I recommend asking for extra pickles and onions, they are homemade and provide just the right amount of bite for the decadent crispy fat a modern caveman (or cavewoman) requires.

Wayne’s Smoke Shack – True Texas BBQ, 406 Center Dr. in Superior. Open Tuesday – Saturday 11:00 – 3:00

Boulder County Market Report and Alpine Modern Restaurant Review

Boulder County August Real Estate Market Report

Following a lull from mid-July to mid-August, Boulder County real estate action heated up in the final two weeks of the month, finishing strong with overall sales up 7.4% over August 2014.  With inventory down 9% from last year and 70% below long term averages the upward price pressure has been extreme, average overall prices are up 10% year-on-year including attached and single family homes.  September has so far seen an uptick in new listings compared to recent years but inventory is still down from August reflecting seasonal norms as we head into winter (Source:IRES MLS).   

With the sustained high demand and low supply, bidding wars on listings in popular neighborhoods remain the norm. Most premiums over asking end up in the 1% to 3% range in Boulder County, my average is 7.0%.  There is no substitute for in-depth research, proven strategy, and hard work.  Call me anytime for a consultation on getting your highest price or buying the house of your dreams, it is my distinct pleasure to help and your referrals of anyone considering entering the market are sincerely appreciated!  

Alpine Modern Café Restaurant Review

The metamorphosis of longtime stalwart Delilah’s Pretty Good Grocery into an organic co-op and now Alpine Modern Café happened only a few blocks from Boulder’s downtown core at 9th and College, yet somehow I missed it.  The transmogrification from quaint to cutting edge is so complete that I initially had the sense of being in a different city, or a parallel universe.  It’s a good universe, the Alpine Modern ‘elevated living’ aesthetic with burl walnut tables, subway tile and Carrera marble is solid with curvy chrome accents.  The vision is articulated through multiple Boulder channels including a retail store downtown, a magazine and the café; all are worth a visit.  Alpine Modern is 100% mom and pop passion but is so well executed it gives Apple a run for its money and makes me feel cooler and younger than I look in the mirror every time I go.  It also draws a mix of local homeowners, students and passersby creating community in an otherwise dead area across from the cemetery.

From the breakfast menu, the Avocado and Egg Tartine is served on crusty fresh sourdough with lots of ripe avocado and a perfect soft boiled egg.  It’s the details I appreciate, with radish slices and drizzled extra virgin olive oil adding zesty complexity.  If you prefer a sweeter breakfast many regulars swear by the Warm Quinoa Porridge, and the coffee comes from renowned Denver roaster Huckleberry.

                               The Avocado and Egg Tartine at Alpine Modern Cafe

                              The Avocado and Egg Tartine at Alpine Modern Cafe


The Quinoa Salad works well as a light lunch option with sherry vinaigrette quinoa meeting avocado to create a well-balanced bowl of goodness, add Alder smoked salmon to tide you over till dinnertime.  Baguette sandwiches are crafted with long thin pretzel roll buns, a fun take on the French version.  Overall it’s hard to lose at Alpine Modern, quality and attention to detail permeate everything on the menu and the service is spot on.  Please don’t go as often as I have been lately it’s getting harder to find a seat, and as always let me know what you think!            

Alpine Modern Café, 904 College Avenue, Boulder, 303 954 0129

Boulder County Market Report and Brooklyn Pizza Restaurant Review

Boulder County Real Estate Market Report

What a difference a month can make.  While overall inventory levels have remained consistent for this time of year, the percentage of single family homes under contract has decreased 9% in the city of Boulder since July and 13% since June. This reflects a more dramatic lull than historical norms and good news for buyers as there are more houses available.  Still, with 43% of inventory under contract it remains a strong seller’s market, and there are no early indicators of an impending downturn such as high increases of homes being withdrawn or expiring from the market.  As long as the influx of new highly qualified residents continues and interest rates stay low, the sellers market is likely to persist as well. It has been an excellent month for my seller clients so far in August, two of whom set new records in their subdivisions for price per square foot, and one who did a same day dual closing including a VA loan in 30 days- is there anything my team can do for you? 

Pocket Listing Alert: I have two listings coming up soon, a 3BR/2BA South Boulder townhouse style condo and a 4BR/3BA Niwot home both recently remodeled, call if interested.

Brooklyn Pizza Restaurant Review 

I don’t remember his name, but I have a New York pizza guru.  I only met him once while in line for a slice slightly inebriated at 2am in the tender years prior to the birth of Homeland Security, but his impact was mighty.  I declared this my favorite slice, and he scoffed.  On his regular slice tours of Manhattan and Brooklyn, he had picked up a thing or two: there are only 3 kinds of New Yorkers- cheese people, sauce people, and crust people.  Whether they realize it or not, every New Yorker chooses their favorite based on one of these three components.  For cheese people, it’s about the quality and flavor of the cheese - Is it thick and bland or thin and flavorful? Sauce people focus on fresh or from paste, tangy or mild, how much salt, how much herb? Crust people are all about the bite – crunchy or chewy, flour or cornflower, burnt or not? He said the experts were all sauce people and then called me a crust person, verbally dissected my slice and walked off not realizing he had become my guru and I would write of him 15 years later.

The proprietors of Brooklyn Pizza, the new slice and pie joint at the corner of Arapahoe and 17th in Boulder have a fierce dedication to quality.  If it can be homemade in the shop it is, including mozzarella, sausages, cannolis and sauce made from scratch with whole San Marzano tomatoes.  The cheese is a thinly layered mix of smooth mozzarella and savory provolone that takes on the dark orange color of a great Brooklyn slice on the plate. The crust is hand tossed, well-tuned for our water and altitude, and uses the finest flour available to get just the right NY style chew.

 $2.50 at Brooklyn Pizza

Are you a fan of red, tangy sauce? No judgement, but you have probably become acclimated to tomato paste, a much cheaper and faster sauce shunned in Italy and the better spots in NYC.  At this writing, there is no other slice shop inside the Boulder bubble offering a 100% San Marzano reduction sauce, so the next time you’re in town get in there and try some.

Brooklyn Pizza, 1647 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder CO 80302, 720 328 2324. No gluten free crust.


Do you know someone looking for help creating a low stress, high value real estate transaction using the latest market techniques and information? I can help!

Boulder County Market Report and Budino at Pizzeria Locale Review

Boulder County Market Report June 2015

As we pass the 2015 real estate market peak in Boulder County many are wondering - are we in a bubble? It’s a question worth asking as month after month, home values in most areas of the county continue to rise. House prices seem unrealistic, so what’s the deal? To most economists, price appreciation becomes a bubble when underlying fundamentals such as income and debt levels of the purchasers reach an unsustainable level, yet prices continue to climb and could “pop”. Lending regulations are much tighter than before the crash, so where is the money coming from for a meteoric rise like we’ve had? Keep in mind people don’t buy a house, they buy a payment. Low interest rates keep payments low, and there is evidence that people are spending more of their paychecks on rents and mortgages and sacrificing some vacation.  So the bubble answer is no, but there will be a point when demand will slow because people cannot stretch their paychecks any further or rates go up.  Sitting on a house you know you will sell soon hoping to time it perfectly? When the market changes, it could do so quickly. Call me anytime for a 20 minute consultation to see what your house might be worth in today’s market.


Budino at Pizzeria Locale Review


The first time I had Budino at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder it was a Ratatouille moment.  In the movie the evil restaurant critic Ego has a bite of ratatouille and is transported back to the kitchen he grew up in and fond memories of his mother cooking for him. I came to two realizations in that moment – 1. I need more pudding in my life and 2. I have never had pudding like this. The butterscotch taste, smooth texture and firm yet pliable layer of chocolate is different from what we earned for good behavior around the table as a child, maybe because it’s made by the dessert chefs at Frasca? It feels like a treat for adults who haven’t been naughty in years.

Budino at Pizzeria Locale


The healthy topper of fresh whipped cream dusted with semi-sweet chocolate shavings balances what may be the most comforting comfort food ever conceived. Adding a whimsical note, Budino comes with a baby shovel as the implement of its destruction. I’ve noticed it contributes at least 3.9 seconds to its already short lifespan at any table.

Budino at Pizzeria Locale, 1730 Pearl St, Boulder, (303) 442-3003

Boulder County Market Report and Oak Pork Belly and Bacon BLT Review

In the trenches of the Boulder County Real Estate market, little has changed from a month ago. Inventory is down year over year and sales are up, maintaining a challenging market for buyers, but for sellers things are going quite well. A prime example is my clients Joe and Matthew who accepted an offer on their Dakota Ridge duplex recently after a bidding war yielded 12% over asking price with no appraisal contingency.  Congratulations!  We negotiated a great contract with low risk using a variety of techniques, and look forward to a smooth transaction.  The most interesting news of the month was that the U.S. economy contracted 0.7 percent in Q1 but employment is up, indicating consumers are spending less despite having jobs. Speculation is that the anticipated hike in interest rates in Q3 will not materialize, with the band of fluctuation between 3.5% and 4.5% in the 30 year fixed continuing until the end of the year.  Colorado reported the highest home price appreciation of any of the 50 states in the previous 12 months recently as well, and we are a solid 22% statewide above the pre-recession highs, more locally. It makes one wonder, are we in a bubble? Some are starting to think so.  More on that in the next newsletter.  

Pocket Listing Alert: I have two houses coming on the market in the next few weeks: An updated 4BR/3BA in the Vista Pointe area of Erie, and a 3BR/2BA on a .9 acre parcel backing to open space by the Boulder Airport, call for details.

Oak at Fourteenth Pork Belly and Bacon BLT Review

It is a forgone conclusion that Boulder institution Oak at Fourteenth is among the top dining experiences available locally on any given day, night, or late night.  It has throngs of admirers and no wonder, there is something about how food, beverage, light and space combine at Oak to create magic beyond the sum of its parts.  It doesn’t need another round of applause, so why provide one? Because the Grilled Pork Belly and Applewood Smoked Bacon BLT has me in its grasp, and it seems to have taken up permanent residence among my many other appetites. 


Oak at Fourteenth BLT

The Oak BLT shadowed by doughnuts of the day and libation.

I found out it’s been on the menu for at least two years, how could it have avoided my lusty gaze before a couple of months ago?  There it was, hiding in the lineup under the outstanding Napa Cabbage Salad with Fried Egg, waiting to be discovered.  I think it’s the contrasts that make it so complete – soft yet lightly toasted brioche bun.  Spicy aoli and cool avocado.  Crunchy yet acidic fried green tomato slices.  Zesty arugula and charred pork belly. Bacon in every bite.  Looks heavy yet surprisingly light on its feet.  It is…special...

Oak BLT at Oak at Fourteenth, available on the Lunch menu Mon - Sat 11:30 – 2:30

Market Report and Flower Pepper Restaurant Review

Boulder County Market Report

Conforming to seasonal norms, inventory climbed in Boulder County in April, rising 25% countywide month over month.  So why doesn’t it feel like there’s anything available? Because compared to historical averages inventory is still under 50% of normal for this time of year, and 54% of that inventory is under contract, when 20% is normal. (source:IRES MLS)

The real news in Boulder County Real Estate this month is property taxes.  Feel like you got hit too hard? I have had many calls from clients asking about the appeals process and what they can do to ease the burden.  Appreciation has its dark side, have a look at this map of which areas rose the most in the past 24 months according to the assessor.  For information about the appeals process, look here.  If you think you might have a case call me, I have already run comps for a few friends and I would be happy to do the same for you, or to recommend a good subcontractor for a summer project you may have in the works.  The window to file for appeal closes June 1.  As always, I am here to help and I deeply appreciate your referrals. 


Flower Pepper Restaurant Review

Authentic - 1. Not false or copied, genuine  2. Having origin supported by unquestionable evidence.  “Authentic” has become a buzzword of popular culture, and who could blame us? With so much time focused on screens large and small where nearly everything can be falsely represented without us knowing, we crave the real.  Sometimes a restaurant opens that makes you wonder - have I ever tasted the authentic food of this culture before now? Welcome to Flower Pepper.  Most Chinese restaurants in America are founded by immigrants who never cooked professionally before arriving, and dish up the American hits night after night.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and you can get it anywhere.  Chef Jeff at Flower Pepper established four restaurants in Beijing, sold them and brought his extended family here.  I now crave the pork and cabbage dumplings (12 for $6.99) almost daily, everything on the menu including the dough and wonton is handmade from scratch throughout the day.  At $3.99, the wonton soup packs more deliciousness per dollar than any dish in town.  Try the Dan Dan noodle or Mapo Tofu for intricately flavored takes on noodle shop favorites, and don’t miss the Tiger Food salad with the signature flower pepper oil that leaves a buzzy sensation in your mouth.  


The wonton soup at Flower Pepper

While you are sampling authentic Chinese food, why not go all the way and enjoy some Pu’er? Earthy and satisfying, this fermented tea is available fresh by the cup.  Flower Pepper is open for both lunch and dinner and sometimes the dumplings are not available late in the evening due to the labor intensive nature of their preparation.  It is brand new, go for a visit before it gets popular.  Seating space is very limited, come at the prime mealtimes if you want to meet Jeff, and park for free in the garage behind.  Flower Pepper, Broadway and Alpine, Boulder, 720 381 1594, 11am – 9pm.

Market Report and Pho Restaurant Review

Boulder County Real Estate March 2015

Spring has sprung in Boulder County, and buyers are flocking to new listings in droves.  Single Family Home inventory was down 25% year on year in February, and sales were up 15% despite the scarcity indicating a hot seller’s market that is more challenging than ever for buyers.  Townhouse and Condominium sales also grew 7% from 2014 with inventory down 29%.  Do it yourself buyers on the major websites are finding that 50% of the inventory listed there as active is actually already under contract, emphasizing the importance of having an experienced buyer’s agent if you are serious about moving.  In the trenches, all is not as it seems in the news.  While some properties get bid up with competing offers, others don’t, and two factors are in play.  First, buyers today are less willing to make improvements.  In our time sensitive world, being “move in ready” and contemporary is a huge factor in price escalation.  Second, if a property is obviously overpriced, buyers will stay away.  No one wants to get burned as many did in the crash.  If you are considering selling and wondering what improvements will pay at the closing table, call me anytime at 303 704 7774 for a free consultation.  I have profitably flipped many houses and am happy to help. 

What the Pho is Pho? – The Best Pho in Boulder

For the uninitiated, no food elicits quite as puzzled looks as pho. What the pho is pho? Their faces say. Pronounced fuh, this reasonably priced Vietnamese noodle dish consists of a large bowl of beef broth with rice noodles to which meat, bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, and Hoisin sauce are added to taste. Pholavor is all about the broth, everything from grilled ginger to nutmeg may be brewed in for up to 12 hours. All pho is gluten free, there are occasionally vegetarian varieties, and on cold wintry days before the end of spring, nothing is as good as a steamy inhale over a big bowl of pho. 

Boulder has three establishments specializing in pho and a few other outliers, but there is only one that dishes it up exclusively, Black Pepper Pho.  If you are accustomed to the traditional savory style, the South Vietnamese broth at BPP is unexpected at first, clove, fennel and cinnamon spices add complexity and a little sweetness.  The menu and atmosphere are Boulderesque, the meat is Angus or grass fed organic and vegetarian broth is available.  Adding to the phon at BPP is the selection of cocktails and quirky insistence on no tips. This makes it seem expensive and opens the service up for criticism but I have never had anything but a prompt, hassle-free experience for marginally higher prices. 

Boulder institution Chez Thuy offers a darker broth variety nearly overwhelmed by thin-shaved red onion and scallion for a heartier flavor - delivered just as apathetically by their servers as the rest of their food.  Larger lime wedges and plentiful basil make this a good fix and the beef slices are thicker.  It’s a worthy stop for any aficionado, and the rest of the menu is extensive for any non-slurpers.  


The Pho at Vina Pho and Grill

Like a gosling following the first thing it sees after it hatches, when pho calls I often return to Vina Pho and Grill where I had my first bowl five years ago. A traditional big bowl with ingredients of no pedigree starts at $7.50.  The broth is lighter in color and full of flavor, with a few of the more exotic toppings I love like tendon and tripe on offer.  The ideal meal here starts with the panko crusted chicken wings, don’t let the garlic scallions go to waste, and ends with Vietnamese coffee.  

Black Pepper Pho, 2770 Pearl St Boulder, CO 80302 (303) 440-1948

Chez Thuy, 2655 28th St, Boulder, CO 80301 (303) 442-1700

Vina Pho and Grill, 1630 30th St, Boulder, CO 80303 (303) 444-1809

Market Report and McDonald’s Restaurant Review

Boulder County saw increases in sales volume of both single family homes and attached dwellings in December, up 8.6% and 1.1% over December 2013.  In the same time period, available home inventory fell 8.1% and attached dwellings 15.5%, indicating the inventory crunch continues, and buyer demand has not eased up proportionately to the reduced inventory in the off season.  Prices are higher in Boulder County than at any time in history, with sellers calling the shots.  The robust local economy is driving many to relocate to the area, and most experts predict more of the same in 2015.  That being said, people are still finding places to live with the right amount of persistence and determination, and having a great agent to navigate bidding wars or get you top dollar for your house is more important than ever. 

McDonald’s Restaurant Review

A few months ago when I read that the McDonald’s on 28th street was closing for a remodel, it occurred to me that I must have driven by those stately golden arches over a thousand times in my Boulder lifetime, and never gone in. Could McDonald’s in Boulder be like many of the other restaurants I have reviewed- a gem yet to be discovered or hidden from public awareness? Why have I never dropped in anyway? Snobbery? When I was a kid I loved McDonald’s, perhaps I let bad press and rumor get the best of me. When the makeover wrapped up and 28th street McD’s reopened for business, I resolved to give it a visit. 

As it turns out, McDonald’s is a neglected venue in Boulder. There are only two McDonald’s serving Boulder’s over 100 thousand souls compared to the national average of slightly over four per 100K. Last Wednesday at 11:30am there were only a few folks visible inside, but it just wouldn’t have been the full experience without including the Drive-Thru(sp), so that’s where the adventure began. The spartan modernist lanes (two!) were both empty and hip, sporting a sign “any lane, any time” between them. The sound at the mic was tinny but mostly clear and adequately loud. The voice asked “Welcome to McDonald’s, what can I make for you?” Make? “Spicy McChicken and a Diet Coke.” 

The Hot n’ Spicy McChicken Sandwich boasts a deep fried patty with a somewhat orange spicy batter that adds a slow, mild burn to the salty sweet flavor profile. The spice differentiated it from the other items we tried, but the overabundant mayonnaise unfortunately drowned its zesty potential. The Diet Coke was superb however, mysteriously better than other Diet Coke.  Smoother? More refreshing? Fountain soda is different everywhere and as it turns out McDonald’s is the gold standard by which all Coca Cola products should be judged.  The syrup, normally dispensed from plastic bags that can languish for days or weeks, is shipped straight from the…factory? in stainless steel tanks that connect directly to the fountain, ensuring the freshest taste possible. All the water and ice for McDonald’s beverages is reverse-osmosis filtered twice on site, and the soda is served to precise measurements of carbonation and temperature. 

Inside, the cheeseburger awaited. I scarfed them down in seconds as a youngster, and couldn’t wait to dive in.  Here it was moments before death: 


Not exactly an inspiring view, but the diced onions, pickles and mustard offered a little depth, and one could detect beef, all for $1.00.  For price/satisfaction, I recommend ponying up $1.59 for the double. The McNuggets stood out for crispy texture, but a bite of a Big Mac did not change the overall flavor much - salty, sweet, and then an accent of chicken or onion, beef or pickle.  Humans obviously love this magic formula, as McDonald’s serves it up to over 62,000,000 people globally every single day at unbelievably low prices, making it as much about the value as the food itself. 

McDonald’s, 1800 28th street, Boulder, CO (720) 352-5825