First Bite Boulder is an annual event that highlights Boulder’s culinary scene. Each fall—usually a week or so before the holidays start—more than 40 of Boulder’s top restaurants offer a special three-course $26 prix fixe dinner menu. And we diners jump at the chance to sample their menus.

First Bite Boulder first course: Polenta and Pear at Alba. The polenta was crispy, the poached Bartlett pear sweet, and the gorgonzola sauce added tang.

For me—and a lot of folks—First Bite lets us try a three-course meal for a fraction of what we’d usually pay.

Granted, the portions served on the First Bite menus are smaller than what you’d get if you paid full price, but it’s nice to have the experience of a more extended meal than we could otherwise afford. (Alcohol is extra, of course).

What’s really cool about the First Bite concept is it showcases how “foodie”-friendly our town is, and how many Boulder restaurants cook with local organic ingredients.

Buying local means we gourmands get the freshest produce and meats, plus eliminating shipping ingredients from around the globe saves fossil fuels.

In past years, friends and I partook of First Bite at Leaf (a vegetarian restaurant), The Kitchen (an organic bistro) and Arugula (northern Italian).

Alba Restaurant and Wine Bar

This year we tried a new spot: Alba Restaurant and Wine Bar, which also specializes in northern Italian cuisine.

For my First Bite experience, I sampled Polenta and Pear (first course); Seared Harris Ranch Hanger Steak with Tuscan friend potatoes, arugula, and salsa verde (second course); and a Torta Cioccolata (dessert).

Everything was fabulous; our table of five had only kudos for the meal (although one friend found the espresso lacking).

This year’s First Bite lasts from November 12 to 20.

I’m already looking forward to next year!

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor

P.S. If you’ve been to any of the First Bite tastings, share the experience by leaving a comment below.

The grand finale: Alba's flourless chocolate torte with vanilla gelato and a sprinkling of hazelnut pralines

Showing 6 comments
  • Chelsea St. Pierre

    Just went to Salt for the first time with First Bite. Great food; love the feel of the place!

    • Laurel

      It’s a wonderful restaurant–and it’s pretty green too. Always something fab to eat. Check my blog posting about it: /?p=1090

  • Claire Walter

    We had two FBB meals this year. Words and images from Restaurant 4580 are at, and from Arugula at We had planned a FBB dinner at Alba as well, but the friend we were going with canceled in the last minute, so we did as well. We’d been doing A LOT of eating. We try to visit to FBB restaurants every year and also a couple of Denver Restaurant Week participants.

    • Laurel

      Ah yes, Denver’s Restaurant Week is February 26 – March 11, 2011. We’ll have to try that culinary event too.

  • Gail Storey

    Another great thing about First Bite is we try things on the menu different from our usual faves. We had a fantastic dinner at Aji, and later in the week at Japango, where we loved the seaweed salad and rare tuna.

    • Laurel

      Yes, it’s easy to get in a restaurant rut–even if it’s a really good restaurant. Boulder has so many delicious places to eat that it’s good to get out and sample something new.

Leave a Comment