Sometimes you don’t want what a new restaurant has to offer. When Buen Tiempo, Ouray’s iconic Mexican restaurant, recently exited its space on downtown Main Street, I admit I was sorry to see it go.
The fare was never great. Yet certain aspects of the experience — let’s say — were consistently appealing. The lofty ceilings and soaring, open spaces; the fully stocked bar; the outdoor patio. Watching the locals and visitors parade by each year while sipping a margarita, who cared how good the food was? You could feel in your bones it was summer.
Now imagine if you could have this space back, that you could reclaim it some way. But this time, it could be combined with another familiar restaurant where the food was actually really good.
That’s what you get with Colorado Boy Southwest Pub, the third Colorado Boy restaurant to join the family.
The original Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery opened in Ridgway in 2008 and soon became known for its thin-crusted pizzas and craft brews. The “wee humble pub” was named by founders Tom and Sandy Hennessey for the mine located outside Ouray — so it makes a certain sense that the culinary Colorado Boy is back here, too.
The Ouray restaurant has only been open a couple of weeks; it’s still too soon for a proper review. What I can say is that the pizza was on-point, and delectable as usual. My companion and I shared the garlic variety, which featured roasted garlic, mozzarella (but of course), fresh tomatoes and basil. The pie was finished with a drizzle of garlic oil. We also sampled a Red Chile Beef pie, with red chili sauce, shredded meat and lashings of hot chili oil.
The new iteration of Colorado Boy also includes Mexican fare: enchiladas, tacos, burritos and more, which explains the presence of Southwestern-inspired pizza (a green chili and braised chicken variety of pie is also on offer). The two types of cuisine, Mexican and Italian, reach their ultimate pairing and become nearly indiscernible when it comes to desserts. Exactly two are on offer — sopapillas (“Traditional New Mexican fried dough,” topped with powdered sugar,” according to the menu) and Zeppole (“Italian dough balls, fried topped with sugar”).
Six Colorado Boy beers, including Mexican Lager and Dark Mexican Lager, are here, and so are Kolsch, Raspberry Kolsch, and Milk Stout, from Echo brewery in Frederick, Colorado. But unlike the Ridgway Colorado Boy, where beer and wine is pretty much it, the full bar remains at this establishment, and seven types of margarita are on the menu, including jalapeno and prickly pear.
My favorite starter from Colorado Boy Ridgway is here as well: a spinach salad with piquant gorgonzola cheese, roasted red peppers and toasted walnuts, with a drizzle of pesto dressing, (you might want to request extra gorgonzola for the ultimate collision of toasty-creamy-crunchy and blue-cheesy).
So to recap, the great pizzas from just up the road are now here; the full bar, and as-you-like-it margaritas, have remained from before. The beautiful, historic setting (with the Beaumont Hotel right next door) remains the same. The Mexican recipes are reportedly new, which is probably a good thing; our cheery, highly efficient waitress reported that the recipes are being developed by the restaurant’s new owner. Also new: a set of patio furniture. “It’s being set up tomorrow. And the forecast is for sunshine. And we’ll be outdoors!”
It’s still not quite the solstice. But already in Ouray, summer’s arrived.
Colorado Boy Southwest Pub is open seven days a week, from noon-9 p.m.