A Bite of Bold

Ash’Kara’s Unorthodox Culinary Interpretations Are a Welcomed Addition to the Neighborhood

Article by Emily O'Brien

Photography by Katy Jo Caringer unless otherwise noted

Originally published in Boulder Lifestyle

When Daniel Asher was 19, he took a trip to Israel that transformed the trajectory of his life.

He tasted hummus for the first time and found it unlike anything he’d ever eaten from the States. For starters, it was hand-whipped smooth and creamy, different than the “chickpea dip” that Daniel says is sold here. Ever since that trip, he’s wanted to create something unique that would expose the flavorful and vibrant Israeli food tastes and textures to those in the U.S.

Decades plus a few restaurants later, Chef Daniel Asher finally conjured up his dream place: Ash’Kara, which opened recently on the Pearl Street Mall, inside the former Pepper the Noshery space.

Ash'Kara is Hebrew street slang derived from the Arabic word for “totally!” or “right on!”—fitting for a restaurant whose exploration of contemporary Israeli cuisine borrows flavors from the Middle East, Mediterranean and Northern Africa, transforming these inspirations into its own unique creations. Its vegetable-forward menu caters to non-meat eaters and those with food sensitives.

It seems the restaurant as a whole is rooted in goodness. It gives 20 percent fair wages to employees, sources ingredients as ethical and environmentally sustainable as possible and contributes 1 percent to the Zero Foodprint initiative in support of carbon farming and restoring the environment.

Heritage grain wood-fired pita, cooked to doughy perfection inside the kitchen’s 900-degree brick oven, is served with the hummus, made with organic chickpeas, Soom tahini, garlic, EVOO, smoked pimento and parsley. Pita is also offered alongside the roasted pepper and caramelized walnut muhammara. Fresh takes on golden standards, like baba ganoush, saganaki and labneh, are also available.

Plates include falafel, wood-roasted carrots, sablefish, Za’atar spiced chicken, eggplant tagine and lamb kofte. Made-to-be-shared dishes include a mushroom tagine, with varieties of wood-fired locally grown fungi simmered in a conical clay pot with potatoes, yams, sweet figs, apricots and harissa-spiced tomato broth. Adding a side of rice works well to sop it up.

Drinks are as fun to order as they are delicious with names like Livin’ La Beet-a Loca (golden beet infused Family Jones gin, Aperol, sweet vermouth, Method champagne sparkling wine), Red Light Special (Reposado tequila, Monkey Shoulder, Aleppo pepper, hibiscus and lime) and Life After Love (Amontillado sherry, Verino Mastiha Antica, Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic and lemon).

Stop in for a happy hour bite any day of the week or opt for a larger meal at lunch or dinner. Dahab Downstairs, a “beachside bar and speakeasy-style lounge,” located on the lower level, is available for private events.

1043 Pearl St., Boulder

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