On the Boulevard, which identifies itself as a “spirited eatery,” is a Village Seven neighborhood sports bar on a street with more residences than businesses. Even though there’s no nearby competition, this is the kind of place where even if the staff doesn’t know your name, they sure know how to make you feel like a regular.
TVs, pool tables and electronic dart boards provide most of the décor, but who cares? It’s the menu that warrants attention. Foodwise, the main attractions are fresh ingredients, homemade soups, made-to-order sandwiches, nightly dinner specials and in-house baked desserts.
Our servers, Emme and Jess, were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the menu. They worked in sync, like a choreographed dance team. There was no possessive my section vs. your section. Instead, each paid attention to every table: if an order was ready while the other server was mixing drinks, one backed the other without any noticeable communication. Their impressive ability to describe the dishes made it even more difficult to make decisions. It all sounded good.
Pork tenderloin is a staple in the Midwest, but not so much elsewhere. At OTB, the elephant ear is both the name and an apt description. Pounded as thin as a give-away booklet on meat tenderizing, the pork is lightly breaded and fried. It practically covers the plate, and the Kaiser roll with sliced tomatoes and leaf lettuce looks like it belongs in Lilliput by comparison. The pork is tender, the breading not overwhelming, and the overall flavor competes with any Midwest counterpart.
Sandwiches include a choice of sides, including pasta salad, french fries and coleslaw, among others. I ordered a cup of the chicken tortilla soup. Warm and comforting on a chilly fall day, it was full of chunks of chicken breast, beans, diced green peppers, green chiles and crunchy tortilla strips in a tomato-based broth.
The OTB steak sandwich ($11.70), prime rib French dip ($12.95) and the Philly cheese steak ($9.95) all sounded like variations on a theme. While each was described as a choice, it was the steak sandwich that generated the most enthusiasm. Paper-thin slices of sirloin steak are piled high in a hoagie bun. It doesn’t end there. Melted Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions cover the meat.
The golden-crusted onion rings, on the side, were crispy with traces of the oil in which they’d been fried.
Banana bread ($3.25) is among the house-made desserts and not something I’d ordinarily order, having made more than my fair share through the years with overripe bananas. Yet, there was a choice of three: plain, with walnuts or with blueberries. The bread is served with whipped cream cheese and is warmed on the flattop, which Jess said makes it “pretty perfect.” She was right. The addition of blueberries along with the toasty bread made this more than home kitchen standard.
Three options are offered for the house-made cheesecake ($4.95): salted caramel on a pretzel crust and plain, with cherries or with hot fudge and almonds. This was a harder choice, but the cherry topping won out. Our generous slice was creamy, smooth and rich.
Nightly dinner specials feature range from homemade spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesdays to sirloin steak on Friday nights.
Yes, OTB is a bar, but the service and the quality of the food overshadow that label.
Restaurant: On the Boulevard
Address: 2855 N. Murray Blvd.
Contact: 471-4424; on-the-boulevard.com
Restaurant character: Friendly, neighborhood bar with exceptional food and service
Rating total: 5 of 5 forks
Food: 5 of 5 forks
Ambiance: 5 of 5 forks
Service: 5 of 5 forks
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday
Entrees: $7.95 to $11.95
Credit cards: Yes
Vegan options: Yes
Outdoor dining: No
Gluten-free options: Yes
What’s online as of Nov. 26:
• 6.3 of 10 based on 22 votes on Foursquare
• 4.5 of 5 stars based on 15 reviews on TripAdvisor
• 3.8 of 5 rating based on 20 votes on Zomato
• 4 of 5 stars based on 109 reviews on Yelp
Excellent rating on Jan. 18 by El Paso County Public Health.