East County Restaurant
EFRAIN’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666- 7544
1630 N. 63rd St., Boulder, 303-440-4045
451 S. Pratt Parkway., Longmont, 720- 494-0777
Second Place: Colterra
Third Place: The Huckleberry
Fourth Place: Lucky Pie Pizza and Taphouse
Fifth Place: Sugarbeet
Ever tried the Mexican Ribs at Efrain’s? Sweet mother of Zeus, they are spicy. We’re not talking about your classic barbecue ribs, these babies are soaked for, like, days in green chile. And this may well be the best, hottest green chile this side of Taos. Makes the margaritas go down a lot quicker, let’s put it that way. The nice thing about this East County restaurant is that there are three locations, so no matter what ‘L’ town you live in, you’ll never be far from delicious Mexican food. But when ordering, keep an eye on the handy spice-level scale that appears next to each dish on the menu. Your tongue will thank you later.
Food on the Hill
1165 13th St., 303-444-7465
Second Place: Illegal Pete’s
Third Place: Cafe Aion
Fourth Place: Half Fast Subs
Fifth Place: Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Let’s put it this way. When the president of the United States comes to Boulder, what restaurant does he visit? That’s right, The Sink, a Boulder institution with a colorful history that stretches back nine decades. Robert Redford pushed a broom there before he went on to bigger and better things. How cool is that? And in addition to being one of CU’s most well-known student hangouts, it’s a fun place to eat, not just because of the tasty burgers, but also because of the amazing artwork on the walls, painted by Boulder beatniks beginning in 1955. And while you’re there, try what Obama ate during his visit last year: a pizza that has been renamed the “POTUS Pie.”
OSKAR BLUES GRILL & BREW
303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685 %u2028
Second Place: Lyons Fork
Third Place: Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse
Fourth Place: La Mariposa Mexican Restaurant
Fifth Place: Barking Dog Cafe
The folks in Lyons know good food, and, as voters have attested, none is better in this fair town at the foot of the Rockies than at Oskar Blues Grill & Brew. The brewery’s original restaurant has a longstanding dedication to blues music and Southern cooking (founder Dale Katechis hails from Alabama). And it sets itself apart by infusing its dishes with the brewery’s signature beers — take, for example, Dale’s Pale Ale Original Wing Sauce. To top it off, Oskar Blues has its own “Hops and Heifers” farming operation that provides local, grass-fed Angus beef for the restaurant (coming to you direct in the form of delicious half-pound burgers).
110 N. Jefferson St., Nederland, 303-258-1169
Second Place: Backcountry Pizza
Third Place: Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery
Fourth Place: Sundance Cafe
Fifth Place: The Savory Cafe
If anything could awaken the frozen dead guy from his icy slumber, it would probably be the tantalizing smells wafting out of Nederland restaurant Kathmandu. Our winner draws hungry guests to the small mountain town with its authentic Nepalese and Indian cuisine. Kathmandu dishes are made fresh using family recipes and include starters like samosas and dal soup, as well as entrees like vegetables korma (vegetables in a coconut cashew sauce), saag with freshly made panir cheese and sweet potato masala. Backcountry Pizza, our runner-up, is also a local favorite where patrons can enjoy a beer while waiting for their pie to cook to perfection.
STAFF PICK: Misplaced Restaurant
1235 Pennsylvania Ave., 303-993-8131
Within a couple blocks of Cafe Aion, there are three pizza places, multiple late-night joints catering to the drunk student crowd, cheap Chinese, a hookah bar, a popular music venue and more. Yet Cafe Aion has made a name for itself offering high-quality tapas and entrees, despite being surrounded by nothing but college students. The restaurant has managed to find a strange niche at the site of the old Aion Used Books — they get students reaching up, young professionals, and the University Hill and South Boulder homeowners who don’t want to make the drive to Pearl Street. Their tapas and happy hour are of big-city quality, and get there Wednesday night for their paella and a bottle of wine deal for two.
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