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Thursday, April 29,2010

Best of Boulder 2010: Food

Chez Thuy 2655 28th St., 303-442-1700
Runner-up: Hapa Honorable Mentions: Moongate Asian Bistro, Khow Thai

The term “fusion” refers to cuisine that blends ingredients and cooking techniques from a variety of origins. Since 1993, chef Thuy (pronounced “Twee”) and her staff have offered Vietnamese food peppered with inspirations from France, China, Thailand and Indonesia, and the result is mouthwatering. The restaurant serves both lunch and dinner, with extensive menus that feature seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes prepared in an array of exciting ways. Specialties include Fire Pot Sour Soup, Sugarcane Shrimp, frog legs stir-fried with curry, five-spice duck and a selection of Vietnamese stir-fries. A separate vegetarian menu is also available that contains nearly 30 meatless entrées. Many of the restaurant’s dishes contain hot spices to add a bit of fire to diners’ plates, and those selections are specially marked on the menu. Traditional beverage options include Thai iced tea and creamy fruit drinks made with Boba (tapioca balls). With the vast selection at Chez Thuy, no diner will go hungry, and the chef’s expertise will ensure satisfaction with each bite. The perhaps best known for their sushi, Hapa offers a great selection of fusion dishes, and Moongate, just a few blocks away, has selection wider than the day is long. Diners who enjoy authentic Thai cuisine definitely won’t leave Khow Thai hungry.

Moe’s Broadway Bagel
2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252 3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427
Runner-up: Einstein Bros. Bagels
Honorable Mention: Big Daddy Bagels

The history of the bagel goes back to at least 1683, when, legend has it, a Jewish baker in Vienna made a special hard roll in the shape of a riding stirrup — bugel in German — to thank the king of Poland for protecting Austria from Turkish invaders. Most historians agree, however, that this story is mostly bupkis and that the bagel has been around even longer. Some theories even trace its origin to China, and bagels, or at least bagel-like breads, are enjoyed the world over from England to Japan. In 2008, they even made it into space when Canadianborn astronaut Gregory Chamitoff brought a bag of 18 sesame seed bagels with him to the International Space Station. However old the bagel might be, the folks at Moe’s Broadway Bagel have been making historically delicious bagels (and cream cheese!) since 1992. Patty and John Sherman, along with their three children Mamie, Audrey and Peter, have been making bagels — along with pastries, sandwiches, breakfast burritos and more — for eight years now. Their line-up includes old favorites — plain, salted, poppy — and treats like cranberry-walnut. And just who is the Moe in shop’s name? The name comes from John’s grandfather, a “lifelong bagel connoisseur.” For New York transplants or anyone with a hankering for a taste of the East Coast, stop by runner-up Einstein Bros. Bagels for bagel and a cuppa. Honorable mention Big Daddy Bagels offers all the variety of flavors an adventurous bagel hound could want.

Breadworks Café
2644 Broadway St., 303-444-5667
Runner-up: Great Harvest Bread Co.

Honorable Mentions: Spruce Confections, Boulder Baked French word for bakery is pātisserie,

The a shop specializing in sweets and pastries, and use of the title is legally controlled by the French government: only shops employing a licensed master pastry chef can officially call themselves a patisserie. We’re not quite so, ahem, uptight about our sweets here in the States, but if we ever did start passing legislation on our éclairs and regulating our profiteroles, Breadworks Café wouldn’t have to worry about meeting code. Specializing in, well, just about everything, this bit of edible Eden offers muffins, scones, popovers, pies, croissants, cakes, tarts, cookies, brownies and, of course, breads. If there’s a bread to be found in Boulder, chances are Breadworks has got it. With 10 varieties of everyday bread and a rotating selection of specialty breads throughout the week, even the French would be hard-pressed to find fault with this North Boulder institution. And any good bread deserves a good soup. That’s why Breadworks also boasts a collection of nearly 300 soup recipes served throughout the year. If you want to try before you buy, stop in at Great Harvest Bread Company in the heart of Boulder for a free slice and they’ll thank you for it: one bite and you’ll leave with a loaf. Next time you’re shopping in downtown Boulder, stop in Spruce Confections for one of their scones or Boulder Baked for a gourmet cupcake. Or do both — they’re only four blocks apart!


The Mediterranean Restaurant
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: Brasserie Ten Ten Honorable Mention: The Kitchen

This just might be what The Med is known best for — meeting some friends or a date over a few tapas and drinks. You can get something as simple as almonds or olives, then dabble in some manchego or mozzarella, and move on to distinctive meat or seafood preparations. If you want to add a Middle Eastern flair to the night, there is falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj and tabouleh. What’s nice is that the menu features English translations of the foreignlanguage items, so that you don’t have to attempt to say “Pulpo a la Gallega” in front of your date. You can just say “octopus.” And add “por favor” to make up for it.

The runner-up in this category is across the street, so you can head over to Brasserie Ten Ten for a crepe, a slider or just some filet mignon tartar and quail egg toast.

At honorable mention The Kitchen, check out their community hour before 5:30 p.m. on weekdays for a shared plates menu. On Mondays, 20 percent of sales are donated to the Growe Foundation and the School Food Project — a great excuse to eat and drink with friends.

KT’s Real Good BBQ
2675 13th St., 303-442-3717
Runner-up: The Rib House Honorable Mention: Daddy Bruce’s

The world of barbecue can be contentious. Arguments exist between various U.S. states and cities as to whose method of barbecue is the right one. In Memphis, pulled pork sandwiches reign supreme — juicy shreds of slow-roasted pork smothered in sweet, tangy sauce, piled high on a burger bun. Having spent a week eating barbecue in Memphis three to four times a day, Kirk and Tricia Jamison have mastered the craft. They put their expertise to work by opening KT’s Real Good BBQ in 1992, which has expanded to four locations throughout the Boulder-Denver area. Boulder’s popular location is on 13th and Alpine. “The Pig Pile,” their signature pulled-pork sandwich, remains the restaurant’s specialty, though other items on the menu include Texas beef brisket and a smoked chicken sandwich. Side dishes notoriously complement barbecue, and at KT’s, options such as cole slaw, Kirk’s Killer Beans and red-skinned mashed potatoes do not disappoint. The restaurant also offers catering for parties and business meetings, allowing groups of all sizes to savor the slow-cooked delicacy. And if you couldn’t tell from their name what the Rib House specializes in, just take a walk past their store. That tantalizing aroma is unmistakable. Pedestrians walking down Arapahoe, right around the Naropa campus, know that the little house billowing smoke is on fire — on fire with flavor, that is. It’s the home of Daddy Bruce’s, where you can get delicious, homemade barbecue complete with the traditional white bread.

The Mediterranean Restaurant
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: The Kitchen Honorable Mention: Brasserie Ten Ten

The good thing about power lunches in Boulder County is that compared to places like, say, New York City, they’re pretty laid back affairs. When it’s time to wheel and deal over a meal, most locals put on their best hemp T-shirt and shorts and head over to The Mediterranean Restaurant. The Med, as it’s known by locals, recently opened its new dining area and bar, but still boasts the same quality food options. Located on Walnut Street near the St. Julien Hotel, The Med combines Spanish, Greek, Italian and French flavors, creating one of the most diverse menus in town. Bring your business associates here to talk shop or unwind in the sunny, lively atmosphere. The menu is expansive without being overwhelming and there are plenty of options for the vegetarians in your group. Try one of The Med’s classic pizzas, baked in their wood oven (we suggest the Quattro Stagioni) or indulge in one of their famous paella dishes. They open at 11 a.m. and seats usually fill up fast, especially as the popular tapas happy hour nears.

If you can’t grab a table at The Med, trek across the street to our honorable mention, Brasserie Ten Ten and grab a plate of their canard et chevre (duck and goat cheese) crepes or, if you’re looking for farm-to-table freshness and an extensive wine list, head to our runner-up, The Kitchen on Pearl Street.

Lucile’s Creole Cafe
2124 14th St., Boulder, 303-442-4743
Runner-up: Walnut Café, South Side Walnut Café

Head to 14th Street between Spruce and Pine streets on any morning, and you’ll see a mob of people standing around. They’re not loitering. They’re waiting for a table at Lucile’s, a favorite among foodies for Creole-style breakfast, brunch and lunch. The vast breakfast menu features special ingredients such as Louisiana sausage, red beans and rice, grits and buttermilk biscuits. Many breakfast dishes are egg-based, though French toast, a praline waffle and rice pudding porridge are among the non-egg selections. Diners can start their morning with an order of beignets, a homemade New Orleans-style donut which is one of the café’s popular attractions. Lunch is just as robust, with offerings such as shrimp and grits, blackened salmon and Chicken Robicheaux. For waffles straight out of breakfast heaven and lots of delicious egg dishes, drop in to Walnut Café, and when you’re in south Boulder, hit up their sister shop, the South Side Walnut Café.

Boulder Dushanbe Tea House 1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Runner-up: The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: Brasserie Ten Ten

Brunch is the perfect meal. You don’t have to get up as early as you would for breakfast, and you don’t have to wait as long as you would for lunch. And while the word conjures images of refined socialites sipping mimosas on a Sunday morning, brunch is actually “a heavy meal meant to take the place of both breakfast and lunch.” Seconds, anyone? At Boulder Dushanbe Tea House, you can have it both ways: elegant and filling, healthy and hearty. Every dish can be paired with a tea from their impressively large and diverse catalogue. And though “Dushanbe” means Monday in Tajik, this brunch is only offered Saturdays and Sundays. Of course you could always eat brunch at The Kitchen, known for its great wines and gourmet meats. And for a French translation of this midmorning meal, hit up Brasserie Ten Ten. (Just so you know, ouefs means eggs in French.)

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery 1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
Runner-up: Larkburger

Vegetarians are great people. Most of them care about the environment, animal rights, their health or a combination of all three. While that’s something we should all aspire to, it’s not easy to make that kind of commitment. So when you fall off the wagon of whey and into carnivorous perdition, why not land on the best burger Boulder has to offer? Swing by Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery next time you’re downtown and take a bite of beefy bliss in 11 different varieties. From the aptly named “Regular Burger” to the more cryptic “S.O.S. Burger,” all of these meaty marvels are made with all-natural beef. Well, all except one. If you’re seriously abstaining from carnal pleasures, they even offer a Garden Burger. For the swankest burger in town, check out Larkburger, an offshoot of the famous Larkspur Restaurant in Vail.

Illegal Pete’s 1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955 1320 College Ave., 303-444-3055
Runner-up: Chipotle
Honorable Mention: Efrain’s

Legend has it that the burrito traces its roots back to the days of the Mexican Revolution in Ciudad Juárez, where a humble taco vendor got the idea of wrapping a tortilla around the taco fillings to keep the food warm. Before he could say “mucho dinero,” the popularity of his tacos skyrocketed and somehow picked up the name burrito, which in Spanish literally means “little donkey.” This year, Illegal Pete’s takes the title for Boulder’s best burrito. What makes Illegal Pete’s different from the rest of the crowd, besides the funky bumper stickers, is the fact that they mix all their delicious ingredients together with a metal spoon so that your first bite contains a balanced blend of every ingredient. Runner-up Chipotle offers satisfying burritos available at trillions of stores nationwide, and they’re worth the visit if you’re in a pinch for lunch. And don’t forget local family-owned Mexican favorite Efrain’s, whose authentic burritos have been filling Boulder County bellies for years.

Chez Thuy Restaurant
2655 28th St., 303-442-1700
Runner-up: May Wah

Let`s face it, Boulder. Chez Thuy is the popular kid at school, and we all want a seat at that lunch table. Or dinner table. Whichever meal it is you’re sitting down for, Chez Thuy Restaurant is bound to leave you rubbing your own belly in prosperity and satisfaction, as if you were the Buddha himself. The nice price of the lunch menu and the charming desserts will have you wishing you had a bigger stomach. Graduate to the dinner dishes and you could find yourself wanting to test out every one of the 134 items on that menu (often confused for a textbook). Once you’ve stuck a fork in the Black Bean Hotpot or Basil Curry Stir-fry, you’ll surely vote Chez Thuy Prom Queen. Runner-up on Prom Court sits May Wah, another delicious option that offers Vietnamese, Thai, or Chinese choices — for that prom party that just can’t decide which Asian Cuisine they’d like to eat that night.

A Spice of Life Sales: 5541 Central Ave, Suite 272, 303-443-4049 Event center: 5706 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-3452
Runner-up: Sage and Savory Catering
Honorable Mention: Redstone

Co-owned by Dan Bruckner and David Rubin, A Spice of Life caters everything from weddings to corporate lunches.

They even ventured out to Steamboat Springs to cater a celebrity wedding with a Brazilian steakhouse theme, and they’ve also helped with the Humane Society of Boulder Valley’s Puttin’ on the Leash event. One of the first zero-waste caterers in the state, they recycled more than a ton of cardboard and have composted 4.5 tons of waste in the first quarter of 2010 alone. And if environmental friendliness isn’t enough to make you give these caterers a call, their modern spins on classic dishes will be, like polenta french fries and pork confit sliders. Their employees are always at the ready, sometimes even putting events together with a day’s notice. Sage and Savory’s full range of catering services can handle everything from wowing your wedding guests to keeping your coworkers from getting hungry during those long corporate meetings. The same goes for Redstone, one of Boulder’s premier caterers.

Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy
1121 Colorado Ave., Longmont, 720-494-8714

There`s nothing like artisan cheese. The creaminess, the richness, the intense flavors — there’s no better complement to a nice bottle of wine. Luckily for Boulderites, Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy has been crafting handmade goat cheeses since 1992. Just take a bite into one of Haystack’s fine cracked-pepper chevre logs or wheybrined feta and you’ll be transported to cheese heaven. For all the flavor of bovine cheese and half the fat, chomp into a chunk of Haystack Mountain goat cheese and see if you can’t tell the difference. Available in area restaurants, Haystack Mountain is a local success story that makes everyone in the county feel proud.

1630 63rd St., Suite 10, 303-440-4045 101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544 451 S. Pratt Pkwy., Longmont, 720-494-0777
Runner-up: Zolo Grill
Honorable Mention: Rio Grande

Once again, Efrain’s takes the cake, er, enchilada. If you’ve only been to Efrain’s II in Boulder, you should also check out their original establishment in Lafayette, as well as Efrain’s III in Longmont. They all have great character, and the food is consistently terrific. The menu is versatile enough to accommodate both those who like it mild and those who like sweat trickling down their foreheads. A handy temperature gauge is printed next to each item on the menu, so that you are forewarned about what will befall you if you have the cojones to order the “Costillas,” greenchile-saturated Mexican ribs. And check out the “Efrain,” the mystery burrito that the chef prepares with whatever happens to be on hand.

Upscale Zolo Grill features creative, local takes on Southwestern cuisine, as well as more than 150 tequilas to pair it with.

The honorable mention goes to the place where we once heard a margarita-toting Rio bar regular discover, “Hey, they actually have really good food here, too!”

1047 Pearl St., 303-444-7258
Runner-up: Elephant Hut

When Tom’s Tavern closed in December of 2007, locals who’d been loyal to the longtime burger joint were crushed. Nearly two years later, the location showed signs of life again, behind dust swirls of construction, and passersby were skeptical of the upcoming replacement. Thankfully, the new restaurant did not disappoint. Salt, the creation of Colterra chef Bradford Heap, stepped gracefully into 1047 Pearl Street and has since become a new local favorite. The restaurant includes many architectural components of the beloved Tom’s, but it’s the food that has won locals over. One of the restaurant’s biggest commitments is to source locally, which means menus shift quite often, and diners can take pleasure in knowing the precise origin of their meal. Food at Salt is not outrageously priced, with entrées in the neighborhood of roughly $20. For a swank and delicious Thai dining experience, Elephant Hut is already proving to be a local favorite.

The Kitchen
1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973
Runner-up: Turley’s
Honorabl Mention: Leaf

The rustically modern interior of The Kitchen includes chalkboards proudly announcing the local origins of many of the restaurant’s ingredients. The restaurant’s intense dedication to sourcing locally and organically makes it a favorite among eco-conscious, food-loving locals. Of course, the menu changes seasonally, yet always offers a variety of meat, fish, poultry and vegetarian dishes. And after all, isn’t variety the spice of life? The roots of Turley’s casual, organic meals go back to 1977, when the Turley family first tried their hand at “better for you” dining. Leaf, a perennial favorite, serves up delicious allvegetarian organic fare.

Golden Lotus 1964 28th St., 303-442-6868
Runner-up: Moongate Asian Bistro
Honorable Mention: China Gourmet

Chinese food is a staple of life in a college town, but it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality to eat on a college student’s budget. Located on 28th Street between Walnut and Pearl, Golden Lotus offers both traditional and contemporary Chinese cuisine, specializing in Szechwan and Cantonese fare. Open seven days a week, they also deliver to those too busy to get away from the office or too tired to leave home. Golden Lotus also caters to the health-conscious, as they do not use MSG and boast an extensive vegetarian menu. One of the best deals is the lunch combo, with one of 13 entrees, soup, appetizer and rice — all for $8.95. If you’re ready for dinner, try their popular sesame chicken or cashew prawns. Vegetarian options include eggplant with garlic and the sautéed string beans. Payday and feeling adventurous? Splurge on the $26 Seven Stars Around Moon dish, featuring chicken, shrimp, scallops, lobster and fresh veggies in the chef’s special brown sauce. Runner-up Moongate Asian Bistro consistently serves up outstanding Chinese food, as well as Thai and other Asian cuisines. Honorable mention China Gourmet offers affordable Chinese fair and a great place to stop for a quick and tasty lunch.

Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Runner-up: Flagstaff House Honorable Mention: The Kitchen

Nationally acclaimed as a James Beard award winner and mentioned numerous times in national media such as Food & Wine and Bon Appetit magazines, Frasca Food & Wine remains the embodiment of Boulder fine dining. Crisp white tablecloths and sleek décor offer a formal backdrop to a menu inspired by the cuisine of Friuli- Venezia Giulia, a region in northeast Italy. Owner Bobby Stuckey and his business partner, chef Lachlan Mackinnon- Patterson, are so dedicated to the authenticity of Frasca’s cuisine that they embark each year on a trip to Italy with the entire staff to eat, drink and learn. Stuckey is a Master Sommelier, a title awarded only after the completion of a rigorous examination, and which only 169 individuals in the world have earned. Frasca’s wine list reflects Stuckey’s wine expertise with hundreds of wines from across the world accompanied by insightful descriptions. The menu isn’t cheap — a four-course meal is $68 per person on most nights — but expertly prepared ingredients alongside impeccable service offers the perfect setting for a special indulgence. For a beautiful view to accompany a sublime meal, make a reservation at Flagstaff House. And for a great downtown experience, make a house call at The Kitchen.

The Sink
1165 13th St., 303-444-7465
Runner-up: Illegal Pete’s Honorable Mentions: Half-Fast Subs, Abo’s

Boulder residents, especially CU students, have been scarfing the food at Robert Redford’s former employer since 1923, and there’s no sign of it letting up. You’ve probably already tried the famous Sink Burger, which you can customize to no end with toppings and sides. But try branching out to one of The Sink’s many other choices, from pizzas to sandwiches to calzones. Or, if you’re trying to evolve out of the college diet and into a more responsible, Boulder-like eater, there are several vegetarian items and salads to choose from. And then there is the art on the walls to entertain you while you wait for your order. (If you are among the 2 percent who haven’t checked out the image of Redford in his old job, holding a broom, you better get up to speed.)

Illegal Pete’s is the runner-up for Hill food, because their burritos are so good they are barely legal. And in a deadlock for the honorable mention slot are the expansive chalkboard sandwich boards at Half- Fast Subs and the late-night pizza favorite Abo’s.

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato 4760 Baseline Rd., 303-499-4760 3133 28th St., 303-440-6542 1350 College Ave., 303-442-4400 1749 Main St., Longmont, 303-485-8834 1387 S. Boulder Rd., Louisville
Runner-up: Ben & Jerry’s Honorable Mention: Cold Stone Creamery

If you don’t know by now, Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato basically owns Boulder County when it comes to ice cream. The past few years have seen the local franchise scoop up most of the local awards — and for good reason. In Boulder County alone, there are five stores, one of them recently opening in Louisville. Each store features close to 80 different flavors of ice cream and gelato and all of them are homemade with all-natural ingredients. Some of the most popular flavors include Coffee Caramel Crunch, Peanut Butter Blast and Chai, which is a mix of Cinnamon, ginger, black tea, cardamom, and Madagascar Bourbon vanilla. You know where we’ll be this summer. Ben & Jerry’s is a staple on the Pearl Street Mall and the perfect pit stop if you need something sweet and creamy after a day of shopping. And although some people balk at the corporate nature of Cold Stone Creamery, there’s no denying the tastiness of their mixology.

Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar
825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151
Runner-up: Tandori Grill
Honorable Mentions: The Taj, Himalayas

When Pemba Sherpa arrived in Boulder in the early 1990s, Colorado’s mountains reminded him of his home in Nepal. He decided to open an adventure guiding company, Sherpa Ascent International, and Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar followed soon after. The restaurant is decorated with unique mountaineering paraphernalia and images of the Himalayas. The menu features Indian, Nepali and Tibetan specialties, all of which pack considerable flavor. Among favorites are the creamy spinach Saag platter, the spicy tomato Vindaloo and the potato-cauliflower Aloo Gobi. Most of the entrées can be made with either chicken, lamb, shrimp, tofu or just plain veggies. At Sherpa’s, diners experience the best of all worlds. The food is hearty, flavors robust, and service friendly. Tandori Grill offers a great lunch buffet, as well as elegant evening dinners. If you want to pretend you’re looking at the Himalayas while you dine, then you want The Taj, with it’s awesome view of the Foothills. Or you could go to Himalayas. No, not the mountains, the local favorite for great Indian food.

Laudisio Italian Restaurant
1710 29th St., Ste 1076, 303-442-1300
Runner-up: Pasta Jay’s Honorable Mentions: Carelli’s of Boulder, Radda Trattoria

Laudisio`s intimate lighting, warm modern decor and convenient location would be enough to bring diners to its location in the 29th Street Mall. But local patrons’ high regard for the food at Laudisio trumps these other qualities, making it a perennial Best of Boulder winner. Laudisio is lively enough for business dinners but also suits a romantic night out. The restaurant caters private parties in their onsite banquet rooms and also arranges food for off-site affairs.

The restaurant has been recognized by Wine Spectator with an Award of Excellence for its extensive and ever-changing list of Italian wines. “Our fettuccine funghi is fantastic,” says Laudisio employee Andrea Sutherland of the restaurant’s dish, which features organic mushrooms, shallots and truffle butter. She also suggests the made-to-order risotto, as Laudisio is one of the few restaurants in the state to make their own risotto in-house. If you’re looking for more familyfriendly fare, bring the kids to Pasta Jay’s in downtown Boulder. Diners with dietary considerations can find glutenfree menus at both Laudisio and at our honorable mention, Carelli’s of Boulder. Need to unwind after work? Check out the three-hour aperitivo at Radda Trattoria.

1110 13th St., 303-443-3199 For other county locations, go to
Runner-up: Cosmo’s
Honorable Mentions: Hapa, The Dark Horse

Give it to us flat and round and with the sacred Mana of the Gods flowing down the center of the fold, and what else is there? Chill, brothers and sisters, life is too short to quibble over N.Y.-style versus Chicago-style (deep down, you know what you like, right?). One of Boulder’s greatest pleasures is catching a Friday night show up on The Hill and striding over to Abo’s just before encore for a couple of slices with the Fox PA still clanging in your cranium. Genuine institutions are rare these days, but Abo’s has been wheeling out NY-style perfection for a thousand years and a hundred thousand Friday nights when all that mattered was thin crust perfection. Been there, done that. Cosmo’s is another Boulder institution, recently expanded and pumping the loudest kitchen-crew tunes in town, serving up pies for the vampires of Willy Villyville. Hapa does the late-night sushi thing on The Hill and downtown, and the Dark Horse is one of Boulder’s last truly woolly burger zones. You gonna finish that?

The Mediterranean Restaurant 1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: Jax Fish House

While there are lots of reasons to go to The Med, we started going there for that dish with gnocchi, clams and prosciutto in a Brodetto sauce. When we ate dinner there a few weeks back, we were delighted at the beautiful addition of a new dining room to the west, but we couldn’t find the gnocchi dish on the menu. Our server went to the chef after our outcry and made sure we got what we wanted, simply by substituting gnocchi for the spaghettini in the dish’s successor, the “Pasta Vongole e Prosciutto.” It’s a restaurant that not only can create a dish so delicious you’re traumatized when it changes, but has a level of service that lets you to bring it back if you want. Runner-up The Kitchen has made its mark on Boulder in recent years with clean décor, hip servers and tasty dishes prepared from high-quality, local sources. Jax gets the honorable mention and is a seafood scene standout, which is not surprising when you’ve got the likes of TV Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg at the grill.


Original Pancake House 2600 Canyon Rd., 303-449-1575
Runner-up: Walnut Café/South Side Walnut Café
Honorable Mention: Turley’s

To enjoy the dishes at your winner of the pancake and waffle award, you’ve got to get up early. “It gets pretty busy on the weekends,” says frequent patron Jon Jacobs. “You might wait 20 minutes, but it’s worth it.” Open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and weekends from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Original Pancake House boasts a homey atmosphere and a “made from scratch” menu of morning comfort food. Pancakes are the star of the show, but it’s the extras that set this place apart from the rest. Fruit often plays a supporting role, either as a fresh side or as part of their famous apple pancakes, which go great with a side of their homemade whipped cream. The restaurant brands itself as an upscale approach to breakfast. The quality of their food is upscale, but the price isn’t — a pair can eat a hearty morning meal for under $30. So settle in with a pot of coffee and have a leisurely breakfast in the heart of Boulder. Hungry on a Tuesday? Head to the the Walnut Cafe for breakfast and indulge in their Pie Day specials. Want to sleep in? Turley’s serves breakfast all day.

1124 13th St., 303-443-3199 For other county locations, go to
Runner-up: Proto’s
Honorable Mention: Beau Jo’s, Nick ‘n’ Willy’s

Whether you’re cramming for an exam, are too lazy to cook or are dealing with a case of munchies following your last dose of medical marijuana, pizza is the perfect choice. There’s just something so satisfying, especially for a generation raised on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, about a circular piece of bread smothered in tomato sauce, covered in mozzarella cheese, baked hot and cut into a triangle. Abo’s has perfected this simple formula. With slightly sweet tomato sauce and quality ingredients complimented by a textbook-perfect crust, Abo’s has been a staple of affordable tasty treats in Boulder for decades. For something a little more upscale, Proto’s in North Boulder offers gourmet pies in a cozy and hip restaurant setting. And don’t forget Beau Jo’s and Nick ‘n’ Willy’s — two upstanding institutions that offer their own unique take on the Italian-American classic. Cowabunga, dude.

Boulder Farmers’ Market
13th Street, between Arapahoe and Canyon, 303-910-2236
Runner-Up: Red Robin Honorable Mention: Noodles & Co.

In the fall of 1986, a small group of local farmers decided to organize the Boulder Farmers’ Market. The site they chose was Boulder’s Central Park, in the heart of the city. Now, about 130 different vendors hawk their wares. There are ready-to-eat meals for breakfast or lunch, musicians, art exhibits and grassy spaces to play on. The proximity to Pearl Street Mall, Boulder Creek and the public library make BFM great place to bring the kids. Runner-up Red Robin provides one of the most family-friendly atmospheres of any restaurant chain around, complete with balloons and clowns. Noodle & Co., a regional phenomenon, offers a unique menu based entirely on various cooked pastas, as their name suggests. Kids of all ages love the mac & cheese.

Boulder Farmers’ Market 13th Street, between Arapahoe Avenue and Canyon Boulevard, 303-910-2236
Runner-up: Chautauqua Dining Hall
Honorable Mention: Boulder Dushanbe Tea House

Who doesn’t love fresh food and the outdoors? At the Boulder Farmers’ Market, locals and visitors can enjoy both. Dozens of local farmers sell their fresh produce, meats, cheeses and other foods in a friendly market setting. A special section of the market is dedicated to prepared foods, with local producers like Laudisio, Sister’s Pantry, Brilligworks Bakery and Boulder Ice Cream offering made-to-order snacks. The market will run every Saturday until November, and Wednesday evenings May 5 to October. The sprawling lawn of Boulder’s Central Park nearby offers an ideal setting for an outdoor picnic. Chautauqua Dining Hall has been a local landmark since 1898, serving up great food against a great backdrop of natural beauty. Though many people go to Dushanbe Tea House to admire the beautiful building, when the weather’s nice, why not take your tea to the terrace and enjoy the beautiful rose garden and some sunshine?

Sushi Zanmai
1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733
Runner-up: Hapa Honorable Mention: Sushi Tora

Here`s a bit of trivia for you: sushi doesn’t mean raw fish. It’s actually the vinegared rice wrapped around or tucked under the fish. The practice of making sushi began centuries ago as a way of using rice to preserve fish in a delicious method known as “lactofermentation.” Yum. The sushi we eat today first became popular in the early 1800s as a grab-and-go snack from street-side vendors. Sushi has since evolved into an elegant dining experience, and only the freshest fish makes it to the sushi counters of Sushi Zanmai, the much-lauded 20-year veteran of Boulder’s sushi scene. Their menu reads like an oceanic Who’s Who?, and their selection is almost endless, from traditional tuna rolls to specials like the Boulder Roll. Downtown is a veritable oasis of sushi excellence, with runner-up Hapa, and honorable mention Sushi Tora both within walking distance of Sushi Zanmai.

Several locations in Boulder
Runner-up: Noodles & Co.

One Honorable Mention: Khow Thai of the best take-out experiences we’ve had here in the office was when we were slaving away, editing a special edition, and the publisher (who, at the risk of sounding like a kiss-ass, is a generous and wonderful human being) announced that he was buying us takeout from Snarf’s. The energy lift from that announcement — and from the tasty sandwiches delivered only a short time later — was palpable, and we proceeded to put out the best special edition in the history of your humble local publishing company. It’s brain food, man, and when you can get it without the lost productivity of having your employees leave their desks, it’s no wonder Snarf’s is the first choice of benevolent managers in Boulder County when it comes to employee motivation. Noodles is always a solid choice for healthy and delicious take-out, because of its consistent high quality. Khow Thai takes home the title for best Thai food every year, and apparently voters like to take it home, too.

Khow Thai
1600 Broadway, 303-447-0273
Runner-up: Chy Thai Cuisine Honorable Mentions: Siamese Plate, Buddha Café

It`s a good thing Toi Newman is confident in her cooking. When she and husband Larry opened Khow Thai in 2002, they faced many obstacles. The location had a reputation for business failure, they didn’t have a big advertising budget, and in 2003, construction on Broadway hindered access to the store. Despite these odds, Toi kept cooking. Boulder diners quickly caught on, and when Broadway went back to normal, the business took off. The menu features traditional dishes like Pad Thai, as well as an array of unique stir-fries and several rice dishes. Runner-up Chy Thai offers authentic Thai cuisine that’s not only good, it’s good for you, because it’s made from scratch by experienced chefs. Siamese Plate is the place to go when you can’t decide between Thai or Japanese (our suggestion: try both). And Buddha Café’s menu is enlightened with a full selection of curries, noodle dishes and desserts.

2010 16th St. Boulder, 303-442-1485
Runner-up: Turley’s Honorable Mention: Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant

Leaf, a relative newcomer, offers the finest seasonal ingredients to provide vegetarian cuisine for herbivores and omnivores alike. Their full bar features a unique earth-friendly wine list and organic vodka. The mouth-watering dinner menu offers such a wide variety of styles and tastes, any diner can find something to delight the tastebuds, like Genereal Tso’s Seitan, Jamaican Jerk Tempeh or Polenta Napoleon. A brief glance at web reviews confirms the high level of satisfaction enjoyed by their customers, whether they’re vegetarian or not. There are plenty of raves as well for the serving staff and the portion sizes.

A favorite for healthy eaters, Turley’s is gem that transcends stereotypes about what a natural food restaurant is all about. Having a meal at Ras Kassa’s is like journeying into another world, sharing the meal with your group, seated on comfy cushions around low tables.

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Runner-up: Flagstaff House

Walking into the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is like walking into a work of art. And, in some ways, that’s exactly what it is. Built by the artists and craftsmen of Boulder’s sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the intricacies of the walls, columns, ceiling and furniture are especially striking when you take the time, after ordering, to walk around and examine them closely. A couple of things to check out: The ceiling not only bears the names of the master woodcarvers, but the message, “artisans of ancient Khojand, whose works are magical.” After a hectic morning, arriving at Boulder’s exquisite jewel of a teahouse and slipping into that other world is a breath of fresh air. The environment just exudes relaxation. And we haven’t even gotten to the high quality of the tea and the food. Definitely one of those places to take out-of-town visitors.

Runner-up Flagstaff House offers worldclass ambiance, perched high above Boulder’s sparkling lights and its warm, classy interior.

The Kitchen 1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973
Runner-up: Boulder Dushanbe Tea House
Honorable Mention: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Sticky toffee pudding with vanilla gelato?

Pear and almond tart with Chantilly? Or, to be most straightforward, how about a pot of chocolate with heavy cream? Even a painfully full tummy can’t make a diner to turn away the dessert menu at The Kitchen. There are just seven offerings, all of them heavenly. Perhaps it’s the restaurant’s commitment to local ingredients that makes them so good, or the expertise of pastry chef Nathan Miller. Whatever the secret, The Kitchen’s desserts are absolutely worth every calorie. And at only $8 a piece, they’re worth every penny, as well. After a meal at the Dushanbe Tea House, try a cup of their huge selection of teas with your dessert. At The Med, make sure you leave room to try one of their delicate and delectable desserts.

Frasca Food & Wine 1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966
Runner-up: Flagstaff House Honorable Mentions: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun, Walnut Café/South Side Walnut Café

It`s a sign of pretty amazing service when you ask your server about a particular wine and he brings out a book with maps that he uses in a mini-presentation about the Italian region. That’s been our experience at Frasca Food & Wine, and others must have gotten the same service, given that it won this award. Frasca is one of those places where the service is as good as the food, and that’s saying a lot. It’s a great place to take a date or a larger party on a special night.

What else can you say about runner-up Flagstaff House, where the servers line up behind your entire seated party — even if it’s 15 or 20 people — and lower everyone’s plate in front of them simultaneously? The honorable mentions — Mountain Sun/ Southern Sun, Walnut Café/South Side Walnut Café — have a special place in our hearts, especially their southern halves, which are right across the street from Boulder Weekly and always treat us well.

Flagstaff House 1138 Flagstaff Rd., 303-442-4640
Runner-up: Frasca Food & Wine Honorable Mention: Black Cat

When you take a date to the Flagstaff House, it raises the game to a whole new level. First, the short drive from Boulder up the road that winds among the Flatirons just oozes intimacy. Then, after the valet helps your date out of your cherry-red Ferrari (a guy can dream, can’t he?), the hostess shows you to a candlelit window table overlooking the twinkling lights of Boulder. The wines are top-notch, the food is remarkable, and the service is stellar. Plus, there are some great overlooks in the area where you can park to, um, enjoy an after-dinner conversation. Our runner-up, Frasca, would impress a date because it is the epitome of class and elegance, both in its menu offerings and service. Honorable mention the Black Cat definitely has a romantic atmosphere, and last fall it got a nice mention in the Wall Street Journal as one of Boulder’s best restaurants.

Snarf’s Several locations in Boulder County
Runner-up: Salvaggio’s Italian Deli

Once again, Snarf’s takes the crown.

Quite a feat, given that the county has its fair share of great sandwich shops. But the establishment that named its Longmont shop Snarfmont and calls its kids sandwiches “Snarflettes” has more character than the rest, and its creations are top-notch. There’s something about the bread. Or maybe it’s the fresh ingredients. Or the TLC from the sandwich chefs. Whatever it is, there is something distinctive about this Boulder original. We also like its sustainability efforts. Almost everything is either composted or recycled, including the forks and spoons, and there are clearly marked bins to direct customers where to put what. Salvaggio’s resembles an authentic New York deli, where you almost want to bark your order as the sandwich meats come off the slicer behind the counter.

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Thanks BW! Another fun collection of your advertisers in order of how much they spend on ads!


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