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Home / Articles / Special Sections / Best of Boulder /  Best of Boulder County 2011 - Food
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Thursday, April 28,2011

Best of Boulder County 2011 - Food

By Boulder Weekly Staff

APPETIZERS/TAPAS

The Mediterranean Restaurant

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Runner-up: The Kitchen


It’s fun to speak rapidly when saying you’re going to a tapas bar, because sometimes people think you said “topless bar.” In Sanskrit, the term “tapas” can mean either spiritual suffering or spiritual ecstasy. Having appetizers at The Mediterranean Restaurant, called The Med by locals, is definitely the latter. The tapas are so delicious and offer such a wide variety that you can make a meal of them if you choose, sampling everything from the Trucha de Antonio (or smoked trout) to the Barbietolla (roasted red beets with horseradish crme) to a traditional Caprese (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil). Mix that with great wine or mixed drinks and wonderful conversation, and you’ve got an unbeatable evening. Local culinary standout The Kitchen was our runner-up this year, followed by Brasserie Ten Ten in third place, Boulder Café in fourth and Aji in fifth.


ASIAN FUSION

Chez Thuy

2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Runner-up: Hapa


The winner of this year’s best Asian Fusion restaurant often works with big crowds, and for good reason. Many patrons advise future visitors to carpool to the restaurant, if possible, as parking gets tight. This year, Chez Thuy earned the most reader votes, persuading taste buds with specialized seafood, five-spice chicken and crispy spring rolls. The restaurant is also known for its popular vegetarian dishes, such as the hot pot served in a thick and flavorful black bean sauce. To finish off a meal, Chez Thuy offers a fried banana dessert as well as a variety of sweet, fruity drinks. Runner-up this year is Hapa, a sushi grill and sake bar known for its suggestively named menu items, while third place went to Khow Thai. Readers voted Japango in fourth place, while fifth place was claimed by Moongate.


BAGEL

Moe’s Broadway Bagel

2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252

3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427

Runner-up: Einstein Bros. Bagels


The stories about the humble bagel’s origins are as numerous as the many flavors of cream cheese, but no one can say for sure which tale is real. There’s one about it being a commemorative gift shaped like a stirrup given to the king of Poland in 1683. (Apparently, the man didn’t want gold or art, but bread.) There’s another one about how Polish Jews needed something quick to bake after the dietary restrictions from the Sabbath ended. Whatever the origin, soon after Jewish immigrants brought bagels to the United States, they became a staple of American breakfast foods, and nobody in Boulder does bagels better than Moe’s Broadway Bagel, the perennial winner of the category. The family-owned business has made fresh bagels, layering on inches of their trademark cream cheese, since 1992, much to the delight of bagel-loving Boulderites. Einstein Bros. Bagels is this year’s runner-up, while Big Daddy Bagels came in third and Mickey C’s Bagels came in fourth.


BAKERY

Breadworks

2644 Broadway, 303-444-5667

Runner-up: Great Harvest


Breadworks opened on Valentine’s Day in 1995, and Boulderites are still feeling the love. Bread takes center stage here (if you couldn’t already guess), with each loaf baked fresh every day. The supporting actors are stellar, as well, with separate pastry, coffee, salad/sandwich and grab-and-go stations. The pastries are particularly impressive, with crme brlée, croissants and tarts of all kinds, and even miniature desserts for those with a smaller sweet tooth. Runner-up status goes to Great Harvest Bread Co. and its massive samples, and Spruce Confections comes in third. Boulder Baked follows in fourth place, and Tee & Cakes rounds out the top five.


BARBECUE

KT’s Real Good BBQ

2675 13th St., 303-442-3717

7464 Arapahoe Rd., 303-786-7608

Runner-up: Daddy Bruce’s


The expansive, delicious world of barbecue has turned slow-cooked meats and carefully crafted sauces into an art, and though Colorado isn’t known for its BBQ in the same way as Texas, North Carolina, Georgia or Memphis, we sure are blessed with a plethora of extremely skilled imitators. KT’s Real Good BBQ founders Kirk and Tricia Jamison spent some quality time researching the barbecue artistes of Memphis during the summer of 1991 and came back with recipes and a business plan. They founded KT’s in 1992, and they have grown strongly ever since, opening four locations, including one in Broomfield and one in Denver. Since 1980, runner-up Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que has been making delicious meats in old-school fashion in a barbecue shack close to Boulder High School. Boulder newcomer (relatively speaking) The Rib House takes third.

BREAKFAST

Lucile’s Creole Café

2124 14th St., Boulder, 303-442-4743

518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814

Runner-up: Walnut Café/Southside Walnut Café


Breakfast has got to be the best meal for dining out. We could eat a whole platter of bacon in one sitting. Or a whole platter of beignets from Lucile’s Creole Café. Since two of its five locations are in Boulder County (Boulder and Longmont), you’re never too far from those warm, sugar-covered puffed pastries of heavenly goodness. In addition to some divine varieties of eggs Benedict, this homey New Orleans-style café serves a couple of scrambles that we could eat daily: Farmer’s Eggs and Hank’s Eggs. The former has sausage; the latter has avocado and tomato. Mmm, is it tomorrow morning yet? Another of our favorites, the Walnut Café and its sister, the Southside Walnut Café, took second place. The Buff Restaurant came in third, followed by Dot’s Diner in fourth and Turley’s in fifth.


ORGANIC RESTAURANT

The Kitchen

1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973

Runner-up: Salt


If we are what we eat, shouldn’t we at least know what we’re eating? At The Kitchen, what goes into mouthwatering options like slow-roasted duck and porcini mushroom soup is no mystery, thanks to sourcing from local farms all spelled out on a blackboard in the middle of the dining room. While the menu changes seasonally, you can always count on a fun and tasty meal in the elegantly casual dining room, as organic is transformed into gourmet. Also in tune with Boulder’s infatuation with farm-to-table fare is our runner-up, Salt, where the menu draws heavily on ingredients found at the farmer’s market during summer months. Taking third place this year is Mod Market, followed by Leaf in fourth place and Turley’s in fifth place.


MEXICAN

Efrain’s Mexican Food Restaurant

101 East Cleveland St., Lafayette,

303-666-7544

1630 63rd St., Boulder, 303-440-4045

451 S. Pratt Pkwy., Longmont,

720-494-0777

Runner-up: Zolo Grill


With so many college students residing in the area, it is no surprise that this category’s winner is known for its strong margaritas and huge portions. Tucked away from obvious restaurant destinations like The Hill, Pearl Street or Twenty Ninth Street, Efrain’s Mexican Food Restaurant is also praised for its authenticity. Efrain’s proved so popular, in fact, they opened a second location, aptly named Efrain’s II in Boulder, and third location in Longmont called (you guessed it) Efrain’s III. A word to the wise — they cut you off after two Premier margaritas due to the high alcohol content, and the chile verde will make you sweat. Modern southwest cuisine and more than 150 varieties of tequila are available at runner-up Zolo Grill. Rio Grande was voted third, followed by Agave in fourth and Casa Alvarez in fifth.


LATE-NIGHT

Cosmo’s Pizza

1325 Broadway, 303-447-1133

659 30th St., 303-447-3278

Runner-up: Abo’s Pizza


Nothing says Boulder late night like a trip to Cosmo’s Pizza after a tiring evening of studying or party-hopping on the Hill. A favorite among the college crowd, Cosmo’s is the ideal restaurant to stop in for a calzone big enough to swallow anyone within a 5-foot radius. A chill staff and TVs dotting the room like a sports bar help to make Cosmo’s a great place to wind down after a long night, with enormous, just-greasy-enough slices of New York-style thin-crust pizza. Kudos to anyone who can get the 24-incher out the door. Runner-up for late-night cuisine goes to Abo’s Pizza, also known for humongous slices of deliciousness. Those not in the mood for pizza may choose to head to our third-place winner, the Dark Horse, for a burger, a beer and Thursday night karaoke. Hapa came in fourth, and Boulder Baked came in fifth.


FOOD ON THE HILL

Snarf’s

1360 College Ave., 303-444-7714

Runner-up: The Sink


If you’ve ever examined the hand-drawn figures shown eating Snarf’s sandwiches on this restaurant’s menus, you’ll notice that the characters are not just poorly dressed, but have eyes that have floated off their faces. The guys have five o’clock goatees, and the one reaching for the female’s sandwich has no ears on which to perch the stems of his glasses. But they look happy, which is what you’ll be after eating ’wiches at this Boulder original. The location on the Hill had its building torn down, so it simply moved down the street to the food court. Don’t forget that for a $10 minimum order, Snarf’s delivers — hell, yeah — and its Hill sandwich engineers have delivered many a tasty meal to Boulder Weekly. Last year’s champ, The Sink, came in second place this year, followed by Illegal Pete’s in third place, Half Fast Subs in fourth and Abo’s Pizza in fifth.


TAKEOUT

Noodles & Co.

1600 28th St., 303-546-9000

Runner-up: Snarf’s


There’s nothing like an excellent meal after a long day at the office, but the thought of going to the store for fresh ingredients and then cooking? Please. Times like this call for great takeout, and Noodles & Co. knows just what we’re craving. From classic spaghetti and meatballs to spicy Japanese pan noodles and even home-style Wisconsin mac & cheese, there is no shortage of pasta at this fast-casual favorite. Because the menu has been expanding over the past few years, you’ll find much more than its namesake, with a variety of soups and salads as well. Still, a major sandwich craving can only be quelled by a masterpiece from runner-up Snarf’s. Readers voted Khow Thai third, China Gourmet fourth, and Nick-n-Willy’s fifth.


FROZEN YOGURT

Boulder Chill

2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-6955

Runner-up: Ripple


The cold treat was originally titled “Frogurt” in the ’70s when it was released to the American public. After getting rid of that scary name and appearing in the hands of celebrities everywhere, frozen yogurt has become wildly successful. Readers voted Boulder Chill the best place to follow the trend. With multiple low-calorie, sugar-free and nonfat flavors available, together with ice cream, this shop has something for every palate. The friendly staff is also more than willing to layer toppings so every bite is perfect. Now that’s service! Newly opened Ripple, home to an amazing selection of toppings (cheesecake balls and crumbled Pop-Tarts, anyone?) was runner-up. Smooch comes in third, with Maiberry in fourth and Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato in fifth.


ICE CREAM

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato

3133 28th St., 303-440-6542

4760 Baseline Rd., 303-499-4760

Runner-up: Ben & Jerry’s


I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream — and we absolutely wail for Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato. With more than 200 flavors in rotation, this locally owned sweet spot has all of your cravings covered, from Bing Cherry to Espresso Chocolate Buzz (not to mention a few weird ones like Frozen Dead Guy, in honor of the Nederland festival). And we can’t think of anywhere else where you can do happy hour at an ice cream shop — Margarita and White Russian versions amp up this treat to an adult favorite (and, yes, a photo ID is required). You can even see how the selection of sorbet, gelato and, of course, ice cream are made with tours of the facility, which makes all the goods daily — and it would be downright cruel if you didn’t get to try samples. No trip to the Pearl Street Mall would be complete without a visit to our favorite friends from Vermont, runner-up Ben & Jerry’s. Readers voted Cold Stone Creamery third and Boulder Ice Cream Shoppe fourth, with Lindsay’s Boulder Deli @ Hagen-Dazs rounding out the category.


NEW RESTAURANT

Oak at Fourteenth

1400 Pearl St., 303-444-3622

Runner-up: Pizzeria Locale


Before a fire ripped through the hood exhaust at Oak at Fourteenth in March, the restaurant was getting rave reviews for its innovative and delicious takes on American cuisine. Opened just four months before the fire, Oak at Fourteenth impressed diners with its variety of dishes, like its Wood Grilled Colorado Lamb T-Bones, Citrus and Herb Roasted Salmon Salad and desserts like the Citrus Cheesecake and the Banana and Dark Chocolate Custard. Just reading the menu and its offerings at brunch, lunch, dinner and late-night dining will have your stomach growling. Unfortunately, the fire put the restaurant out of commission for the time being as they reconstruct the fire-damaged areas of the facility. We can’t wait until they re-open. Pizzeria Locale, inspired by the pizzerias of Napoli, Italy, was the runner-up, while The Pinyon, Café Aion and Pica’s Mexican Taqueria finished out the top five.


INDIAN/NEPALI

Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant and Bar

825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151

Runner-up: Tandoori Grill


When it comes to Indian food, there is no shortage of selection in Boulder. But when it comes to an authentic experience and a truly mouthwatering menu, our readers say that one restaurant stands above the rest. Sherpa’s, with its comfortable catacomb dining rooms and Nepalese décor, provides an excellent atmosphere for digging into a plate of Tibetan noodles, delicious tikka masala, or creamy saag with a side of fresh garlic naan. Each entrée is perfect for sharing and pairs spectacularly with a warm cup of Sherpa’s specially brewed chai. The restaurant lives up to its name, with genuine Sherpas on site from the Himilaya region of Nepal and Tibet. Visitors are encouraged to stop in at the traveler’s lounge to read up on starting their own adventures. Tandoori Grill is our runner-up in this category, while third place honors go to The Taj. Bombay Bistro came in fourth place, with Himalaya’s in fifth.


BRUNCH

Walnut Café/Southside Walnut Café

3073 Walnut St.
, 303-447-2315

673 S. Broadway, 720-304-8118

Runner-up: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse


Open for more than 25 years, both the Walnut Café and its sister site, the Southside Walnut Café, have been busy hubs for Boulderites — just check out their crowds on any given morning. Along with gut-busting breakfast burritos, egg plates and omelets, there are several vegetarian-friendly options. For diners with a sweet tooth, the menus also include items like the Homemade Sweet Roll and Grananaola (yes, we spelled that right) Chocolate Pancakes — a short or tall stack with granola, banana and chocolate chips. Not an early bird? Not a problem. The cafés are open until 3:30 p.m. every day. Runner-up goes to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse with its to-die-for breakfast potatoes, and third place goes to Brasserie Ten Ten. The Kitchen came in fourth place, and the Chautauqua Dining Hall placed fifth.


PANCAKE/WAFFLE

Walnut Café/Southside Walnut Café

3073 Walnut St., 303-447-2315

673 S. Broadway, 720-304-8118

Runner-up: Original Pancake House


The thing about Walnut Café’s pancakes is that they’re huge! They offer both short stack and tall stack servings, which are two and three pancakes piled high. But don’t let the number of pancakes fool you. They’re about eight inches in diameter and as thick as mattresses. The average person would probably feel full with just one, but they taste so good, who wants to stop there? In addition to the regular buttermilk pancakes, Walnut Café also offers banana walnut, blueberry, blueberry cornbread and Grananaola Chocolate pancakes. The same can be said about the restaurant’s waffles — real fluffy, filling and tasty. They range from plain to banana walnut to banana chocolate chip and fresh fruit. They even have a waffle loaded with pecans, walnuts and almonds. Talk about going nuts! And they serve these delicious creations all day. You can’t go wrong. Original Pancake House, the well-known national chain, scored runner-up while The Buff was voted third, Turley’s was fourth, and Le Peep was fifth.


PLACE TO BRING KIDS

Boulder Farmers’ Market

1900 13th St., 303-910-2236

Runner-up: Red Robin


There’s a reason kids across Boulder can’t wait to wake up early on Saturday morning, and it isn’t cartoons. No, it’s the Boulder Farmers’ Market — the thrill of running around Central Park, gazing at all of the mysterious wares made by upwards of a hundred vendors, eating fresh fruit and pastries for breakfast, and getting to spend some quality time with Mom and Dad. Even better, it’s the perfect place to teach kids about healthful eating and sustainable shopping. For a blast anytime, runner-up Red Robin serves up dozens of inventive burgers, bottomless steak fries and balloons that kids are sure to enjoy while gawking at hundreds of amusing posters. Taking third place is Noodles & Co., while Mountain Sun and its sister Southern Sun take fourth, and Wahoo’s Fish Taco came in fifth.


PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS

Chautauqua Dining Hall

900 Baseline Rd., 303-440-3776

Runner-up: Boulder Farmers’ Market


Chautauqua has long been a must-see spot in Boulder for both tourists and locals alike, and for obvious reasons. What other place in America combines stunning scenery, picnics, concerts, hiking, history and a fabulous restaurant? Built in 1898, the Chautauqua Dining Hall offers a delicious American menu and breathtaking views of the Flatirons. Pair a great meal and a locally brewed draft beer with a seat on the restaurant’s gorgeous wrap-around porch, and you will have experienced one of the unforgettable highlights of Boulder. Boulder Farmers’ Market is this year’s runner-up. The market offers delicious foods grown by local farmers and is a great place to enjoy a day in Boulder’s Central Park. Enjoy a cup of fresh brewed tea on the terrace of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was awarded third place. The Mediterranean Restaurant, with its outdoor patio, came in fourth this year, while the West End Tavern with its famous rooftop deck came in fifth.


CHINESE

Golden Lotus

1964 28th St., 303-442-6868

Runner-up: Moongate Bistro


The results for this category are almost getting to be anticlimactic — not that that’s a bad thing. After all, consistency is a large part of quality. Winning again this year, Golden Lotus is beginning to establish its own dynasty in the Best of Boulder County. The restaurant, suited for the more refined Chinese cuisine lovers of Boulder County, is popular for the traditional dishes rarely seen in a world of Americanized Chinese cuisine (Panda Express, anyone?). Their house dinner specials run from $11.95 to $16.95 and come with your choice of 12 entrees, a soup, a taste of each appetizer and your choice of rice. There are vegetarian options aplenty, and Golden Lotus uses no MSG in any of its dishes, so you don’t have to make a special request. Runner-up went to Chinese- and Thai-serving Moongate Bistro, and third to China Gourmet. Fourth place winner this year was Spice China, followed by May Wah.


FINE DINING

Frasca Food and Wine

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Runner-up: The Flagstaff House


The best of food and hospitality come together in one restaurant in Boulder’s much-lauded Frasca Food and Wine, the creation of master sommelier Bobby Stuckey and master chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson. The two met while working at legendary California restaurant The French Laundry, and ever since opening Frasca, the two have received numerous prestigious awards from various national and local publications, and with good reason. You’ll never taste better Italian food, all inspired by the cuisine of Italy’s Friuli region. Though the $70 price tag for a four-course meal makes regular dining something only for the super-rich, it’s worth it on many levels, including seeing Stuckey float around the dining room, educating even the most philistine wine drinkers about the ins and outs of his favorite drink. The fancy Flagstaff House and its gorgeous views took runner-up. The Kitchen came in third, Salt came in fourth and Black Cat took fifth.


PIZZA

Abo’s Pizza

1124 13th St., 303-443-3199

Runner-up: Proto’s


College students know that pizza is a viable option for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a late-night snack. Adults know pizza is always a hit with kids and co-workers. Boulder thinks the best source for this magic pie is Abo’s Pizza, where slices come oversized and toppings are abundant in option. New York style buffs up with classically thin crust made from dough tossed fresh daily. Generous amounts of mozzarella, fresh toppings and a list of locally brewed beers to wash it all down makes Abo’s a place to catch up with friends or check on the score of the game between classes, all while enjoying a moderately priced slice of pie. Abo’s is also open late night, where slices become part of a fun night with friends or food for thought during late night study sessions. Our runner-up this year is the always classy, always delicious Proto’s Pizza Napoletana with locations in Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, Broomfield and Denver. Beau Jo’s of honey-for-your-crust fame earns third place this year. Fourth place went to Nick-n-Willy’s, with Cosmo’s in fifth.


RESTAURANT AMBIANCE

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Runner-up: Flagstaff House


There is truly nothing like the experience of sipping tea and dining in the Dushanbe Teahouse. Given to Boulder about two decades ago by its sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikstan, the teahouse is an exquisite display of handcrafted art and décor that took about three years and more than 40 Tajik artisans to create. Check out the eight colorful ceramic panels on the building’s exterior that display patterns of a “Tree of Life,” and the indoor pool featuring copper sculptures based on a 12th-century poem called “The Seven Beauties.” Walking into Dushanbe is like walking into another country, one filled with peace, beauty and serenity. The elegant Flagstaff House with its internationally acclaimed cuisine and wine list is this year’s runner-up, while The Mediterranean came in third. The Kitchen earned a fourth place, and Frasca tied with Brasserie Ten Ten for fifth place.


RESTAURANT DESSERT

The Kitchen

1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973

Runner-up: Salt


Honey and fruit were some of the original after-dinner treats, but when sugar arrived on the tables of aristocrats in the Middle Ages, the dining table changed forever. Our readers say The Kitchen offers the best sweets to end a meal for blue bloods and the masses alike, serving dishes like potato doughnuts and spiced hot chocolate, sticky toffee pudding and affogato, a traditional Italian espresso-based treat. Salt, with its pastry chef and dessert-wine pairings, was voted runner-up. The Mediterranean Restaurant snagged third place, and readers chose Frasca for the fourth spot, with the iconic Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse taking fifth place.



RESTAURANT SERVICE

Frasca Food and Wine

1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966

Runner-up: Flagstaff House


Talk about dedication to service. Frasca Food and Wine sends members of its wait staff to the Friuli region in Italy that inspires its cuisine and wine. Now that’s an investment in treating your customers well, not to mention your employees. Another sign of dedication to service is that you are not rushed in Frasca; the wait staff never pushes you to finish up as quickly as you can so that they can turn over the table faster and increase their tips. There are two seatings, one between 5:30 and 6:15 p.m., and the other between 8 and 10:30 p.m., which tells you to sit back and enjoy the gastronomical and enological experience that few restaurants in Boulder can match. The elegant Flagstaff House came in second place, and Mountain Sun/Southern Sun placed third. The Walnut Café/Southside Walnut Café got fourth place, with The Mediterranean Restaurant coming in fifth.


OVERALL RESTAURANT

The Mediterranean Restaurant

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Runner-up: The Kitchen


The Mediterranean Restaurant takes the crown again for Best Overall Restaurant. If you’ve already tried the tapas, the Vongole E Prosciutto (gnocchi, clams and prosciutto in a divine garlic, lemon and olive oil sauce) and you are looking for something new and different, check out the Chef’s Table on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. There are 12 reserved seats, and you get five courses of local, organic and seasonal fare for $40 (a wine pairing is an additional $20). We’re talking about grazing on the likes of Braised Red Wagon Farms Turnips and Isabelle Farms Butternut Squash Tortellini. And if you have never eaten in The Med’s bright, colorful patio area, you can’t call yourself a true Boulderite. The Kitchen is our runner-up again this year, followed by Jax Fish House in third place. Frasca came in fourth place, with the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse taking fifth.


ROMANTIC DINNER

Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Rd., 303-442-4640

Runner-up: Frasca Food & Wine


If you’re looking for storybook romance and elegance, you can’t beat the Flagstaff House. Perched above Boulder amid ponderosa pines, Flagstaff House offers internationally renowned cuisine and an award-winning wine list designed for seduction. Whether you want a romantic night away from the kids or you’re planning to pop the question, Flagstaff House has the ambiance to turn your evening into a lifelong memory. Sit at a table with an unobstructed view of the lights of Boulder, and let the views, the food and the top-notch service carry you both away. Elegant Frasca is our runner-up, with John’s coming in third. Black Cat is fourth in this category, followed by L’Atalier.


SANDWICH

Snarf’s

Various locations around Boulder County, www.eatsnarfs.com

Runner-up: Salvaggio’s


How do they do it? A Boulder original, Snarf’s must have some secret, addictive ingredient that they slip into all of their sandwiches that lets them edge out all other formidable competitors, given this county’s vibrant sandwich-shop market. We have long ago given up any resistance to their mystical powers, with the way that an Italian Snarf satisfies like no other. Oh, and they have other tricks up their sleeves — just check out their menu for more temptations. And who could match their naming prowess when it comes to the likes of Snarfmont for their Longmont shop. Don’t forget that they deliver, too. Salvaggio’s Italian Deli is a worthy adversary, coming in as our runner-up, followed by Half Fast Subs in third, Dish Gourmet in fourth, and Deli Zone in fifth.


SUSHI

Sushi Zanmai

1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733

Runner-up: Hapa


Sushi originated as a salt-based method of preserving fish and rice in the days of yore. So it’s somewhat ironic that most sushi devotees have modern refrigeration to thank for their favorite dish. Now that fish can be transported from the ocean to your table in a matter of hours, more and more people are savoring cuisine that was once considered exotic. Voted Boulder’s choice option, Sushi Zanmai is known for its fresh fish and Saturday-night karaoke. In addition to traditional rolls, Sushi Zanmai has a wide variety of specialty rolls with veggie and raw filet mignon options for those in search of something different. Runner-up Hapa is another favorite with two popular locations, one on the Hill and one on Pearl Street. Sushi Tora takes third place, followed by Japango in fourth and Kasa in fifth.


ITALIAN

Laudisio

1710 29th St., #1076, 303-442-1300

Runner-up: Pasta Jay’s


Nothing beats authentic Italian cuisine alongside a robust glass of vino. Laudisio understands this, and provides ambiance accompanied by plates that have tickled the tummies and taste buds of Boulder residents for 14 years and counting. The restaurant offers dining options for people with dietary sensitivities, including gluten-free pizza, as well as the comfort of classics like spaghetti carbonara and adventurous plates like calamari and octopus risotto nero. Many wines hail from Italy and are divided by the region of their country of origin. Whether you fancy a red of the north or a barolo DOCG (described as the king of wine and wine of kings) Laudisio has designed a dining experience to remember. So, bring your date, bring your mom, bring yourself and enjoy a filling and flavorful meal fit for royalty. Pasta Jay’s, whose delectable garlic you can smell a mile away, is this year’s runner-up, and the ever-popular Carelli’s takes third. Radda Trattoria came in fourth place, and Il Pastaio took fifth place.


CATERING

A Spice of Life Catering Services

5541 Central Ave., #272,

303-443-4049

Runner-up: Sage and Savory


There’s been a lot of criticism lately about how we’re all “outsourcing” everything we used to do for ourselves. We can — and should — make our own soap, grow our own tomatoes, darn our own socks, raise our own chickens. And while it’s certainly true that we could all be a bit more self-sufficient, some things are just best left to professionals. Catering a 200-person gala dinner is definitely one of them. Unless you have a real flair for cooking, a commercial-scale kitchen, more than 100 employees and a decades-long history of customer satisfaction, you’re probably not ready to cater your cousin’s wedding or your nephew’s bar mitzvah. Instead, leave it to the folks who do have all that: A Spice of Life Catering Services. Big or small, casual or formal, Spice of Life can accommodate just about any event. Sage and Savory, a catering service both wise and delicious, takes home runner-up honors this year. Big Bang is this year’s third-place winner, while Bay Window and Savory Cuisine snag fourth and fifth, respectively.


BURGER

Larkburger

2525 Arapahoe Ave.,

303-444-1487

Runner-up: Mountain

Sun/Southern Sun


Best Burger” is a cutthroat, competitive category. In a vegetarian-friendly town like Boulder, you’d think this award wouldn’t matter as much, but like nearly every town in this state, we Boulderites know our beef. We want our burgers stuffed with all-natural meat and cheese, made with only the purest, most environmentally friendly ingredients. Larkburger takes the patty this year, and with good reason: With all Black Angus Beef, zero trans fats, and a commitment to sustainability via compostable cups and containers, everything about Larkburger’s signature burger is naturally delicious. Their truffle fries are practically the best in town as well. Some great alternatives are the burgers at the Mountain Sun and Southern Sun breweries, where you can wash down your burger with some of the best beer in town. Smashburger took third, the Dark Horse took fourth and the West End Tavern took fifth.


BURRITO

Illegal Pete’s

1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955

1320 College Ave., 303-444-3055

Runner-up: Chipotle


With fierce competition from big burrito chains like Chipotle and Qdoba, not to mention local favorites like Big City Burrito, Illegal Pete’s is once again the best big-ass burrito you’ll find in Boulder County. And it doesn’t hurt that Illegal Pete’s has a wide variety of burritos to choose from: four kinds of chicken, six types of beef, four versions of pork, a couple of fish burritos and five different vegetarian burritos. They even have Poquito Burritos, a smaller version of their burritos for those of you (and kids) who can’t handle the full-size glory. Even if you’re not into the giant burrito thing, Illegal Pete’s has a great selection of tacos, nachos, salads and quesadillas, so you can’t lose! Our runner-up this year was Chipotle, which has about five stores in the county, while third place went to Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant. Big City Burrito and Santiago’s rounded out the top vote getters.


BUSINESS LUNCH

The Mediterranean Restaurant

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Runner-up: The Kitchen


Everything may be set for that killer deal you are about to close, but make sure you don’t blow it with poor execution. Even the most seasoned broker can lose customers with an ill-chosen power lunch. Three things are absolutely essential to grease the wheels of commerce: a clean, no-nonsense atmosphere, a light but expansive menu and, of course, a solid bar. The Med boasts all three. The lunch menu has tapas that flexibly mix-and-match any professional crowd, with a range of traditional starters like baba ganouj and assorted treats swimming in olive oil to bold choices such as mussels, lamb meatballs and tasty brochettes. For a serious meal, choose among classy entrées from Greek, Italian, French and Spanish cuisine. But no matter the occasion, the brightly lit courtyard will ensure mind and body are comfortable when it comes down to business. Within a block you can find our runner-up, The Kitchen. Third place went to Brasserie Ten-Ten, while fourth- and fifth-place winners this year are Boulder Cork and Laudisio.


THAI

Khow Thai Café

1600 Broadway, 303-447-0203

Runner-up: Chy Thai Cuisine


Khow Thai Café became Boulder’s favorite Thai restaurant when it opened in 2002, wowing us with its fantastic dishes. Toí Newman, the restaurant’s incredible cook and founder, is a testament to overcoming enormous obstacles as a way to achieve success. She and her husband Larry went from worrying about the future of their tiny unknown restaurant — including a period when road construction all but blocked their entrance — to thriving in the success of dazzling customers with delicious food. The menu contains various types of curry, stir-fried entrees and noodle and rice dishes. You can enjoy the hearty meals as is, or if you were feeling adventurous, go for the “Thai hot” option as a way to literally clear your senses. And don’t forget to try the Thai iced tea — a Boulder Weekly staff favorite. Runner-up goes to Chy Thai Cuisine this year for its authentic and beautiful Thai food dishes. Buddha Café was awarded third place, while Elephant Hut received fourth place and Suki Thai Noodle House took fifth place.


VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

2010 16th St., 303-442-1485

Runner-up: Turley’s


Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That sage advice is from Michael Pollan, the well-known journalist, food activist and author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. While Pollan is lenient, advocating “mostly plants,” not necessarily “all plants,” we could all do with a little more produce and a little less beef in our diets. To that end, why not have a healthy — and very tasty — meal at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant? Skipping meat at one meal won’t kill you, honest. In fact, if the research is right, it’ll actually extend it a few years. Turley’s snags the runner-up spot, and third place goes to Mod Market and its array of delicious salads. Fourth place goes to Ethiopian restaurant Ras Kassa’s and fifth to VG Burgers.


VIETNAMESE

Chez Thuy

2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Runner-up: May Wah


There are plenty of fast-food pho options in town, but aside from serving up a delicious menu of Vietnamese fare, Chez Thuy succeeds as a comfortable, reliable restaurant environment. The grilled meats are succulent whether in soup or served atop fresh noodle salads, and the large menu that caters to lunch and dinner will keep you coming back to experiment. Since 1993, chef Thuy (pronounced “Twee”) has offered your choice of seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes prepared in traditional and modern styles. The curries and stir-frys are sure bets, but the 40-plus list of chef’s specials include adventurous options such as deep-fried catfish in ginger sauce, spicy sautéed frog legs and a black bean hotpot with mushrooms and pineapple. The lengthy vegetarian menu gives herbivores plenty of options, and the spice levels vary to please mouths of any persuasion. May Wah takes runner-up honors this year, with Kim’s coming in third, Black Pepper Pho taking fourth and Vina Pho & Grill coming in fifth place.

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The definition of criminal is Noodles and Co winning best Takeout.  I'll put the fact that they are a chain to the side for a moment as I berate everyone who chose it.  You have a choice to eat at one of many amazing takeout eateries in Boulder, name a food and you'll find a takeout place.  You could have chosen ANY local business, and they could have had a great year because they are "Best". But instead the people chose a place that can never seem to get their Tofu right...  BRANCH OUT PEOPLE!

 

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I recommend Piece, Love and Chocolate as the BEST dessert in town.  Thanks!

 

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big disappountment at The Kitchen restaurant!  this was the only bad dining experience i have had in boulder in ten years. i live in the mountains and love coming to boulder for the excellent selection of great restaurants. the menu was very limited, the prices were very high, the portions were small, and the chef seemed to think that salt is the best spice ever. i ordered the $22 chicken breast that was only a part of the breast, which was sitting on top of two tablespoons worth of ramp mashers, with a few sprigs of greens. althoughvthe portion size was disturbing, the flavor was all salt. 

 

 
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