Best of Boulder 2010: Food


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
2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252 3075 Arapahoe Ave.,
Runner-up: Einstein Bros. Bagels
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

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
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

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
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.,
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

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.,
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

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

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,

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
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.

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

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

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

Flagstaff House
Honorable Mention: The Kitchen

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

If you don’t know by now, Glacier Homemade Ice Cream &
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.,
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
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.


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

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
Runner-up: Proto’s
Honorable Mention: Beau Jo’s, Nick ‘n’ Willy’s

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,
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 &
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.