Best of Boulder 2013: Ethnic Restaurants, Pizza, Sushi and Burrito

Adrian Lebian of Efrains Mexican Restaurant in Lafayette
Photo by Susan France

Asian-Fusion Restaurant

2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Second Place: Hapa Sushi
Third Place: Khow Thai Cafe
Fourth Place: Buddha Thai Cuisine
Fifth Place: Moongate Asian Bistro & Sushi Bar

When it comes to Asian fusion cuisine, Chez Thuy shows
us time and time again that it’s a step above the rest. With dishes
inspired by French, Indonesian, Malaysian and Chinese flavors, Chez Thuy
is more than your typical Vietnamese restaurant. Perhaps it’s the
taste-budtantalizing Lobster Tamarind or the Kung Pao Tofu that keep
Boulder residents coming back for more, or maybe they spiked the boba.
Either way, they’ve got our vote! This year marks Chez Thuy’s
(pronounced “twee”) 20th in business, and what better way to celebrate
than with yet another Best of Boulder award proving the restaurant is
still around for a reason.


1320 College Ave., 303-444-3055
1447 Pearl St., 303-444-3955

Second Place: Chipotle
Third Place: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
Fourth Place: Big City Burrito
Fifth Place: Santiago’s

There’s a noticeable split in this competitive category between the fast-casual cafeteria style, like winner Illegal Pete’s and
runners-up Chipotle and Big City Burrito, and the green chile spice of
more traditional Tex-Mex runners-up Efrain’s and Santiago’s. Within
those categories, it’s all about the little differences. Was it the
punk-metal theme as compared to the world music and metallic gleam? Was
it the mixing of ingredients before wrapping the tortilla up? Was it
that great blessing for dairy haters and avocado lovers: Pete’s gives
guacamole free if diners decline sour cream and cheese? No doubt all
sorts of reasons crossed voters’ minds. It should be fun to watch — and
continue to taste — what these restaurants come up with next.


3970 N. Broadway, 303-440-3500

Second Place: Golden Lotus
Third Place: Moongate Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar
Fourth Place: Five Spice
Fifth Place: Spice China/May Wah (tie)

hard to say what magic lies within sesame chicken or crab cheese
wontons dipped in sweet and sour sauce, but when you’re craving Chinese
food’s marriage of savory and sweet, nothing else will do. While
Boulder has many local restaurants to choose from, our winner, China Gourmet, stands
above the rest. Regular patrons come back again and again not for the
décor, but for China Gourmet’s fresh ingredients (like healthy, steamed
veggies), reliable quality, fair prices and quick service. Our
runner-up, Golden Lotus, is also known for its tasty Asian cuisine and
makes for a festive evening out.


1001 Pearl St., 303-444-5800

Second Place: Carelli’s Restaurant
Third Place: Ristorante L
Fourth Place: Il Pastaio
Fifth Place: Arugula Bar e Ristorante

one of the best-established and most widely known ethnic foods in the
U.S., Italian should be pretty predictable at this point. It should be
like a hot dog or a turkey sandwich: You know exactly what you’re going
to get.

And, in some
cases, it is. But the winners in this category demonstrate there’s
still a world of surprises in Italian cuisine. Whether it’s blending
Italian and the West with its buffalo ravioli or bringing together
shrimp, crab and scallops over linguine with clam sauce, winner Pasta Jay’s brings
out the creativity in one of America’s favorite Old World cuisines.
And of course, Pasta Jay’s also dishes out comforting favorites like
baked rigatoni, caprese salad and a variety of pizzas.


825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151

Second Place: Tandoori Grill
Third Place: Taj Indian Cuisine
Fourth Place: Kathmandu
Fifth Place: Nepal Cuisine

restaurants smell good — hopefully. But few can compare to the aroma
of an Indian establishment, that complex, mouth-watering fragrance that
sometimes hits you well before you open the door.

Sherpa’s has
been gracing Walnut Street with its amazing smell for more than 10
years, and once again Boulderites have thanked the restaurant with a
Best of Boulder selection. Stepping into the eatery housed in a house is
like walking into Food Smell Heaven, as you’re hit by a rich,
simmering curry and fresh-baked naan.

can’t hurt that, along with a long and varied Indian menu, Sherpa’s
features a few dishes from Tibet, including Tibetan noodles and momo

Most nights
you’ll find owner Pemba Sherpa seated at the bar, chatting with staff
and diners alike. And if you don’t see him at the bar, his face and
those of many other mountaineers, along with a slew of mountaineering
gear and Everest climbing permits, adorn the walls.

Japanese Restaurant

1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733

Second Place: Hapa Sushi
Third Place: Sushi Tora
Fourth Place: Japango
Fifth Place: Amu Sake Bar and Restaurant

readers love Japanese cuisine. As a result, the city is in a constant
state of hyper-competition to see which of the area’s top Japanese
restaurants will win the coveted readers’ choice for Best of Boulder.
Because it is so competitive, it’s truly impressive that Sushi Zanmai has
once again reined supreme in this year’s competition. Sushi Zanmai’s
food ranges from sushi, of course, to offerings such as beef sukiyaki,
tonkatsu, pepper steak and noodle selections including yakisoba and
curry udon. The restaurant offers happy hour sushi as well as lunch
specials. But the secret to SZ’s success is as much about the atmosphere
as it is the great food. Bottom line, Sushi Zanmai is always fun,
whether it’s a chef blowing on a saxophone or karaoke on a Saturday
night. And who doesn’t love a party?

Mexican Restaurant

1630 N. 63rd St., 303-440-4045
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544%u2028
451 S. Pratt Parkway., Longmont, 720- 494-0777

Second Place: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
Third Place: Zolo Grill
Fourth Place: Agave Mexican Bistro & Tequila House
Fifth Place: Casa Alvarez

Our favorite dish at Efrain’s is
a little something called blue corn enchiladas with chicken and a side
of green chile to pour over the top, to give it a spicy kick. Oh, and a
margarita or a Negra Modelo with lime. Sorry, just drooled a little
bit on the keyboard. Efrain’s has been a Boulder County institution for
more than two decades, delivering authentic northern Mexican cuisine
from the state of Chihuahua. It is a recipe for a satisfying
south-of-the-border experience. Ole.

Pizza Slice

2761 Iris Ave., 303-443-1921
1124 13th St., 303-443-3199
637 S. Broadway, Ste. S, 303-494-1274

Second Place: Cosmo’s
Third Place: Pizza Colore
Fourth Place: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House
Fifth Place: Nick-N-Willy’s Pizza

New Yorkers would tell you there’s no slice like one from Brooklyn.
And Boulderites have spoken: New York style in Boulder takes the top
prize again, as Abo’s Pizza retains its title.

pizza is hand-tossed at every location and boasts a cracker-like thin
crust and a wide array of toppings. If you’re out for the afternoon
with the kids, check out the arcades at Abo’s North or South. If you’re
craving a beer and a slice bigger than your face, make your way to
Abo’s on the Hill. Although all Abo’s are not created exactly the same,
you can rest assured that the dough, the sauce and the cheese at all
locations will create Boulder’s best slice.


1730 Pearl St., 303-442-3003

Second Place: Beau Jo’s
Third Place: Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana
Fourth Place: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House
Fifth Place: Lucky Pie Pizza and Tap House

If you want to view Boulder foodies in their natural habitat, look no further than the artisan cheese-topped goodness at Pizzeria Locale. Our
winner serves up Neapolitanstyle pizzas so good that you may feel the
urge to kiss your fingers and come back again with your mama.
Creatively crafted dishes include the white “Panna e Crudo”
(mozzarella, egg yolks, crème fraiche, prosciutto crudo, garlic,
arugula, parmigiano reggiano) or the red and veggie “Ortolano” (tomato
sauce, mozzarella, pecorino, zucchini, eggplant, peppers).

If you’re craving a straightforward pizza born in a nearby mountain town, check out our second place winner, Beau Jo’s.


1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733

Second Place: Hapa Sushi
Third Place: Sushi Tora
Fourth Place: Japango
Fifth Place: Sushi Hana

is blessed with fantastic sushi from any number of world-class
restaurants. Our children start stuffing raw octopus in their mouths
just about as soon as they learn to walk. By the time they hit grade
school, most Boulder tykes wouldn’t even consider knocking back a little
Uni without insisting on adding the raw quail eggs. In other words,
when our well-educated, well-traveled readers — folks who have literally
grown up on sushi and have consumed this delicacy in some of the
finest sushi haunts from around the world — say that Sushi Zanmai is
the best sushi restaurant in this sushi town, it’s really saying
something. And it speaks very highly of every restaurant on this list.

Thai Restaurant

1600 Broadway, 303-447-0273

Second Place: Buddha Thai Cuisine
Third Place: Thai Kitchen
Fourth Place: Aloy Thai
Fifth Place: Busaba

has a healthy variety of restaurants serving up pad thai, spring rolls
and yellow curry. But when it comes down to it, locals choose Khow Thai
in fact, 2013 marks the 10th consecutive year the restaurant has won
Best of Boulder. Regulars swear by the reasonably priced panang curry
and Pad Kee Mow (spicy flat noodles). And it’s hard to resist Khow
Thai’s origin story of hard-working Toi Newman, an immigrant with a
knack for cooking who, along with her husband, opened a restaurant in
bustling Boulder and made their dream come true. Here’s to 10 years of

STAFF PICK: Caribbean Style Fish House

218 Coffman St., Longmont, 303-772-6954

For 16 years Tortugas has
been serving up the best Caribbean style seafood on the Front Range.
The owners not only greet you at the door, they cook up every amazing
meal of fresh coastal seafood from the U.S. and Mexico paired with fresh
fruit salsas and other distinctive Caribbean and Cajun ingredients.
Throw on some “Pete’s Heat” — Tortuga’s own magical concoction — and you
will swear you’re sitting on an island beach. Throw back a few rum
drinks and you might even hear the ocean. This place is a must.

STAFF PICK: Empanadas

2525 Arapahoe Ave. #A05, 303-442-4133

a wonder that empanadas aren’t more popular. The pastry, basically
dough folded and baked around various combinations of meat, cheese,
sauce and vegetables, is essentially a South American calzone. You can
find them all over Central and Latin America, but they are most
prevalent in Argentina, which is fitting, given the country’s strong
Italian influences. The empanadas of Rincon Argentino will
transport you south of the equator for fractions of the price of a
plane ticket. Stepping into the store is like getting a glimpse of
Argentina — people order in Argentine Spanish, pronouncing “pollo” as
“poisho” — and, in the ultimate sign of Argentinian authenticity, the
jersey and portrait of soccer great Diego Maradona graces the wall.

To return to the Best of Boulder 2013 page, click here.