Pizzeria Locale, 1730 Pearl St., Boulder, localeboulder.com
The original Boulder location of Pizzeria Locale is special. Even as the Neapolitan-style pizzeria and bar expands operations, its flagship restaurant stays its comfortable, yet classy self and slings out fresh, unique pies and oven-baked dishes. First and foremost, the crusts on Locale’s pizzas are perfect — billowy and chewy around the rim, sturdy and crispy in the center, and blackened just right. And its menu features something for all tastes. We had the solano recently — eggplant with roasted Anaheim and shishito peppers. It’s spicy, savory and, ultimately, satisfying. $14.
Bookcliff Vineyards, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Boulder, bookcliffvineyards.com
Boulder’s Bookcliff Vineyards grows plenty of grape varieties at its Palisade estate, but what makes the catalog of single-varietals and blends so exciting is you’re liable to learn about a grape you’ve never heard of. Such is the case with the chambourcin, a light, French-American hybrid grape that’s a little earthy, a little spicy and has hints of cherry and red licorice. It’s a grape commonly grown on the U.S. East Coast, but as it turns out, Colorado suits it well. It holds up with tomato-based dishes. $12.99 at Bookcliff.
Efrain’s II, 1630 N. 63rd St., Boulder, efrainsrestaurant.com
What’s better than a burrito? How about a deep-fried burrito? Efrain’s take on the Southwest staple can’t be beat. Chicken breast is simmered in herbs and spices, then wrapped in a four tortilla and deep fried, creating just a bit of crunch that complements the tender meat sublimely. The dish is served smothered with pork chile verde, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. It’s as filling as it sounds, which is why we opted for a side salad rather than rice and beans for lunch. There’s a reason why Efrain’s is always packed… the food is so good that feeling full doesn’t stop us from finishing the plate. $8.95.
Ash’kara, 2005 W. 33rd Ave., Denver, ashkaradenver.com
Created by of Daniel Asher, the chef behind Boulder’s River and Woods and Lafayette’s Acreage, Ash’kara is a mix of Israeli and Middle Eastern fare served up in Denver’s LoHi neighborhood. The dishes are made for sharing, whether as small plates or as a feast for multiple people. The duck tagine is exceptional. Served in a traditional clay, coned tagine from North Africa, the duck meat perfectly falls off the bone, each bite just as succulent as the next. A combination of grains, root vegetables, dates and pomegranate seeds mix together in a savory-sweet combination that’s to die for. We can’t overstate how good this meal is. $42 (serves 2-4 people).