Best of Boulder 2019 — Food

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Michele Nava, pastry chef at Moxie Bread Co.
Sue France

Bakery

MOXIE BREAD CO. 

641 Main St., Louisville, 720-420-9616

Silver: Lucky’s Bakehouse and Creamery

Bronze: Great Harvest Bread Co.

Ever since Moxie Bread Co. set up shop in downtown Louisville a few years ago, there’s practically been a line out the door. People from far and wide are trying to get their hands on master baker Andy Clark’s fine bread, pastries, sandwiches and more. Where else can you drop in for a fresh kouign-amman or king egg, and leave with a handful of heritage grain flour and a freshly baked batard? Moxie has been earning award after award for its commitment to artisan baking — another Best of Boulder from our readers is well deserved. 

Burrito

ILLEGAL PETE’S

1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955; 1124 13th St., 303-444-3055

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Bronze: Santiago’s

Write-in: Santo  F

For Illegal Pete’s, it all started right here in Boulder with a dream of a restaurant that was fun for both employees and customers, with a little counter-cultural flare. More than two decades later, and Pete’s is still Boulder’s favorite burrito stop. With a variety of options from rice and beans to potatoes with green chili or queso, along with any choice of meat and other toppings, these burritos are stuffed to the brim, full of flavor, and the perfect antidote to society’s decay. And let’s not forget they mix all the ingredients together before wrapping them in a fresh tortilla so you get every ingredient in every bite. These folks want to make sure you have a good time, celebrate the humanity around you and leave fully satisfied, and their burritos do just that. 

Sue France Juan Campos, employee at illegal Pete’s

Appetizers/Tapas

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten 

Bronze: The Kitchen

If you’re cravings span the globe and you’re in a social mood, our readers say there’s no better place to satiate your appetite than at The Mediterranean Restaurant. The immense, diverse tapas menu has long been heralded as one of Boulder County’s best. Order up a bunch of items and feast on bacon-wrapped Medjool dates, fried calamari, hangar steak with salsa verde, tuna tartare, hummus, roasted almonds, braised chicken empanadas and so, so much more. An ideal spot to catch up with friends and family, hold a business meeting, or just fill your stomach, The Med delivers with quality, fresh small plates and unparalleled ambiance. 

Place to Eat Outdoors

RAYBACK COLLECTIVE

2775 Valmont Road, 303-214-2127

Silver: Chautauqua Dining Hall 

Bronze: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Firepit? Check. Rotating array of eclectic local food trucks? Check. Fresh beer and kombucha on tap? Check. Lawn games? Check. Twinkling string lights? Check. Dog-friendly atmosphere? Check. Great music? Check. There is virtually nothing the Rayback Collective is missing when it comes to spending an evening under the stars and enjoying good food and drink with friends. Perhaps the best part of it all, however, is the fact that the Rayback is located right in the heart of Boulder — great outdoor dining virtually at your fingertips.

Rayback collective employees Trish Leerhuber and Paul Becker
Sue France

Seafood

JAX FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR

928 Pearl St., 303-444-1811

Silver: Wild Standard

Bronze: Tortugas

Since 1994, Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar has been serving our “coastless community” the best oysters, fish, lobster and crab, among other delectable treats from the sea. Sustainability runs deep in the fish house’s value system; in partnering with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, The Blue Ocean Institute and Fish Choice, Jax proudly employs top-notch sustainable seafood practices in sourcing its delectable food. Our readers say you won’t find fresher seafood in Boulder County than at Jax.

Catering

A SPICE OF LIFE CATERING + EVENTS

5541 Central Ave., Suite 272, 303-443-4049

Silver: Blackbelly Market

Bronze: McDevitt Taco Supply

Write-in: Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries

Remember when Uncle Jimmy choked on the dry chicken at cousin Lorraine’s wedding? Or when everyone left Dad’s retirement party early for lack of adequate and edible food? Well, fear poor catering no more. Hosting an event large or small already is stressful, but with the folks at A Spice of Life Catering + Events providing good food for your guests is never in question. Whether it’s your wedding, a corporate event, an intimate house party or a backyard barbecue, they’ve got a delicious menu for any setting and any group of people. So you can just sit back and relax, knowing the food is covered, even if you still have to figure out who’s going to make sure Aunt Shirley doesn’t drive home, little Johnny doesn’t tease all the other kids, or Grandpa Joe doesn’t talk politics.

Organic Restaurant 

FRESH THYMES EATERY

2500 30th St., Suite 101, 303-955-7988; 2690 28th St., 720-484-5969

Silver: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

Bronze: The Kitchen 

Write-in: Flower Child

Sometimes it’s hard to beat the description that a restaurant has given itself. Fresh Thymes Eatery says, “Welcome to Fresh Thymes, where whole foods are an obsession, gluten-free is a given, and everyone with taste buds has a reason to put on their party pants.” One look at the amazing eats displayed on the counter as you make your way down the line to order and you’ll be drooling as you say, “Give me those Dragon tacos.”  Our readers demand the best organic ingredients and that’s exactly what they’ll get every time at Fresh Thymes.

Japanese

HAPA SUSHI GRILL & SAKE BAR

1117 Pearl St., 303-963-9667

Silver: Japango 

Bronze: Sushi Zanmai

“Hapa” is derived from a Hawaiian term that describes a harmonious blend of Asian and American cultures. At Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar, you’ll find traditional Japanese cooking fundamentals at the heart of all of their creations, like spicy tuna nachos, with spicy tuna, fresh mango salsa, guacamole and sour cream served with tortilla chips and sweet soy. In the New Style Hapa Sashi, five pieces of assorted thin-cut fish are grilled in a garlic olive oil and served with cilantro and ponzu sauce. There are also dozens of rolls for everyone from the sushi novice to the connoisseur, as well as poke bowls, miso soup, edamame and tempura. No wonder our readers call it their favorite Japanese cuisine.  

Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar sushi chef Jefferson Liu

Barbecue 

KT’S BBQ

7464 Arapahoe Road, 303-786-7608; 2660 Broadway, 303-442-3717

Silver: Georgia Boys BBQ

Bronze: LuLu’s BBQ

Write-in: Big Daddy’s Texas BBQ

For its mouth-watering brisket, pulled pork and menu of other smoked meats and scrumptious sides, our readers chose KT’s BBQ as their favorite place to eat slow-cooked meats in Boulder County. Stop into any one of the locations and you’ll get the same finger-licking barbecue to pair with classic Southern sides, prepared with love and a particular affection for our collective taste buds. Hot links, smoked chicken, ribs and more round out the menu, and KT’s offers packages to-go and a full catering operation in case you want to share this barbecue at your next gathering.

Staff Pic: Place to Begin and End Your Ride

The Tune Up – Tap Room at Full Cycle

1795 Pearl St., 303-440-1002, fullcyclebikes.com

There was a changing of the guard in the Bicycle Shop
category this year, as perennial winner University Bicycles was edged out by Full Cycle as Best Bicycle Shop. It may be that this has something to do with the addition of The Tune Up – Tap Room at Full Cycle, a creative concept that serves as a cafe, tap room, music venue and community center. Whether it’s a pre-ride espresso and pastry, a post-ride IPA and burrito, or the live music on Friday nights, The Tune Up is the place to begin and end your ride. Grab a latte and a slice of quiche, and join in on a gravel ride on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m.

Chinese

ZOE MA MA

2010 10th St., 303-545-6262, ext. 1

Silver: China Gourmet

Bronze: Flower Pepper Restaurant

Write-in: Tasty Asia P

People crowded around the counter, chopsticks and soy sauce flying, eaters slurping noodles seated on short stools at small tables. Walk into Zoe Ma Ma in Boulder on any given day at any given time and this scene will unfold before you as if you were standing on a street corner in Shanghai. Edwin Zoe started the restaurant in honor of his mom, serving up authentic and fresh traditional Chinese dishes and earning our readers’ award for best in the County year after year. As Edwin says, the entire menu is “quality for your tummy and it’s Ma Ma approved.”

Staff Pic: Place to Treat Your Dog

Neptune Mountaineering

633 S. Broadway, 303-449-8866,neptunemountaineering.com

Even if Fido won’t scramble up the Second Flatiron with you, he can still get rewarding treats at Neptune Mountaineering, the most dog-friendly gear shop we’ve ever stepped foot in. When Fido struts through the rows of backpacks, lines of socks, shelves of books and collection of climbing gear, he’ll elicit oohs and aahs and “so cute!!!” at every turn. Once you two finally make it to the cash register, though, is where the gold lies: a bowl of complimentary doggie treats awaits. 

Food Truck

MCDEVITT TACO SUPPLY 

Mobile, Boulder County, 720-573-4194

Silver: Verde

Bronze: Los Dos Bros

Write-in: Monzu 

McDevitt Taco Supply has more than 30 tacos in rotation at its taco carts. That includes classics like diced pork al pastor and chimichurri steak, but also contemporary takes on the world’s favorite handheld food. There’s the Colorado taco, with chicken topped with roasted sweet potatoes. There’s the Thai Ginger Tilapia taco — pretty self-explanatory — and the Mr. Roboto taco, with Asian steak topped with a tangy slaw. Vegetarians can chow down on a Kale Yeah! These are some heady tacos — that’s why our readers call McDevitt their favorite food truck. 

Sue France McDevitt Taco Supply owner Bradford McDevitt loves his job.

Gluten-Free Menu

FRESH THYMES EATERY

2500 30th St., Suite 101, 303-955-7988; 2690 28th St., 720-484-5969

Silver: Modern Market

Bronze: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

When gluten absolutely cannot be in your meal, it’s heavenly to walk into a restaurant and know that you can order anything — anything at all — off of the menu. Fresh Thymes Eatery not only offers a completely gluten-free menu, they dish out gluten-free food with bold, exciting flavors. Try Fresh Thymes’ Dragon tacos, with blue corn tortillas, Korean marinated skirt steak, house-made kimchi, carrot cucumber slaw and Sriracha aioli. Or put that gluten-free menu to the test with a pizza… maybe the Calabrese Salumi, with Creminelli salami, marinara, fennel, onion, pepperoncini and whole milk mozzarella. Who needs gluten?

East County Restaurant

THE POST BREWING COMPANY 

2027 13th St., 720-372-3341; 105 W. Emma St., Lafayette, 303-593-2066; 1258 S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-588-2883

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantin

Bronze: The Huckleberry

Write-in: The Roost H

Hot chicken meets cold beer at any of The Post Brewing Company restaurants. With family style home-cookin’, humanely raised and gluten-free fried chicken, brews to match the meal, and a family-friendly and fun atmosphere, our voters say The Post Brewing Co. is their favorite in East County. With multiple locations throughout the county, there’s always room for everyone. You won’t find any large buckets, greasy meat, or Kentucky colonels around here, just good, fresh fried chicken… and a whole lot of other great dishes and handcrafted beers.

Staff Pic: Place to Get Local Charcuterie

Blackbelly

1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 720-479-8296, blackbelly.com/butcher-shop

Blackbelly is the only whole-animal butchery in Boulder. That’s alright with us, because it has everything we could ask for, including a world-class charcuterie program. Head butcher Nate Singer is a maestro. His charcuterie includes dry-fermented salami, European-style whole-cured muscles like prosciutto and coppa, and plenty of sausages, paté and terrines. If you want exceptional cured and aged meats, or if you’re looking for hard-to-find charcuterie, Blackbelly is the place. And Singer’s commitment to responsible, local sources of meat means you’ll be doing your part in building a better food system.

Reader Comment: “No Corrida or Flower Child? Kinda surprised!” “You left off Corrida and Flower Child – newcomers, but two really well-respected (new restaurants)!” “Where is Flower Child?” “Where is Corrida?”

Editor’s note: Flower Child and Corrida ranked number one and number two in our New Restaurant category, and received plenty of support in other categories as well. They will certainly be added to several categories in our 2020 survey.

Reader Comment: “Why were there soooo many questions about food? Is that all people do here? eat?”

Ice Cream

SWEET COW ICE CREAM

2628 Broadway, 303-447-3269; 669 S. Broadway, 303-494-4269; 637 Front St., Suite B, Louisville, 303-666-4269

Silver: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato

Bronze: Gelato Boy (formerly Fior di Latte)

Write-in: Best One Yet W

Why do our readers love Sweet Cow Ice Cream? Let us count the ways: one scoop of candied ginger, two scoops of chocolate orange, three scoops of vegan cookies and cream… maybe in a cup, waffle cone or pretzel cone. Our readers can head to any of Sweet Cow’s six locations to check out different flavors. Over at the North Boulder location, you might find the very adult-palate-oriented Tighe Brothers Bourbon Corn Flake and the equally grown-up Nerds Nerds Nerds flavor. At the Louisville location you might sample the White Grape Cherry Sorbet and Milena’s Earl Grey Cookie. There are ice cream cakes, milkshakes and ice cream sandwiches too. 

Business Lunch

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten

Bronze: OAK at fourteenth

Write-in: 95a Bistro & Sushi  I

If you’re looking for a good place to both get down to business and nosh on some tasty dishes, head over to The Mediterranean Restaurant, Boulder County’s choice for best business lunch. Need to impress those out-of-town clients? Lure in that coveted employee with the impressive resume? Or just debrief that rough meeting with a couple of coworkers? The Med’s menu has something for everybody, from tasty tapas to pizzas, pastas and paellas. Plus with a robust drink menu, including wine, beer and cocktails, there’s nothing you can’t get done over a meal at The Med. 

Late Night

ILLEGAL PETE’S

1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955; 1124 13th St., 303-444-3055

Silver: Cosmo’s Pizza

Bronze: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Write-in: Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries 

There really isn’t any time of day that a big honkin’ plateful of Illegal Pete’s Mexican food doesn’t taste great. Fresh ingredients fill every corn and flour tortilla, always. And it may not sound like a big deal to the uninitiated, but the fact that Pete’s mixes all its ingredients together before they wrap that burrito is a real game-changer, ensuring a little bit of everything in every bite. Now just imagine walking out of your favorite watering hole at 1 a.m. on a weekend night and remembering that Illegal Pete’s is still serving up the happiness. The best food at the best time of day… you can’t beat that feeling.   

Staff Pic: Sushi Chef

Ghana Gurung – Japango

1136 Pearl St., 303-938-0330, bouldergjapango.com

Sitting at the sushi bar at a Japanese restaurant is most often the result of a long wait for a table. But since discovering Ghana Gurung, we have started reserving our favorite spot at the north end of Japango’s sushi bar so we can witness up-close Ghana’s artistry as a sushi chef, enjoy the extraordinary service he provides and hear stories of his native Nepal. Ghana is not only a world-class sushi chef, but once you get to know him, you may find your sushi order arriving before you’ve had a chance to fill out the form. He has a knack for remembering your favorites and preferences, and he has a winning personality — and the smile to go with it — that serves to melt away the sometimes-intimidating aspect of ordering directly from the sushi chef.

Lyons Restaurant 

OSKAR BLUES GRILL & BREW

303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685

Silver: Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Brew

Bronze: Lyons Fork 

Write-in: Bella La Crema

Since the day in 1997 when Oskar Blues Grill & Brew opened it doors and started serving up home-cookin’ in Lyons, this place has been a Northern Colorado dining destination. This restaurant and music venue was a hit with our readers from the start, but when the first batch of Dale’s Pale Ale got brewed up down in the restaurant’s basement, well, the rest is history. Oskar Blues may now be one of the nation’s premier breweries, but our readers still love the lively little restaurant in Lyons that launched the whole operation.

Sue France Oskar Blues Grill & Brew Bartender Alexis Blakely takes a nacho break.

Pizza slice

COSMO’S PIZZA

659 30th St., 303-447-3278; 3117 28th St., 303-442-3278; 1325 Broadway, Suite 108, 303-447-1133

Silver: Abo’s PIzza 

Bronze: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage

Write-in: Adesso Pizzeria T

There’s a time and a place for everything in life — thankfully, in the case of Cosmo’s Pizza, the time is always and the place is anywhere. With options for dozens of veggie and meat topping combinations done up on consistently fresh and chewy crusts, a slice of Cosmo’s pizza is as perfect at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday as it is at 2 a.m. on a Friday. Enjoy a traditional topping configuration (Hawaiian, BBQ chicken, Greek veggie, among many more) or a custom-made pie hot out of Cosmo’s wood-fired ovens, and then savor it cold from the fridge the morning after. Any way, any day, Cosmo’s pizza delivers.

Reader Comment: “Morning Glory staff are some of the friendliest of all Boulder County restaurants I’ve attended in the past 15 years!”

Chocolatier

PIECE, LOVE & CHOCOLATE 

805 Pearl St., 303-449-4804

Silver: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory 

Bronze: Chocolove

Write-in: Chocolaterie Stam

Choc·o·hol·ic: a person who craves or compulsively consumes chocolate. In other words, a chocoholic is pretty much anyone who can get their hands on some of that delicious cocoa treat that comes in all shapes and sizes, flavors and forms. Good thing for our readers, Piece, Love & Chocolate is ready to fuel the addiction and provide Boulder County with all its chocolate needs from holiday candy to cakes, truffles, seasonal desserts, chocolate drinks and more. This chocolatier allows you to explore and enjoy a variety of delicious treats, while celebrating the wonderful world of chocolate. 

Piece, Love & Chocolate customer Petrichor Augustus enjoys a morning shopping for chocolate treats.
Sue France

Kid Friendly

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886; 627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House

Bronze: Noodles & Company

There are a lot of reasons Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries are kid-friendly. For instance, parents get to drink great beer while their kids play board games, eat burgers and chow down on the best fries anywhere. OK, the beer isn’t really kid-friendly but parents get why Mountain Sun spots are so family friendly: it’s just the nature of the place. Everybody’s happy, and kids just add to the atmosphere. And if you forget your cash (they don’t take credit cards), your kids can learn a powerful lesson in trust byway the karma envelope.   

Staff Pic: Sourdough Loaf 

The Diaz Farm

2818 Jay Road, Boulder, 720-454-5475, thediazfarm.com

If you haven’t been out to The Diaz Farm in North Boulder yet, you’re missing out. The urban farm sells a variety of produce grown on-site, as well as eggs gathered from the chicken coop out back. There’s also a food truck parked in the driveway, which turns that produce and some choice meats into unforgettable burritos, tacos, gorditas and quesadillas. But amid all that goodness, you might forget to take home a loaf of sourdough bread, made on-site with local grains. The crumb is ridiculously moist, robustly flavorful and the crust is perfectly cooked and crunchy. The bread is baked daily on the farm, and you can even buy into a bread share, which gives you access to the original loaf plus jalapeño cheddar, rosemary potato, cranberry walnut and more flavors.

Pancake/Waffle 

SNOOZE: AN A.M. EATERY 

1617 Pearl St., 303-225-7344

Silver: Walnut Cafe/South Side Walnut Cafe/Super Mini Walnut Cafe

Bronze: Tangerine 

Write-in: Lucky’s Cafe 

The value of breakfast has never been lost on brothers Jon and Adam Schlegel. It’s the meal that marks a new day, a time to pause before reentering the world and, as many psychologists claim, the best time to be creative. It makes sense, therefore, for the Schlegel brothers to embody a familiar-yet-creative vibe throughout their Snooze: an A.M. Eatery menus. Such ingenuity manifests itself nowhere better than in their pancake line, a range that takes you from pineapple upside-down pancakes to sweet potato cakes, and from coco-nana cakes to blueberry Danish pancakes. Our readers say opting for the flight — where you get to pick three different Snooze pancakes — is the best way to start your day.

Frozen Yogurt

GLACIER HOMEMADE ICE CREAM & GELATO 

3133 28th St., 303-440-6542; 4760 Baseline Road, 303-499-4760

Silver: Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt

Bronze: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Using naturally grown produce and ingredients, Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato has been churning out some of Boulder’s favorite frozen treats since opening its doors in 2001 — more than 1,000 flavors of ice cream, gelato and, yes, frozen yogurt, have been created to date. And there are always new flavors popping up! Try the tart bing cherry fro-yo, or the rich and creamy chocolate fro-yo, or the slightly spicy chai. It’s a no-no not to indulge in fro-yo. (That piece of marketing gold is on the house, Glacier. You’re welcome.)

Overall Restaurant 

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten

Bronze: OAK at fourteenth

The Mediterranean Restaurant, better known as The Med, has been voted our readers’ favorite overall restaurant too many times to count. And it’s pretty clear why. It is the perfect blend of great food at reasonable prices in a great atmosphere. The bar area is always bright and full of conversation. The large dining areas have the feel of Europe by the sea, and the patio feels a world away from Boulder County.  Add to all this an expansive selection of small plates and fabulous entrées from lamb to seafood to pasta to fantastic clay-oven pizzas, and it’s easy to understand why The Med is again this year’s winner.

Staff Pic: Snail-Shaped Pastry  

Chocolate Pistachio Escargot -— Babettes

2030 Ionosphere St., Longmont, 720-204-7420, babettesbakery.com

Step into Babettes’ new digs in the Prospect neighborhood in Longmont and you might be overwhelmed… in a good way. A display of some of the most beautiful pastries and breads you’ve ever laid eyes on will be before you. Don’t worry, you don’t need to eat them all at once. Start with the chocolate pistachio escargot. This snail-shaped pastry is created by laying pastry dough flat, spreading sweet pistachio butter and chocolate shavings over the dough, rolling and cutting the dough into spirals, and baking until puffed, deeply browned and lightly caramelized. The pistachio pops, and the pastry is crispy, buttery and irresistible.

Vegetarian Friendly 

LEAF VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

1710 Pearl St., 303-442-1485

Silver: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Bronze: Modern Market 

Write-in: Flower Child W

Walk into Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant and you might feel like you are stepping into a jungle paradise. A vibrant array of plants cover the walls and hang from the ceiling, providing a pop of freshness to the atmosphere. That freshness is echoed in the menu itself: dishes are made of wholesome vegetarian ingredients that are expertly prepared in order to let their natural flavors shine. Ingredients are sourced, when possible, from the restaurant’s own Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette — we’re not sure how you can get much fresher than that. 

Veggie Burger

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886; 627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Snarfburger

Bronze: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

So you’re a vegetarian, which used to mean burger-eating was off limits. But that’s not the case anymore. With the proliferation of plant-based dining options, a wide selection of veggie burgers are available to the non-meat-eater, and they actually taste pretty darn good. Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries have a few such options. The black bean burger and Beyond Burger are just as satisfying and comforting as a meat burger, and without all that baggage that comes with eating animals.

Nederland Restaurant 

KATHMANDU RESTAURANT 

110 N. Jefferson St., Nederland, 303-258-1169

Silver: Backcountry Pizza 

Bronze: Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse

Write-in: Ubon Thai Cuisine 

Do we hike the Rocky Mountains for their beauty and grandeur? Or do we hike the mountains just so we can burn off enough calories to justify another trip to Nederland for the world’s greatest after-hike treat — a hot, delicious Nepalese meal at Kathmandu Restaurant? Spicy vindaloo, creamy masala, naan, chai, oh my. If it’s food from Nepal and delicious, you’ll find it on the menu here. Our readers know food, and they are positive that this family-owned restaurant is Ned’s best. So, take a hike and find out for yourself… or skip the hike and just get straight to the good part.

Staff Pic: Place to Take Leftover Food

Harvest of Hope Pantry

2960 Valmont Road, 720-382-1971, hopepantry.org

In 2012 Harvest of Hope Pantry opened its doors with a mission to relieve the stress of food insecurity throughout Boulder County. Harvest of Hope accepts a wide range of food donations, from fresh produce to shelf-stable canned goods, which it then makes available to both clients with access to kitchens and those without. If you have extra food and want to contribute to their cause, you can drop off anything edible that’s unopened and was made in a commercial kitchen. 

Thai 

ALOY THAI CUISINE

2720 Canyon Blvd., 303-440-2903

Silver: Busaba Authentic Thai Cuisine

Bronze: Buddha Thai Cuisine

Write-in: Chez Thuy

A bowl of hot noodles, a dish of steaming curry, a comforting cup of tea — these are some of things that come to mind when one thinks of really good Thai food. In those moments when the craving strikes, Aloy Thai Cuisine is where our readers say to go. The chefs are dedicated to maintaining an authentic approach to each dish, which means bold flavors, unique creations and a whole lot of deliciousness.

Sue France Aloy Thai owner Sorowee Nakapadungsuk (Kim) in her kitchen cooking up something good.

Restaurant Service 

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886; 627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Flagstaff House Restaurant 

Bronze: Frasca Food and Wine 

You won’t find any televisions at any of the Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries in Boulder County. That’s because they prioritize community and good old-fashioned human interaction — that is smiles and howdy-doos and thank yous. The service each table receives reflects these very values. The staff rotates in all its positions, so servers, cooks and hosts escape the rut of routine and are all quick and lively when it comes to meeting the customers needs. It must be a great system because our readers keep giving these folks the best service award year after year.

Reader comment: “The drinks at Japango are crafted with love and panache. Stanley creates cocktails from his vast expertise in mixology and meraki.”

Editor’s note: Meraki (may-rah-kee) means to do something with your soul, creativity, or love. It also means when you put something of yourself into what you do.

Take Out

SNARF’S SANDWICHES

Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Curry ‘N’ Kebab

Bronze: Aloy Thai Cuisine

Getting ready for a picnic, prepping for a long hike or wrapping up a long day after work are all good times for a high-quality sandwich. Whether ordering from your computer, your Snarf’s Sandwiches app, over the phone or in person, this sandwich shop makes grabbing that sandwich — one of their signature subs or a hoagie you customize to your liking — as easy as possible. It’s particularly convenient via their app, where you can add toppings, sides and drinks with the tap of a screen.

Restaurant Ambiance

BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Silver: Flagstaff House 

Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant

In 1987, more than 40 artisans in several cities in Tajikistan started work on hand-carving and hand-painting a series of ceramic panels. For three years they toiled, creating the pieces that would eventually make up the intricate, decorative ceiling, tables, stools, columns and exterior of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Honoring Boulder as its sister city, the mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, sent these panels over for reconstruction, creating the unique, well-loved tea house and architectural marvel that stands downtown today. How could it not be our readers’ favorite?

Bagel

MOE’S BROADWAY BAGEL

637 S. Broadway, Suite G, 720-287-0317; 3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427; 2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252; 3267 28th St., 720-406-9000

Silver: Big Daddy Bagels

Bronze: Einstein Bros. Bagels

We’ve all been there. You wake up, and you can’t get these five letters out of your brain: B-A-G-E-L. You won’t be satisfied until you sink your teeth into that delicious, chewy, donut-shaped wheat treat, whether it’s toasted with butter, slathered with cream cheese, set atop breakfast meats or just devoured au natural. When such cravings hit our readers, they run to Moe’s Broadway Bagel. The New York-style bagels are comforting, always fresh, and come in a variety of styles, with dozens of options for adornment. Pick up a hot coffee or tea and enjoy a friendly chat with the helpful staff, and you’ve completed a successful morning. 

Fine Dining

FLAGSTAFF HOUSE 

1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640

Silver: OAK at fourteenth

Bronze: Frasca Food and Wine 

Write-in: Corrida T

There’s no telling what you’ll see at any given event in Colorado. Heading to the symphony? You’re just as likely to see someone in jeans as you are someone dressed in a suit. Have to give a big presentation at the office? There are those jeans again. Colorado may be a casual state, but that doesn’t mean it’s not refined. Flagstaff House offers white tablecloths and fine china, along with breathtaking views, an impeccable menu of New American cuisine prepared by an acclaimed, award-winning staff, and a world-renowned wine list. Add in friendly service and a warm atmosphere, and you have our voters’ best fine dining establishment. 

Sue France Chef Christ Royster of the Flagstaff House

Food Delivery 

SNARF’S SANDWICHES

Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Cosmo’s Pizza

Bronze: Abo’s Pizza

Snarf’s Sandwiches has brought home numerous Best of Boulder awards over the years — almost for as long as Boulder Weekly’s been handing them out. Jimmy Seidel opened the first Snarf’s in Boulder in 1996 in his quest to make the finest sandwiches around. Since, the shop has not only expanded to more than 20 locations, it has an even farther reach with its delivery services. Now you can get Snarf’s all over Boulder County, including in the comfort of your own home. What’s better than that? 

Pho 

CHEZ THUY

2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Silver: Black Pepper Pho

Bronze: Boulder Pho

Write-in: Pho Cafe Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup & Grill  

There are a few key elements that take a good bowl of pho and turn it into an excellent bowl of pho, and when we asked our readers about Boulder County kitchens going above and beyond to elevate this classic Vietnamese broth-based soup, they sent us straight to Chez Thuy. Its delectable renditions of pho can’t be beat: savory broths, perfectly textured noodles, a host of meat, seafood and veggie toppings — all served piping hot and exquisitely fresh.

Mexican 

EFRAIN’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA

1630 N. 63rd St., 303-440-4045; 101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544

Silver: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

Bronze: T/ACO an urban taqueria

Write-in: McDevitt Taco Supply 

We might as well carve a Best of Boulder certificate into the entryways of the Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina restaurants. These folks seem to be our readers’ favorite year after year. They must like amazing traditional Mexican food and fantastic margaritas served up by some of the friendliest people around. You know it’s a great restaurant when one of the most popular things on the menu is an ever-changing mystery burrito that just tells you it’s hot and good and you don’t get to know what’s in it and you can’t send it back. Don’t tell anyone, but the mystery burrito is a BW staff favorite. They kill it every time.  

Reader Comment: “Yes, include Niwot restaurants, you hippies!”

American Restaurant 

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886; 627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Blackbelly Market

Bronze: The Kitchen

Write-in: 95a Bistro & Sushi O

One of the best things you can say about a restaurant is that it’s consistent. Our vast experience dining at the various Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries allows us to testify that when our readers tell us consistency is the hallmark, we know they’re right. The regular menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, entrées and vegetarian/vegan offerings always hits the spot, and the rotating selection of daily specials are uniquely composed, but, above all else, consistently delicious. Throw in a world-class wait staff, an ever-changing list of house beer, a fun, family-friendly environment and affordable pricing, and it makes sense our readers agree that Mountain Sun has the County’s top American restaurants.

Asian Fusion

CHEZ THUY

2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Silver: Zoe Ma Ma

Bronze: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Write-in: ChimeraW

We could go on and on about how great Chez Thuy’s menu of French, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine is, but you really ought to experience it for yourself. We’re guessing you already have, as it pulled in our readers’ votes for best Asian fusion restaurant. The menu is gigantic, and the deeper you get into it, the better the outcome. Crispy quail, lobster basket, frog legs hot pot, tamarind shrimp, stuffed betel leaves — we’re getting hungry just thinking about all the bold flavors and combinations of taste, color and texture that define Chez Thuy’s unique food. 

Breakfast/Brunch

LUCILE’S CREOLE CAFE

2124 14th St., 303-442-4743; 518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814

Silver: Tangerine 

Bronze: Snooze: an A.M. Eatery

Write-in: The Parkway Cafe 

The best part about the brunch and breakfast at Lucile’s Creole Cafe is that you likely won’t have to eat again until dinner. The menu offers a great selection of Creole, New Orleans-inspired dishes that are hearty, fresh and, more than anything, delicious. Try the eggs Pontchartrain (pan-friend mountain trout, poached eggs and béarnaise sauce), the praline waffle, red beans and rice, shrimp and grits, or the classic pain perdu and you won’t be disappointed. Wash it down with a world-class bloody mary, and see if you can’t finish off the irresistible biscuits or the order of beignets you got before the entrées came. 

Place to Go on a First Date

BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Silver: Rayback Collective

Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant

OK, it’s a first date. You’re maybe a little nervous, a little excited, feeling a bit of pressure — first impressions really matter, after all. That’s why you take a deep breath and do exactly what our readers advise: Head to the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, the very place you know will calm your nerves with its peaceful atmosphere, broad array of food and beverage choices, and engaging history, which serves as an excellent conversation starter.

Sushi

HAPA SUSHI GRILL & SAKE BAR

1117 Pearl St., 303-963-9667

Silver: Sushi Zanmai

Bronze: Japango

Write-in: 95a Bistro & Sushi

The incredible fusion of Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar’s Japanese and Hawaiian influences comes alive in its eclectic and unexpected sushi offerings. Split into four fleets — beginner rolls, intermediate rolls, vegetarian rolls and Hapa original rolls — it’s as easy for everyone to find something appealing as it is to find something new. Hapa’s original rolls are adorned with names like Booty Call roll, Mork & Mindy roll, Multiple Orgasm roll and Tootsie roll, and filled with an array of ingredients that’ll keep you coming back until you’ve tried them all.  

Restaurant Dessert

FLAGSTAFF HOUSE 

1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640

Silver: Boulder Cork  

Bronze: The Kitchen

Write-in: The Melting PotW

With views like the ones available out of Flagstaff House’s panoramic windows, you sometimes have to remind yourself to look down and eat what’s in front of you. Luckily, as our readers’ point out, the dessert offerings at this classic Boulder establishment make it easy to relinquish focus on the beauty of the city lights below. Choose between staples like vanilla bean crème brûlée and lemon olive oil cake, or dive into the special rhubarb buckle or fresh apples and donuts.

Burger

MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886 

627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886; 600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886; 1535 Pearl St., 303-543-0886 

Silver: Larkburger

Bronze: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Write-in: Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar

Nothing satisfies serious hunger like a well-made burger. Our readers flock to the Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries when that burger-lust hits, and it’s no wonder why: The burger menu is so diverse that it’ll hit whatever your taste buds are craving. The date night burger’s got roasted poblano peppers, hickory-smoked bacon, melted goat cheese and a date purée. The S.O.B. burger will ignite your palate with green chilies, jalapenos and jack cheese. The Beyond Burger will satisfy vegetarians, as will the black bean burger. And feel free to top any of these burgers with pesto, bacon, mushrooms and onions, or chili. 

Indian

SHERPA’S ADVENTURERS RESTAURANT & BAR

825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151

Silver: Curry ‘N’ Kebob

Bronze: Kathmandu Restaurant

Write-in: Mount Everest Cuisine 

Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar is our readers’ go-to spot for Indian food, with classic dishes like korma, saag paneer, onion pakoras and tikka masala made from scratch — but that’s only part of the story. Pemba Sherpa opened Sherpa’s in 2002 with a dream to bring traditional Himalayan food to the Front Range. So the restaurant blends Indian, Nepalese (Pemba’s homeland) and Tibetan cuisines for a truly Himalayan experience. We suggest taking a lot of close friends who don’t mind sharing.

Sue France Pemba Sherpa, owner of Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar

New Restaurant

FLOWER CHILD

2580 Arapahoe Ave., Suite 110, 303-386-8090

Silver: Corrida

Bronze: Chimera

When Flower Child moved into town, our readers were immediately smitten with its open, natural-light-filled dining space and extensive healthy offerings. Whether you’re craving a robust veggie bowl, avocado toast, a spicy tofu wrap or a kombucha drink on tap, this is the place for you; plus, every bite on Flower Child’s menu is made from scratch. The array of paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free and other health-focused options means this family-friendly hotspot should be next in line on every Boulder County resident’s “to eat at” lists — that is, if you haven’t ventured here already.

Taco

T/ACO AN URBAN TAQUERIA

1175 Walnut St., 303-443-9468

Silver: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

Bronze: bartaco

Write-in: Taco Junky & Tequila Bar

This urban taqueria knows how to sling a supreme spread of tacos. Walk in any time day or night and you’ll understand why: It’s called practice.
T/ACO churns out hundreds of tacos every day, with a variety of fillings. You can eat these Mexican street-style tacos in but a few bites, so order up a few, if only to make choosing from the array of mouth-watering options a little less daunting. Braised pork belly, tequila-marinated shrimp, roasted poblano peppers, cotija cheese, fresh salsas and grilled veggies are but a few of the amazing filling options. 

Italian 

CARELLI’S OF BOULDER

645 30th St., 303-938-9300

Silver: Pasta Jay’s 

Bronze: Il Pastaio

Write-in: Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar  

Over the course of 26 years, Carelli’s went from humble Italian sub shop to our readers’ favorite Italian food in all of Boulder. This place creates classic dishes with fresh ingredients, like hearty zuppa minestrone, perfect for warming bones on cold winter nights, and a caprese salad to cool down warm summer evenings. On that first crisp day of autumn, try the hearty, housemade spaghetti Bolognese. The point is Carelli’s has an extensive menu of traditional Italian small plates, salads, pastas, sandwiches, pizzas and desserts that’s perfect for any season. 

Sandwich

SNARF’S SANDWICHES

Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Salvaggio’s Deli

Bronze: Organic Sandwich Company 

Write-in: Cheba Hut

While Merriam-Webster may define sandwich as merely “two or more slices of bread or a split roll having a filling in between,” Snarf’s Sandwiches doesn’t let that bland description limit their award-winning creations. Served up on fresh-baked bread, the combinations of veggies, meats and sauces are seemingly endless. Rotisserie chicken, portobello mushrooms, hot dogs, mortadella, artichokes, smoked brisket and creamy sesame shiitake dressing are but a few of the items you can put on a sandwich. Go and get creative with it.

Pizzeria

PIZZERIA LOCALE

1730 Pearl St., 303-442-3003

Silver: Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House

Bronze: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage

Sometimes you just need authentic, wood-fired pizza. But in the absence of wormhole travel that could take us around the world to Italy and back for a warm pie, we have Pizzeria Locale. Serving up classic Neopolitan pizzas, founders Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have partnered with a range of producers in both Colorado and Italy to bring the best ingredients and equipment to the table. Pair any of their thin-crust, exquisitely topped pizzas with their extensively curated wine collection, and it’s like jetting off to Naples for a quick bite to eat.

Sid Breckenridge, line cook at Pizzeria Locale
Sue France

Food on the HIll 

THE SINK

1165 13th St., 303-444-7465

Silver: Illegal Pete’s 

Bronze: Cafe Aion

Write-in: Taco Junky & Tequila Bar  

The food at The Sink is so good, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the 96-year-old establishment in 2012. He ordered the Sinkza Pizza, loaded with pepperoni, Italian sausage, green peppers, black olives, red onion and mozzarella. That was a fine executive decision if you want our opinion. Barry had possibly heard tell of The Sink’s signature Ugly Crust. This big, thick, floppy pizza crust is so popular, the folks behind Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives even made a stop by Boulder to have a slice of the Buddha Basil pie, with pesto-marinara sauce topped with fresh basil, artichoke hearts, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, tofu and mozzarella. And we haven’t even talked about the burgers yet… or the sandwiches… or the beers…

Staff Pic: Guilt-free Gospel

Hippy Bluegrass Church

eTown Hall, 1535 Spruce St., Boulder, hippybluegrasschurch.com

On Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, Nick Forster presided over the first ever Hippy Bluegrass Church service at eTown Hall. It featured a live bluegrass band, led by Forster, and a projection of song lyrics to help folks participate, even if they weren’t familiar with the song. This community sing along went over so well, Forster hosted another Hippy Bluegrass Church on Easter Sunday, 2019. With voices rising up together, young and old, it was clear that the community was hungry for a chance to connect and celebrate together in song. We hope Forster makes this a staple event on eTown’s calendar. Times are dark; let’s sing together more.