Best of Boulder 2022 — Food

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Chef Sheila Lucero of Jax Fish House
Susan France
Sue France McDevitt Taco Supply owner Bradford McDevitt loves his job.

FOOD TRUCK

McDevitt Taco Supply

3550 Frontier Ave., Unit A, 303-442-4130 

Silver: Los Dos Bros

Bronze: La Pupusa Loca

Write-in: Temaki Tornado

Thanks to the wonderful proliferation of brewery, cidery and distillery tasting rooms in Boulder County, food trucks have become a favorite part of dining and drinking life. Our readers line up for tacos filled with chipotle beef, Thai ginger tilapia, buffalo cauliflower, Caribbean jerk, kimchi pork, and garlic and black pepper steak. McDevitt Taco Supply started as a food truck and now has a brick-and-mortar location in the Meadows Shopping Center, but the truck still delivers big taco flavors at Boulder’s Sanitas Brewing Co. and other locations.

ITALIAN

Carelli’s of Boulder

645 30th St., Boulder, 303-938-9300

Silver: Pasta Jay’s

Bronze: Il Pastaio

Write-in: Sforno

There has always been something about the food, service and atmosphere at Carelli’s of Boulder that makes us want to share it with family and friends. In naming it Boulder’s top Italian eatery, our readers voted for the perfectly prepared roster of classics from mussels and carpaccio to the pasta perfection of ravioli and angel hair aglio e olio. Whether they crave chicken piccata, chicken Parmigiana or lasagna, generations of University of Colorado students have built lasting memories at Carelli’s.

NEDERLAND RESTAURANT

Kathmandu Restaurant

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

Silver: Backcountry Pizza and Tap House

Bronze: Crosscut Pizza

The mountain terrain surrounding Nederland has proved to be the perfect site for enjoying Nepali and Indian fare. Kathmandu’s fragrant tandoori chicken, vegetable-filled samosas and lamb biryani is so memorable that our readers recommend it as the best dining experience in Nederland. Diners can find their bliss and experience a sweaty forehead if they order spicy lamb, fish or chicken vindaloo extra hot with basmati rice that smells like buttered popcorn. Explore Indian breads beyond naan, delights like puffy fried puri, ghee-brushed roti and pan-fried aloo paratha. If you can’t decide, visit the well-stocked lunch and dinner buffet.

ASIAN FUSION

Chez Thuy Restaurant

2655 28th St., Boulder, 303-442-1700

Silver: Japango

Bronze: Aloy Thai

Write-in: Folsom Thai

When it opened in 1993, Chez Thuy helped introduce Boulderites to authentic Vietnamese cuisine. Restaurant owner Thuy Le always added dishes she liked from China, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Malaysia. Our readers know they can find great pad Thai, coconut curry, Chinese-influenced sesame chicken and larb from Laos besides the pho soup variations. Some craveables like the crunchy papaya salad are hard for any one national cuisine to claim. One of the most popular Asian fusion dishes on Chez Thuy’s menu is Malaysian seafood: shrimp, scallops and calamari sautéed with chayote squash, jalapeño and coconut sauce.

Snarf’s sandwiches taste great because Aiden Fisher, general manager, makes them with love.

SANDWICH

Snarf’s Sandwiches

Multiple Locations

Silver: Moxie Bread Co.

Bronze: Organic
Sandwich Co.

There is no mystery why, year after year, our readers acclaim Snarf’s Sandwiches as serving the best between buns in Boulder. Start with great ingredients on oven-toasted loaves and a belief that comfort food is something we all need and love. Snarf’s favorite Italian sub is layered with salami, pepperoni, capicola and mortadella plus provolone. The signature side of the menu showcases an East Coast favorite: baked eggplant, marinara sauce, and three melted cheeses. Snarf’s Not-on-the-Menu choices include the German Dog, with bacon, melted Swiss, sauerkraut and pickles. 

VEGETARIAN FRIENDLY

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

1710 Pearl St., 303-442-1485

Silver: Flower Child

Bronze: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Write-in: Meta Burger 

When it comes to vegetarian and vegan fare, Boulder Weekly readers say that Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant’s meatless fare, using sustainably sourced ingredients, is next level. Dishes like calamari-style oyster mushrooms are substantial, flavor-forward and not missing anything. Global inspirations range from udon noodles with Szechuan-style vegetables and crispy tofu to Jamaican jerk-spiced tempeh atop black rice with creamy coconut plantain sauce. Leaf’s pastry chef treats diners with vegan carrot cake, “cheese”-cake and dark chocolate pudding. Weekends bring brunch comforts like house-made biscuits with mushroom gravy, huevos rancheros and blueberry pancakes. 

TACO

T/ACO

1175 Walnut St., 303-443-9468

Silver: McDevitt Taco Supply

Bronze: Bartaco

Write-in: Summit Tacos

At T/ACO, it’s been Taco Tuesday every day since it opened. T/ACO’s single-minded devotion to its namesake dish in all its tasty variations has won the hearts and taste buds of our readers. How can you say “no” to braised guajillo pepper-marinated pork belly with pickled red onions, cotija cheese and cilantro in a fresh soft corn tortilla? There are at least 17 composed tacos on T/ACO’s menu, including braised duck with verde mole, but after you’ve tasted the carnitas taco with pineapple, grilled red onion and cilantro, you want it every time. 

THAI

Aloy Thai Cuisine

2720 Canyon Blvd., 303-440-2903

Silver: Busaba

Bronze: Chez Thuy

Write-in: Jai Thai

With pad Thai options available across Boulder, why did our readers single out Aloy Thai as their go-to for Thai? Because Aloy Thai has always taken a more refined approach to creating and serving those curries, noodle dishes, fried-rice plates, soups and salads. Aloy’s elevated take on pad Thai packs the harmony of salty, spicy, sweet and savory flavors into a tumble of thin noodles, egg, bean sprouts, onion, peanuts and chopped tofu. Add your choice of meats, seafood or tofu.

Kelly Kawarchi, head butcher at Blackbelly

CATERING

Blackbelly Market

1606 Conestoga St., 303-247-1000

Silver: A Spice of Life

Bronze: McDevitt Taco Supply

Write-in: Peckish

Boulder’s Blackbelly started as a caterer before becoming an award-winning eatery and market to bring chef Hosea Rosenberg’s cuisine to events and homes, businesses and great gatherings. Whether for a wedding, birthday, anniversary or business party, Blackbelly provides more than just fine food. Blackbelly works with the best local event planners, venues, florists, rental companies, photographers, bakeries and bands. Did we mention food? Blackbelly can serve everything from a sit-down multi-course New American feast to a casual backyard barbecue featuring Rosenberg’s New Mexico-influenced fare. 

CHINESE

Zoe Ma Ma

2010 10th St., Boulder, 303-545-6262

Silver: China Gourmet

Bronze: Flower Pepper

Write-in: Double Happy

When our readers think about Zoe Ma Ma we know they’re having happy, hungry thoughts about all the tasty Chinese street food bites they’ve enjoyed there, like pork belly bao buns and pan-fried potstickers—traditional family dumplings with pork, shrimp and garlic chives. Hot summer days and long evenings call for the restaurant’s wonderful cold sesame noodles with tofu, vegetables and ginger-sesame dressing. Zoe Ma Ma owner Edwin Zoe’s insistence on superior ingredients and authentic recipes earned him a nomination this year as a semi-finalist in the James Beard Awards in the Outstanding Restaurateur category.

FOOD DELIVERY

Cosmo’s Pizza

Multiple Locations

Silver: Snarf’s Sandwiches

Bronze: Abo’s Pizza

Over the past few years, we’ve all become delivery experts as dozens of local eateries newly offered to bring everything from chicken korma to doughnuts to your doorstep. Despite all the food choices our readers now have, they didn’t hesitate to name Cosmo’s Pizza as Boulder’s go-to for food delivery. While the pizzeria had to close its 20-year-old spot at 1325 Broadway on the Hill, Cosmo’s’ many other locations guarantee the timely delivery of your hot Supreme, Greek Veggie, Hawaiian or Meat Lovers pies. 

FOOD ON THE HILL

The Sink

1165 13th St., Boulder, 303-444-7465

Silver: Illegal Pete’s

Bronze: Cafe Aion

You won’t see Robert Redford sweeping up after lunch, but the 100-year history of The Sink is captured in caricatures and signatures on the walls and ceilings. Generations of students have enjoyed oceans of ice cold beer with a boatload of Sink burgers. These days Sink burgers include your choice of patties (chuck, veggie, chicken breast or grass-fed beef), cheese (American to goat), toppings (onion straws and sauteed mushrooms to guacamole and bacon) with all your favorite sauces and condiments. Other Sink classics include the Cowboy Reuben: smoked, marinated brisket, slaw, cheddar and chipotle barbecue sauce on rye. 

GLUTEN-FREE MENU

Flower Child

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

Silver: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Bronze: Tangerine 

Write-in: Ash’Kara

Going out to dinner with family and friends can be challenging given individuals’ dietary needs. The menu at Flower Child is full of bowls, salads and wraps labeled GF—gluten free. Bowls include the power-packed Mother Earth, featuring ancient grains, sweet potato, portobellos, avocado, cucumber, broccoli pesto, charred onion, leafy greens, red pepper miso vinaigrette and hemp seed. The stellar turkey and avocado cobb salad is topped with red cabbage, tomato, cucumber, crunchy corn, pickled onion, smoked almonds and gorgonzola vinaigrette.  

ICE CREAM

Sweet Cow

Multiple Locations

Silver: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream

Bronze: Gelato Boy

Sure, Sweet Cow has the familiar kid favorites like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but the scoop shop’s devoted corps of fans go for the over-the-top flavor combinations. How about The Big Lebowski (churned with Kahlua and vodka), the vegan Thai iced tea or Larry’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness? That’s why our readers scream for Sweet Cow ice cream in a scoop, in a pretzel cone, or as the quintessential hot fudge sundae. The small batch, super-creamy varieties are churned fresh on site at shops in Boulder County, and dished out in Sweet Cow ice cream trucks at events and street corners.

INDIAN

Sherpa’s Adventure Restaurant & Bar

825 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-440-7151

Silver: Kathmandu II

Bronze: Tandoori Grill

Write-in: Little Tibet

Sherpa Pemba guided more than 20 ascents over 20,000 feet and for 20 years he had led diners to new flavors at Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant. Many visitors discover the momo, steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, beef or chicken with zesty chutney for dipping. The more adventurous will order Tibetan thupka with noodles, vegetables and yak meat. It doesn’t taste like chicken, but yak is tender and delicious. Make sure to get garlic and cheese naan to grab bites of creamy saag paneer. Sherpa’s shaded patio is a great place to chill with a beer or cool creamy mango lassi.

Susan France Chef Sheila Lucero of Jax Fish House

SEAFOOD

Jax Fish House & Oyster bar

928 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-1811

Silver: Sushi Zanmai 

Bronze: Flagstaff House 

In Boulder, landlocked hasn’t meant living without fresh fish for decades, especially since Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar opened. The restaurant’s devotion to sourcing the freshest seafood and serving it simply is only part of the reason Jax has won this category of the Best of Boulder for many years in a row. From the start, Jax has moved mountains to support sustainable wild and farm fisheries across the globe. Jax’s executive chef Sheila Lucero is a nationally recognized authority on seafood you can feel good about eating, especially those dozens of oysters Jax is famous for.

BARBECUE

Georgia Boys BBQ

250 Third Ave., Longmont, 720-999-4099

Silver: KT’s BBQ

Bronze: Lulu’s BBQ

Our well-traveled readers have sampled barbecue across the nation and when it came time to vote they named Longmont’s Georgia Boys as their favorite local barbecue joint. It’s easy to understand after tasting the smoky brisket, pulled pork and chicken, and mouth-grabbing sauces from Carolina Mustard to Sweet Heat. Frankly, we could make a meal just from Georgia Boys’ scratch-made BBQ beans, potato salad, mac and cheese, cornbread and sweet potato casserole. Want to taste almost everything? The family sampler boasts a full slab of ribs, meats including jalapeño-cheddar links, sides, sauces and Texas toast. Don’t forget the banana pudding! 

BURRITO

Illegal Pete’s

Multiple locations

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Bronze: Santiago’s 

Write-in: Loco Hermanos

According to our hungry readers, all burritos are definitely not created equal. Despite the competition in this category, they once again chose Illegal Pete’s as Boulder’s best Mission-style burritos. These champions watch the details, from the quality of the tortillas and fresh ingredients to making sure they are equally distributed along the full length of the burrito. The challenge is choosing the perfect build-your-own scheme between steak and cheese, pork carnitas with guacamole, and the crispy beer-battered fish burrito with slaw and salsa.

BUSINESS LUNCH

The Kitchen American Bistro

1039 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-544-5973

Silver: OAK at Fourteenth

Bronze: Boulder Cork 

Write-in: Sanitas Brewing Co.

When you conduct serious business over lunch, the restaurant can make or break the deal with the food, service and atmosphere. Our readers say the best place in Boulder to eat and talk is The Kitchen American Bistro. One reason is the attentive and rapid service—a must when lunch is barely an hour. The Kitchen has always featured local and organic produce, meats and seafood on a lunch menu catering to carnivores and vegetarians, with a double-stack cheeseburger and a mushroom-and-leek quiche. Don’t miss The Kitchen’s hand-cut thin and crispy fries. 

BAKERY

Moxie Bread Co.

Multiple Locations

Silver: Lucky’s Bakehouse

Bronze: Great Harvest Bread Company

Write-in: Dry Storage

It’s starts with 100% heirloom and ancient grains, milled fresh in-house every week, and a slow fermentation process, plus careful attention to baking. That loving attention to artisan breads and pastries produces the melt-in-the-mouth flavor that our readers love at Moxie Bread Co. The neighborhood bakery now has locations in Louisville, Boulder and Lyons. Moxie’s chewy crusted wonders include focaccia, ciabatta, Jewish rye, and Algerian farmhouse breads. We’d walk a mile for one of the chocolate croissants or the buttery, sugary, caramelized kouign-amman pastries.

FINE DINING

Flagstaff House

Flagstaff House dining room

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640

Silver: Frasca Food & Wine

Bronze: Black Cat Farm Table Bistro

Write-in: Farow Restaurant

Most of the meals in our lives are forgettable feeding opportunities. A meal experience at the Flagstaff House is about escaping for a few hours, living it up and remembering every bite. With an unbeatable mountain-side location, extraordinary service and great cuisine, it’s clear why the Flagstaff House earned our readers’ votes. A four-course tasting menu can start with duck pate, move on to wild mushroom risotto with a main event of Alaskan halibut, and vanilla bean creme brulee tart finale. With a 6,000-bottle wine cellar the restaurant has a perfectly paired glass or a splurge-worthy bottle of Chateau Mouton Rothschild.

LYONS RESTAURANT

Oskar Blues Grill & Brew

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

Silver: Mojo Taqueria

Bronze: La Mariposa

Write-in: The Stone Cup

You may have heard that Oskar Blues Grill & Brew was bought by a national company recently, but the Oskar Blues restaurants, including the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons are still firmly in local hands. For visitors, it’s worth the drive to acquaint your taste buds with Oskar Blues’ all-star flavor lineup, from jambalaya with sausage crawfish, shrimp, and chicken to the bestselling smoked prime rib sandwich with horseradish, grilled onions and mushrooms and Swiss plus savory au jus for dipping. The eatery still has Oskar Blues’ great brews on tap and live music on the weekends. 

JAPANESE

Japango

1136 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-938-0330

Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Bronze: Sushi Zanmai

Write-in: Osaka’s of Boulder

Sushi is wonderful, but there is a universe of other Japanese treats out there to discover. According to our readers, the best place in Boulder to find them is at Japango. Expand your flavor experiences by trying other Japanese favorites like tempura vegetables with dipping sauce, or wakame and hiyashi seaweed salad with soy vinaigrette. Noodle fans love the authentic spicy udon noodles with seafood, and regulars swear by the simple grilled salmon filet with sweet-salty teriyaki glaze. No matter what you order, Japango boasts an extensive list of sakes served cold or warm. 

LATE NIGHT

Cosmo’s Pizza

Multiple Locations

Silver: The World Famous Dark Horse Bar & Grill

Bronze: Illegal Pete’s

It can be hard to find anything good to eat in Boulder after midnight besides microwaved burritos and Hostess pies at a convenience store. Thankfully, late-nighters always find the light on and classic thin-crust New York-style pies at Cosmo’s Pizza, available with all the toppings. Other late night and early a.m. fillers at Cosmo’s range from a calzone bursting with hot spinach, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato and cheese, to a Full Party Salad crowned with veggies, mozzarella and spicy ranch. When in doubt or a dense fog, the easy order is simply four breadsticks with warm nacho cheese dip.

Boulder Pho’s Kyle Nguyen displays the eatery’s best pho.

PHO

Boulder Pho & Grill

2855 28th St., Boulder, 303-449-0350

Silver: Chez Thuy

Bronze: Black Pepper Pho

Write-in: Saigon Express

It wasn’t so long ago that there was no pho in Boulder County. Now there are a slew of shops dishing big warming bowls of the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup. Boulder Pho & Grill won out as our readers’ favorite slurping spot because it concentrates on the essentials, including slow-simmering bone broth for pho, whether topped with seafood, white meat chicken, or the big combo: rare steak, tendon and tripe. While most pho does involve meat, Boulder Pho also dishes vegetarian pho made with a rich vegetable broth and loads of chewy noodles garnished with fresh veggies, herbs and lime. 

PIZZA RESTAURANT

Pizzeria Locale

1730 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-442-3003

Silver: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage

Bronze: Proto’s Pizza

Write-in: Barchetta 

People who are serious about authentic Neapolitan pizza flock to Boulder’s original Pizzeria Locale. Since it is operated by the award-winning Frasca Food & Wine next door, the expectations are high for this classy neighborhood pizzeria. According to our readers, Pizzeria Locale is the real deal if you love Italian wood-fired pizza. The menu offers 12 “classics” ranging from the iconic Margherita with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella and basil, to the unconventional Mais with crème fraîche, prosciutto cotto, corn, fresh mozzarella and garlic oil atop Locale’s artisan, slightly charred crust.

APPETIZERS / TAPAS

Blackbelly 

1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 303-247-1000

Silver: Dagabi Cucina 

Bronze: The Kitchen American Bistro 

Write-in: Farow Restaurant 

Chef Hosea Rosenberg has never been timid about using great spices, fresh herbs and big flavors so it’s no surprise that his Blackbelly restaurant earned our readers’ kudos where appetizers are concerned. The meal-starting menu tantalizes with New Mexico green chile posole and a rare meal and conversation starter: crispy fried pig ears with red pepper jelly. Tapas lovers gravitate toward grilled Spanish octopus with potato, fresh daikon and aioli with their pre-meal cocktails. Blackbelly’s popular happy hour snacks include marinated olives, house-made sausage, and house-made ricotta cheese with fruit compote and bread. Are you getting appetized yet? 

Sue France Hannah Johnson, Server at Snooze, An A.M. Eatery

PANCAKE/WAFFLE

Snooze: An A.M. Eatery

1617 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-225-7344

Silver: The Buff

Bronze: Walnut Cafe

Write-in: Waffle Lab

We’ve seen flights of geese over Baseline Reservoir and flights of wine and beer at Boulder County tasting rooms, but frankly, we’ll go with the flight of pancakes at Snooze: An A.M. Eatery in downtown Boulder. These are no ordinary flapjacks and syrup. Our flight of three large cakes would include the Blueberry Danish (lemony cream cheese filling), Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes (with cinnamon butter) and Sweet Potato Pancakes topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans and ginger butter. Whether you love pancakes or waffles, Snooze has vegan and gluten-free options so everyone can take off.

ORGANIC RESTAURANT

Flower Child

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

Silver: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Bronze: Leaf Vegetarian

Write-in: Farow Restaurant

Given Boulder’s long history of counterculture hippies and groundbreaking natural cafes and markets, Flower Child is a perfect name for our readers’ favorite organic restaurant. The small national chain goes all-in on transparency about its ingredients and its dedication to sustainability. Flower Child’s menu makes it possible for carnivores, vegans, those of the Keto or Paleo persuasion, as well as dairy-free and gluten-free diners to find a favorite bowl, salad or wrap. Since kombucha is not everybody’s cup of lemonade, the beverage options include organic wines and brews.

RESTAURANT DESSERT

Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640

Silver: The Huckleberry

Bronze: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Write-in: Farow Restaurant

At the Flagstaff House, dessert is not an afterthought, it’s an exclamation point. The finale commences with wow-worthy coffee—really! It’s delivered with a tray of treats centered by whipped cream and surrounded by pastel chocolate mints, licorice, chocolate and various sugars. The pastry chef’s eye-catching creations can include vanilla bean creme brulee tart, or parsnip cake served with blood orange, kumquat, goat cheese mousse and sabayon. Break out the camera for the stunning candied apple Dacquoise with brown butter mousse, hazelnuts and rum cider syrup. The Flagstaff House always goes the extra mile to make birthdays sweet.  

SUSHI

Japango

1136 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-938-0330

Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Bronze: Sushi Zanmai

Write-in: Blofish

At Japango, sushi takes on many equally tasty forms, earning it our readers’ vote for the Best Sushi in Boulder. First, there’s sashimi: slices of raw, fresh salmon, yellowtail and other fish. The chirashi bowl tops sushi rice with sashimi or salmon roe. Japango’s changing menu of fish-topped nigiri bites isn’t all raw. Try the Kunsei (smoked salmon) or Hotate (grilled scallop) with a dab of wasabi. To impress your guests, order the Ama Ebi: sweet raw shrimp with heads still on.

PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS

Rayback Collective

2775 Valmont Road, Boulder, 303-214-2127

Silver: Chautauqua Dining Hall 

Bronze: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

From its inception in 2016, the Rayback Collective was designed to host a sunny backyard party with cold craft brews, furry friends and an inspiring view of Flatirons. In the past two years, that al fresco community resource has proved invaluable to our readers, who happily chose the Rayback Collective as their favorite place to eat outdoors. A changing cast of the best local food trucks dish everything from burgers to banh mi to folks gathered to chat, sip espresso, listen to live music, play games or do yoga in the welcoming space designated as Boulder’s backyard.

Efrain’s employee Patricia Lopez

EAST COUNTY RESTAURANT

Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

101 E. Clevland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544

Silver: The Post Brewing Chicken and Beer

Bronze: The Huckleberry

Write-in: Farow Restaurant

East County residents and visitors love a good value that comes with big flavors and that’s what they find in the familiar warren of rooms of Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina Lafayette location. The platters under the servings of tacos, fajitas, enchiladas and burritos are covered with food. The hot tortilla chips and fiery salsa keeps coming and the Mason jar “coin” margarita with fresh lime juice is a generous pour. Hotheads also know that when they order their Mexican ribs, huevos rancheros or chile verde “hot,” they will break out in a happy sweat. 

NEW RESTAURANT

Farow Restaurant

7916 Niwot Road, Niwot, 720-797-2023

Silver: Gemini

Bronze: Meta Burger

For a newcomer, Farow Restaurant already seems like a seasoned veteran. Farow’s changing seasonal dishes using locally sourced ingredients, its smooth service and comfy, casual vibe has drawn our readers to Niwot and their votes for Best New Restaurant. Farow’s happy hour features a first-class Buckner Ranch burger, hot-from-the-fryer hush puppies with green chile, and $6 glasses of wine. Farow’s menu includes shareables like fried green tomatoes and steak tartare and big plates of potato gnocchi or pork chops with polenta. Don’t miss chef Lisa Balcom’s classy sweets, like the Meyer lemon ricotta meringue pie.

TAKEOUT

Snarf’s Sandwiches

Multiple Locations

Silver: Aloy Thai

Bronze: Busaba 

Write-in: Peckish 

One of the greatest American food writers, James Beard, said it the best:

“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.” It’s not simply throwing whatever between two slices of bread. Jimmy Seidel—the “Snarf” of Boulder’s Snarf’s Sandwiches—has studied the art and comprehends what it takes to compose a great sub that you want to take home and appreciate. All day log, oven-toasted sandwiches, from the Italian to the prime rib and provolone sub, are marched out the door at Snarf’s in the hands of fans, along with entree salads, soups and desserts. 

OVERALL RESTAURANT

Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640

Silver: Blackbelly Market

Bronze: Jax Fish House

Write-in: Fresh Thymes Eatery

So many of our dining excursions are really just feeding stops with food that is quickly forgotten. The Flagstaff House is in the business of creating unforgettable experiences, whether it’s your birthday, anniversary or simply date night on the mountainside patio. When our readers took quality cuisine, over-the-top gracious service and a luxurious atmosphere into account, no wonder they named the Flagstaff House the Best Overall Restaurant in Boulder. Executive Chef Chris Royster and the Monette family continue a long tradition of excellence. 

BREAKFAST / BRUNCH

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

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

Silver: Tangerine

Bronze: The Buff

Breakfast, lunch or brunch at Lucile’s Creole Cafe is like dining with an old friend who lives in an old house in New Orleans. We know generations of folks who’ve awakened on a weekend morning at Lucile’s house over buttermilk biscuits, house-made strawberry-rhubarb jam, sugar-dusted beignets and chicory coffee. The savory side of the menu features plates of zesty blackened salmon, crawfish étouffée and red beans with hot Louisiana sausage, eggs and hollandaise (and lots of Tabasco). Lucile’s six locations will soon be joined by a seventh café in Erie.

MEXICAN

Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Multiple locations

Silver: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

Bronze: Jefes

Write-in: Mojo Taqueria Fuego

We all love tacos, quesadillas, fajitas and chimichanga’s but the next time you visit our reader’s long-time favorite Mexican eatery, why not explore some of the more traditional and corners of Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina large menu from blue corn chicken enchiladas to cheese-stuffed chile rellenos. Go traditional two ways: The iconic chile verde bowl is pork with lots of hot green chilies. Chile Colorado features chunks of tender pork swimming in a New Mexican-style red chile-infused sauce. Boulder gets even more Efrain’s when a spacious new location opens soon near McGuckin Hardware. 

WINGS

World Famous Dark Horse Bar & Grill

2922 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303-442-8162

Silver: West End Tavern

Bronze: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Write-in: Busey Brews

The Dark Horse has always been serious about its wings. That’s why the Dark Horse wins the loyalty of our readers in a town where fried wings are on every bar menu. The best wings in Boulder are big and meaty with sauces ranging from hot and extra hot to barbecue, teriyaki and dry rubbed—or a combo. They come with blue cheese or ranch dressing and celery sticks because vegetables are good. Burger lovers may object, but it might be the wings that make the Dark Horse “World Famous.” 

As anyone who has ever watched the opening scene of the film Saturday Night Fever knows, eating pizza as a folded over slice is a very different meal from those sit-down, fork-and-knife fancy pizzas. Since it first opened, Cosmo’s Pizza has satisfied the need for a slice at all hours. Slices can be topped with everything from pepperoni and bell peppers to anchovy and artichoke hearts and popped in a very hot oven. That’s why year after year our readers say that the slice is right at Cosmo’s Pizza.

The craft chocolate of Piece, Love & Chocolate

CHOCOLATIER

Piece, Love & Chocolate

805 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-449-4804

Silver: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Bronze: Chocolove

Write-in: Chocolaterie Stam

Just enter into Piece, Love & Chocolate and you understand why this shop has a lock in this sweet category. You walk into a cocoa cloud and it immediately improves your mood. Then you notice there is chocolate everywhere—sipping chocolate, chocolate cake, bars and dozens of varieties of chocolate truffles, each a little work of art. Chocolate-robed truffle fillings range from caramel pecan and cherry cordial to a grown-up variety flavored with Avery Brewing Company’s Out of Bounds Stout. Imagine dark chocolate ganache infused with cognac over milk chocolate-encapsulated pop rocks that crackle in your mouth. 

RESTAURANT SERVICE

Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, 303-442-4640

Silver: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Bronze: Frasca Food & Wine

It’s no revelation to anyone who dines in Boulder that many restaurants continue to struggle with providing great table service. Trained staff at has been hard to find and even harder to keep. Because of its long reputation for fine dining excellence, the Flagstaff House continues to find people to provide the kind of personal attention expected at a restaurant of this caliber. First-class food, wine and ambience are also important, but one of the great joys of dining there is actually experiencing good service from folks who enjoy the job. 

PLACE TO GO ON A FIRST DATE

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

1770 13th St., Boulder, 303-442-4993

Silver: Rayback Collective

Bronze: Jax Fish House

The same sense of wonder that has made the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse one of the city’s premier attractions may explain why our readers say it’s the best place for a successful first date. The place is so stunning that it relieves the tension. It’s easy to get distracted by the ornate hand-carved and painted ceiling or the many roses on the patio. Couples-to-be can share international treats including Indian samosas, Chinese char siu bao, Japanese crispy chicken karaage or North African-spiced cauliflower. For cultured courting, settle in classic British afternoon tea.

Winner Spotlight: Japango and the art of meraki

As restaurants fought to survive the pandemic over the last two years, Japango owners Jon and Erin Banis placed their focus on preserving the ethos the Pearl Street sushi restaurant was founded on: providing a memorable dining experience. 

“Why I’ve always enjoyed the restaurant industry is, plain and simple, hospitality,” says Jon, who started as the general manager of Japango when it opened in 1999, and eventually took ownership of the restaurant in 2007. “Dining out is sometimes one of the simple treasures that people get on any given day. It’s good to see people at their highest times. But you also get to see people on their lowest days, when dining out might be the only bright spot of their day or week. So, for me, it’s just about providing an experience for people. That’s what we try to nurture. Hospitality, in its essence, is providing a memorable experience and taking care of people’s needs. That’s why I always loved it.”

Susan France

It’s clear the Banis’ focus has paid off over the years, as Japango has won Best Japanese and Best Sushi for the last three years running. Before you even take a bite of melt-in-your mouth salmon sashimi or a mouthful of earthy Junmai-style sake, patrons can find immediate relaxation in the award-winning architectural design by acclaimed architect Scott Rodwin: a bright, open dining area, sushi bar and cocktail lounge, accented by warm Tiikeri (reclaimed sorghum stalk) and an otherworldly jellyfish tank. A back patio with a fireplace offers a cozy place to enjoy an evening with friends away from the hustle and bustle, while a Pearl Street patio offers some of the best people watching in town. 

Above the sushi bar you’ll notice a collection of signatures: members of the 2000 U.S. Olympic Judo team who stopped into this iconic Boulder eatery.

But atmosphere will only take a restaurant so far without mouth-watering food and drink to bring patrons back again and again. Head chef Iwasa Yukiji has been crafting traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine for Japango since the restaurant’s inception, while creative beverage director Stanley Usinowicz has been creating inventive cocktails and curating Japango’s extensive selection of Japanese whisky since 2013. Japanago currently maintains a staff of 65 employes. 

“I think we’ve always tried to nurture a fun environment where people feel heard, and enjoy coming into work,” says Erin, who curates Japango’s sake offerings after taking in-depth courses on the rice-based drink several years ago. “When people come to dine here, you’re creating a vibe, you’re creating an atmosphere. We’ve always tried to translate that to our staff. We have a lot of respect for them, especially after COVID. It became more glaringly obvious that we are dependent on them to get through all this. And so we hope to nurture a place of mutual respect.”

Part of that respect involves providing customers with that memorable experience, which means all servers are educated on sushi and drink offerings, there are no QR codes in place of physical menus, and veteran employees like Yukiji and Usinowicz are on-hand to help guide customers through menu options. 

“As far as quality, true traditional training, even though our menu definitely has a very contemporary twist, Iwasa (Yukiji) brings a very traditional approach that you don’t get to see a lot of places anymore,” Jon says. “You know, there’s a sushi restaurant on every corner these days, but you don’t necessarily get that type of experience behind the scenes.”

Indeed, Japanago characterizes the spirit of meraki, a Greek word with no English equivalent that means doing something with your soul, imbuing it with creativity and love  

—Caitlin Rockett

Japango, 1136 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-938-0330

JAPANESE CUISINE

Silver: Hapa Sushi

Bronze: Sushi Zanmai

Write-in: Osaka’s

SUSHI

Silver: Hapa Sushi

Bronze: Sushi Zanmai

Write-in: Blofish

Winner Spotlight: Mountain Sun brewpubs slowly reopen, while the community shows its love through votes

When the original Mountain Sun Brewpub reopened on Feb. 4, Boulder could finally breathe a little sigh of relief. The Pearl Street icon had been shuttered during the pandemic for 23 months, but it never closed. 

“There have been times in the past two years when I questioned whether we could keep going, but when we finally opened the doors at Mountain Sun on Pearl and saw people so happy, it was all worth it,” says Kevin J. Daly, founder of Mountain Sun Brewpubs. “We’ll make sure that place will always remain open.” 

Boulder’s Southern Sun and Under the Sun Eatery & Pizzeria, and Longs Peak Pub &Taphouse in Longmont, are now also open. The Vine Street Pub in Denver remains closed. 

Boulder Weekly readers have awarded Mountain Sun four Best of Boulder food awards as their favorite American restaurant, their top place to get burgers and veggie burgers and their choice for kid-friendly dining. 

“We are so appreciative to the Boulder community for all the years of support. The love is mutual,” Daly says.  

Mountain Sun’s reputation of great food and craft beers, comes from a simple fact: “I’m a foodie,” Daly says. “I like eating great food, but it wasn’t being served much at brewpubs when we opened 29 years ago. I wanted great food in a pub setting, and that includes burgers.” 

One non-meat burger isn’t enough for diners at Mountain Sun so the menu offers a tasty black bean veggie burger, a garden burger, and meaty Beyond Burger patties along with long lists of toppings, buns and condiments. 

“Everybody says they come to Mountain Sun for the vegetarian food but they’re really eating burgers. We source high-quality beef locally, and most importantly, we griddle them. They aren’t grilled so they’re juicier,” Daly says.

At the Mountain Sun’s roomier locations with patios, kids and families have always fit in with the boisterous vibe, friendly servers and comfortable furniture. 

“We’ve always gone out of our way to make everyone comfortable in our places, and that includes families. It’s not a fancy place,” Daly says. 

Daly is looking forward to celebrating Mountain Sun’s upcoming 30th anniversary with an event or music festival, and expects to ride through whatever comes next.

“It’s always been about community. As soon as people could gather, they did, and always will,” he says.  

— John Lehndorff

MOUNTAIN SUN WON IN THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:

BEER SELECTION AT A RESTAURANT

Silver: Backcountry Pizza and Tap House

Bronze: Oskar Blues Brewery

AMERICAN RESTAURANT

Silver: The Kitchen American Bistro

Bronze: OAK at Fourteenth

Write-in: Farow Restaurant

BURGER

Silver: The World Famous Dark Horse Bar & Grill

Bronze: Blackbelly Market

Write-in: Meta Burger

KID FRIENDLY

Silver: Lucky Pie Pizza

Bronze: Noodles & Co

VEGGIE BURGER

Silver: Larkburger

Bronze: Leaf Vegetarian

Write-in: Meta Burger

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