Best of Boulder East County 2019 — Food

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Samantha Lightcap, assistant manager at Morning Glory Cafe
Susan France

GLUTEN-FREE MENU

MORNING GLORY CAFE
1377 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette, 303-604-6351
Longmont Winner: The Post Brewing Co. (also in Lafayette)
Morning Glory Cafe is a special place. The no-frills but always-friendly environs make breakfast, lunch and dinner a treat, and that’s not saying anything yet about the food. Our readers particularly like Morning Glory’s gluten-free menu, which includes blueberry, chocolate chip and plain pancakes; grilled cheese, burgers and sandwiches on gluten-free bread; and quesadillas and wraps on gluten-free tortillas. Morning Glory’s expansive menu is also filled with options for vegans, vegetarians, dairy-free folks and others with dietary restrictions.

INDIAN

TAJ MAHAL III
1075 E. South Boulder Road, Suite 145, Louisville, 303-926-0999
Runner Up, East County: Tibet’s Restaurant & Bar
Lafayette Winner: Tandoori Kitchen
Longmont Winner: Flavor of India
It may not be hip to admit it, but there’s nothing more satisfying than an all-you-can-eat buffet, especially at a good Indian restaurant. Our readers’ perennial favorite in this category, Louisville’s Taj Mahal III, is dedicated to offering a well-presented lunch buffet seven days a week. The spread always includes chicken tikka masala and creamy saag paneer with chunks of cheese sided with plenty of fragrant basmati rice, warm naan and mint-cilantro and tamarind chutneys. The Taj’s regular menu explores all the classic curries, kormas, fiery vindaloos and biryani rice dishes, plus more obscure preparations such as spicy lamb madras.

Susan France Moxie Bread Co. owner Andy Clark with wife Phillipa

BAKERY

MOXIE BREAD CO.
641 Main St., Louisville, 720-420-9616
Lafayette Winner: Eats & Sweets
Longmont Winner: Great Harvest Bread Co.
There aren’t many awards that Louisville’s Moxie Bread Co. hasn’t won. No wonder East Boulder County thinks of it as their hometown bakery. It’s a rare independent bakery where bread and pastry arts are both practiced at an artisan level. Owner Andy Clark uses slow, long fermentation and house-milled local organic heirloom grain to create substantial, beautifully crusted loaves. The volkenbrot and farmhaus breads are tops for toast. The pastry royalty here is the kouign amann (QUEEN-ah-mahn), a super-buttery sweet croissant muffin with fruit and nut fillings. And, oh my: the cardamom shortbread cookies!

LYONS RESTAURANT

OSKAR BLUES GRILL & BREW
303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685
Runner Up, East County: Lyons Fork
Even though they have outposts all over the country, the heart and soul of Oskar Blues still resides in Lyons. Here, Dale Katechis started a craft beer revolution — it was the first craft Colorado brewery to can its wares in 2002 — and here he brought together small-town charm and rock ‘n’ roll bravado alongside killer food and vibrant brews. Oskar Blues Grill & Brew’s menu leans toward southern cooking, the drinks are hop-forward and downstairs offers a place to jam, dance or watch a movie, should a local film festival be around.

DONUTS

LAMAR’S DONUTS
133 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 720-890-3875
Broomfield Winner: The 5280 Donuts
Longmont Winner: Winchell’s Donut House
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, regulars patiently wait in a line out the door for their turn to choose a dozen delights at LaMar’s Donuts. It gives them time to narrow down the choices on the trays of yeast-raised and cake delights. Will they go with the light and fluffy chocolate-glazed or opt for the satisfying tender apple spice cake? Our readers tell us they love indulging in the occasional pineapple-filled bismark or maple iced LaMar’s Bar. And better yet, LaMar’s cherry fritters and raisin pecan cinnamon rolls hold up to dunking in hot beverages. As LaMar’s points out, a Ray’s Original Glazed has 220 calories versus 450 for a bagel with cream cheese.

Susan France Moe’s Broadway Bagel baker cooks up the next batch.

BAGEL

MOE’S BROADWAY BAGEL
1057 Courtesy Road, Louisville, 303-665-2126
Lafayette and Longmont Winner: Big Daddy Bagels
It would be hard to live in a world with no Moe’s Broadway Bagels. You could, but it would be a lot less delicious. Imagine a world with no soft and chewy Asiago to dunk into a warm cup of soup. A world with no toasted Cinnamon Sugar schmeared with cream cheese. No Italian (Everything, to the uninitiated), toasted with egg, cheddar cheese and sausage for breakfast. Stop. It seems downright cruel. A world without bagels is like a world with the music turned down. We want our bagels, morning, noon and night. And we want them from Moe’s. Looks like you do too. Good on ‘ya.

CATERING

GEORGIA BOYS BBQ
250 Third Ave., Longmont, 720-999-4099
Runner Up, East County: A Spice of Life (East Boulder)
Gunbarrel Winner: Snarf’s Sandwhiches (also in Longmont)
Lafayette Winner: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
There are lots of catering services, but few that specialize in authentic smokehouse barbecue. Plenty of eateries dish quality barbecue fare but aren’t necessarily rock stars at catering. According to our readers, Georgia Boys BBQ in Longmont manages to do both really well, satisfying all sorts of crowds from casual parties to posh weddings and corporate gatherings. The Boys can set up everything from a barbecue sandwich buffet to a complete taco bar with the moistest, smokiest pulled pork ever. Frankly, we’d be thrilled with a buffet of their sides: mac and cheese, barbecue beans, mashers and gravy, cornbread and sweet potato casserole.

APPETIZERS

95A BISTRO & SUSHI
1381 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette, 303-665-3080
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Longmont Winner: The Roost
Louisville Winner: Parma Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar
When an eatery devotes a full menu page to hot and cold tapas, another to sushi, and serves lamb skewers and bacon-wrapped dates, you know they’re serious about appetizers. That’s why our readers give their vote, year after year, to 95a Bistro & Sushi. 95a’s something-for-everyone approach guarantees that even the pickiest family member can find a small plate to enjoy. The Lafayette eatery’s happy hour features $5 big bites ranging from shrimp cocktail with wasabi cocktail sauce to pork and ricotta meatballs. Don’t feel bad if you never end up getting to the entrée menu.

MEXICAN

EFRAIN’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544
Longmont Winner: Jefes Tacos & Tequila
Louisville Winner: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria
There are two words that explain why the parking lot at Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina is always full for lunch and dinner: chile verde. Vibrant, fiery green chile has drawn a crowd since the landmark eatery opened in 1984 in Lafayette. Efrain’s dishes a true Chihuahuan-style green chile bowl loaded with toasted peppers, tomatoes and pork, served with flour tortillas. Green chile sauce smothers costillas (ribs), chimichangas and rellenos as well as burritos. And it all tastes better with a marg.

FOOD TRUCK

VERDE
Mobile, Boulder County, 520-358-3670
Runner Up, East County: Butcher & The Blonde
Verde is a successful brick-and-mortar Mexican eatery in Boulder and Louisville, but it has never lost touch with its street roots. Verde is still truckin’ after all these years, bringing Sonoran-style Mexican favorites to East County tasting rooms and community events. We are fans of the truck’s carne asada or coconut citrus fish tacos. Burritos are available with four saucy upgrades: chimichanga-style, enchilada-style, fundido-syle and, of course, green chile-smothered. It’s worth tracking down Verde just for its fried cheese taco encased in browned, melted and crispy cheese.

Susan France Busaba owner, Smatta Phairatphiboon

Thai Restaurant

BUSABA AUTHENTIC THAI CUISINE
133 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-665-0330
Lafayette Winner: Panang Thai Cuisine
Longmont Winner: Thai Kitchen
How can you go wrong with Thai food made by native Thais? From noodles (thick or thin), rice (fried or steamed), curries (hot or sweet), and on and on, Busaba Authentic Thai Cuisine has you covered. These folks take pride in their recipes, and the ingredients that go into each one, and our readers have noticed. If you’ve been, you know exactly why you need to head back; if you haven’t, now is the time to head on over. Start with the Bangkok Street Fried Rice and go from there. Pro tip: Want to learn more about a culture? Start with the street cuisine. If that doesn’t hook you, nothing will.

BBQ

LULU’S BBQ
701B Main St., Louisville, 720-583-1789
Longmont Winner: Georgia Boys BBQ
Life is too short to eat mediocre barbecue. Our readers voted with their taste buds for Louisville’s Lulu’s BBQ. Fired up with Texas white oak, the smokehouse infuses tons of flavor into platters and sandwiches made with fall-apart brisket, pulled pork, chicken and sausages. The finger-sucking saucy ribs are bestsellers, including the piece de barbecue resistance: awesome burnt ends, especially tasty with the house garnish of minced onions, sport peppers and pickles. The smoky perfume wafting across Old Town Louisville doesn’t just beckon carnivores; Lulu’s is also famous for its smoked tofu. Best side dish: Cinnamon butter cornbread.

OVERALL RESTAURANT (TIE)

THE POST BREWING CO.
105 W. Emma St., Lafayette, 303-593-2066
1258 S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-588-2883
COMMUNITY
206 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-890-3793
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Louisville Winner: Parma Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar
In the words of Ingrid Bergman: “It’s a tie!” Yes, the 2019 Best of Boulder East County award for Overall Restaurant goes to both The Post Brewing Co. (defending its title) AND Community. Both hail from the great town of Lafayette, both serve elevated versions of comfort cuisine, and both serve libations that are fresh and local. That would probably be enough for BW readers, but really, it comes down to the essence of these two businesses. Community promises “no pomp and even less circumstance,” while The Post offers up “hot chicken and cold beer.” The best things in life are rarely complicated.

STAFF PICK: Best place to go if you can’t decide between hot dogs or tacos
Marco’s Hot Dogs and Tacos
1647 Kimbark St, Longmont.We have a lot of hifalutin places for you to check out between these Best of Boulder East County covers, but if you want the pleasure of eating standing up and can’t decide between hot dogs or tacos, then head to Marco’s Hot Dogs and Tacos in Longmont. Existing somewhere between a counter and a food cart, Marco’s has two grills, one serving up Sonora Dogs (bacon-wrapped franks covered in pinto beans, shredded cheese and pico de gallo), the other serving up street tacos. Drinks come by the can, and the only places to sit are on the brick windowsills. It’s a meal long-remembered. Bring cash.

AMERICAN

THE POST BREWING CO.
105 W. Emma St., Lafayette, 303-593-2066
1258 S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-588-2883
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Louisville Winner: The Huckleberry
Hot chicken loves cold beer. It’s as simple as that. The Post Brewing Co. has been serving up award-winning ales and lagers alongside gluten-free fried chicken for half a decade. Quaff that award-winning El Corn down with some fried chicken. Order a side of chicken chicharrones, and dunk it in the white bean hummus. That’s what they come for when they come to The Post. At the OG facility in Lafayette, pop in any night of the week for a daily special from Monday’s burger night to Friday’s fish fry. Plus, The Post has expanded with outposts along the Front Range, so be sure to stop in whenver you’re passing by.

ASIAN FUSION

BUSABA AUTHENTIC THAI CUISINE
133 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-665-0330
Lafayette Winner: Pho Cafe Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup & Grill
Longmont: East Moon Asian Bistro
The edamame is from Japan. Larb hails from Laos. The Chinese-style sweet and sour stir-fries come with a choice of chicken, pork, tofu, beef or shrimp. Thailand contributes non-fried summer rolls, pineapple curry with Thai basil and prik pao (wok-tossed rice noodles). Wherever they originated, these dishes and many more fall under the heading of “yum” at Busaba Authentic Thai Cuisine in Louisville.  It’s our readers’ favored Asian Fusion destination because the menu is big enough to explore. On one visit, maybe the pineapple stir-fried rice with cashews. On the next, jumbo soft shell crab with sweet chili sauce. You choose.

STAFF PICK: Best Way to Set Your Taste Buds Ablaze (While Helping Your Community)
300 Suns Annual Chili Cook-Off
300 Suns Brewing, 335 First Ave., Unit C, Longmont
Six years ago, 300 Suns Brewing co-owner Jean Ditslea decided she wanted to find a way to use the brewery space to do some good for the community, which is how the annual Chili Cook-Off began. Proceeds benefit the Longmont Humane Society, and who doesn’t want to help four-legged furry friends? The 2019 cook-off involved about 20 different chilis — including red, green, home-cooked, large batch and Crock-Pot — with more than 300 people coming to donate money, grub some delicious chili and wash it down with a cold beer. This year, Artwalk Longmont had crafts on-site for all ages — we can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.

BREAKFAST

THE HUCKLEBERRY
700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Lafayette Winner: Tangerine (also in Longmont)
Longmont Winner: Lucile’s Creole Cafe
In the morning, we need familiar favorites, lots of coffee and a warm environment. That’s why breakfast fans consistently vote for The Huckleberry as the best of the best in East Boulder County. You’re welcomed by a case full of freshly-baked muffins, pastries and pies. The Louisville eatery spotlights eggs Benedicts, whether with pulled pork or ribeye steak atop corn cakes or latkes, plus hollandaise sauce. However, the most popular order is two eggs, home fries, a biscuit with butter and jam, and your choice of meat  — we recommend the chicken green chili sausage. The beverage menu includes a gingery chai from sister restaurant the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

KID FRIENDLY

LUCKY PIE PIZZA & TAP HOUSE
637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-5743
7916 Niwot Road, Niwot, 720-684-6888
Lafayette Winner: Eats & Sweets
Longmont Winner: Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews
There are places that merely accommodate families, and then there’s Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House, where kids are warmly welcomed. There’s room to run in the backyard patio and enough hubbub and chatter that children don’t ever get shushed. There is no kids’ menu at either location because, hey, it’s pizza! The kids can have a simple pie with San Marzano tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil while the grownups appreciate the 21 craft beer taps. And who doesn’t like Lucky Pie’s famous bacon peanut brittle? 

Susan France Ellis Pangilinan loves Eats & Sweets.

RESTAURANT DESSERT

EATS & SWEETS
401 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-665-3287
Louisville Winner: The Huckleberry
Longmont Winner: Cheese Importers
Where’s your sweet spot? If you’re in East Boulder County, go directly to Lafayette’s Eats & Sweets. The name of this cozy Old Town eatery makes us smile almost as much as the house-baked mini pies, cupcakes, cake pops, cheesecakes, brownies and a lineup of terrific cookies. Locally churned Sweet Action Ice Cream plays a starring role with intense flavors ranging from blackberry lavender to vegan coconut almond fudge and brown sugar banana. We recommend using it as a filling in an ice cream sandwich made with slabs of Eats & Sweet’s dense, moist banana bread.

ITALIAN

PARMA TRATTORIA & MOZZARELLA BAR
1132-1 W. Dillon Road, Louisville, 303-284-2741
Runner Up, East County (Tie): Via Toscana Ristorante (Louisville); Zucca Italian Ristorante (Louisville)
Longmont Winner: Caprese Trattoria
Parma Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar’s large menu is filled with Italian classics and innovative creations. Good luck picking just one or two things to order. There’s the tortellacci, which is ravioli filled with butternut squash and amaretti cookie crumbles, covered in a butter sage sauce. There’s the polenta cinghiale, a wild boar ragu covering creamy cornmeal polenta. There’s veal saltimbocca, the classic Roman dish of thin veal cooked with prosciutto and sage, topped with a white wine caper sauce, peas and garlic. Seafood, pizza, lasagna, calzone, salumi… it’s no wonder our readers chose Parma as their favorite Italian food spot in East County.

STAFF PICK: Best mystery wrapped in a tortilla
Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina
101 E. Cleveland St, Lafayette, 303-666-7544
We all love Mexican food, and we all love Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina. But the staff at Boulder Weekly is particularly fond of ordering this Mexican food purveyor’s mystery burrito, otherwise known as the “Efrain.” The menu description reads more like a challenge: “A real manly meal which includes a variety of our delectables rolled into a large flour tortilla and smothered with who knows what. Decision made exclusively by chef! No exceptions! No exchanges or refunds. Have fun, take a chance and trust Efrain.” We do, and so should you. Bring a big appetite if you want to conquer this plate full of cheesy, meaty heat. We find that it takes three house margs to win the battle.

Susan France Adrian Task, Director of Libations and Events at 740 Front

BUSINESS LUNCH

740 FRONT
740 Front St., Louisville, 720-519-1972
Lafayette Winner: 95a Bistro & Sushi
Longmont Winner: The Roost
The perfect place for a business lunch has to have: a) comfortable ambiance, b) lots of menu choices, especially lighter fare; and c) good service that appreciates a tight time frame. Our readers find all three at Louisville’s 740 Front. The restored historic building has plenty of private spaces for conversation. The lunch bestsellers are juicy burgers made with ground brisket, tenderloin, short ribs and strip steaks. A build-a-burger lets diners top beef, turkey, salmon or veggie patties with roasted green chilies and other toppings. There is also a wide range of sandwich sides, including fries, Caesar salad and clam chowder.

JAPANESE

BAO ASIAN FUSION & SUSHI BAR
594 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-926-1888
Runner Up, East County: Sushi Yoshi
Longmont Winner: Sushi Hana
Start with sunomono, a craveable mix of seafood with cucumbers in a light rice vinegar dressing. Move on to miso soup and tempura shrimp, and you can taste why our readers gave Louisville’s Bao Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar a big thumbs-up. The talented chefs use great ingredients to plate the greatest hits of Japanese cuisine. They are serious about sushi, featuring a lineup of fresh salmon, octopus, yellowtail and eel along with some impressive sushi rolls. We admit a fondness for the Spider Roll filled with sweet, crispy soft shell crab. 

PLACE TO GO ON A FIRST DATE

THE MELTING POT
732 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-7777
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Lafayette and Longmont Winner: The Post Brewing Co.
First dates are anxious enough — choosing what to wear and making sure you don’t have spinach in your teeth! You don’t want to worry about finding a compatible restaurant, too. Our readers recommend The Melting Pot because fondue is interactive without being awkward. Who doesn’t love dipping stuff in cheese sauce? There is the Classic with Gruyère, Raclette and Fontina, but for fun, go queso with the Fiesta — that’s cheddar, Emmenthaler and lager with salsa and jalapenos. Finish with Yin & Yang — dark chocolate and white chocolate fondues with fruit and other dipables. Afterward, you can stroll Downtown Louisville while deciding on where to go for that second date.

ICE CREAM

SWEET COW ICE CREAM
637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-4269
Lafayette Winner: Eats & Sweets
Longmont Winner: Cold Stone Creamery
Contrary to popular belief, ice cream is not just a dessert. Have it for breakfast (Ozo Coffee ice cream). Have it for second breakfast (Lucky Charms ice cream). Have it for lunch (Rocky Road). Afternoon pick-me-up (Vegan Bhakti Chai). Heck, spoil your appetite for dinner with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough in a waffle cone, but make sure to save room for dessert: a scoop of Banana Fosters and a scoop of Dutch Chocolate atop a sugar cone. It’s all hand-made fresh every day. Since 2010, Sweet Cow Ice Cream has been serving scoops of the most “moolicious” ice cream in the county.

STAFF PICK: Best Prairie Dog
Miles
Just north of Northwest Parkway, Lafayette
Boy, was this a hard decision for us. There are so many great prairie dogs in East County to choose from. But we had to go with Miles, a three-year-old data analyst at IBM, who loves riding his bike to work, drinking craft coffee and avoiding the plague. When his nose isn’t buried in the latest James Patterson novel, Miles spends his time standing on his hind legs and yipping at cars passing by. His book, All of My Friends and Family Look Exactly Like Me, was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize.

RESTAURANT AMBIANCE

CHEESE IMPORTERS
103 Main St., Longmont, 303-772-9599
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Louisville Winner: 740 Front
It’s easy to leave town (and the whole continent) when you’re enjoying ripe Camembert and a baguette on a flower-graced table at Bistrot des Artistes at Cheese Importers. Discrete charm is the reason foodies keep coming back to the historic Longmont location. They appreciate the simplicity of traditional bistro hits like French onion soup, quiche Lorraine, salade Nicoise, ham and Gruyere baguette sandwiches and cream-filled eclairs. The colorful bar pours a nice selection of affordable French wines by the glass. On a sunny day, the café’s sunflower-surrounded back patio is a great escape.

TAKE OUT

BUSABA AUTHENTIC THAI CUISINE
133 S. McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 303-665-0330
Runner Up, East County: Santiago’s (Lafayette, Longmont)
This isn’t the first time Busaba Authentic Thai Cuisine finds itself in our Best of Boulder East County pages. It takes a lot to win that kind of loyalty, especially when it comes to takeout. The same customers who linger over tom kha soup at the restaurant want their coconut red curry quickly and efficiently to bring home on a weeknight. Busaba has mastered the takeout details, getting orders right so you get “drunken” noodles, not pad Thai. Our readers also like the variety of dishes that are easy to customize for taste, heat level and diet.

Susan France Sous chef Travis Moran at Niwot’s Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House

NIWOT RESTAURANT

LUCKY PIE PIZZA & TAP HOUSE
7916 Niwot Road, Niwot, 720-684-6888
Runner Up, East County: Niwot Tavern
Niwot — with a population of 4,000 or so — is not actually a town, just an unincorporated part of Boulder County. But since 1875, when it was named, Niwot has always had the strong sense of community you see every day at Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House. Famously family-friendly, the eatery has become a go-to Niwot spot for kids and adults alike, and for sports fans to watch Broncos, Avalanche and Nuggets games. It doesn’t hurt to have a ton of local beers on tap and a menu full of small bites and pizzas made from first-class ingredients. Lucky Pie has also displayed a genuine commitment to sustainability since it opened.

RESTAURANT SERVICE

LONGS PEAK PUB & TAPHOUSE
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Lafayette Winner: The Post Brewing Co.(also in Longmont)
Louisville Winner: Parma Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar
You’ll feel right at home at Longs Peak Pub & Taphouse. The warm wooden tables, the long bartop, the sound-absorbing carpet… Longs Peak Pub is downright cozy, and not just because of ambiance, but because of the staff. Like the other Mountain Sun sister pubs, every staff member is cross-trained to work both the front and the back of the house. Allergic to tree nuts? Ask your server to recommend a dish, and they’ll offer up several. Why? Because yesterday they were whipping them up in the back. Not sure what that new-fangled ingredient is? Your server knows. Heck, they may have stuck it on the menu last week. Here, they treat you like royalty. And don’t worry if you have multiple servers for one meal, the whole restaurant splits the tips.

FINE DINING

COMMUNITY
206 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 720-890-3793
Erie Winner: 24 Carrot Bistro
Louisville Winner: 740 Front
Community in Old Town Lafayette is doing fine dining right. Its credo — “We are a non-pretentious eatery created by locals, for locals, all in the hopes of bringing people together” — is the exact attitude we need more of in our Boulder County food scene. Fortunately, our readers say Community backs up all that talk with great service and great food. The menu includes lobster mac and cheese, Korean barbecue grilled chicken, grilled trout, roasted cauliflower with Romesco, a 72-hour pork belly, and several enticing starters, including miso squash bisque and roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and pickled onions.

STAFF PICK: Best place to watch eagles with zero effort
The corner of Great Western Drive and Sweet Water Court, Longmont
We admit it’s a little bit of an odd location for bird-watching, but you can see some amazing eagles at close range. The giant electrical polls that once powered the old sugar mill operation in Longmont have become the favorite hangout for the area’s bald eagle population. The birds sit atop the polls directly above the road, so you don’t even have to leave your car. For much of the year, two adults and their offspring hang here when chowing down on unlucky prairie dogs or teaching the kids how to fly. It’s a spectacular urban/nature experience.

BURGER

WATERLOO
817 Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Lafayette Winner: Smashburger (also in Longmont and Louisville)
Longmont Winner: Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar
Nothing satiates hunger like a burger. It’s one of mankind’s greatest inventions. It’s so simple, and yet there is so much room for innovation and variety. Take Waterloo’s selection of burgers, our readers’ favorite in East County. Its menu ranges from the classic — the house Waterloo Burger with a half-pound beef patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles — to the unique, like the Brunch Burger, with hash browns, bacon, fried egg and American cheese. Try the Colorado Bison burger with red-wine braised onions, Brie, mushrooms and roasted garlic aioli, or the Fuego, with jalapenos, pepper jack cheese and guacamole. The options are endless.

Susan France Lindsay Balgobin, bartender at Teocalli Cocina

NEW RESTAURANT

TEOCALLI COCINA
103 N. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-284-6597
Longmont Winner: Smokin Bowls
Louisville Winner: Punch Buggy Shave Ice
Lafayette has always been known as a great place to find Mexican food, but Teocalli Cocina is something completely different. Owner Grant Hopfenspirger focuses the menu on the incredible regional Mexican fare beyond burritos. So, starters include chicken enchiladas suizas with Oaxaca and Chihuahua cheeses and pickled Fresno peppers. Tacos take a modern turn with fillings like bigeye tuna with mango salsa and sticky rice. Once you taste the soft, freshly-griddled corn tortillas crafted daily at Teocalli, you’ll understand why it was voted the top new eatery in East Boulder County. Plus, the vibrant bar is stocked with an extensive mezcal and tequila selection.

VEGGIE BURGER

WATERLOO
817 Main St., Louisville, 303-993-2094
Lafayette Winner: Morning Glory Cafe
Longmont Winner: The Roost
Veggie burgers have sure come a long way over the years. Today, chefs are whipping up unbelievable plant-based burgers and loading them with unique toppings to create wholly satisfying meals that rival the traditional meat-based burger. Our readers say Waterloo has the best veggie burgers. Its standard veggie burger is built with the industry-upturning Beyond Burger meatless patty, cheese (or not, if you abstain), lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickles. You can also replace the meat in any of Waterloo’s burgers with a Beyond Burger patty.

SANDWICH

SNARF’S SANDWICHES
6562 Lookout Road, Gunbarrel, 720-622-0107
2130 Mountain View Ave., Longmont, 303-702-1111
645 Ken Pratt Blvd., Longmont, 303-774-1441
Lafayette Winner: Eats & Sweets
Louisville Winner: Moxie Bread Co.
Well, if you like sandwiches and you haven’t been to Snarf’s Sandwiches yet, then we don’t know what you’re doing. Either you just moved here, or you don’t really like sandwiches. If you fall into this camp, our readers say you should get to Snarf’s right away for its classic cold and hot deli sandwiches. Fresh meats and veggies, chewy hoagie rolls, and flavorful toppings are all served up quick and delicious. Snarf’s is the quintessential sandwich shop. Stay classic with turkey and Swiss, tuna and American cheese or a BLT. Or access Snarf’s deep cuts, like prime rib and provolone, smoked brisket, and rotisserie chicken and Swiss.

PIZZA

LUCKY PIE PIZZA & TAP HOUSE
637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-5743
7916 Niwot Road, Niwot, 720-684-6888
Lafayette Winner: MOD Pizza (also in Louisville)
Longmont Winner: Rosalee’s Pizzeria
When it comes to pizza, the motto to live by is: “In crust we trust.” At its Niwot and Louisville locations, Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House crafts an organic wheat dough that our readers believe in. The kitchen’s devotion to stellar ingredients is obvious in pies like the L’amante Della Carne, a signature pizza that starts with a layer of San Marzano tomatoes. Then comes Fontina cheese, chile flakes and the best meats: old style Italian sausage, tender belly bacon and Salumeria Biellese pepperoni. The crust comes out with just enough char and just the right chew.

BRUNCH

TANGERINE
300 S. Public Road, Lafayette, 303-443-5100
379 Main St., Longmont, 720-815-2888
Louisville Winner: The Huckleberry
Longmont Winnter: Lucile’s Creole Cafe
At Tangerine, brunch is not just a Saturday and Sunday activity with a few breakfast-y entrees added to a lunch menu. Brunch is respected at these cafes in Lafayette and Longmont. Chef/owner Alec Shuler insists on dinner-worthy ingredients and techniques in memorable dishes like the French-toasted Monte Cristo sandwich with Swiss, ham, turkey and blackberry preserves. It means that steak and eggs are served over creamy polenta. A Belgian waffle is topped with fried chicken breast and organic maple syrup while perfectly poached eggs perch on lemon-dressed greens. Tangerine’s many fans also enjoy the attentive, professional service.

Susan France Sushi Yoshi server Taylor Scully

SUSHI

SUSHI YOSHI
917 Front St., Suite 100, Louisville, 720-304-0300
Lafayette Winner: 95a Bistro & Sushi
For a variety of Japanese dishes and an excellent dining atmosphere, it’s hard to beat Louisville’s Sushi Yoshi. But our readers have pinpointed the restaurant’s sushi as the best in East County. Sushi, sashimi and Osaka-style pressed sushi are made by expert chefs, always with the freshest ingredients. Check out the Superior Roll, with cucumber, avocado, shiso and six kinds of roe, or the Tropical Roll, with cream cheese, asparagus, smoked salmon and mango. The Green Coral roll is also worth an order, with its tempura asparagus, cream cheese, crab and wasabi tobikko.

PANCAKES/WAFFLE

THE HUCKLEBERRY
700 Main St., Louisville, 303-666-8020
Lafayette Winner: Morning Glory Cafe
Longmont Winner: Tangerine (also in Lafayette)
There’s a long history of pancake pleasure in the historic building housing The Huckleberry. In its past lives, the Louisville location was a post office and pharmacy but was best known as Karen’s Country Kitchen, home of legendary flapjacks. The Huckleberry is still a magnet for lovers of fluffy made-to-order stacks of buttermilk pancakes with butter and syrup. Our readers are big fans of upgrading their cakes with tart-sweet wild blueberries. The change-of-pace selection is savory, crispy latkes topped with over easies — apple compote and sour cream on the side. Late risers take note: The Huckleberry offers breakfast until 3 p.m.

SEAFOOD

REELFISH FISH & CHIPS
2770 Arapahoe Road, Lafayette, 720-630-8053
Longmont Winner: Tortugas
Refugees from the coasts breathe a sigh of relief when they see the menu at Reelfish Fish & Chips because the Lafayette outpost takes seafood seriously. Here fish and chips are a choice of fried cod, haddock or salmon — or a combo. Shrimp and other seafood choices get dished from the grill. Don’t miss rarities in these parts, including real lobster bisque and New England clam strips with tartar sauce, plus the weekend-only walleye fry and Wednesday’s delight: hush puppies. Our readers especially like the Spongebob Squarepants family-friendliness, including Mondays, when kids eat free.

CHINESE

SPICE CHINA
269 McCaslin Blvd., Louisville, 720-890-0999
Lafayette Winner: Ting’s Place
Longmont Winner: East Moon Asian Bistro
From the first time we wandered into Louisville’s spacious Spice China, we have been impressed by a huge menu, comfortable atmosphere and experienced servers. Our readers agree, consistently voting Spice China their favorite destination for classic Chinese fare and authentic regional dishes. The challenge is making up your mind, given the dozens of choices. The favorites like sesame chicken and sweet and sour pork are there, but so is a Shanghai menu intriguing diners with rarely seen dishes including salt and pepper jumbo shrimp and crisply fried whole striped bass. Spice China also dishes great tasting gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian items.

Susan France

PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS

ACREAGE CIDERHOUSE BY STEM CIDERS
1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007
Louisville Winner: Waterloo
Colorado sunset selfies were made to be shot at Acreage Ciderhouse by Stem. Set atop a hill in Lafayette, the restaurant and cidery have a panoramic, west-facing view of the Front Range. Being Colorado, the spacious deck and patio with firepits are occupied all year long … except maybe during blizzards. The postcard views go well with Stem’s array of ciders and rustic fare cooked over — and in — wood fires in Acreage’s open kitchen. The setting fits the hearty plates of chicken confit, grilled greens, cider bratwurst with mustard, maple chicharrones and charred rainbow trout.