Best of Boulder 2020 — Food

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Jessica Essex, kitchen manager at Fresh Thymes Eatery
Susan France

Gluten-Free Menu
FRESH THYMES EATERY
2500 30th St., Unit 101, 303-955-7988
Silver: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Bronze: Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar
Write-in: Flower Child
Fresh Thymes Eatery is a fresh take on food. It is a comfortable spot that blends meals friendly to any number of dietary restrictions with sustainable sourcing, a casual environment and tasty food. Menus change with the seasons and what’s available from local farms. Not giving into the idea that healthy food has to be anything but delectable, these folks make truly delicious gluten-free fare, from their main courses down to their baked goods and desserts. Try the gluten-free pizza with your choice of fresh, unique toppings.

Ice Cream
SWEET COW ICE CREAM
2628 Broadway, 303-447-3269
669 S. Broadway, 303-494-4269
637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-4269
Silver: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato
Bronze: Gelato Boy
In good times and in bad times, we get ice cream. It doesn’t matter if it’s sweltering hot outside or a blowing whiteout — ice cream does the trick. And for Boulder Weekly readers, no one does it better than Sweet Cow Ice Cream. How many years have you awarded them the winner now? With the world in constant upheaval, it’s nice to know there’s a place we can go and forget all about it for a couple of sweet and creamy bites. Try Larry’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Madness in a waffle cone, or D’s Mint Cookies and Cream in a cup. Take milk and cereal to a new level with a scoop of Lucky Charms atop a scoop of Super Delicious Vanilla. Go wild and report back on your favorite combinations. 

Food Truck
MCDEVITT TACO SUPPLY
Mobile, 720-573-4194
Silver: Verde
Bronze: Los Dos Bros Food Truck
Write-in: Butcher & The Blonde
We’re glad McDevitt Taco Supply has a brick and mortar location in South Boulder, but we’re also glad it’s got a taco truck to bring its unique, succulent taco variations throughout the community. We’re talking chocolate chipotle beef, Thai ginger tilapia, buffalo cauliflower, Caribbean jerk, kimchi pork, and garlic and black pepper steak tacos, to name just a few. McDevitt is always innovating, so every visit to the truck is a novel experience.

Susan France Arisa Chanchok-Pong, left, and Bo Bean help out in the kitchen at Aloy Thai Cuisine

Thai Restaurant
ALOY THAI CUISINE
2720 Canyon Blvd., 303-440-2903
Silver: Chez Thuy
Bronze: Buddha Thai Cuisine
Write-in: Folsom Thai Cuisine
There are plenty of great Thai restaurants in Boulder, which makes winning this category such a special feat. But it’s no wonder our readers chose Aloy Thai Cuisine as their favorite — its dishes have the trademark balance of flavor, color and texture we all love about Thai food. Enjoy it in Aloy Thai’s curries, noodle dishes, fried rice plates, soups and salads. Our guess is you’ve enjoyed Aloy Thai’s food before, but if you haven’t, we also guess you’ll become a regular in no time.

Appetizers/Tapas
THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT
1002 Walnut St. (closed)
Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten (closed)
Bronze: The Kitchen
Write-in: McDevitt Taco Supply
Eating tapas at The Mediterranean Restaurant is a quintessential Boulder dining experience. Or it was —  The Med closed in June 2020. But its tapas menu will be dearly missed: polenta con miele (crispy polenta, Prosciutto di Parma, blue cheese and chamomile honey), the bacon-wrapped Medjool dates and the aceitunas al horno (steamed Manila clams with chorizo, garlic and stewed bell peppers and onions.) Cold plates included cheese and charcuterie plates, or the hummus, burrata or tuna tartare (served with oranges, jalapenos, olives, toasted olives and a lime soy vinaigrette). Sorry if we made the goodbye harder.

Catering
A SPICE OF LIFE
5541 Central Ave., Suite 272, 303-443-4049
Silver: McDevitt Taco Supply
Bronze: Cured
Write-in: Savory Cuisines Catering
When you’re looking for a catering service, there’s no question you’re about to host a special event. Whether that’s a wedding, milestone anniversary, holiday party or professional event, A Spice of Life is where our readers turn when they want to impress their guests. Not only does this community-focused business make food that will have your guests asking you for the caterer’s number all night, but A Spice of Life is also a community leader in sustainability, focused on recycling, composting and zero-waste practices. A Spice of Life’s event coordinators have partnerships with the best in the industry for flowers, music, photography, rentals and all of the other fine details. Whether your event meal is professionally served or delivered and set up by the staff, A Spice of Life will help make your occasion unforgettable.

Kid-Friendly
MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
627A S. Broadway, 303-927-6921
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Silver: Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House
Bronze: Noodles & Company
You can take your kids just about anywhere, but that doesn’t mean they’ll feel particularly welcome everywhere — especially when it comes to those of you who like to go brewery hopping. But at Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries, those little ones are made to feel welcome. There’s no blaring music they have to scream over, the carpet absorbs their almost constant tumbles, and warm wooden furniture makes the space feel like home. Oh, and the food is delectable and kid friendly, with French fries, quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches. You got to take ‘em out sometime, so do it on the good foot.

Susan France Pizzeria Locale

Pizza Restaurant
PIZZERIA LOCALE
1730 Pearl St., 303-442-3003
Silver: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage
Bronze: Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana

People can be picky about their pizza. Some like the Chicago deep dish with its thick doughy crust. Others like the thinly crusted flatbread varieties or the rectangular thick Sicilian pies. But our readers skew toward Neapolitan style, like the kind found at Pizzeria Locale. The pies at this elegant yet casual restaurant are made to order with any assortment of toppings you choose. It’s so good, the flagship Boulder location has spawned fast-casual restaurants all around the metro area.

Nederland Restaurant
KATHMANDU RESTAURANT
110 N. Jefferson St., 303-258-1169
Silver: Backcountry Pizza
Bronze: Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse
Write-in: Busey Brews
What’s not to love about Kathmandu Restaurant? At our readers’ much beloved Nederland eatery, you can enjoy traditional Nepalese and Indian food made from scratch using original family recipes. All dishes are prepared using fresh ingredients and are also available for take-out. If you’ve had a late day out on the hiking trails around Nederland, take comfort in knowing you can seek the comfort of Kathmandu’s full menu until 9 p.m. daily. The menu is extensive, so take your time. Maybe convince a friend to share some of the tandoori chicken — tender yogurt-marinated chicken on the bone served atop a hot and savory bed of onions and peppers —  in exchange for a bite of your spicy lamb vindaloo, served with tender potatoes.  

Susan France T/ACO owner Peter Waters serves customers with a smile.

Taco
T/ACO
1175 Walnut St., 303-443-9468
Silver: bartaco
Bronze: McDevitt Taco Supply
Write-in: Mojo Taqueria
If you’re in the mood for tacos, go to the place with the food in its name. That’s what our readers say, at least. Since opening a few years ago, T/ACO has been making street tacos that are the stuff dreams are made of: just the right size, three bites and you’re done. Carnitas, mango caesar, shrimp, avocado… Whether you’re a vegan or a carnivore, T/ACO has something for you, and on TGITT (Thank Goodness It’s Taco Tuesday), it serves up $2.50 tacos all day. T/ACO rolls with the punches, too — during the coronavirus shutdowns, the company pivoted to selling (gasp) burritos. Still, tacos are the name of the game (literally), and that’s what T/ACO does best.

New Restaurant
ROSETTA HALL
1109 Walnut St., 720-323-5509
Silver: The Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food Bar
Bronze: Teocalli Cocina
Rosetta Hall
is the food hall that Boulder needed. It’s an incubator and exhibition for global flavors from renowned chefs — Alberto Sabbadini at La Tigella, with Italian entrées and sandwiches; Natascha Hess at The Ginger Pig with Chinese- and Asian-inspired dishes; and Rose’s Classic Americana, with fancy toasts and unique pies, to name just a few. Paired with a coffee and alcohol bar, a rooftop patio, a dining area and dance nights, Rosetta Hall does so many things well. It felt instantly essential upon its arrival in Boulder.

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: Doug’s Day Diner
Our readers know when they want to enter pancake utopia, they head to (or order online for delivery or pickup) Snooze: An A.M. Eatery. Our readers delight in blueberry Danish buttermilk pancakes, topped with blueberry coulis, sweet cream and almond streusel. Or Snooze’s signature sweet potato pancakes, topped with homemade caramel, candied pecans and spicy-sweet ginger butter. Can’t decide? Don’t stress! Order a pancake flight for a hotcake extravaganza.

Chocolatier
PIECE, LOVE & CHOCOLATE
805 Pearl St., 303-449-4804
Silver: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Bronze: Chocolove
Write-in: Daydream Dessert Co.
Piece, Love & Chocolate will bring you peace. That’s why Boulder Weekly readers keep voting them their favorite chocolatier — we need a whole lot of peace right now. Maybe the sipping chocolates will help (thick and rich and choc-o-late). Or the truffles (all 50 of them). And if those don’t get the job done, we know the cake will. Oh, the cake. Have you tried the flourless chocolate cake? Well, what in the world are you waiting for? Plus, if you keep flipping these pages, you’re bound to find a gym where you can sweat that cake off. Or you could get more cake. We vote cake.

Bagel
MOE’S BROADWAY BAGEL
2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252
3267 28th St., 720-406-9000
3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427
637 S. Broadway, 720-287-0317
1057 Courtesy Road, Louisville, 303-665-2126

Silver: Big Daddy Bagels
Bronze: Woodgrain Bagels

Moe’s Broadway Bagel is a multifaceted love story — a love between two people who love bagels. Patty and John Sherman — along with their three children — have dedicated their lives to making our readers’ favorite bagels. Enjoy a taste of New York with a Manhattan breakfast bagel: thin and savory Ducktrap lox filet, housemade plain cream cheese, egg, tomato and onion sandwiched between two halves of your choice of bagel. You can choose from plain, poppy, sesame, Italian, cinnamon raisin (though maybe that’s not quite right with lox, but we’re not here to tell you how to live your life), cinnamon sugar, garlic, onion, salt, blueberry and, yes, gluten-free. If you’re not feeling a sandwich, pair a fresh bagel with some delicious homemade cream cheese: plain or plain lite, spicy jalapeno, veggie, scallion, lox, strawberry and tofu. Savory or sweet, Moe’s has you covered on all your bagel needs.

Food Delivery
SNARF’S SANDWICHES
6562 Lookout Road, 720-622-0107
2660 Pearl St., 303-444-7766
637 S. Broadway, 303-444-7714
5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-3404
(Two Longmont locations)
Silver: Cosmo’s Pizza
Bronze: Abo’s Pizza
It says a lot about Boulder Weekly readers that you prefer sandwiches delivered to your front door over pizza or Chinese food. Then again, sandwiches tend to have more lettuce and sprouts than your average piece of pizza or dish of sesame chicken. Our readers’ favorite delivery, Snarf’s Sandwiches, does hunger-crushing salads too. When Snarf’s shows up on your stoop, you’ll be ready to chow down on the spot. Whether you eat al fresco on the front porch or make it inside to the dining room table, a Snarf’s delivery won’t be around long.

Susan France OAK at fourteenth

Business Lunch
OAK AT FOURTEENTH
1400 Pearl St., 303-444-3622
Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten (closed)
Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant (closed)
So your team, associates or prospective business partners need to get stuff done, but you’re also hungry? Our readers say OAK at fourteenth is the place to cross both needs off the checklist. That’s because OAK has an approachable, yet sophisticated and innovative, menu you can enjoy in a comfortable dining room with a clean, modern aesthetic. Plus, it’s a great value — you can’t get this quality of food at such an affordable price practically anywhere else, so HR won’t freak out about your expense report. And is there any better way to cap off a business meeting than with an artisan doughnut?

Asian Fusion
CHEZ THUY
2655 28th St., 303-442-1700
Silver: Aloy Thai Cuisine
Bronze: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar
Write-in: Fuji Cafe & Bar
Let’s be honest: Chez Thuy is the popular kid at school, and we all want a seat at that lunch table. Or dinner table. Or both, as our readers really can’t rave enough about Chez Thuy. The sign may say Vietnamese, but Chez Thuy embodies Asian fusion to the core with cuisine that blends ingredients and cooking techniques from a variety of origins, including French, Chinese, Thai and Indonesian, all rooted in the flavors of owner Chef Thuy’s Saigon upbringing. Using a variety of high-quality meats, seafood and seasonings, each dish is rich in authentic flavors and spices.

Indian
SHERPA’S ADVENTURES RESTAURANT & BAR
825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151
Silver: Curry ‘N’ Kebob
Bronze: Kathmandu Restaurant
Write-in: Sherpa Kitchen (Formerly Tadka Indian Cuisine)
When Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar opened in 2002, it took a different approach to the restaurant business. Our readers love to enjoy Sherpa’s authentic Himalayan cuisine while they peruse the “traveler’s lounge” filled with books that can guide you on your next (or first!) trip to the Himalayan region. Enjoy delicious appetizers like papadums, samosa and saag dig, then order up some hot fresh naan to scoop up savory korma. Tibetan thupka is comfort food if ever there was one, with tender chicken or lamb swimming in a bowl of noodles and fresh vegetables in a flavorful broth. Come with an appetite for both food and adventure.

East County Restaurant
EFRAIN’S MEXICAN RESTAURANT & CANTINA
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544
Silver: The Post Brewing Co.
Bronze: The Huckleberry
Write-in: Teocalli Cocina
When our Boulder readers find themselves hungry in East County, the Lafayette location of Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina is their choice for dining out. That’s likely because the dining room is comfortable and lively, and the food is unparalleled. Nibble on chips and salsa before diving into a burrito, tacos or meat- or veggie-centric entrées. Wash everything down with one of a variety of margaritas for the full Efrain’s experience.

Susan France Lucile’s Creole Cafe

Breakfast/Brunch
LUCILE’S CREOLE CAFE
2124 14th St., 303-442-4743
518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814

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

Write-in: Foolish Craig’s Cafe
Ooh, baby. Nothing beats a breakfast or brunch at Lucile’s Creole Cafe. First, the homey dining areas make for a fun, relaxing place to eat. But what separates Lucile’s, of course, is the food: so good and filling a brunch might suffice for all the food you need to eat that day. Start with beignets and coffee, and move onto entrées like red beans and rice, eggs Pontchartrain, blackened salmon or pain perdu — all New Orleans classics done right. Wash it all down with one of the best bloody marys in town (or two), and you’ll be stylin’.

Sandwich
SNARF’S SANDWICHES
6562 Lookout Road, 720-622-0107
2660 Pearl St., 303-444-7766
637 S. Broadway, 303-444-7714
5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-3404
(Two Longmont locations)
Silver: Organic Sandwich Company
Bronze: Salvaggio’s Deli
Write-in: Le Frigo
Around these parts, no one does sliced meat and veggie toppings encompassed by crusty bread like Snarf’s Sandwiches. With a menu that spans meat and veggie varieties, hot and cold, toppings galore, you’ll get the sando you crave. Just don’t forget the giardiniera pepper blend with your Italian — it’s what keeps the world spinning round and round.

Burger
MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
627A S. Broadway, 303-927-6921
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill
Bronze: Larkburger

Write-in: Eureka!
Mountain Sun Pub & Breweries reign supreme as the burger kings of Boulder County. With a perfect ratio of bread-to-meat-to-toppings, Mountain Sun’s lineup of burgers slays the competition, according to our readers. The buns are soft but provide the right amount of resistance to give the burger structure. The meat is succulent and withholds its juices until the last second, allowing it to cascade over the veggies and sealing each flavor within the whole. And don’t get us started on the toppings. Even better, each burger comes with a side of fries so delectable you might forget you ordered the burger in the first place.

Chinese
ZOE MA MA
2010 10th St., 303-545-6262
Silver: China Gourmet
Bronze: Flower Pepper Restaurant
Dim sum? Gimme some! When our readers want the best Chinese food around, they turn to Zoe Ma Ma, where Ma Ma makes everything from scratch and with love. Start with some potstickers, made with a top-secret family recipe including pork, shrimp, garlic, chive and vegetables — vegan options available too. After that, we recommend tucking into a bowl of za jiang mian, a classic Northern Chinese noodle dish made with fresh egg noodle topped with savory ground pork sauce and julienne vegetables. Try something new — you won’t be disappointed.

Susan France Carelli’s of Boulder

Italian
CARELLI’S OF BOULDER
645 30th St., 303-938-9300
Silver: Pasta Jay’s
Bronze: Il Pastaio
Write-in: Basta
Carelli’s of Boulder is our readers’ choice for the best Italian food in Boulder. Its expansive menu includes starters like mussels, carpaccio, bruschetta and roasted olives. It then moves into soups, salads and pastas, including ravioli, spaghetti Bolognese, fettuccini alfredo and delicate angel hair aglio e olio. Chicken, fish, veal and other meats are featured in classic Italian preparations like piccata, Parmigiana and marsala. And don’t forget the pizza, paninis and calzones.

Take Out
SNARF’S SANDWICHES
6562 Lookout Road, 720-622-0107
2660 Pearl St., 303-444-7766
637 S. Broadway, 303-444-7714
5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-3404
(Two Longmont locations)
Silver: Aloy Thai Cuisine
Bronze: Chez Thuy
Some restaurants were built for times like these, and Snarf’s Sandwiches is one such spot. With its handy-dandy ordering app, you can safely and remotely make all your sandwich decisions from an appropriately distanced space. And then take that perfectly packaged sandwich and shove it in your backpack, your purse, your glovebox — whatever — and head to the high country, the park, even your couch. Nothing transports as well as a sandwich, and nothing eats as clean in the wild. And if you get yours with Snarf’s signature giardiniera peppers, you’ll want for nothing.

Susan France Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Restaurant Ambiance
BOULDER DUSHANBE TEA HOUSE
1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Silver: Flagstaff House
Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant (closed)
Whether you are looking to go on your first date or your 101st date, Boulder Dushanbe Tea House is the place our readers go for the best restaurant ambiance. Everywhere you look is a work of art, since more than 40 artisans in several cities in Tajikistan — one of Boulder’s sister cities — created the intricate decorative elements of this beloved local establishment. The dining room is filled with natural light, and if you’re sitting at one of the tables on the south side of the dining room, you can see Boulder Creek flow past. Grab an outside patio seat if you’d like to hear the creek as well as watch it.

Japanese
SUSHI ZANMAI
1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733
Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar
Bronze: Japango

Write-in: AOI Sushi & Izakaya
In Japanese, zanmai can mean “ambition,” but it also translates to “indulgence.” The menu at Sushi Zanmai is both indulgent in its wide array of sushi offerings and classic Japanese dishes, as well as ambitious in its breadth, serving everything from udon noodles to grilled teriyaki meats like yakiniku (thinly sliced beef) and yakitori (chicken). Plus, the appetizers could make meals in and of themselves with dishes like a dumpling platter, gyoza, seasoned edamame and ebi shumai (pan-fried shrimp.) It’s no wonder our readers vote Sushi Zanmai the best of the best, year after year.

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: Wapos Mexican Cocina
If you haven’t had the beer-battered fish burrito from Illegal Pete’s then you don’t know what you’re missing. A canvas-sized chewy, flour tortilla is wrapped around hot and crispy white fish, crunchy, creamy slaw, and spicy, tangy salsa (add the house hot). After that first bite, let us suggest taking a quiet moment to truly take in the glory of this burrito. Wash it down with a cold one at the bar, and, if the time is right, you may get a basket of chips tossed in. You’ve paid more for less, now pay the right amount for perfection.

Susan France Tanner Cady, general manager at World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Wings
WORLD FAMOUS DARK HORSE BAR AND GRILL
2922 Baseline Road, 303-442-8162
Silver: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries
Bronze: Backcountry Pizza & Tap House
Write-in: West End Tavern
Did you know there are actually three parts to a chicken wing? Separated by different joints, there are the drummettes, the wingettes and the tips. But the folks at the World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill already knew that. They pride themselves on their three-joint Buffalo wings that come with a variety of rubs and sauces: plain, hot, extra hot, BBQ, teriyaki, dry rub or a combo — served with ranch or blue cheese to boot. Voted Best Sports Bar as well by our readers, slide on into the Dark Horse for the next game while downing a basket of these tasty wings. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Late Night
COSMO’S PIZZA
659 30th St., 303-447-FAST
3117 28th St., 303-442-FAST
1325 Broadway, 303-447-FAST
Silver: Illegal Pete’s
Bronze: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries
Nothing goes better with beer than pizza. And nothing sops up excessive beer like a hot piece of pizza. Chewy dough on top of crispy crust, sweet and acidic sauce, gooey, melty cheese and salty slices of pepperoni (we won’t judge if you prefer pineapple and jalapeno), all cut into a large wedge — the ideal shape for shoveling food in your gullet as fast as possible. Not to mention, nothing stops the meaningless, late-night blather like a piece of pizza crammed in. For those nights, it’s Cosmo’s Pizza and nothing else.

Susan France Kevin Daly, owner of Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

American Restaurant
MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
627A S. Broadway, 303-927-6921
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Silver: OAK at fourteenth
Bronze: The Kitchen
Write-in: Community
You know ‘em, you love ‘em, you can’t live without ‘em. For good reasons, every trip to one of the sister Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries around the county nets you some of the tastiest food and brews around. The service is impeccable (hint, hint), and their commitment to bringing it all together with a reasonable price tag is no small feat in today’s world. Whether it’s the music, the food or Stout Month that tickles your fancy, Mountain Sun has it all.

Organic Restaurant
FLOWER CHILD
2580 Arapahoe Ave., Unit 110, 303-386-8090
Silver: Fresh Thymes Eatery
Bronze: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Write-in: Whole Sol Blend Bar
It wasn’t that long ago that all food humans consumed was organic. But between now and then, a lot of food produced in the U.S. has been altered, sprayed with inorganic chemicals or genetically changed. Luckily, the tides are turning once again, and we have organic options around every corner. With a name like Flower Child, you better believe these folks are committed to creating healthy, fresh, organic food with the intention of radiating positivity in each bite and interaction. Check out the menu of both meat and vegetarian dishes to taste why our readers chose Flower Child as the best organic restaurant in town.

Overall Restaurant
THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT
1002 Walnut St. (closed)
Silver: OAK at fourteenth
Bronze: Brasserie Ten Ten (closed)
There’s a reason why The Mediterranean Restaurant — or The Med if you’re hip — consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in Boulder, while it was still in operation. Well, several reasons: an unparalleled, lively atmosphere, great service, an expansive menu of Mediterranean delights and long wine, beer and cocktail lists. The Med was the go-to choice for graduation dinners, anniversary celebrations, nights out, afternoon bites… you get the point. It was a comfortable place with consistently excellent food. And it will be missed.

Susan France Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

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
Write-in: bartaco
It’s hard to beat the Mexican food at Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina. The chili verde is robustly spicy, and even though you may get some sweat beads on your forehead, you won’t be able to stop chowing down because it’s so good. Try the tender costillas — St. Louis-style ribs smothered in pork green chili — or get a huge burrito filled with the chef’s choice of meat. If you can’t choose, Efrain’s has a selection of combination plates to ensure you get everything your stomach craves.

Restaurant Dessert
FLAGSTAFF HOUSE
1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640
Silver: The Melting Pot
Bronze: Boulder Cork

Depending on what kind of diner you are, desserts are either an afterthought or the centerpiece of the entire meal. The folks at Flagstaff House know how to do fine dining down to the last detail, including the dessert menu. Homespun ice creams and sorbets aren’t to be missed. Classics like perfectly crystalized crème brûlée are served with either fresh berries or winter citrus. Rich chocolate options and airy fruit mousse are also available. Regardless of what kind of diner you are, make sure you leave room for dessert at Flagstaff House.

Place to go on a First Date
BOULDER DUSHANBE TEA HOUSE
1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Silver: The Rayback Collective
Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant (closed)
Going on a first date can be nerve-racking: What are you going to wear? What are you going to talk about? What will you order? Our readers say the best place to go is Boulder Dushanbe Tea House. More than 40 artisans in several cities in Tajikistan (one of Boulder’s sister cities) created the mesmerizing decorative elements of this beloved local establishment. The Teahouse even takes care of what to talk about: Look up and around at the hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns and ceramic panels, and chit chat with your date about the intricate details and your favorite parts. Calm your nerves with a soothing chai tea and then share a small plate of palatschinken (Austrian crepes with sweetened cheese, apple sauce, mint and candied walnuts). The menu is eclectic, so you don’t have to stress about whether your date can find something to eat. This one is a no-brainer that’s sure to add to the magic of your first date.

Susan France Moxie Bread co-baker Sandra Aragon

Bakery
MOXIE BREAD CO.
641 Main St., Louisville, 720-420-9616
4593 Broadway, A100
Silver: Lucky’s Bakehouse & Creamery
Bronze: Spruce Confection
Big things are happening at Moxie Bread Co., but the quality remains the same. And not for nothing: The bakery located in the heart of downtown Louisville still has people queuing up (virtually and in-person) to get their freshly washed mitts on kouign-amann, chocolate croissants, avocado toasts and some of the best gluten-free bread in the county — maybe the state. And as of April 15, 2020, Moxie has expanded to a second location in North Boulder. There, the team mills heirloom grains, but you can also snag some bread and pastries. Master baker Andy Clark, a semifinalist for the James Beard award in 2018 and 2019, is sowing the Moxie concept. All of Boulder County will reap the benefits.

Susan France Tricia Jamison, owner of KT’s BBQ

Barbecue
KT’S BBQ
2660 Broadway, 303-442-3717
7464 Arapahoe Road, 303-786-7608
Silver: West End Tavern
Bronze: Georgia Boys BBQ
Kirk and Tricia Jamison launched KT’s BBQ nearly three decades ago. It’s been slinging hickory-smoked, Memphis-style barbecue that pleases the masses ever since. We’re talking pulled pork shoulder, dry-rubbed pork ribs, and smoked brisket, chicken and hot links to go alongside classic BBQ shack sides like coleslaw, beans, mashers and mac and cheese. Get your meat on a platter or in a sandwich, just get your meat, OK?

Food on the Hill
THE SINK
1165 13th St., 303-444-7465
Silver: Illegal Pete’s
Bronze: Cafe Aion
Of course, our readers chose The Sink as their favorite place to drink and dine on The Hill. We don’t remember any photos of Obama hanging out anywhere else, do you? Nope, Barack (we’re on a first-name basis) knew The Sink is the place to be on the Hill, and so do you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the fried mac & cheese wedges, the nachos, the cowboy reuben or that “ugly crust” pizza, there’s a reason to keep coming back. You’ve got memories here. Remember happy hours at the bar? And that one time you high-fived a bunch of strangers and ordered a round of bourbon when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown? Memories are made at The Sink, whether there’s a president involved or not.

Restaurant Service
MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
627A S. Broadway, 303-927-6921
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Silver: Frasca Food and Wine
Bronze: Flagstaff House
If they weren’t already known for their killer burgers (BoB Winners: Best Burger and Best Veggie Burger), their outstanding lineup of craft made ales and lagers (BoB Winner: Best Beer Selection) or their all-around excellence (BoB Winner: Best American Restaurant), then Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries would still stand tall for their impeccable service. They cross-train their staff to handle the front and back of the house, and that might be their winning combination. The waiters all share tips, making every customer their customer. The whole thing was started by two guys who just wanted to give Colorado a taste of Oregon hospitality. Whatever you like about Mountain Sun’s service, the fact is it’s your favorite, again and again and again. Well done, Mountain Sun. Well done.

Susan France Cosmo’s Pizza

Pizza Slice
COSMO’S PIZZA
659 30th St., 303-447-FAST
3117 28th St., 303-442-FAST
1325 Broadway, 303-447-FAST
Silver: Abo’s Pizza
Bronze: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage
When it comes to pizza slices, it’s hard to beat classic New York-style. If you can’t fold a slice of pizza lengthwise, then half the joy of grabbing a slice is gone. You want to eat pizza with a knife and fork? Who do you think you are, the governor of Ohio? But you know that, savvy Boulder Weekly reader. You like a thin-crust slice. You’ve voted Cosmo’s Pizza your favorite slice in Boulder County year after year, and you’ve never been wrong. Keep on keeping on, pizza mavens.

Fine Dining
FLAGSTAFF HOUSE
1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640
Silver: Frasca Food and Wine
Bronze: OAK at fourteenth
Graduation. Birthdays. Engagements. Anniversaries. A regular old Friday night. These are just a few reasons to celebrate at Flagstaff House, Boulder Weekly readers’ pick for Best Fine Dining restaurant. A well-curated menu from Executive Chef Chris Royster features New American dishes with a French twist. The wine list is expansive, the service impeccable and the views breathtaking. With three generations of the Monette family involved, Flagstaff House is a truly family-run restaurant with decades of experience providing modern fine dining to all of Boulder and the surrounding communities.

Vegetarian Friendly
FLOWER CHILD
2580 Arapahoe Ave., Unit 110, 303-386-8090
Silver: Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Bronze: Fresh Thymes Eatery
Write-in: The Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food Bar
Flower Child delivers a menu focused on freshness, which caters to vegans, vegetarians, Paleo dieters, gluten-freers and the otherwise dietary-restricted. Of course, dietary restrictions are not a requisite for enjoying Flower Child’s salads, bowls, wraps and more. According to our readers, the vegetarian options stand out with a long list of inventive dishes and flavor profiles ranging from red chili glazed sweet potato to the “forbidden bowl” loaded with fresh Asian vegetables and grains. Even if you are a carnivore, you may want to forgo the protein and choose some veggies.

Pho
CHEZ THUY
2655 28th St., 303-442-1700
Silver: Black Pepper Pho
Bronze: Boulder Pho
Pho will cure what ails you. The now-ubiquitous Vietnamese soup has magical properties that’ll fix everything from a hangover to stuffed sinuses to just plain hunger. And pho doesn’t get much better than Chez Thuy’s take on it, our readers say. This soul-warming Vietnamese soup is a combination of broth, rice noodles, herbs and, traditionally, meat. At Chez Thuy, the noodles are slurp-worthy, and by the time you get to the end of the truly massive bowl, all that chili sauce, jalapeno and lime juice you squeezed in there has concentrated into a flavorful, savory punch.

Veggie Burger
MOUNTAIN SUN PUBS & BREWERIES
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
627A S. Broadway, 303-927-6921
600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886
Silver: (The Kitchen) Next Door American Eatery
Bronze: Larkburger
Write-in: The Bumbling Bee Vegan Junk Food Bar
If you’re going to win Best Burger, then it tracks that you’re also going to win Best Veggie Burger, don’t you think? Not always: A lot of restaurants offer vegetarian options to placate the party member who isn’t eating animals, but at Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries, the black bean veggie burger is so good, our readers often reach for them more often than not. With the perfect ratio of density and deliciousness, you’d swear it was the real thing. Or is that the Beyond Burger it serves? Honestly, Mountain Sun could slip you a veggie patty on just about anything, and you wouldn’t even mind. You might even prefer it.

Susan France The Rayback Collective general manager, Dayna McRoberts, and co-owners Justin Riley and Hank Grant

Place to Eat Outdoors
THE RAYBACK COLLECTIVE
2775 Valmont Road, 303-214-2127
Silver: Chautauqua Dining Hall
Bronze: Boulder Dushanbe Tea House
Eating outdoors may be the new normal for the next… well… while. But regardless of the times, the best place to eat outdoors, according to our readers, is The Rayback Collective, with its local food trucks, live music, fire pits, bar and patio games. It feels just like having a beer in your best friend’s really nice backyard. That’s why they call The Rayback Boulder’s backyard. You can even bring the pooch since there’s a designated spot for Fido to romp and do his business.

Seafood
JAX FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR
928 Pearl St., 303-441-1811
Silver: Spruce Farm & Fish
Bronze: Tortugas
Look, we’re a landlocked state, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy great seafood. When fare from the ocean is on our readers’ minds, they turn to Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. The Big Red F production has been a staple in the local food scene for years, and the go-to place for fresh fish prepared in unique ways. Oysters, white fish, red fish, one fish, two fish… whatever maritime treat you’re craving, Jax does it right.

Sushi
SUSHI ZANMAI
1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733
Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar
Bronze: Japango
Write-in: AOI Sushi & Izakaya
Every customer that walks into Sushi Zanmai is greeted warmly by the sushi chefs standing behind the counter, moving at lightning speed to prepare their award-winning sushi. Whether you pull up at the counter, grab a quaint table for two or venture up to the chabudai to enjoy your meal sans shoes sitting on comfortable floor cushions, the hand rolls, sashimi, nigiri and specialty rolls can’t be beat. And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, just wait for the yells of appreciation coming from the chefs on your way out.