- James Sawyer
Boulder is at once rugged and cosmopolitan, home to a seasoned and internationally savvy restaurant scene which remains nonetheless rooted in local produce and conscious of the local community and environment. From restaurants perched on mountain vistas to home-style creole cooking and pubs hosting the best of Colorado’s microbrewery scene, Boulder is no stranger to the good life. Here are the city’s top 10 restaurants.
Occupying one of Boulder’s quaint Victorian houses, Lucile’s Creole-style café is an unmissable feature of the town’s breakfast scene, both for the kitchen’s home-style cooking and the house’s iconic pale yellow paint job. Like the café’s exterior, Lucile’s breakfast specialties include various Creole takes on eggs Benedict from the eggs Sardou with creamed spinach and Gulf shrimp to the eggs New Orleans with fried eggplant slices and Creole sauce. Other southern specialties are the pain perdu-style French toast and, of course, shrimp and grits. For those craving a more Boulder-like morning meal, the ‘totally organic breakfast’ features spinach, tofu, eggs and ginger, while the eggs Pontchartrain revolves around fresh pan-fried mountain trout.
Lucile’s, 2124 14th St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-442-4743
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
A Tajik teahouse at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Boulder’s premier cultural site-meets-restaurant is also one of the city’s more fantastic and unusual stories, as forty-some Tajik artisans built the teahouse, disassembled it and sent it from the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic to Dushanbe’s sister city, Boulder, in 1987. Only constructed 11 years later, the teahouse has since been Boulder’s most idyllic and exotic spot to sample teas from the teahouse’s impressive selection, while the restaurant’s fine selection of internationally inspired dishes make the teahouse an equally exquisite mealtime destination. The restaurant’s signature dish of plov, a richly flavored heap of rice, meat and various dried fruits alongside the restaurant’s colorfully painted, wooden frame gives a vivid impression of a culture quite literally on the other side of the world.
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, 1770 13th St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-442-4993
Flagstaff House Restaurant
Located a five minute drive outside of Boulder, Flagstaff provides a breathtaking vista from its mountainside perch as well as an equally exquisite menu drawing on American and French inspirations. Originally built as a cabin but since furnished with numerous expansions, the restaurant’s location and panorama evoke Colorado’s ski establishments while maintaining the convivial atmosphere of a family-owned restaurant. The multi-course menu spans French specialties like the duck pâté tart topped with cherry and pistachio to American classics like the braised Colorado lamb shank and the New York strip. The real attraction, however, is Flagstaff House’s many times over award-winning wine list drawing from their wine cellar of 15,000 bottles. Flagstaff House also organises wine tasting dinners from time to time featuring some of Napa Valley’s best wine cellars.
Flagstaff House Restaurant, 1138 Flagstaff Road Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-442-4640
Envisioned as a casual atmosphere akin to one’s kitchen at home, The Kitchen combines the charm and warmth of home cooking with the altruism and goodwill of a caring household. Styled as a ‘community bistro,’ The Kitchen has led a concentrated effort to integrate with the community on various levels, from sponsoring school- and community-based gardens through their non-profit arm Learning Gardens, as well as practising environmental sustainability through composting, eco-friendly packaging and wind power. As if The Kitchen’s long menu of community engagements was not enough to merit, the menu of delicious and locally sourced international dishes ensures that indulgence does not go unrewarded.
The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-544-5973
Brasserie Ten Ten
Specialising in all things French, Brasserie Ten Ten is always a ready choice for refined yet relaxed dining from morning till night. Menu items run the gamut from an assortment of baked goods for brunch, from beignets and biscuits to the house-made croissant, while crêpes, soups and salads are served all day. Dinner begins with decadent starters like heated brie, the lobster roll, roasted bone marrow or escargots, continuing with entrées like steak frites and bouillabaisse, while offering delectable sides ranging from fruits de mer and onion soup to cheese and charcuterie boards. Brasserie Ten Ten always offers an occasion to drink, from the dizzyingly long list of brunch cocktails from the conventional mimosa to the kir royale and the original matin fraise of Riesling and muddled strawberries, while the brasserie’s happy hour menu is sumptuous in both drinks and nibbles.
Brasserie Ten Ten, 1011 Walnut St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-998-1010
SALT The Bistro
SALT the Bistro is inspired by fresh ingredients and characterised by a simple approach to food that highlights its intrinsic qualities. Boasting strong relationships with Boulder Country farms, beef raised on pastures, fish gathered from wild, non-endangered population and a prime spot on Boulder’s Pearl Street pedestrian street, SALT combines the many meanings of ‘local’ into a centrally located Boulder establishment that takes pride in the quality of its food. With a long menu of delicious fare for brunch, lunch, dinner and desert, diners can be sure of the freshness of ingredients itemised alongside their local farm of origin. SALT also pays homage to Colorado’s vibrant microbrewery landscape with a vast assortment of local bottles and a mix-and-match cocktail menu equally numerous in possibilities.
SALT Boulder, 1047 Pearl St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-444-7258
Oak At Fourteenth
Named after the oak-fired oven and grill that produces a number of the restaurant’s signature dishes, Oak is a sleek and professional addition to Boulder’s vibrant restaurant scene. Like many a Boulder restaurant, Oak focuses on local and seasonal ingredients within their predominantly new American cuisine. What sets Oak apart is its refined interior and its bar-like services between meals, offering drink specials between lunch and dinner and from dinner until close alongside small sharing dishes. Co-owned by mixologist Bryan Dayton, Oak’s overflowing drinks menu features original cocktails drawing on a range of herbs, fresh ingredients and unusual combinations of rare ingredients.
Oak at Fourteenth, 1400 Pearl St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-444-3622
Mountain Sun Pub
Down to earth and frank about its passion for brews, the Mountain Sun Pub spices up pub fare and European-inspired brews alike with a distinctively Colorado twist. Beer comes first at the Mountain Sun, with a long and seasonally evolving menu of ales categorised as house, seasonal, Belgian-inspired, wheat, or the ‘dark side of the sun’ brews, each with a vivid description, making the list into more of an encyclopedia. Pub fare is hearty yet hardly plain, with Tex-Mex-inspired burritos and quesadillas, as well as a solid range of choices in sandwiches and burgers. The black bean burger and ‘boom boom sandwich’ stacked with portobello mushroom, grilled vegetables and mozzarella are sure to offer even vegetarians a hearty meal to wash down with craft beer.
Mountain Sun Pub, 1535 Pearl St, Boulder, CO, USA, +1 303-546-0886
World Famous Dark Horse Bar And Grill
Chosen as one of the ‘places to eat a burger worthy of paradise by USA Today, World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill merits its name. Carrying a more frank, uncomplicated attitude towards delicious food, the Dark Horse is an iconoclast among the religiously health and ingredient obsessed restaurants of Boulder. Equipped with quesadillas, onion rings, red chili poppers, buffalo wings and Rocky Mountain oysters (a word of warning, these oysters are not seafood) alongside its renowned burgers, the Dark Horse excels in straightforward yet indulgent grub.
Colterra derives its name from Latin, meaning ‘to cultivate the earth.’ The folks at Colterra take local cultivation one step further with their own garden from which they extract the freshest ingredients, alongside a number of other high plains farms within the vicinity of Boulder. Serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, Colterra offers competitive value without compromising on the quality of ingredients.
Colterra, 210 Franklin St, Niwot, CO, USA +1 303-652-0777