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|May 1-7, 2008
900 Walnut St., Boulder,
Dubbed by one local luminary as offering “the best vegetarian spread in town,” Jill’s Tuscan Table lunch buffet truly does offer up something for everyone. Warming roasted tomato soup, do-it-yourself sandwiches, a cornucopia of salads and fresh from the oven pizza and strombolis are just some of the self-service selections. Elegant decor and attentive service round out this stay in downtown’s St. Julien Hotel.
4580 Broadway, Boulder,
Named for its address on North Broadway, 4580 positions itself as a neighborhood eatery, but the setting, service and dishes are closer to those found at a destination restaurant. The menu takes continental classics, such as osso bucco shanks and amps them up with intriguing ingredients such as exotic grains. Vegetarians can order a “picnic” option consisting of a choice of meatless picks including impeccable asparagus and creamy polenta. Lastly, much of the menu can be had in a gluten-free preparation.
2720 Canyon Blvd., Boulder,
Chy Thai’s interior may make it look like just another fast casual joint. However, its value-priced Thai cuisine is decidedly a cut above, featuring old favorites such as pad thai along lesser-known entrées such as a surprisingly subtle garlic and pepper stir fry. The drunken noodles are both spicy and flavorful, and are best washed down with a glass of refreshingly creamy Thai iced tea. For dessert, a coconut-scented mound of sticky rice accented by ripe sweet slices of mango complete this experience akin to one night in Bangkok.
Trattoria on Pearl
1430 Pearl St., Boulder,
This Italian stalwart serves up reasonable power-lunch specials featuring pasta, as well as parmagiana and sausage sandwiches. It’s hard to go wrong with such choices as spaghetti carbonara. Bacon-like pancetta creates a mildly salty foil to the richness of cream and organic eggs, which is satisfying without being overly heavy. This dish sums up everything right about power lunching at the Trattoria on Pearl; here one can eat like a CEO without breaking the bank.
1325 Broadway, Boulder,
Located on the Hill, Cosmo’s Pizza has many virtues, including being one of the only places in town where you can get a slice until 2:30 a.m. New York-style pie is the name of the game here, and even the most finicky East Coast transplant can find something to love. Whether it’s the thin and crispy crust, tasty toppings such as premium anchovies, or entree salads, Cosmo’s delivers.
2115 13th St., Boulder, 303-442-4880
Although breakfast prices aren’t at the Grand Slam level, they still pass the straight-face test, as one can get a decent morning meal at Q’s for about $10. One unique aspect of Q’s menu is the availability of non-traditional breakfast choices, such as quesadillas and clam chowder. But one misses breakfast selections such as outstanding scones, a transcendent granola and spinach and goat cheese scrambled eggs at their peril.
You & Mee
1311 Broadway, Boulder,
Featuring cheap and cheerful Vietnamese eats, the You & Mee Noodle House serves up bowls of pho noodle soup, rice and noodle bowls and Southeast Asian sandwiches. The pho, traditionally made with beef stock, is also available with vegetable or chicken broth as well. This eatery also serves up one of the best banh mi sandwiches you’ll find in town, available with fillings ranging from tofu to chicken on a baguette-style bun.
1002 Walnut St., Boulder,
Like its namesake sea, the offerings at the Mediterranean are expansive, encompassing dishes ranging from Italian risottos to elegant Spanish tapas to such Middle Eastern street food as falafel and hummus. A bright and airy spot popular with the power lunch crowd, the Med delivers when it comes to such tapas items as scallop ceviche and fried artichoke hearts. The wood-fired pizzas also have a devoted following, as do the seafood-laden pastas.
20 E. Lakeview Dr. #207, Nederland, 303-258-7320
This Nederland gem serves forward an eclectic menu, as Friday nights feature a Wisconsin fish fry and one section of the dinner menu is titled, “The Asian Angle,” featuring items including Korean-style steak. Yet the breakfast menu adheres to tradition with a fine steak and eggs fit for a hungry lumberjack. Those seeking something a bit more complex would likely appreciate the omelet specials, including one comprised of a winning combination of asparagus, ham and brie.
5280 Spine Rd. #103, Boulder, 303-530-4345
While the menu describes Cafe Blue as an American Grill, this appellation doesn’t do full justice to the sophisticated fare offered here. While simple dishes such as Cincinnati-style chili, enormous burgers and vegetarian enchiladas are available, Cafe Blue also offers selections that would be more at home in a higher-end seafood house or European-influenced eatery. The scallop dinner is an excellent value, as are the fish specials, and one ignores the Thin Mint sundae at their peril.
1837 Pearl St., Boulder,
Mateo’s earthy yet vibrant color scheme, set off by a few unobtrusive paintings, would fit in well in the South of France. Lunchtime customers enjoy their meals at a leisurely pace, contributing to the European vibe. It’s hard to go wrong with the classic offerings on the menu, including a slightly nontraditional chicken frites and the decidedly old school but well-executed salad nicoise.
3075 Arapahoe Ave. #B, Boulder, 303-444-9572
While its next-to-King-Soopers location may be a little off-putting for some, Il Pastaio is a fine lunch or dinner spot for those craving pasta prepared on the premises. Entrée portions of pasta are both tasty and filling. For example, the Matriciana, a blend of tomato, onion and pancetta, the Italian bacon, was a pleasingly pungent sauce that highlighted the sensual texture of the velvety noodles, and makes for a hearty winter repast.
2644 Broadway, Boulder,
Just the place to pick up a ready-to-eat meal on the way home from work, Breadworks, a bakery/deli/cafe hybrid, has something for just about everyone. Early morning crowds can enjoy a cup of fresh brewed coffee with their eggy breakfast quiches. At lunch, the emphasis shifts to entrées such as barbecue chicken and roasted salmon, with a rotating line-up of warming soups. Those with a sweet tooth can also take home a pie or a pint of Italian gelato.
Ai Sushi & Steak
1685 29th St., Unit 1268, Boulder, 303-440-9600
While sushi isn’t necessarily the strong suit at this 29th Street Mall eatery, the teppanyaki meals provide a unique and entertaining, albeit slightly kitschy, dining experience. Marvel as your MacGyveresque chef crafts an island volcano out of onion rings prior to cooking up tender slices of sirloin and fresh and meaty shrimp. You won’t leave hungry with one of these meals prepared right in front of you in this Benihana-style setting.
3073 Walnut St., Boulder,
A true Boulder classic, the Walnut serves up breakfast and lunch until the late afternoon. Here, you can be as healthy as you want, with choices ranging from vegetarian Sloppy Joes to Denver omelets sided with pork sausage. Most morning meals come with several side-dish options, including fresh fruit and the always popular breakfast potatoes. Of course, one would be remiss if they didn’t sample the famous pies, which change on a daily basis.
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