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|May 22-28, 2008
1964 28th St., Boulder, 303-442-6868
Skip the normal menu with its cream cheese won tons and sesame chicken, and go for something more authentic on the available-by-request traditional menu. Here you’ll find old-school clay pot casseroles and simple but soulful classics such as Chinese broccoli (gai lan) drizzled with oyster sauce. If you’re with a group, check out the special traditional dinners, which feature such items as whole fried fish and a rib-sticking aromatic beef stew.
14th Street Bar & Grill
1400 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-444-5854
Don’t let the large picture windows and wood sculptures hanging from the ceiling fool you. While the 14th Street Bar & Grill has an upscale, if not trendy, vibe confirmed by specials such as a solid salmon salad dressed with dill crème fraiche, it’s a working-class choice that’s the star of the chow. Comfort food fans should ignore the hot open-face turkey sandwich at their peril. It’s a winning combo of moist turkey, savory gravy and fluffy mashed spuds.
1039 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-544-5973
An upscale, airy locale, The Kitchen is a comfortable spot to enjoy bistro-inspired classics prepared with local and sustainably produced ingredients. Serving everything from a traditional English breakfast with sausage and bacon, as well as light salads for lunch, and steak and seafood for dinner, this eatery has something for just about everyone. Don’t miss the hypnotically compelling pulled pork sandwich.
1221 Spruce St., Boulder, 303-440-0733
Given its adherence to tradition, it’s unsurprising that Sushi Zanmai’s décor leans less toward hard-edged modernism and more towards a quaint, slightly folksy feel, and it even features a mildly kitschy karaoke set-up. The cuisine consists of sparkling, fresh seafood and some of Boulder’s best sushi. The uri and buri rolls are not to be missed, while the chiraschi — sashimi over vinegared rice — is a layered presentation that is satisfying in both flavor and value.
900 Walnut St., Boulder, 720-406-7399
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, 303-448-1500
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, 303-440-2903
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, 303-544-0008
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, 303-447-1133
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 Noodle House
1311 Broadway, Boulder, 720-214-0585
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, 303-444-5335
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, 303-443-7766
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.
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