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1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: Bácaro Venetian Taverna,
In Spanish, the word “tapa” means “lid” or “cover.” Though there are many explanations for the etymology of this word, one of the most common is that a piece of bread or a small plate would historically be placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies. At some point, it became popular to “top” this “cover” with a small snack. And the tapa was born. Here in Boulder, The Med is known for its tapas. Whether grabbing a little something to nibble in the afternoon or following the Spanish tradition of bar hopping and eating tapas in the time between work and a late dinner, The Med has a large selection of tapas to taste and sample. Tapa hour, from 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday, is The Med’s delicious version of happy hour, with inexpensive small plates to whet your palette or tide you over. Bácaro Venetian Taverna offers fun, fresh interpretations of appetizers on its cicchetti menu, everything from exotic olives to cheeses to calamari. Dagabi Cucina offers favorites like sautéed button mushrooms, fried calamari and Caprese (tomatoes topped with mozzarella, basil and olive oil).
Moe’s Broadway Bagel
Several locations in Boulder, www.moesbagel.com
Runner-up: Einstein Bros.
Honorable Mention: Big Daddy Bagels
While no one can be sure of the exact date and location of the bagel’s origin, we do know it’s been around a helluva long time. One of the first print references to this beloved round-shaped breakfast bread is from a 1610 document in Krakow, Poland. The document, a list of community regulations, stated that bagels should be given to pregnant women or those in childbirth. Maybe they thought that the bagel/belly shape correlation possessed a magical connection, or maybe they decided that the nutrients in bagels were vital for the unborn child. Whatever the logic, bagels were thrust upon the hungry and pregnant as part of a community ritual.
As part of our community ritual, Moe’s Broadway Bagel has been feeding the hungry (with or without child) since opening up shop in 1992. Their bagels are fresh, delicious and come in a variety ranging from plain to jalapeño to tomato cheddar. Beyond the realm of the round, Moe’s also offers a wide variety of cream cheeses, sandwiches, salads and even pizza.
Mountain Sun/Southern Sun
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
Runner-up: VG Burgers
Honorable Mention: Dark Horse
No one knows for certain who invented the modern American hamburger. In 1885, a food service guru named Charlie Nagreen claimed to have flattened a meatball and slapped it between two slices of bread at the Seymour Fair in Seymour, Wis., thus creating the first burger. However, in the same year, Frank and Charles Menches of New York alleged that they ran out of sausage patties at the Erie County Fair and decided to substitute beef. But then a newspaper reporter from Texas jumped in the game and said a café owner named Fletcher Davis was actually the true father of the burger. Whoever invented it, Mountain Sun and Southern Sun have perfected it. They use all-natural beef that is not filled with steroids or hormones or heroine or whatever else they’re injecting into cattle these days. Their burgers come with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and if you’re smart, you’ll ask for a slice of melted cheese on top. VG Burgers leaps into the runner-up position this year with their vegetarian fast food fare. Oh, yeah, you heard correctly. And the Dark Horse gets an honorable mention for overall chutzpah and creativity. As far as we know, no one else in town has the guts to put peanut butter on a beef patty.
Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery
1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886
Honorable Mention: Casa Alvarez,
Santiago’s V Mexican Restaurant
Chili must be inherently plagued with irresolution, as it’s always begging us to judge it. It seems every time we turn around, someone’s having a chili cook-off, trying to determine that, if for lack of any other competition in life, their chili will be better than yours. And it’s not hard to figure out why. Chili tells us almost everything we need to know about a restaurant or chef. We can infer whether an establishment serves its fare hearty, beefy, veggie, light, bland or spicy based on this one simple menu item. So when you take in heaping spoonfuls of our beloved Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery’s chili, you can learn a lot about the restaurant, a long-time local favorite. This chili is vegetarian, loaded with black beans, onions, a little bit of spice and optional cheese.
Translation? The Mountain Sun is where we go for hearty fare that tries to be healthy when it can, but knows that taste wins out. Veg-heads are welcome, and consumers can expect a kick or two.
These are all positive assessments that are not found at runner-up Wendy’s. Yes, you heard right. B-dub staffers are baffled by this one. How did so many of our readers choose a fast-food chain as their favorite choice for chili? With badass chili from honorable mentions Santiago’s and Casa Alvarez, how does Wendy’s processed beef amalgam even make it on the list? Come on, Boulder. If we see Wendy’s make it to the list next year, we’re gonna have to have a little talk, or at least a food fight. And when chili is involved, it gets messy.
Moongate Asian Grill
1626 Pearl St., 720-406-8888
Runner-up: Hapa Sushi & Sake Bar
Honorable Mention: Bimbamboo,
We tend to think of “fusion” cuisine as something new, perhaps because it’s always yielding fresh new combinations and tastes. But people have been blending spices and flavors from different cultures since Marco Polo returned to his hometown of Venice after spending 17 years at the court of Kublai Khan in China. Moongate Asian Grill has earned a loyal following among our readers by combining the tastes of Japan, China, Vietnam and Thailand through innovative creations that are wok-tossed to order. Try their “One Night in Bangkok,” which blends Japanese and Thai cooking styles. And for dessert? You’re not limited to a fortune cookie here. You won’t go wrong with the Mango Raspberry Cheesecake. Perennial favorite Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar is this year’s runner up with its fresh interpretations of sushi. Bimbamboo, which offers a menu inspired by Vietnamese, Thai, Korean and East Indian cuisine, and Chez Thuy, with its Vietnamese menu, tie for honorable mention.
1964 28th St., 303-442-6868
Runner-up: Moongate Bistro
Honorable Mention: Orchid Pavilion
Boulder’s not the best place to get down-and-dirty Chinese food like braised duck feet or salt fish fried rice. But there are plenty of fine choices for sampling classic Middle Kingdom-inspired dishes such as Happy Family and Kung Pao Chicken. This year’s King of the Hill is Golden Lotus, which features all the Chinese classics as well as vegetarian “chicken” dishes such as General Tso’s special. Made from soy, these meatless interpretations are hard to distinguish from their poultry-laden counterparts. Another highlight is the Grand Marnier shrimp — while the chief flavoring was undoubtedly unavailable in the time of Lao Tzu, it’s still a tasty selection with meaty crustaceans in a tantalizingly tangy sauce. Runner-up Moongate Bistro takes a more pan-Asian approach. Offerings such as Japanese tempura and Thai curries share menu space with such Chinese noshes as fried rice, crispy duck, and vegetarian Szechuan eggplant for those who like their Asian fare hot and meatless. If your friends can’t find something they like here, it might be time to find new friends. Downtown’s Orchid Pavilion brought home an honorable mention, and features one of the most comprehensive menus in town. Sizzling rice soup, a delicacy with restorative properties, is available here, as well as decadent twin lobster tails in Szechuan sauce.
2644 Broadway St., 303-444-5667
Runner-up: Great Harvest
Honorable Mention: Spruce Confections
Whether you wake up with a sweet tooth or want to stop off for a delicious loaf of crusty bread to go with your family dinner, Breadworks is there for your baked good needs. Since they open at 7 a.m., you can start your day with muffins, bagels, bread or — if your mom will let you — cookies, cake or pie. If your sweet tooth doesn’t wake up until later in the day, you can pick up a treat until 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and until 6 p.m. on Sunday. And if you’re the one in the group who likes more savory flavors, you can still find delicious treats for your palette. Whether it’s frittatas in the morning or hot pizza coming out of the wood-burning oven for lunch or a quick dinner, there really is something for everyone at this North Boulder Bakery. With a café component, sandwiches and soups, this local spot has the goods — baked goods, that is — for any time of the day and anybody’s tastes. Great Harvest takes runner-up honors this year, while Spruce Confections, with its delicious scones and treats, garners a well-deserved honorable mention.
Several locations along the Front Range, www.illegalpetes.com
Honorable Mention: Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Not many gringos know that the word “burrito” actually means “little donkey” in Spanish. According to legend, the burrito was invented by an enterprising Mexican dude named Juan Méndez who wrapped his food in tortillas so it would stay warm while he transported it in baskets carried by donkeys. Traditional Mexican burritos are filled with refried beans, Spanish rice and/or meat. However, in true American fashion, we decided to take the tortilla and cram it full of as much tasty goodness as possible. In the good ol’ U.S. of A., you can get burritos stuffed with potatoes, eggs, fish, pork, steak, vegetables, cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and happiness. What? You don’t believe us? Have you ever seen a customer walk out of Illegal Pete’s and kick a puppy? No, of course not. That’s because Illegal Pete’s customers are happy. And just in case you’re wondering what’s illegal about Illegal Pete’s we have the scoop: the size of their burritos. Most Illegal Pete’s creations far surpass federal regulations about how much can be crammed into a single tortilla.
A Spice of Life Catering Services
5541 Central Ave., Ste. 272, 303-443-4049
Runner-up: Whole Foods
A Spice of Life Catering was established in 1987 by two food service veterans, David Rubin and Dan Bruckner, to provide exceptional food and service to the Boulder area. Since then, A Spice of Life has grown and flourished into the largest catering company in Boulder County, now serving Boulder, Denver and beyond. Currently employing a staff of more than 120, A Spice of Life utilizes a team approach when planning and executing their events. Upon hearing of their first place BoB win, Dan Rubin was thankful. “We are so thrilled to be recognized by the people of Boulder. Whether it’s an elegant wedding, a 50th birthday celebration or a corporate gala, our mission is to provide overwhelming presentation and first-class service while making our clients guests at their own events. We put a lot of energy and passion into everything we do, and it feels so gratifying to know people are noticing. Thank you, Boulder! It means the world to us!”
Whole Foods is another great catering spot that specializes in vegan and vegetarian alternatives. They are an extremely popular establishment in Boulder, and they usually suggest at least two days’ notice for catering events, especially around the holidays.
The Greenbriar Inn
8735 N Foothills Hwy, 303-440-7979
Runner-up: Broker Inn
Honorable Mention: Q’s, The Kitchen
My last brunch experience began at 10 a.m. and ended at 7 p.m. If you’re anything like me, a meal that can last for that many hours and still be considered the same meal, is the best kind of eating experience. Admittedly, this year’s winner in the Best Brunch category doesn’t boast a nine-hour meal, but during the hours between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., it does offer some of the best parts of this blend of breakfast and lunch. The Greenbriar Inn’s Sunday brunch is complete with an omelet bar; oysters on the half shell; meat options like beef, seafood, chicken, lamb, prime rib and bacon; breads, muffins and bagels; cheese; salads; fruits; desserts; waffles; pancakes; and French toast. And if all that isn’t enough to make your meal complete, you can always add the unlimited Champagne option — because who doesn’t love to start the day with a belly full of delicious food topped with a head full of fizzy Champagne? There’s nothing like brunch to help you eat, drink and be merry, and isn’t that what Sundays are for?
Broker Inn is another local brunch favorite. Its award-winning Sunday Champagne Brunch samples cuisine from around the world. Q’s, a four-star restaurant located in the Hotel Boulderado, ties for honorable mention with eco-friendly The Kitchen, which derives its high-quality menu from ingredients grown locally.
FIRST DATE DINNER
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Staff Pick: Ras Kassa’s
2111 30th St., 303-447-2919
Runner-up: Aji, The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: Q’s, Dushanbe Tea House
OK, you’re on a first date. How you got here is anyone’s guess, but somehow, some way you managed to trick someone into going out with you. The most important thing to remember: just relax and be yourself. The next most important thing to remember: don’t blow it! Now that the pressure is off, and you’re sitting down to have a bite to eat, here comes the inevitable “pregnant pause” in the conversation. Here are some recommended things to say to impress your date: “You don’t look anything like your picture.” “Oops! It looks like I forgot my wallet.” “This was my ex-husband’s favorite restaurant.” “Damnnnnn, you look sexy!” “Was that your roommate who answered the door? She looked nice.” “So, do you like children?” Seriously, though, you can’t go wrong at any of the best first date restaurants listed above. Our readers have picked The Med for it’s lively atmosphere and creative cuisine, featuring Boulder’s best selection of tapas. If you really want to score some points (and turn the evening in a, shall we say, sensual direction), try our staff pick, Ras Kassa’s. Not only will you enjoy a unique dining experience, but what could be sexier than eating exotic food with your hands and licking it off your fingers?
2716 28th St., 303-449-1323
1333 Broadway, 303-447-9184
Runner-up: Village Coffee Shop
Honorable Mention: The Buff
“I am NEVER drinking again.”
It’s the Saturday morning slogan that seems to be forgotten as soon as evening rolls around, but there is no mistaking the pain and suffering of a hangover. Your head throbs, your eyes burn and your memory is strained as you slowly attempt to piece together last night’s events that you’re pretty sure consisted of Jaeger-bombs, disrobing and 86es (though the order of which is still hazy). There is only one immediate remedy for this feeling: foooooood!
Boulder’s best spot to soak up last night’s suds (and shame) is none other than Dot’s Diner. Dot’s food has a perfect pair of protein and carbs. The vegetarian benefits from their mass selection of meatless morning choices. Dot’s may be where “the folks get their yolks,” but word to the wise: it’s all about the biscuits. These soft, fresh-baked goodies will make your mouth water and might even put a smile on that tired little face of yours.
Runner-up Village Coffee Shop gets our love for having delicious post-indulging breakfasts at a great price. The Buff receives honorable mention for their ability to cater to the poor, hungover college student well into the afternoon, right around the time when “NEVER again” turns into “maybe in a little while.”
2124 14th St., 303-442-4743
Staff Pick: Walnut Café/South Side
3073 Walnut St., 303-447-2315
673 S. Broadway, 720-304-8818
Runner-up: Dot’s Diner
Boulder is nowhere near Louisiana. There’s not a bayou in sight. If you say “mud bugs” most people won’t have a clue what you mean. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the best of Creole cuisine. Lucile’s, the consistent winner in this category, was founded in 1980, bringing Colorado its first taste of authentic Creole, transforming breakfast from an oatmeal or scrambled eggs affair to one that includes Cajun salmon, grits and mouth-watering beignets. Offering homemade ketchup, sauces and strawberry-rhubarb jam, Lucile’s brings a level of quality to the entire meal. You’ll wish you had a bigger stomach.
Walnut Café and its little sister South Side Walnut Café are favorite haunts of Boulder Weekly staffers, who arrive early in the morning for caffeine and dishes like the vegan-friendly Boulder Scramble, the scrumptious Big Dill Eggs and the hearty Eggs Marcos. The staff is warm-hearted, giving both locations the homey feel of a small-town eatery.
Dot’s Diner, this year’s runner-up, is another perennial favorite and a long-time Boulder tradition, with its traditional egg dishes, gigantic fluffy biscuits and endless cups of coffee.
Several locations in Boulder,
Staff Pick: The Laughing Goat
1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628
Honorable Mention: Trident
Walk into most coffee shops now, and the feeling is sterile and depressing, the lack of human-to-human communication an increasingly evident concern. Table after table is filled with straight-faced types basking in the radiation glow of their laptops, unaware of the world beyond their screens. What happened? Coffee shops are supposed to be about community, not a free wi-fi excuse to live in a bubble.
Fortunately, Boulder may be one of the last places where a handful of establishments can be as animated as the caffeine-saturated beverages. Vic’s coffee shop ranks among these, a real coffee shop for Republic residents to convene and debate. Their strong roasts lure in the true bean lovers, and their non-corporate atmosphere makes for a relaxed locals forum. For these reasons we share the love of our readers’ pick, but another kid on the block also has our attention.
It’s been nearly three years since our beloved Penny Lane was laid to rest. Though many still shed the occasional tear, we can all take solace in The Laughing Goat’s ability to heal our hearts by filling the void left by Penny’s disappearance. The Laughing Goat isn’t just about having great coffee; it’s about being a great coffee house. Freethinkers unite, spouting off creative solutions under jittery espresso influence. Poets slam, students study and the singer/songwriters showcase their hearts inside these doors. Exhibits by local photographers and artists hang from the walls. The Laughing Goat also plays host to C.R.A.B. (Constantly Risking Absurdity, Baby!), a monthly free-form performance platform for Boulder’s creative to rehearse their latest works.
In other words, this is a place where community takes precedence. Coffee is great, but it’s even better if you have others to share it with.
Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato
Several locations in Boulder,
Runner-up: Ben & Jerry’s
Honorable Mention: Bliss Organic Ice Cream
Vanilla ice cream is tried and true. It’s still the No. 1 most popular ice cream flavor in the world, taking 29 percent of all ice cream sales. And while it’s certainly a versatile flavor — in that you can top it with almost anything edible, and it’ll taste good — it’s hard to imagine walking into Glacier Homemade Ice Cream and Gelato and asking for a scoop of vanilla when there are more than 500 flavors from which to choose. Glacier makes its ice cream and gelato fresh daily using the highest quality ingredients from all over the world. Each Glacier location carries up to 80 varieties at a time. See if one of the following flavors doesn’t tantalize you more than plain ol’ vanilla: Coffee Caramel Crunch, Death by Chocolate, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Key Lime Pie, Caramel Oreo, Espresso Chocolate Buzz, Chai, Blueberry Cheesecake, Carrot Cake… the list could go on and on. And it does, on their website and in their stores, where you’re invited to stop by and taste any and all of the current flavors.
Ben & Jerry’s is always a popular choice, garnering runner-up honors this year. Bliss Organic Ice Cream, our honorable mention, offers creamy treats made of ingredients that are certified organic. Bliss, indeed!
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