Best of Boulder County '07
In the immortal words of the balding, Anglo songster Phil Collins: There's something coming in the air tonight. As spring gives way to summer, there's a sense of hope and excitement making its way through Boulder County. Gone are the winter storms that pounded the Front Range so mercilessly and turned shoveling into a daily quest to find pavement. (Note to Boulder city officials: Your snow-removal plan sucks.) Now we can look forward to hikes in the mountains, weekend trips to Boulder County Farmers Market and naked hippie babies playing in that bidet fountain on the Pearl Street Mall.
But more has changed in Boulder County than the season. The city of Boulder now has a shopping center, Twenty Ninth Street (it's located on 29th Street, in case you missed that). Longmont has citywide wi-fi. Cranes and bulldozers have moved in, erecting new buildings and plowing under Mother Nature's majestic artwork. And although Boulder may have one city council member who's a stoner—percentage-wise that's probably not representative of the stoner population; it should be five council members—it also has a governing body that passed one of the most progressive global warming policies in the country.
We may be just a tiny, blue dot on a predominantly red map, but any resident can tell you that our county is unique—some might even say weird. And we're proud of it. Whether it's our unhealthy obsession with prairie dogs, our unique relationship with the citizens of Tajikstan or the JonBenet media freakfest, Boulder County has cemented its reputation as the eccentric uncle in Colorado's conservative little family.
Boulder Weekly's 2007 annual Best of Boulder edition is a summary of what you, our readers, believe is awesome about our area. Unlike many counties that are overrun by strip malls and chain restaurants, our little shire has a smorgasbord of vibrant independent businesses, a unique culinary scene and top-notch educational, recreational and entertainment options, making it one of the nation's most exciting communities.
Of course, all of this is just a reflection of the people who work and live here. In the end, Best of Boulder is a tribute to the hard work, talent and creativity of everyone who calls Boulder County home. We hope you enjoy this quick overview of our community!
BEST PLACE TO SEE COMEDY
Album's Bistro, 1124 13th St., 303-449-6637
Let's face it, Boulder, this is a funny town. With a demographic consisting of equal parts college students, hippies, hipsters and hipster hippies, we produce an environment that's ripe for parody. If you don't see the comedy in that, well, then, you're probably a hipster hippie—go paste another environmental bumper sticker on your BMW.
For a clinic on Boulder-style humor, trot on down to Album's Bistro on The Hill and catch their Thursday night comedy show. Formerly hosted by local stand-up comedian and Daily Camera columnist, Dave Burdick, Album's has become the No. 1 venue in Boulder for edgy, young comedians to cut their teeth. Five dollars will get you in the door, and another couple of bucks will get you a pint of beer. But don't be late unless you're willing to get taunted mercilessly by whoever happens to be on stage.
Album's owner, Andy Schneidkraut, has been supporting local artists, musicians and comics for more than 20 years at his establishment. A former stand-up himself, Andy is now a self-professed comedy scholar and one heck of a nice guy. He's been trying to help Boulder develop a sense of humor for a long, long time, and we love him for that.
BEST NAZI IMPRESSION
And the coveted BNI Award for 2007 goes to... Josh McNair. As an undergraduate at CU in 2004, Joshie-boy was extremely involved on campus, promoting uplifting intellectual events—like anti-Semitism. McNair was integral in bringing the noted Holocaust denier David Irving to lecture at CU. Irving's speech went something like this: "Blah, blah, blah, it's a Zionist plot, blah, blah, I'm a racist douche-bag, blah, blah."
However, McNair wasn't done yet. Somehow he managed to get into grad school at CU and was teaching creative writing to students in 2007 when new information was uncovered about the angsty Aryan. In 2004, McNair won an essay contest sponsored by Stormfront, a white supremacist organization that also publishes writing by David Duke and various other KKK higher-ups on their website. The essay is called "Organization, Cooperation and Action." It starts off: "Whites are in a fairly precarious position today." We certainly are, Josh. Apparently, there are a bunch of cowardly dipshits like yourself writing crappy essays for other cowardly dipshits.
But don't despair. We know it was a tough year, but at least you're going home with the BNI Award. Way to go!
BEST BIRTHDAY BASH
Fox Theatre's 15th Anniversary Celebration
Since opening in 1992, the Fox Theatre has emerged as one of America's most sought-after venues to play and has brought an alarming number of top draws to Boulder. When Dave Matthews used the Theatre as the backdrop to his breakthrough 1994 video, "What Would You Say," the Fox went from a local club to national tour destination.
The city has changed a lot since 1992, and with The Hill in a state of change the Fox's importance to the community as a neighborhood anchor has only increased. So when the Fox turned 15 earlier this year, it was cause to celebrate, and the Fox did it the only way they know how—with a week of world-class music. Featured acts included the John Butler Trio, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Umphrey's McGee, local favorite Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Funky Meters, the band that headlined the venue's inaugural 1992 show.
Thanks for a rockin' 15 years, Fox, and here's to at least 15 more.
BEST REASON TO BECOME A CIVIL SERVANT
The judicial system works—for you
"Dude, I'm totally going to be a city councilman."
"Far out, man."
"Yeah, it's gonna be, like, radical, dude."
Civics was always such a boring class in high school. By the time the teacher finished talking about the legislative branch and the executive branch and the judicial branch, you just wanted someone to hit him over the head with a goddamn branch. But cheer up, kiddies! Politics doesn't have to be boring. Just ask City Councilman Erwin "Richard" Polk, who was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of kind bud back in September 2006.
According to the police report, Officer Keith Steinman pulled Polk over for erratic driving and discovered an unusual odor emanating from Polk's car. Finding an allegedly warm pipe, the cop understandably concluded that Polk had been tokin' and drivin'. Not only that, but Polk had pot in his pocket—though, as he told the officer, it wasn't good shit.
Polk denied driving while high, and, after much judicial consideration, the D.A. allowed Polk to plead guilty to reckless driving. Then city council permitted Polk to keep his post, deciding that city policy required him to resign only if he'd committed a felony.
Now, we have nothing against smoking weed, provided you don't get behind the wheel. But it would be interesting to see how this little scenario would have played out if it had been a random CU student driving that car instead of a city leader.
BEST REASON TO ROCK
Big C — CD benefit for the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers Foundation
After beating the odds and becoming a five-year cancer survivor, local musician Jon Henderson decided to throw a party. That party turned into an annual event, the Beating Cancer Benefit, which has raised money for the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers Foundation (RMCCF) in its four years.
Henderson has had a continued personal battle with the disease—and has continued his charity efforts at the same time. His current efforts are focused on a project known as the Big C, a documentary/CD designed to educate and support newly diagnosed cancer patients. The soundtrack, performed by Henderson's band SPYZ, is available now at CDBaby.com, and the documentary is scheduled to be filmed at the end of the month.
A token award is not nearly enough to honor the efforts of those who have battled cancer personally and those who do so through charity work. Still, consider this our little token of gratitude to someone who is countering cancer by rocking out for a cure.
BEST VIOLIN CONCERTO INVOLVING BRUSHES, NOT BOWS
Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra's ArtStrings Painted Violin Project
The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) is a class organization that provides the community with stellar classical music performances and educational programs. As a nonprofit entity, BPO isn't afraid to sing for its supper, but this past year the organization took up a new artistic approach to raising funds—painting.
For the ArtStrings Painted Violin Project, the orchestra selected 15 local artists to use violins as their canvas to be turned into a work of art. The instruments took on many designs and colors, including a Dushanbe Teahouse-themed violin and one angelic offering constructed of 22-gauge steel. The violins were put on display in local galleries for two months and then auctioned off to benefit the Boulder Phil.
It was a worthy fundraiser for a worthy cause—an event that brought together local artists and artistic mediums, providing the community with culture and beauty, which in turn supported the creation of more culture and beauty. That is something truly deserving of a Best of Boulder award.
MOST LIKELY TO HOLD THE NEWS CYCLE HOSTAGE
The unsolved murder of a 6-year-old Boulder beauty queen—it's a story that has the makings for a TV miniseries. But why spend money writing a miniseries when you can dust off the newsreels any time a new detail in the JonBenet case emerges?
TV networks made a killing last August when John Mark Karr, an American who'd been arrested in Thailand, confessed to JonBenet Ramsey's murder. Overnight, the Boulder County Courthouse morphed from low-key municipal building to a veritable squatting village of hot-shot network reporters wearing make-up and toting Blackberries.
The Boulder County D.A. shelled out an estimated $24,000 managing the affair, $6,000 of which was spent flying Karr first-class to Denver. (He enjoyed the shrimp, we were told.)
In the end, the ordeal couldn't have worked out better for Karr. Not only were all the charges against him dropped, but he got his ass out of a Thai jail—and a first-class plane ride home. The only downside is that pretty much everyone in America knows who he is, and they think he's mighty creepy.
BIGGEST REASON WHY COLORADO ISN'T REALLY BLUE
Referendum I fails, Amendment 43 passes
There were a lot of reasons to bust out the bubbly last November. Not only did both Colorado Houses remain Democrat, but Colorado elected Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter—a huge feat in a traditionally red(neck) state.
But not all liberals were doing their victory dance on election day. Coloradans rejected Referendum I, which would have legalized same-sex civil unions, and strongly affirmed Amendment 43, which went beyond existing state laws to permit marriage only between a man and a woman. While some said that the vote was a result of voter confusion, it's hard to ignore Colorado's unequivocal statement about gay rights—an echo of its shameful anti-gay Amendment 2 past, when gays were denied protection from discrimination.
The scene may be disheartening for some, but the silver lining is the increased momentum that Boulder PRIDE and other groups gained from the Referendum I campaign.
"If anything, it has strengthened us," Sonya Lewis, president of Boulder PRIDE told Boulder Weekly. "We had lesbian, gay and straight people coming forward saying, 'What can we do to help?' We now have new people that want to volunteer for PRIDE."
MOST ARTICULATE MESSAGE TO A POLITICIAN
Kathleen Ensz and her doggy doo-doo mailers
Who do Republicans think they're kidding? No matter how many commercials they fund, or how many mailers they stuff into Democrats' boxes—we're not buying their bullshit excuses for the Iraq war or the long list of scandals coming out of the Bush administration. And we're not about to switch to the other side.
This point was lost on Rep. Marilyn "Focus on Everyone Else's Family" Musgrave, who ran a close race against kick-ass Democratic contender Angie Paccione last fall. Musgrave's office sent so many flyers to Kathleen Ensz, a Democratic Longmont resident, that Ensz decided to return the junk mail—with a little something extra special.
Ensz stuffed the mailers and a good helping of smelly dog shit into the Musgrave office's mail slot. We wish Ensz would have created a projectile with the package, but nobody's perfect.
Musgrave staffers, who were dying for something to focus on besides gay people, made a huge stink about the issue and got the police involved.
All Ensz got in return was a misdemeanor charge and a court date—plus the satisfaction of sending an unequivocal "fuck you" to one of Colorado's most ridiculously reactionary (and scary) politicians.
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FOOD & DRINK
Reader & Staff Pick: The Mediterranean Restaurant
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: The Kitchen
Honorable Mention: Dagabi Cucina
So you can't afford a European vacation just now. How about sampling Spain, Italy and Greece one bite at a time? Whether looking for a light bite to eat or a tasty introduction to a meal, The Mediterranean Restaurant (commonly known among Boulderites as "The Med") brings the taste of that region to Boulder and is the clear favorite when it comes to tapas. For about $5 a piece, you can send your taste buds on a trip they won't forget. If you visit the Med during the warmer months the best place to enjoy selections like the Caprese or Spinach and Lamb Empanadilla is on the patio where the fountain and foliage are reminiscent of the region that inspired the restaurant.
A commitment to using local and organic ingredients makes The Kitchen is a perfect place for those who want to fight global warming and keep it local when it comes to their food choices—and that's all of us, right? The recent addition of the wine lounge provides a wide selection of wines to pair with the tapas.
If Italian food is your flare, then Dagabi Cucina is the place for you. Enjoy conventional Italian cuisine in a casual, contemporary setting that provides the perfect atmosphere to indulge in favorites like the Melanzane Con Caprino and Calamari Fritti during Tapas Happy Hour.
Reader & Staff Pick: Moe's Broadway Bagel
2650 N. Broadway, 303-444-3252
3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427
Runner-up: Einstein Brothers Bagels
Honorable Mention: Big Daddy Bagels
Boulder loves bagels. No doubt about that. And Boulder Weekly readers love Moe's Broadway Bagel. For seven years running—longer than the duration of the average marriage—B-dub's readers have voted Moe's No. 1. Moe's is the quintessential Boulder spot to find a wide variety of fresh bagels to start your day. But Moe's is more that just a breakfast stop. The lunch menu represents the flavor of Boulder with specialties like the Jive Turkey and the Yummus Hummus. And don't forget to indulge your taste buds in the pizza and salad selections.
The runner-up in this category, Einstein Brothers Bagels, gives Boulder a different type of bagel experience at both locations. Choosing from bagels and other goodies on the menu provide thought for food to start your day.
Big Daddy Bagels, a locally owned and operated shop, has been providing traditional bagels to Boulder since 1996. The full espresso bar, smoothies and deli are among the reasons our readers have voted Big Daddy an honorable mention when it comes to bagels.
Reader & Staff Pick: Lucile's
2124 14th St., 303-442-4743
518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814
Runner-up: Walnut Café / South Side Walnut Café
Honorable Mention: Dot's Diner, Turley's
It may be time to give Lucile's its own category, as it almost seems unfair to the rest of the competition that every year the best Creole restaurant not adjacent to the Mississippi River wins Best Breakfast in Boulder. One bite into their Eggs Jennifer or Creole Omelet and you'll understand why Lucile's garners the gold. The cozy atmosphere, homemade strawberry rhubarb jam and to-die-for beignets will make the most modest Boulderite feel like southern royalty. For something unique, try the blackened salmon breakfast with grits, and wash it down with Lucile's house blend tea.
No restaurant should feel slighted by coming in second to Lucile's, especially in a town like Boulder, which has so many world-class eateries that we could devote an entire issue to just the best breakfast spots. Try this: Start eating out for breakfast every day, going to a different restaurant each morning until you encounter a subpar meal. Smart money says you'll go a month before you find a bad one. If you do take on this challenge, we recommend beginning at the Walnut Café and its little sister, the South Side Walnut Café, which came in as runner-up. Both menus are loaded with healthy, Boulder-friendly fare. Both bars offer all variety of high-octane espresso drinks. And each café is loaded with character. And don't get us started on the Eggs Marcos.
If you're looking for a slice of historic Boulder, sink your teeth into the offerings at this year's co-honorable mentions, Dot's Diner and Turley's. Dot's offers good old-fashioned grub and a delicious maté that will kickstart your day in overdrive. Turley's is as Boulder as it gets, and any day that begins with one of their delicious scrambles is a good day.
Reader & Staff Pick: Breadworks
2644 Broadway, 303-444-5667
Runner-up: Great Harvest Bread Company
If you need to get your grain on, Breadworks is the place to go. A locally owned independent business, Breadworks uses the finest, healthy ingredients and bakes up a storm, drawing crowds of very loyal, very hungry people. For breakfast try a crisp, light brioche or buttery croissant. Lunch is done right with sandwiches featuring handmade artisan breads. Or choose a saucer-size cookie and a latté. The rich and spicy gingersnaps are a favorite.
For the love of bread, Boulderites choose the Great Harvest Bread Company. With various whole-grain breads freshly made each morning and mouth-watering sweets, this national franchise is a favorite with the Boulder crowd.
Reader & Staff Pick: Mountain Sun / Southern Sun Pub & Brewery
1535 Pearl St, 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
Runner-up: Tom's Tavern
Honorable Mention: Dark Horse, V.G. Burgers
Sure, we love our granola in Boulder, but nothing in the world compares to sinking those pearly whites into a burger fresh from the grill—especially after climbing one of Colorado's famed 14'ers. Boulder's love of beef and healthy sensibilities come together at the Mountain Sun/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, which serve up all-natural beef patties with lettuce, tomato and onion, but hold the antibiotics, growth hormones and steroids. Try this: Hike the Triple Peak Challenge (Green Mountain, Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak) then celebrate with a burger and a cool draw of the Sun's house-brewed ale.
If you're fresh off the Greyhound and find yourself wandering along Pearl Street looking for some grub, ask any stranger you meet where you can get a good burger. Undoubtedly they'll all point you to the west end of the Mall to Tom's Tavern, a Boulder staple and this year's runner-up for Best Burger. Tom's serves it up old-school. This is no-frills dining at its finest. Looking for servers singing birthday tunes, donning "flair" and trying to up-sell you jalapeño poppers? Tom's isn't the place for you. But if you're looking for a great burger, make Tom's your neighborhood tavern.
The Dark Horse gets an honorable mention for its world-class burgers and scrumptious curly fries. And at the Dark Horse you can watch the game with your buddies on one of their many television sets. If you're feeling sporty you can knock the puck around yourself with a round of air hockey. Joining the Dark Horse as an honorable mention is newcomer V.G. Burgers, a vegetarian fast-food joint. We love good food, and we love good food fast—and we love things that make us say, "Only in Boulder." Therefore, we love V.G. Burgers.
Reader Pick: Illegal Pete's
1320 College Ave., 303-444-3055
1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955
Honorable Mention: Wahoo's Fish Taco
Once again, our readers agree that Illegal Pete's has the best burritos in town. A Pete's burrito is more than just sustenance; it's a trusted friend, a companion, a magical elephant that lives in your closet and listens to acid jazz while you're partying with Gwen Steffani and the former cast of Small Wonder... Umm, OK, that was pretty weird. This eatery was so popular when it first hit Pearl Street that they were forced to open new locations on College Avenue and in Denver. With fresh, quality toppings stuffed into a warm tortilla, it's no wonder that this is a favorite haunt for students and yuppies alike. Every burrito is hand-wrapped with care and precision by a Pete's employee, then delivered to you like a newborn baby. Except much tastier, of course.
Coming in second, Chipotle's burritos are a meal all by themselves. You definitely need two hands to eat this monster (and it also helps if you can unhinge your jaw like a boa constrictor and stuff that puppy right in there). The Chipotle assembly line is filled with a wide variety of options, including both black and pinto beans and a tasty corn salsa that adds spice and flavor to every bite.
It's fish, it's tacos––what's not to like? Even when it's so cold outside that penguins are wearing fleece and the Skip seems like a human meat locker, you can still find solace at Wahoo's Fish Taco, where every day is a beach party. This Hawaiian-themed restaurant combines Mexican, Asian and Cajun fare into tasty meals.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Kitchen
1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973
Runner-up: Brasserie Ten Ten
Honorable Mention: Prima Ristorante
Prove your commitment to being "green" to a business acquaintance with lunch at a restaurant committed to providing dishes that are prepared from local, organic ingredients and to being eco-friendly in their business practices. The Kitchen provides just enough privacy amid murmuring noise from the open restaurant and kitchen to make it the perfect setting for a business lunch. The lunch menu changes seasonally, offering fresh dishes just as diverse as the crowd that frequents The Kitchen.
Hustling and bustling through the day? Busy Boulderites agree that the French and Italian cuisine, prepared by the runner-up and honorable mention winners are among the best for a lunchtime meeting. Brasserie Ten Ten provides the perfect setting to enjoy a business lunch in an upscale setting that compliments the unique French cuisine served here. Or enjoy Italian classics with a twist at Prima Ristorante. Choose from a more private setting or the open patio while you delight in savory dishes.
Reader & Staff Pick: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream
4760 Baseline Rd., 303-499-4760
3133 28th St., 303-440-6542
1350 College Ave., 303-442-4400
Runner-up: Spruce Confections
Honorable Mention: Belvedere Belgian Chocolate Shop
Boulder might be the healthiest city in the nation, but man (and woman) cannot live on tofu alone. When it comes to dessert, they flock en masse to Glacier Homemade Ice Cream. Glacier offers more than 80 flavors of creamy, cold stuff that can be enjoyed alone or mixed with your favorite ingredients, such as chocolate chips and marshmallows. For those who need a treat but are feeling a bit more health conscience, Glacier provides a variety of low-fat yogurts to choose from.
A trip down Pearl Street will most likely land anyone with a love of sweets and pastries at Spruce Confections. Just a glimpse at the cases full of cakes, brownies, cookies, croissants and scones will make your mouth water. Favorites like the espresso sour cream brownies or the golden macaroons will leave you begging for more.
Chocoholics agree that the Belvedere Belgian Chocolate Shop is the best place to indulge in a velvety melt-in-your-mouth treat. With a variety of authentic, preservative-free chocolates using imported Belgian chocolate, this chocolate shop deserves an honorable mention.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Mediterranean
1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335
Runner-up: Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge
Honorable Mention: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun Pub and Brewery
There are happy hours and then there are HAPPY hours, and The Mediterranean definitely deserves the latter designation. With their famous tapas menu, you can fill up your entire table with delectable treats and create a delightful communal dining experience without breaking the bank. I'll take the falafel... no, wait, I want the hummus... Actually, no, give me some of those giant olives. Hold on there, cowboy. At The Med, you can have it all—and wash it down with tasty drinks from the full-service bar.
It's a well-known fact that any restaurant owned by identical triplets from New Jersey is going to totally rock. Jill, Jessica and Jennifer Emich are the Trilogy sisters. Remember those Double Mint twins from the old commercials? Double your pleasure, double your fun. Well, we're betting the Emich sisters could totally kick their ass in a cage fight. Not only that, but they serve up one of the best happy hours in town. J3, we love you.
No bar in town has more microbrews on tap than the Mountain Sun Brewery and its sister establishment, the Southern Sun. The service is friendly, the beers are always fresh, and they regularly hold full-fledged bluegrass hootenannies smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. Come to their happy hour from 4–6 p.m., and start sampling some of the best beers in America. But, hey, don't take our table.
Reader & Staff Pick: Flagstaff House Restaurant
1138 Flagstaff Rd., 303-442-4640
Runner-up: Frasca Food and Wine
Honorable Mention: Sunflower
Boulder is home to many world-class attractions. One of them is a restaurant—the world renowned Flagstaff House. With an internationally acclaimed wine list, Flagstaff House has served five-star cuisine to everyone from prom kings and queens to genuine royalty—the kind whose crowns have real diamonds. It's the perfect place for a romantic dinner or a special celebration and offers a menu as unique as its mountain setting.
Showcasing the cuisine of Friuli, Italy, Frasca offers a seasonal menu that changes nightly, bringing diners back again and again to see what Chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson is serving up. Creative dishes are complemented perfectly with fine wines from Frasca's celebrated list of Friulano wines.
A favorite since 1999, The Sunflower gives Boulder County residents a fine-dining experience with an emphasis on organic ingredients and an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Golden Lotus
1964 28th St., 303-442-6868
Runner-up: Moongate Asian Bistro
Honorable Mention: Orchid Pavilion
Who knew that Chinese food could be so good in Boulder? Don't let the statues outside the front door of the No. 1 favorite Golden Lotus intimidate you. Once inside, you'll be in a serene setting to enjoy the traditional Chinese menu. And guess what? There's no MSG in any of the dishes, so rest assured you are getting a healthy meal. The lively décor featuring Chinese-themed statues provides an authentic setting for tasty items that range from the traditional like Moo Shoo Chicken to something a little different like the Kung Pao Squid.
Remember the song, "One Night in Bangkok"? Well now you can have a taste of it when you visit the Moongate Asian Grill. Garnering raves countywide for its healthy Asian fusion cuisine, Moongate offers a wealth of vegetarian options.
Tradition is the word that comes to mind when you walk in the Orchid Pavilion, not only because of its menu but because it's been part of the Boulder scene forever. If a reasonable price and many palatable options are your thing then this is the place for you. With 14 years of catering to Boulder's Asian cravings, the Orchid Pavilion receives an honorable mention in this category.
Reader & Staff Pick: Glacier Homemade Ice Cream
4760 Baseline Rd., 303-499-4760
3133 28th St., 303-440-6542
1350 College Ave., 303-442-4400
Runner-up: Ben & Jerry's
Honorable Mention: Boulder Ice Cream, Bliss Organic Ice Cream
Everyone loves ice cream, and in Boulder everyone loves Glacier Homemade Ice Cream. It might be the 80 flavors, or it might be all the yummy stuff you get mixed into your creamy treat. Or maybe it's the fact that the servers don't sing those stupid songs like Cold Stone Creamery. Whether you like the simplicity of vanilla or want green tea ice cream full of Snickers bits, they've got your ice cream craving covered. They also have fat-free frozen yogurt for the hard-core health nut.
Sure, you can pick this ice cream up in any supermarket freezer, but Ben and Jerry's is best enjoyed at the Scoop Shop on the Pearl Street Mall. With its commitment to social and environmental issues, Ben & Jerry's, though a chain, supports the causes Boulder residents care about, while also satisfying their sweet tooth.
Locally owned ice cream shops, Boulder Ice Cream and Bliss Organic Ice Cream, share honorable mention status this year. In true Boulder fashion, both are committed to organic ingredients, making their creations a lick above the rest.
Reader Pick: Trident Booksellers and Café
940 Pearl St., 303-443-3133
Staff Pick: Laughing Goat Coffee House
1709 Pearl St., 303-440-4628
Runner-up: Vic's Coffee
Honorable Mention: Amante Coffee, Bookend Café
No corporate winners in this category. Boulder residents like their caffeine brewed in locally owned shops. Perhaps it is the intimacy of the quaint setting or the view of the Flatirons from the west end of Pearl Street, but readers agree the best coffee in Boulder can be found at the Trident Booksellers and Café. And not just the best coffee, but the best conversations. The Trident is where the erudite and hip like to sit and sip.
B-dub's staff gives props this year to the Laughing Goat Coffee House. The recently opened Laughing Goat not only serves a great espresso, but also hosts artsy events for you to enjoy while you sip on your latté in the evening or work during the day.
Offering yet another non-corporate coffee shop with a hip atmosphere, Vic's Coffee earns the runner-up in this category with a zillion locations around town.
Rounding out the category with an honorable mention are Amante Coffee and the Bookend Café, each offering a unique setting for coffee lovers to enjoy a cup of joe.
Reader & Staff Pick: Taj Restaurant
2630 Baseline Rd., 303-494-5216
Runner-up: Tandoori Grill
Honorable Mention: Sherpa's
Maybe it's karma, but three Indian restaurants keep tumbling over one another for B-dub's top honors year after year with this year's votes going to Taj Restaurant, known locally as "The Taj." Our readers can't get enough of the fresh, MSG-free cuisine served up by the friendly staff. The all-you-can-eat lunch buffet makes this a perfect spot to get your fill during the hectic workday. Vegetarians can rest assured that they will be satisfied with the selection of meatless dishes.
Another perennial Boulder favorite, Tandoori Grill, offers East Indian cuisine baked in a traditional clay oven. The $7 lunch buffet seems to feed all of SoBo, drawing a hungry business crowd each weekday. Order an array of meats from the menu, including chicken, lamb and shrimp, or go for one of the many vegetarian and curry dishes available. Try a Mangorita from Tandoori's full-service bar.
Sherpa's offers meals inspired by the traditions of Nepal and Tibet. A trip to the travelers lounge will complete your culinary experience with books about the region.
Reader & Staff Pick: Jamba Juice
3053 Arapahoe Ave., 303-247-1170
Runner-up: Berry Best
Health experts say its important to eat five fruits and vegetables each day. And, no, jelly and ketchup don't count. One quick way to beef up your fruit and veggie intake is to suck them through a straw. The California-based Jamba Juice chain is the favorite place for our readers to grab a glass of fresh carrot juice or a tangy fruit smoothie. More than 20 varieties of fruit smoothies and boosters, like the vita boost or energy boost, provide Boulderites with a smart drink or quick meal substitute.
Berry Best is a locally owned smoothie joint. Its upbeat staff serves up equally fresh and tasty smoothies.
Reader & Staff Pick: A Spice of Life
6333 Arapahoe Rd., 303-443-4049
Runner-up: Whole Foods
Parties with good food rock. Cooking and cleaning up sucks. That's why so many Boulder Weekly readers call A Spice of Life Catering when they need to feed the multitudes. Whether you're hosting a wedding or a wake, A Spice of Life has the menu for you. They slave over the hot stove; you and your guests party and stuff your faces with delicious fare that ranges from spicy and exotic to traditional. Does it get better than that?
Whole Foods wins runner-up this year. The store's reputation for providing healthful and organic food choices extends to the catering menu, which offers Boulder-friendly vegan and vegetarian options.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Rio Grande
1101 Walnut St., 303-444-3690
Runner-up: Zolo Grill
The recipe for The Rio Grande's margaritas has been an in-house secret for years. These margs are so strong and so damned tasty that there's a three-drink limit per customer––and believe us when we say that three is more than enough for any normal human being (and some small elephants). Even the most dedicated alcoholic on the B-dub staff (we're talking about you, Sue France) is ready to throw in the towel after that second marg hits home. The Rio has been a pre-drink destination for college students and hipsters for years, and we don't see that changing anytime soon.
Zolo Grill has more than 140 different types of tequila. Allow us to repeat that: Zolo has more than 140 different types of tequila! You won't find any generic, boring mix drinks at this Boulder institution. Every margarita is mixed up by folks who know why God created tequila. At Zolo, the margaritas are magnificent, masterly, meaningful, magnanimous, mellifluous, matrimonial... mmmmmmmm.
Reader & Staff Pick: Efrain's Mexican Restaurant
1630 N. 63rd St., 303-440-4045
101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544
451 S. Pratt Pkwy., Longmont, 720-494-0777
Runner-up: Zolo Grill
Honorable Mention: Rio Grande, Juanita's Mexican Food, Casa Alvarez
Forget the chihuahua. You don't have to run for the border. Just get on over to Efrain's when you need an authentic Mexican fix. Efrain's Mexican Restaurant has won the hearts of Boulderites with favorites like the Chili Verde Burrito. With a homey feel and a great margarita to accompany your meal, the place is always packed, no matter which of its three county locations you visit. Locally owned and operated by the Gomez family, it's an example of good food and good service resulting in success.
Zolo Grill offers Mexican cuisine with a twist, fusing New and Old World tastes for something upscale and truly unique. Try the Boar Quesadilla, the BBQ Duck Tacos or the Filet of Ahi Tuna. Wash it down with one of Zolo's signature margaritas for a meal beyond the ordinary.
Three area mainstays share honorable mention this year—The Rio Grande, Juanita's Mexican Food and Casa Alvarez, each with its own specialties and unique flavors. Boulder is truly a haven for the lover of Mexican food.
Reader & Staff Pick: Nick-N-Willy's Take-and-Bake Pizza
801 Pearl St., 303-444-9898
4800 Baseline Rd. Unit A-111, 303-499-9898
Runner-up: Abo's Pizza
Honorable Mention: Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana
Few earthly experiences are as joyful as biting into a slice of pizza fresh from the oven—an experience impossible with delivery pizza. Restaurant pizza may be nice, but there's something wholesome about gathering around the dining table with your family on pizza night, the smell of garlic and tomatoes filling the house. The next best thing to homemade is Nick-N-Willy's, a longtime Boulder favorite and this year's Best of Boulder. Enjoy one of their many specialty pizzas, or keep it simple with a classic pepperoni. Either way, call ahead and let Nick-N-Willy's do the hard work. Pick up your freshly prepared pie, pop it in your home oven, fill your lungs with that sweet smell and dig in to an Italian classic fresh from your own oven.
How does Boulder's high population of East Coast transplants get a taste of home? With a big-as-your-head slice of Abo's Pizza, this year's runner-up. Abo's serves it up New York style, and with fair prices and numerous locations throughout the city, home is never more than a slice away.
And if home was in Naples—or if you're of Southern Italian descent or just, well, like a good pie—Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana, this year's honorable mention, is the place to get your fix. One thing is for sure, there's no shortage of excellent pizza in Boulder, and any of this year's winners would make a great place to visit Italy—Boulder-style.
PLACE TO BRING KIDS
Reader & Staff Pick: Red Robin
2580 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-0320
Runner-up: Noodles & Co.
Honorable Mention: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery
Is there life after parenthood? When it comes to eating out, too often the answer is no. But there are a handful of places in Boulder where little ones are truly welcome. Red Robin tops this year's list. With a wide variety of burgers, endless fries and tasty shakes—not to mention the balloons and mini-arcade—Red Robin is always a hit with the tykes. You might even have time to eat a meal yourself.
Maybe it is the feeling of closeness in Noodles & Co. that makes it a perfect place to bring your kids. Or maybe it is the famous Wisconsin Mac & Cheese. Whatever it is, it has earned this lively restaurant the title of runner-up for a kid-friendly zone.
Bring your kids to the pub? Of course there is nothing wrong with it—at least not at the Mountain Sun / Southern Sun Pub & Brewery. With a mellow setting that welcomes all, you can enjoy your meal just as much as your kids do. With a selection of burgers and grilled cheese, you and your rug rats will feel right at home.
PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS
Reader & Staff Pick: Chautauqua Dining Hall
900 Baseline Rd., 303-440-3776
Runner-up: Boulder Farmer's Market
Honorable Mention: Mediterranean Restaurant
It's T minus 60 minutes, and you're in a race with time to find the perfect restaurant to impress your girlfriend's parents. The Flagstaff House? Too expensive. Abo's? Not fancy enough. You could have them over to your place, but the fuzzy stuff on top of the Chinese food containers doesn't exactly pass as a dinner salad.
Eureka! You've got it! Dining at Chautauqua. Any tourist from Nebraska or Nagasaki can appreciate the beauty of Chautauqua Park, and the historic Chautauqua Dining Hall offers innovative lunch and dinner options served on the deck, along with views of the Flatirons. It's the perfect cross between fine dining and fresh air. If you're looking for cheaper fare, a picnic on the Chautauqua lawn is always popular, and it's a perfect prelude to an after-dinner hike, a symphony concert or a silent film in the auditorium.
If you want to pick up your rutabagas and can't wait another minute for a mint chocolate-chip ice cream cone, stop by the Boulder Farmers Market, which takes place Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons. Those wanting fine outside dining love The Mediterranean's outside patio. Add some sunshine, wine and tapas—who could ask for more?
Reader & Staff Pick: Abo's Pizza
1110 13th St., 303-443-3199
2761 Iris Ave., 303-443-1921
637 S. Broadway, 303-494-1274
Runner-up: Hapa Sushi
Honorable Mention: Cosmo's Pizza, Dark Horse Bar
Keeping vampire hours but don't drink blood? Or maybe you've just got a hardcore case of munchies. Then grab a piece of New York-style pie from Abo's Pizza. The big, tasty slices will more than satisfy even the most ferocious appetite, whether you have fangs or not.
If trendy is your late-night delight. Head to Hapa Sushi for your favorite sushi rolls, or try one the more edgy rolls that are a specialty here.
With pizza, calzones, salads and breadsticks, Cosmo's Pizza earns an honorable this year, together with the Dark Horse, where beer, burgers and tasty curly fries reign.
Reader & Staff Pick: V.G. Burgers
3267 28th St., 303-440-2400
Runner-up: Panera Bread
Honorable Mention: California Pizza Kitchen, 7 Eurobar
You'd think that a fast-food joint winning Boulder's vote for Best New Restaurant would be a sign of the much ballyhooed Apocalypse. But what if that restaurant used only organic ingredients? And what if all those ingredients were made from vegetables and not animals? You'd have to back off a few notches on the Apocalyptometer. This year V.G. Burgers grabs top honors in a category often reserved for fine dining. Serving up fast food that health- and environment-conscious Boulderites can stomach, V.G. Burgers offers an array of burgers and dogs made of organic vegetable products, together with fries and shakes. If burgers aren't your thing, choose from one of the signature soups or chili.
They say variety is the spice of life. So make sure you spend part of your life at Panera Bread, our runner-up in this category. Whether you are looking for fresh bakery items or a filling lunch, this is the place to be. Panera serves sandwiches, soups, salads and pizzas with flair.
7 Eurobar gives diners an elegant setting to indulge in an Asian fusion menu. From Beverly Hills to Boulder, The California Pizza Kitchen is now serving its Left Coast twist on the traditional pizza and other innovative pastas and salads to the Boulder market.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Kitchen
1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973
Runner-up: Frasca Food and Wine
With recognition in the Appetizers/Tapas and Business Lunch categories, they're doing something right at The Kitchen. Maybe it's the upstairs wine lounge with its seasonal fare. Maybe it's the ever-changing dinner menu. Maybe it's the fresh ingredients. Maybe it's the service and the dedication to green business practices. Whatever it is, the combination of fresh food, good wine and an upbeat urban feel earns this neighborhood bistro top 2007 honors. Chefs/owners Kimbal Musk and Hugo Matheson and their staff have reason to celebrate.
Frasca Food and Wine became a Boulder favorite the moment its doors opened. Serving food inspired by the culinary traditions of Italy's Friuli region, Frasca offers a seasonal menu made with organic ingredients, working whenever possible with local farmers. Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, one of Boulder's most recognized and award-winning chefs, has definitely found a way to showcase his talents.
Reader & Staff Pick: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun Pub & Brewery
1535 Pearl St., Boulder, 303-546-0886
627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886
Runner-up: Walnut Brewery
Winning Best Microbrewery in Boulder is pretty much like taking home Best Picture at the Oscars. We don't know the exact numbers, but our diligent statisticians tell us there are approximately a bajillion microbreweries in Boulder. That's a lot. With all that competition, the Mountain Sun Brewery manages to keep ahead of the pack by producing dozens of popular standards and new favorites every year. They are so popular, in fact, that they opened up a new establishment in 2002. The Southern Sun is located on Table Mesa, right across the street from the Boulder Weekly—and if you come by at noon on Fridays, you can catch the B-dub staff throwing back pints at lunch. (Just kidding, Stewart. We usually wait until at least 2 before we start drinking.)
The Walnut Brewery is part of the Rock Bottom Restaurants chain, which includes Old Chicago, Sing-Sing and Chophouse restaurants. And it's a favorite haunt for Boulderites who want to bend their elbows in a relaxed atmosphere. Located in the former City Electric building, right around the corner from the Pearl Street Mall, Walnut has a variety of traditional favorites, as well as original beers created by their brew master Rod Taylor. And if you don't have time to stop and chat, you can always grab a Growler to go for just $7.95.
Reader Pick: Sushi Zanmai
1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733
Staff Pick: Japango
1136 Pearl St., 303-938-0330
Runner-up: Hapa Sushi
Honorable Mention: Sushi Tora
Boulder County residents are serious about their sushi, and their appetite for sushi, sashimi and other treats from the sea supports a number of first-rate sushi restaurants. Sushi Zanmai tops our reader poll this year, scoring high on both food and fun. Watch chefs prepare original treats like their Colorado Roll (raw filet mignon), LSD (lettuce shrimp deluxe) or their Amigo Roll (baked fish with jalapeño) at the sushi bar or beside your table. Enjoy lunch specials and sushi happy-hour specials, and stay late for the Saturday night karaoke sing-along, hosted from 10 p.m. to midnight.
B-dub staffers have a soft spot for Japango, which serves a mean platter of sushi in a fun, contemporary atmosphere. Try the lunch sashimi platter and feel the salmon and yellowtail melt on your tongue. Or sample one of their many Bento Box options. Or order ala carte off their sushi menu. Japango also offers a kids' menu for the little fish-eaters in your life.
The in-crowd can be found at the ever-popular Hapa Sushi on any given night. With two locations in Boulder—one on Pearl Street and one on the Hill—Hapa offers a wide range of bowls, salads and sushi options, including rolls with names like Foreplay, Orgasm and Multiple Orgasm. And, yes, it was good for us. Thanks for asking. Earning honorable mention this year, Sushi Tora offers fresh, delicious food in a small and intimate setting. The Magic Mushrooms appetizer is a great start to the always-fresh entrée items that will keep you coming back for more.
Reader & Staff Pick: Sunflower
1701 Pearl St., 303-440-0220
Runner-up: Whole Foods
Honorable Mention: V.G. Burgers
Sunflower takes vegetarian cuisine to new heights, combining concern for health and the environment with fine dining. The produce is certified organically grown, and the vegetarian dishes are prepared without any kind of animal product, making them suitable for vegans, too. And if your family includes carnivores, they can enjoy the seafood, free-range poultry and game meats, as well as the hormone- and antibiotic-free beef.
From the deli to your regular grocery items, Whole Foods gives Boulderites an open marketplace to search for their vegetarian favorites. With its award-winning salad bar, olive bar, gourmet cheeses and top-notch produce section, Whole Foods is vegetarian nirvana.
Newcomer V.G. Burgers offers a wide range of fast-food favorites—burgers, hot dogs, fries and shakes—without a single bit of meat on the menu.
Reader & Staff Pick: Snarf's
2049 Pearl St., 303-444-7766
1087 14th St., 303-444-7714
5340 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-3404
Runner-up: Salvaggio's Italian Deli
Honorable Mention: Deli Zone
Snarf's is one aptly named sandwich shop. When you get there and your head fills with the aromas of toasting bread, spices, olive oil and fresh lunch meats—capicola, corned beef brisket, roasted turkey—that's exactly what you'll want to do. (And "Snarf's" just sounds better than "Pigout's" or "Face Stuffer's"). This is Snarf's second year at the top of the heap. With salads, soups, plentiful desserts and lots of vegetarian options, it's likely to remain a local favorite as long as its doors are open.
A little Italian flair for your sandwich? Salvaggio's Italian Deli serves Boulder signature sandwiches with bread baked daily and freshly sliced meat. The hardest part of eating at Salvaggio's is making up your mind.
You don't have to go to New York to get a sandwich that makes you feel like you are in the Big Apple. With names like "The Guiliani" and "Queens Blvd," the Deli Zone makes a sandwich that will have you coming back again and again and again. The sandwiches are just as flavorful as the names with a ton of fixings that will definitely satisfy your lunchtime cravings.
Reader & Staff Pick: Siamese Plate
3033 28th St., 303-444-3133
1575 Folsom St., 303-447-9718
Runner-up: China Gourmet, Jimmy & Drew's 28th Street Deli (tie)
Honorable Mention: Khow Thai
You don't have to agree on what to eat if you want to get take-out with your work buddies. At Siamese Plate they have Japanese and Thai under one roof, ensuring that there's something for everyone. Diversity is obviously important to Boulderites, and with nearly 200 items on the menu, choice is what it's all about.
For no-frills Chinese food and quick service, China Gourmet is tops. Tucked away in North Boulder, it offers hot, fresh food, ranging from traditional Chinese to more Americanized options. Tied for runner-up is Jimmy & Drew's 28th Street Deli, a recent addition to the Boulder area. Offering true Big Apple-style fare, most of which is made on site, this is an emerging favorite.
Readers give local hot spot Khow Thai, with its award-winning Thai menu, an honorable mention. Don't forget to get a cup of that Thai iced tea to go.
Reader & Staff Pick: Khow Thai Café
1600 Broadway, 303-447-0273
Runner-up: Siamese Plate
Honorable Mention: Thai Basil, Chy Thai
Khow Thai Café, which has topped this category five years running, has a little something for everybody. Vegetarians and carnivores alike can partake of their delicious curries and stir fries, and whether you like to walk on the mild side of Thai cuisine (the delightful Sweet & Sour Stir Fry with cucumber, tomato and pineapple) or prefer it spicy (the out-of-this-world Sriracha Noodle Stir Fry), Khow Thai has got a platter to fit your palate. No matter what you choose, all the entrees at Khow Thai taste better with a refreshing—and uplifting—glass of their Thai iced tea.
Want to travel through Asia but can't afford the flight? Get a sampling of the continent's many culinary flavors at Siamese Plate, where you can enjoy Thai and Japanese cuisine as well as sushi. Siamese Plate also offers a wide selection of meats with its entrees, including duck and lobster. And with two locations in Boulder and one in Louisville, the Far East is never far away.
Looking for old-world flavor with modern culinary flair? Try Thai Basil, which offers Asian fusion cuisine and was voted co-honorable mention. Chy Thai, the other honorable mention, is the new kid on the block, but has made an excellent first impression. Their Royal Curry is to die for, and their Thai iced tea is some of the best in the city. And for a unique dessert, try the Sweet Sticky Rice and Mango.
Reader & Staff Pick: Purple Martini
1710 29th St., #1C, 1-877-4VODKA-1, dial 33 for Boulder
Runner-up: Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge
Boulder. The word just smacks of earth-loving vegetarian hippies who eat granola and smell like goat cheese. We love it—that's why we live here. But sometimes you just want to escape Boulder's Polar fleece and Smartwool and go cosmopolitan. You could buy a plane ticket to New York, but you can also put on your chinos and drive (or bike, if you're concerned about the environment) to Purple Martini.
Two steps in the door, and you'll forget all about granola. Purple Martini's décor is sophisticated, and its diverse clientele will make you forget you're in one of the most homogenous cities in the United States. Add a little Grey Goose Vodka, and you've got a passport to the world—or the state, depending on how large your wallet is.
Runner-up Trilogy Wine Bar is a perennial martini favorite with B-dub readers. Just off Pearl Street, Trilogy offers great happy hour specials, as well as awesome drink names, such as "Chocolatini," "Sextini" and "Dancing Queen." If you're up for the ride of a lifetime, try all three drinks in rapid progression. We hear it's a great way to make new friends.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
1770 13th St., 303-442-4993
Runner-up: Pekoe Sip House
Honorable Mention: Celestial Seasonings, Tea Spot
No surprises in this category. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse isn't just a teahouse, it's a work of art and a testament to the ability of people to reach across borders and political boundaries. The result of a sister-city exchange between Boulder and the former Soviet Union city of Dushanbe—now part of Tajikistan—the teahouse is the most colorful building in town, representing three years of painstaking work on the part of more than 40 woodcarvers, craftsmen and artisans from Dushanbe. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to Tea Time from 3 to 5 p.m. each day, the Teahouse offers a menu that combines flavors from around the world—a truly unique dining experience. And did we mention flavorful, exotic teas? Yes, they serve those, too, and in glorious abundance.
A newcomer to Boulder, the Pekoe Sip House offers Boulder's tea connoisseurs more than 100 loose-leaf teas in addition to espresso, baked goods, sandwiches and tea accessories. It's a great place to enjoy a cup of tranquility on a busy day.
The Tea Spot offers a small selection of blended loose-leaf teas and steeping accessories and shares honorable mention this year with homegrown favorite Celestial Seasonings.
Reader & Staff Pick: Chez Thuy
2655 28th St., 303-442-1700
Runner-up: May Wah
Longtime local fave Chez Thuy serves large portions at a moderate price, offering a menu of traditional Vietnamese dishes and American favorites that will leave your taste buds tingling. The crystal rolls are a great starter, but make sure you leave room for one of the many seafood entrees or vegetarian hot pots. The Vietnamese coffee is to die for. And if you have room after all of that, we recommend the fried banana.
May Wah is this year's runner-up, serving both Vietnamese and Chinese fare in the Baseline Shopping Center.
Reader & Staff Pick: Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl St., 303-442-6966
Runner-up: The Flagstaff House
Honorable Mention: Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge
Italians have long been known for their love of fine wine, and Frasca Food & Wine shares that passion with its devoted public. The cellar at Frasca contains 200 varieties, focusing on the wines of the Friuli region of Italy and includes bottles from acclaimed vineyards and reserves from lesser-known regions and winemakers. Most Monday nights, this fine restaurant offers wine pairing nights with a featured wine makers, enabling wine lovers to sample different wines paired with the perfect meal.
With one of the largest wine cellars in the state at more than 20,000 bottles, the Flagstaff House is known internationally for its award-winning wine list. You don't have to know a thing about wine to appreciate the expertise of the restaurant's wine buyer and sommelier. If wine is the gift of the gods, then the Flagstaff House is the gods' gift to Boulder.
For the casual hip crowd that can be found wandering the streets in Boulder on any given night, the Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge earns an honorable mention. Perhaps it is the endless glass happy hour that draws the crowd or the live music that can be heard while you enjoy your Pinot Grigio.
Reader & Staff Pick: Laudisio Ristorante
1710 29th St. #1076, 303-442-1300
Honorable Mention: Dagabi Cucina
The winds of change have blown through Boulder, converting the abandoned lot of Crossroads Mall into Twenty Ninth Street. In the process, Boulder's best Italian restaurant, Laudisio Ristorante Italiano, moved from its longtime North Boulder digs to the shiny open-air chic of the new mall and took a new name, L's. But what hasn't changed is the restaurant's world-class Italian fare and award-winning wine selection. Whether located in North Boulder or on the main drag of a hip new shopping center, L's will transport you and your taste buds to old Italy.
Carelli's deserves to place in any Best of Boulder listing simply because of the great, unpretentious Italian fare its been serving up for more than a decade. But Carelli's gets bonus points for its most recent addition—a crêperia. The restaurant serves up crêpes both sweet and savory, and whichever your flavor—or if you've just come for the pasta—be sure and pair it with one of the restaurant's many fine wines.
At Dagabi Cucina, this year's honorable mention, you can enjoy tapas for lighter fare, a martini menu for those warm summer nights, or take advantage of their fine Italian dinner offerings for a hearty meal.
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CULTURE, SPORTS & SCENE
Reader & Staff Pick: Naropa University
2130 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-0202
Runner-up: CU Continuing Education
Honorable Mention: Front Range Community College, Boulder College of Massage Therapy
The U.S. Census shows there are more people with college degrees and advanced college degrees in Boulder than in any other American city, making us the smartest (or at least the most educated) town in the nation. B-dub readers are some of the smartest people in Boulder, so they must be right when they say Naropa University is the best place to expand your horizons. Providing programs designed to develop mind, body and spirit, Naropa's Buddhist-based approach reveals the difference between simply learning stuff and truly raising your consciousness.
Afraid you might stick out like a sore thumb among the droves of undergrads on the CU campus? Don't be! Receiving the runner-up, CU Continuing Education is the place to turn to feel right at home, whether you are hoping to learn a new hobby, looking for a personal enrichment course or deciding to finish up your B.A. after 10 years of raising kids.
Front Range Community College offers a community college setting with doors open to all, and Boulder College of Massage Therapy helps its students put their compassion into action.
ALTERNATIVE HEALTH CARE
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder College of Massage Therapy
6255 Longbow Dr., 303-530-2100
Runner-up: People's Clinic
Thinking it's time to give your body the attention it needs? Whether you are stressed out from work or aching from your last climb up a 14-er, the Boulder College of Massage Therapy can get you back to your former cheerful self. Massage not only helps to relieve pain, it can improve circulation and boost your immune system. Consider either a Zen Shiatsu, Swedish, Normalization or Deep Tissue massage in one of the 12 serene treatment rooms. With prices under $50 for a massage from a highly trained student, treating your body won't hurt your pocket book.
Don't feel like you can't get the health care you need because you might be strapped for cash? Boulder's lower-income residents and those without health insurance can lean on the People's Clinic when it comes to primary and preventative health services. Even though it's merging with Clinica Campesina, People's Clinic will continue to provide a truly Boulder approach to our nation's health-care crisis.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Runner-up: Art & Soul Gallery
Honorable Mention: Boulder Arts & Craft Gallery, The Dairy Center for the Arts
Some of the greatest cultures in human history emphasized art as one of the highest of human pursuits. Sadly, our culture isn't one of them. But Boulder County residents don't have to feel deprived. There are lots of galleries throughout the county offering us opportunities to humanize ourselves. The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art is dedicated to the presentation of everything artistic and meaningful. Local, regional and even national and international artwork graces the walls of this longstanding Boulder institution. Local artists are given their chance to display their work on the Open Wall once a week, and don't miss the resident performance group, Theatre 13.
Whose got soul? The Art & Soul Gallery, that's who. It is the infusion of soul into each piece that makes this a Boulder favorite. The showcase of fine art, sculpture, crafts and jewelry earns this Boulder gallery runner-up.
The honorable mention winners in this category offer the public two distinct art experiences. The Boulder Arts & Crafts showcases the works of 42 artists that continually lure pedestrians in from the Pearl Street Mall. The Dairy Center for the Arts has a gallery and photo wall that continually showcase the work of up-and-coming artists. The Dairy Center also features a permanent space for varying art exhibits throughout the year.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Joint
2525 Arapahoe Ave., Suite 2, 303-440-8019
Runner-up: Café of Life
Honorable Mention: Whole Body Balance
Chiropractic isn't about just getting rid of that ache in your back. It's about improving your overall health and preventing dis-ease. The Joint offers chiropractic treatment, including $20 walk-in adjustments, for everyone in the family. With packages for corrective treatment and maintenance, as well as a family plan, The Joint can align your spine and help your body function more fully without putting your bank account out of whack.
Another favorite among B-dub readers, Café of Life wants you to enjoy not just good health, but outrageously good health. Its practitioners focus on athletes, children and families. Whole Body Balance deserves an honorable mention for its therapeutic services that include not only chiropractic care, but also acupuncture and Rolfing.
Reader & Staff Pick: Colorado Music Festival
900 Baseline Rd., Cottage 100, 303-449-1397
Runner-up: Boulder Philharmonic
Honorable Mention: Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Every summer classical music lovers converge on Chautauqua Park to enjoy the Colorado Music Festival. Highlights from this summer's festival, taking place between June 23-Aug. 3, include world-renowned percussionist Collin Currie, the Colorado premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's flamenco opera Ainadamar, a chamber orchestra performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. Renowned pianist Simon Trpceski and internationally acclaimed klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer will also perform. If anything tops the beauty of classical music in a historic mountain setting, we don't know what it is.
Each season, Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra performs classical masterpieces and new compositions and features prominent guest artists, like Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma. The BPO is also committed to educating children about the beauty of classical music through its Partners in Education program and its special Family Concert series.
The Colorado Symphony Orchestra is the region's only full-time professional symphony orchestra, bringing classical music to the stage and to radio audiences across the state. Its 2006-2007 season concludes in June with a performance by Frank Sinatra, Jr.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Ballet
2590 Walnut St., 303-443-0028
Runner-up: Frequent Flyers
Honorable Mention: Lemon Sponge Cake
Earning recognition in both the Live Dance Group and Dance Studio categories, Boulder Ballet has grown to become Boulder County's largest professional dance company and school. Performances are accompanied by music from the Boulder Philharmonic, including the annual holiday performance of The Nutcracker, a local tradition. Boulder Ballet performs at both historic Macky Auditorium and the Dairy Center for the Arts, but they can also be seen at many festivals and special events in the area. Runner-up Frequent Flyers dazzles audiences and defies gravity with aerial performances on a vertical stage—the trapeze. Lemon Sponge Cake tests the limits of classical technique with contemporary pointe moves, keeping the art of ballet fresh.
Reader & Staff Pick: Motion Underground
2691 30th St., 303-786-7660
Runner-up: Boulder Ballet
Honorable Mention: Ballet Nouveau, Alchemy of Movement
Want to dip it, pop it, t'work it, stop it but don't have the faintest idea what that means? From hip hop to breaking to tap to jazz, Motion Underground has classes that will improve your moves, while giving you a top-notch workout. Individual classes are available, as are 10-punch cards. There are beginning classes for adults, too, so you don't have to worry about having some 9-year-old showing you up.
It might be to late too realize your childhood dream of becoming a ballerina, but you can still learn how to do a plié. Runner-up Boulder Ballet offers classes for all ages and levels. Melding classical technique with innovative, modern moves, Ballet Nouveau earns an honorable mention for best dance studio. The other winner in this category, Alchemy of Movement, is sure to improve your grace and coordination, not to mention your fitness level, with its variety of unconventional dance classes.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Smiles
1636 16th St., 303-443-4417
North Boulder Dental (tie)
2601 N Broadway, 303-447-1042
Runner-up: Family Dental Care, Tara Rathburn
Honorable Mention: Susan Takemoto
Be honest now. When was the last time you went to the dentist? If it's been so long that you can't remember, then pay close attention. Boulder Smiles focuses on aesthetic and cosmetic dentistry, improving the appearance of your teeth. Check out the clinic's Smile Gallery for stunning before-and-after photos. North Boulder Dental is a full-service family practice clinic that offers everything from gentle care for tykes to full restorative service for adults who've never brushed their teeth. Runner-up, Dr. Tara Rathburn is centrally located on Broadway and provides services for the whole family. Susan Takemoto earns an honorable mention for keeping Boulderites smiling bright.
Reader & Staff Pick: Essentiels Spa
2600 Canyon Blvd., 303-440-0711
Runner-up: St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Honorable Mention: Sensorielle, Gold Lake Mountain Resort and Spa
There's nothing like a pedicure, massage or a facial to make the world seem right again. With the wide selection of day spas that offer everything from hair care to manicures to facials, Boulder County residents have no excuse for feeling stressed. Topping this year's list of local oases is Essentiels Spa. This ocean-themed spa offers a full range of hair and skin-care options, together with spa treatments. Slip away with an all-day package or simply stop in for a massage or a body detox in a thermal bed. With names like "Head to Toe Sensations" and "Day of Decadence" that evoke images of bliss, St. Julien earns the runner-up position. Sensorielle has packages to pamper everyone from the bride-to-be to new mothers to athletes in need of TLC. If you are up for a seaweed body wrap or aromatic steam bath, head to Ward to check out the Gold Lake Spa.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Creek Festival
Runner-up: Boulder County Farmers Market
A perennial winner in this category, the Boulder Creek Festival is an annual rite of passage from spring to summer. Memorial Day weekend transforms the Boulder Creek area into a spectacle. With carnival rides for the kids, the always-intriguing booths, food and live music at the Band Shell in Central Park, you'll keep yourself and your kids entertained all day. Oh, and don't forget to buy a rubber duck to cheer down the creek in hopes of being the first to cross the finish line.
You can sink your teeth into the idea of eating only organic and locally grown fruits and veggies at Boulder County Farmers Market. Held in Central Park on Saturday from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m. during the spring and summer, the Farmers Market offers locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as gourmet cheeses, wines and tasty baked goods and meals prepared by local chefs.
Reader & Staff Pick: KBCO Studio C
2500 Pearl St., Suite 315, 303-444-5600
Runner-up: Exotica Erotica
Honorable Mention: Chocolate Lovers' Fling
Local and national artists alike give Boulderites a flavor of their live performances in KBCO Studio C to benefit the Boulder County Aids Project (BCAP). Hit names like Sarah McLachlan, Elvis Costello and Sheryl Crow have followed in the footsteps of Melissa Ethridge, who was the first to perform at KBCO Studio C. Music lovers have flocked to purchase the latest edition of each new CD for the past 18 years, demonstrating their support for BCAP's mission.
The Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) has been hosting a sensual and artsy ball for 15 years now to support museum programs. Sexy costumes are a must at Exotica Erotica, where you will be treated to great music, sensual videos and exotic photographs. Everyone loves chocolate, and there's no better reason to stuff your face with gourmet chocolate than to support the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence at the annual Chocolate Lovers' Fling, this year's honorable mention. (Hint: Calories don't count when it's for a good cause.)
Reader & Staff Pick: Flatirons Golf Course
5706 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-7851
Runner-up: Haystack Mountain Golf Course
Honorable Mention: Indian Peaks Golf Course
What do America's top executives of Fortune 500 and nearly every president of the U.S. have in common? An uncanny devotion to the game of golf. According to Raymond J. Keating who wrote Fore: Watch out for Governmental Golf!, the terminology on the golf course would serve as a perfect metaphor for the ups and downs for leaders of the free world and mega-corporations. Take for instance these common terms: birdies, bogies, eagles, hooks, slices, buried lies, the rough, traps and bunkers, the left-to-right fade, the right-to-left draw, the yips, the dreaded shank, and the gimmes.
Boulder County might not host visiting government elites, but we do have a fine selection of golf courses for golf enthusiasts to choose from. Flatirons Golf Course maintains its place as the staff and reader favorite for yet another year. Flatirons Golf Course has been the premier public golf course in Boulder since the 1930s. Runner-up Haystack Mountain, a 9-hole course, is situated next to Left Hand Creek, which provides a serene backdrop. Just a short drive to Lafayette, and you are rewarded an 18-hole course at Indian Peaks, which naturally provides breathtaking views of the mountains for which it is named. After your game, check out the great food at the Peaks Bar & Grill.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Parlour
1037 Walnut St., 303-444-3747
Runner-up: Urban Pearl
Honorable Mention: On Broadway, Great Clips
Everyone who has ever had hair knows that finding the perfect stylist can prove more challenging than finding a good lover. One of the 22 stylists at The Parlour's full-service salon is sure to be your perfect match, whether you are looking for a new cut or want to change your hair color. In fact, The Parlour gives such good trims that some of Boulder's pickiest lock lovers refuse to go anywhere else.
This year's runner-up is about the art on your head, on your skin and in your mind. You can get a new 'do at Urban Pearl, and then get ink done at Rising Tide Tattoo, located in the back. You can even purchase a piece of the fine art displayed on the salon's walls. On Broadway is an Aveda salon that provides not only hair care, but a chance to pamper the rest of your body with massage, facials and waxing. The second honorable mention, Great Clips, is certainly your best choice when looking for an affordable, walk-in cut from a trained stylist.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Rock Club
2829 Mapleton Ave., 303-447-2804
Runner-up: The Spot Bouldering Gym
Need a place to hang? The Boulder Rock Club is the best and oldest indoor climbing gym in Boulder. The adult and youth classes give everyone a starting place and a way to improve their climbing. BCR also hosts other fun special events and birthday parties. The legendary route settings at the Boulder Rock Club, ranging from beginner quality to 5.14a, will get your adrenaline pumping and give you a great workout.
The Spot Bouldering Gym is this year's runner-up for those wanting to get vertical. Enjoy one of the freestanding boulders that soar up to 18 feet high, or check out the 25-foot roped climbing wall. Renowned in the climbing world, The Spot gives bouldering junkies and rock jocks lots of ways to challenge themselves.
Reader & Staff Pick: Beyer Laser Center
1810 30th St., Suite B, 303-499-2020
Runner-up: Insight Lasik
Honorable Mention: Eyecare Center
Dr. Craig Beyer of Beyer Laser Center has performed thousands of LASIK refractive surgeries and has been in the business longer than any other surgeon in Colorado. Anyone who has had this procedure done at Beyer Laser Center can tell you that this is the clear choice when it comes to LASIK surgery.
The docs at InSight Lasik, this year's runner-up, will make sure that you're comfortable with your surgery before, during and afterward. Drs. Jimmy Jackson and Keith Miller will do a full screening beforehand. Their experience ensures that you'll get the outcome you desire. Dr. Dennis Dupuis of the Eyecare Center of Boulder specializes in both contact lenses and LASIK surgery.
LIVE DANCE GROUP
Reader & Staff Pick: Frequent Flyers Productions
2590 Walnut St., Suite 5, 303-245-8272
Runner-up: Boulder Ballet
Honorable Mention: Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet
Take a flying leap with Colorado's famous aerial dance-theatre company. Founded and directed by Nancy Smith, Frequent Flyers Productions has been awing audiences since 1988 with their flying trapeze and aerial stunts. They even performed for Cirque du Soleil in Montreal in 2005. Whether indoors or out, the flying apparatus and unique dance experience ensure a Frequent Flyer's performance will linger in your memory, earning it the distinction of best live dance group. If you really like what you see, check out the only international Dance Festival produced by the Frequent Flyers every August. For two weeks, the festival showcases classes, workshops, community activities and performances.
Boulder Ballet will make you want to get up on your toes with its breathtaking performances created under the artistic direction of Ana Claire and Peter Davison. This distinguished ballet company has been providing Boulderites with stunning performances for a quarter century now. This summer they are offering free admission to "Sunday in the Park" performances as a thank you to the community for its support of dance.
Ballet with pizzazz! If you like your ballet with a modern touch, the Lemon Sponge Cake Contemporary Ballet is right up your alley. A combination of contemporary pointe with modern movements paired with an array of music, the honorable mention in this category is sure to leave you feeling satisfied after a performance. Choreographer and artistic director, Robert Sher-Machherndl, aims to create a dance experience that is influenced by our times.
Reader & Staff Pick: Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge
2017 13th St., 303-473-WINE
Runner-up: St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Honorable Mention: Redfish Fish House and Brewery
The performance space in Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge is the perfect venue for jazz music. It's dark, the acoustics are fantastic, and it's got that secretive, speak-easy atmosphere that makes you feel like you're hanging out in Prohibition Era Chicago. The only things they're missing are the tommy-gun wielding gangsters and the cloud of blue cigarette smoke that usually follow jazz musicians wherever they go. However, until scientists discover a method for transforming cig smoke into biodegradable prairie dog food, the smoking ban is probably not going to be lifted in Boulder.
St. Julien has a brighter, cozier atmosphere for their jazz performances. Customers are invited to order a drink, relax and enjoy the music in an intimate setting. Few people know this, but Saint Julien is actually the patron saint of smokin' saxophone solos. It's true. But don't ask anyone from the Catholic Church about this; they'll just deny it.
One fish, two fish, Redfish, blue fish. What? You didn't know Dr. Seuss was a fan of the Redfish? It's true. He used to hang out at the bar and listen to jazz and talk about Sneetches all the time. OK, OK, that's not technically true. But if the good Doctor ever came to Boulder, we're pretty sure that he'd enjoy jazz at the Redfish. It seems like his kind of place.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Dinner Theatre
5501 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6000
Runner-up: Dairy Center for Performing Arts
Dinner, drinks and dessert while taking in a Broadway musical... It doesn't get better than that. That is why the Boulder Dinner Theatre has again claimed the distinction of Best Live Theatre in Boulder. For more than two decades, the Boulder Dinner Theatre has brought singing, dancing and drama together with good food. Tables surround the stage, and meals are served by the cast, providing an intimate atmosphere—and a feast for all your senses, from the meal to the performance.
From improv to theatre staples like Romeo and Juliet, the Dairy Center for Performing Arts provides Boulder a chance to experience a wide variety of theatrical performances, in addition to other art forms from dance to art installations.
Reader & Staff Pick: Zip Code Man
Runner-up: Big Head Todd & the Monsters
Honorable Mention: Hazel Miller
Who really cares about a man who can guess a zip code just by hearing the name of a city? Boulder Weekly readers, that's who. They have voted the Zip Code Man the best local celebrity many times. Look for him next time you are cruising the Pearl Street Mall. He may be disguised as a juggler, but don't be fooled because that isn't his only talent.
Big Head Todd and The Monsters might be famous, but they haven't turned their backs on the locals. They still do shows at local venues like the Fox, KBCO Studio C and Red Rocks. Honorable mention Hazel Miller and her sultry voice continue to draw crowds along the Front Range.
Reader & Staff Pick: Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Runner-up: Hazel Miller, Devotchka (tie)
Big Head Todd and the Monsters have been filling local venues since the early 1990s. With a bluesy sound that feels like Boulder, Big Head Todd pack Red Rocks for a special summer concert every year.
Runner-up Hazel Miller has been treating audiences in Colorado to her vocal talents for nearly two decades. For a listen with a more edgy feel, Devotchka is truly an auditory treat. Blends of indie, jazz, folk and a host of other musical influences offer a sound that's unlike anything you've experienced before.
MARTIAL ARTS STUDIO
Reader & Staff Pick: Easton Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
1750 30th St., Unit 22, 303-938-1275
Runner-up: Boulder Quest Center
Honorable Mention: Way of the Crane
"You have failed no one Grasshopper, only your own ambition."
How awesome was the original Kung-Fu movie? Answer: Pretty damn awesome!
Building your self-awareness while learning moves that give you the ability to protect yourself and others is the beauty of martial arts. And that's what they're offering at Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. With beginning, intermediate and advanced classes for both children and adults, they have opportunities for all skill levels. You will learn lessons about self-respect and fairness in addition to practicing moves that will tone your body and prepare your mind. Boulder Quest Center, this year's runner-up, draws on ancient methods you can use in the modern world in their To-Shin Martial Arts and Blue Lotus Assembly Meditation Programs, where you'll empower yourself by learning how to deal with conflict. Training body, mind and spirit by enhancing self-defense abilities and learning to transcend the need to use violence is the aim of Way of the Crane.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder College of Massage Therapy
6255 Longbow Dr., 303-530-2100
There are few things in this world that are pure. Kittens, rainbows, unicorns—OK, so maybe there are a few things. But, as anyone who's worked for 40 hours behind a desk can tell you, getting a good massage is about as close as you can get to pure bliss.
We know, we know. In Boulder, there are about as many massage therapists as there are Subarus. That's why Boulder College of Massage Therapy is a sure bet for getting the best massage. Those on a budget will benefit from a visit to the student clinic, which offers reduced rates and serves as a practicing ground for Boulder's future Subaru-driving, muscle-kneading massage therapists.
Coming in at a close second place is Massagespecialsts.com, which offers same-day appointments and a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Boulder's elite athletes and weekend warriors rave about the center's top-notch sports therapists, who are knowledgeable and friendly. Those in Denver can take advantage of Massagespecialists' new center at 70 Broadway.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Community Hospital
1100 Balsam Ave., 303-440-2273
311 Mapleton Ave., 303-440-2273
4747 Arapahoe Ave., 720-854-7000
Runner-up: Boulder Medical Center
Whether you're experiencing a personal baby boom or recovering from an attempt to test gravity, Boulder Community Hospital (BCH) provides well-trained doctors and nurses to assist you and your family. With three campuses in Boulder that provide specialty services and a remote campus in Lafayette, BCH is within your reach. The main location is best known for its cardiology and neurology services, but it also has an emergency department and intensive-care unit. The Mapleton facility provides behavioral health services, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for brain injuries, chronic pain and pediatric rehabilitation, a sleep disorders clinic and sports medicine. The Foothills Hospital provides mainly maternity and pediatric care, along with emergency, intensive-care and surgery departments. The facility is also a "green" facility and was the first hospital in the U.S. to earn LEED certification for its high-performance, sustainable design. Runner-up Boulder Medical Center also has three convenient locations where their doctors and nurses provide comprehensive, multi-specialty care.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Theater
2032 14th St., 303-786-7030
Runner-up: AMC Flatiron Crossing
Honorable Mention: Landmark Crossroads
Three words: movies and alcohol. You haven't really seen The Big Lebowski until you've watched it surrounded by 200 disheveled Boulderites dressed in ratty bathrobes who are sucking down Caucasians faster than a pack of alcoholic Russians. "The Dude abides, man." The Boulder Theater is not a heartless, corporate movie house. It's more of a family atmosphere—if your family happens to own a giant movie screen, a kick-ass sound system and a full bar. Going to the movies shouldn't be just something you do because you're bored on Saturday night—it should be an event. The Boulder Theater brings the magic back to the movie house.
If you like options, the AMC Flatiron Crossing is the theater for you. With 13 screens to choose from, your movie choices are virtually unlimited. (Actually, that's not true; they're limited to 13.) This state-of-the-art facility is located in Broomfield, and it has all the amenities for your cinematic experience, including drinks, movies, video games and large, cardboard cutouts of your favorite movie stars in the lobby.
Landmark Crossroads is one of the last remaining multiplexes in Boulder. Located on 30th Street, right next to the Barnes & Noble, Landmark has a modern facility with a friendly, local atmosphere. You'll find a full concession stand in the lobby and plenty of your favorite flicks to choose from.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art
1750 13th St., 303-443-2122
Runner-up: Leanin' Tree
Honorable Mention: Boulder History Museum
Earning both Best Museum and Best Art Gallery, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art proves that Boulder truly is an artsy place. Providing a showcase for both local and national artists since the 1970s, this arts facility provides not only great exhibits, but also compelling live theater and gallery shows. It's a museum and performing arts space rolled into one funky package.
Greeting-card-inspired art? That is what you will get at the Leanin' Tree. After selling greeting cards with a distinctive western feel, the founder of this card company, Ed Trumble, began collecting works from the greeting-card artists and displaying them. The collection now has a catalogue of nearly 100 Western artists.
Tucked amid the beautiful homes that populate The Hill is a treasure that displays artifacts unique to the Boulder area and rotating exhibits about Boulder's history. The Boulder History Museum earns an honorable for its commitment to telling the history of our unique (i.e., weird) city.
Reader & Staff Pick: Telluride Bluegrass Festival
Telluride, Colorado, 303-823-0848
Runner-up: Colorado Music Festival
Honorable Mention: RockyGrass
Every summer, bluegrass junkies flock to the Telluride Bluegrass Festival for a week of great music at altitude. The event features favorite performers like Emmylou Harris, Alison Kraus and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. With great music, a beautiful setting and a culture all its own, the Telluride Bluegrass festival has been drawing crowds for 34 years. Performers range from the new on the scene to those who have been favorites for years. Get ready to pack up your tents and head for the hills for the best music festival of the year.
The Colorado Music Festival draws classical music lovers to Chautauqua Park every summer. This summer the festival will feature world-renowned percussionist Colin Currie, pianist Simon Trpceski and clarinetist David Krakauer.
Yet another chance for bluegrass lovers, the RockyGrass Festival offers some cool time off from the heat of summer with three days of great music on the banks of the St. Vrain River near Lyons. This summer, look for Nickel Creek, David Grisman and Del McCoury and so many others.
Reader & Staff Pick: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison, 720-865-2494
Runner-up: Boulder Theater
Honorable Mention: The Fox Theatre, Chautauqua Auditorium
It's difficult to top an ampitheatre created by Mother Nature. This geological wonder is a unique phenomenon that will never be replicated anywhere else in the world. The large sandstone boulders surrounding the mountainous area have created a perfect acoustical/aesthetic venue. Since it's completion in 1947, Red Rocks Ampitheatre has been host to thousands of world-famous artists from the Beatles to the Killers. Pollster Magazine awarded Red Rocks best small outdoor venue 11 times in a row before finally giving up and designating the category the Red Rocks Award.
The Boulder Theater has been putting on musical performances since it was first opened under the name of the Curran Opera House in 1906. Today, the Boulder Theater is one of the best small music venues in the country, and its shows range from mellow reggae and bluegrass to eardrum-shattering rock. There's no such thing as a bad concert at the Boulder Theater; the place is just too damn cool.
After 15 years of hard work, the operators of the Fox Theatre have managed to make it a local institution. There's no doubt when you hit the Fox that you're going to see a killer show. The Fox brings in some of the best musicians in the country.
What would Boulder be without Chautauqua? A beautiful, serene venue, this historical spot exemplifies all that is special about our city.
Reader & Staff Pick: Humane Society of Boulder Valley
2323 55th St., 303-442-4030
Runner-up: Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence
Honorable Mention: EcoCycle
Boulder County residents love their furry friends, and the Humane Society provides an array of services for pets and strays. Dedicated to finding good homes for all of the creatures who come under their care, the friendly animal lovers at the Humane Society will help you make the right decision about pet adoption and help you as a new pet guardian to provide your critter with the best of care.
What initially began as a resource to provide safety and support for victims of domestic violence expanded into a mission to end other forms of social injustice that affect the lives of women. This has earned the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence a place in the hearts of Boulder Weekly readers, who recognize the need for community involvement to address the violence that impacts women and children.
Keeping Boulder's junk out of the landfill is EcoCycle's goal. Focused on achieving a zero-waste community, EcoCycle is always exploring ways of reducing, reusing and recycling the materials we cast aside.
PERFORMANCE ARTS VENUE
Reader & Staff Pick: Dairy Center for Performing Arts
2590 Walnut St., Suite 5, 303-440-7826
Runner-up: Boulder Theater
Honorable Mention: Macky Auditorium
From dance to theatre, music, film and spoken word, the massive space at the Dairy Center for Performing Arts has something for everyone to enjoy. If you haven't been to the Dairy Center lately, it is time to check out one the exceptional performances, art exhibits, dance concerts or installations hosted there.
A movie and a margarita? A play and a piña colada? A concert and a Cosmo? The Boulder Theater offers great music, recently released movies, and other performances in a small, intimate setting. And it has a full-service bar. How can you beat that?
Many of the Boulder's best perform at Macky Auditorium on the University of Colorado campus, including the Boulder Ballet. With the rich décor and stately setting, the Macky Auditorium lends an Old World feel to your theatre experience.
PLACE OF WORSHIP
Reader & Staff Pick: Outside/Mountains
Runner-up: Shambhala Center
Honorable Mention: Unity of Boulder
There's nothing more special about Boulder than its mountains. When it comes to communing with the Divine, Boulder residents prefer the mountains over a brick-and-mortar church. With their staggering beauty, our Mountain Parks lift both mind and spirit, offering respite from the real world—if Boulder can be called the real world—and a way to cleanse the soul. But take care of them. You wouldn't throw your trash on the floor of a cathedral, so don't litter here.
The Shambhala Center offers daily meditation and welcomes the community to partake in instructional sessions on meditation and Buddhist teachings. One of the fastest growing religions in the world, Buddhism has made its mark on Boulder.
Unity of Boulder earns an honorable mention for its weekly services, inspiring speakers, concerts and community events.
PLACE TO DANCE
Reader & Staff Pick: Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge
2017 13th St., 303-473-WINE
Runner-up: Fox Theatre
Honorable Mention: Boulder Theater
The disco days are gone—thank God! But people still love to dance, and in Boulder County, they love to dance at Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge. With the host of musical talents that perform there each week, Trilogy offers people a chance to enjoy a good glass of wine, a good meal and a chance to shake their groove thang.
From noodle dancing to belly dancing to whatever you call that thing you were doing, the dance floor at the Fox Theatre has seen it all. The Fox brings in a wide variety of bands, offering everyone from the hip-hop lover to the hipster a chance to show their style.
The Boulder Theater is another hot dance spot, with concerts and performances that include every musical taste.
PLACE TO SWIM
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Recreation Center
East Boulder Community Center
5660 Sioux Dr., 303-441-4400
North Boulder Community Center
3170 Broadway, 303-413-7260
South Boulder Community Center
1360 Gillaspie, 303-441-3448
Runner-up: Boulder Creek
Goggles? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Flip-flops?...
Uh-oh. Forgetting your flip-flops and having to walk barefoot to the swimming pool is the walk of death. You may get to swim, but who knows what foot diseases you'll contract in the process.
Fortunately, if you're at one of the Boulder Recreational Centers you have nothing to worry about. Boulder Rec Centers' pools are clean and well chlorinated. There are no gross Band-Aids floating at the bottom of the pool—or at the top for that matter. And while the lifeguards may be exponentially younger than you, they're also super-friendly.
While runner-up Boulder Creek isn't the best place to do laps—it's probably the worst—it is good for some summertime tubin'. Strap on your water wings, and pump up your innertube for some good, clean fun.
PLACE TO WORKOUT
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Recreation Center
East Boulder Community Center
5660 Sioux Dr., 303-441-4400
North Boulder Community Center
3170 Broadway, 303-413-7260
South Boulder Community Center
1360 Gillaspie, 303-441-3448
Runner-up: YMCA of Boulder Valley, Mapleton Center
Honorable Mention: Flatiron Athletic Club
Let's face it, Boulder is where the beautiful people live. While they may be affluent, Boulderites don't do the country club.
Then where do Boulderites go to see and be seen, you may ask?
Ah, yes, in Boulder your workout outfit is just as important, if not more important, than what you wear for the rest of the day. Well, if you're cruising for chicks or dudes it is. Reader and staff pick Boulder Recreation Center has top-notch workout facilities. The machines are new and clean, and its centers offer a plethora of classes—except maybe basket weaving, and that's not really a sport.
Runner-up YMCA of Boulder Valley Mapleton Center, offers reasonable membership fees and a great weight room. Flatiron Athletic Club is a good fit for the working professional who may have a few extra dollars in his or her pocket. A great location, clean facilities and friendly staff make this pick top of the list for many of Boulder's top athletes.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Foundry
1109 Walnut St., 303-447-1803
Runner-up: Sundown Saloon
If you want to get your pool on while listening to fresh beats produced by some of Boulder's best musical artists, The Foundry is definitely the place to be seen. With 11 full-sized billiards tables and the best equipment in town, this establishment has become a mecca for local pool junkies and a prime spot for deejays to cut their teeth. Every time you walk into The Foundry, it feels like a scene from The Color of Money. They also have a fully stocked bar and some prime chow coming out of the kitchen. Whether you prefer solids or stripes, The Foundry is the place to improve your game and your social life.
Gone are the days of the lonesome cowboy and his trusty six-shooter. If someone insults your integrity in the 21st century, you don't have a showdown at high noon, you either sue their ass or trash them on your MySpace blog. There just aren't enough saloons around anymore. It's good to know that the Sundown is carrying on the tradition. This underground spot is a great place to play pool or darts and throw back some sarsaparilla. And when you finish for the night, you can saddle up and mosey on home.
Reader & Staff Pick: Shining Mountain Waldorf
999 Violet Ave., 303-444-7697
Runner-up: Alexander Dawson
Honorable Mention: September School
When most think of private schools, they imagine preppy, uniformed students being primed to become future corporate criminals. Not so for the winners of this year's reader poll. The Shining Mountain Waldorf School provides a well-rounded academic education that encourages independent thinking. A college preparatory school, it offers students a complete education that includes the arts and foreign languages.
The Alexander Dawson School boasts the highest SAT scores in the area, making it a draw for students who are looking to make an impression on college admissions boards. Earning an honorable mention is the September School, which provides an alternative education for secondary students, offering small class sizes that allow students to develop in the areas in which they strive.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder High School
1604 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-2430
Runner-up: Eisenhower Elementary
Honorable Mention: Fairview High School
Boulder High School might have lost last fall's football showdown against Fairview, but once again B-dub readers have picked it as the best public school in the county. With a curriculum that welcomes everyone from the A overachiever to the immigrant teen who doesn't yet speak English, Boulder High and its politically active student body reflect the spirit of our town.
Eisenhower Elementary moves in to Fairview's spot from last year, showing that sometimes the little kids get one up on the big kids. Fairview High is an honorable mention this year. Known for its high SAT scores and its International Baccalaureate program, Fairview offers some of the best public education in the state.
Reader & Staff Pick: Eldora Mountain Ski Resort
2861 Eldora Ski Rd., Nederland 303-440-8700
Runner-up: Vail Resort
Honorable Mention: Winter Park Resort / Mary Jane, Copper Mountain
Anyone who's lived in Colorado long enough has an I-70 story. For some, it's being stuck in the middle of the highway-turned-parking-lot and baking in the summer sun. Others earned their Colorado street cred by crawling at a painfully slow pace on I-70, only to find that their trip time was doubled for no apparent reason. No car accidents, no abandoned cars—no nothing.
All we can say is thank God for reader and staff pick Eldora Mountain Ski Resort. The resort's aptly chosen motto "Friends don't let friends do I-70" pretty much sums it up. Eldora is what ski resorts used to be in the early days: small and accessible. And did we mention that it's only a half-hour drive from Boulder? Eldora may not have the back bowls of Vail, but it has something any ski aficionado can appreciate: short lift lines. Add in Eldora's top-notch Nordic Center, and you've got good, clean fun for the whole family.
For the die-hard weekend warriors, runner-up Vail is the place for downhill. The sheer quantity of trails at Vail makes it possible to go all day without ever repeating the same run. And then there are the back bowls—our pulse rate goes up just thinking about them. Honorable mention Winter Park Resort / Mary Jane is a well-priced resort that caters to families and adults. Snowboarders love Copper Mountain for its wide-open trails and quantity of blue runs. And the drive time on I-70 won't make you go crazy—unless, of course, you choose your driving companions poorly.
Reader & Staff Pick: Skin Care Specialists
2211 Mountain View Ave., Longmont, 970-667-3116
Runner-up: Rock Creek Laser
Honorable Mention: Mountain View Dermatology
They say beauty is only skin deep. But what's the subtext here? Take care of your skin or you'll be inch-deep in ugly! Skin Care Specialists can help you do that. Dr. Patrick Lillis and Dr. Kristen Baird, both board-certified dermatologists, are pioneers in a host of treatments and procedures designed to improve the youthfulness of your appearance. They also provide dermatological services, such as treatments for acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis and cosmetic procedures including BOTOX, tissue fillers and Restylane. Runner-up Rock Creek Laser can help you improve your skin with impulse light therapy or microdermabrasion to reduce wrinkles, blemishes and coarse skin. If the laser is a bit much for you, Rock Creek Laser also provides European facials and a Sanitas tri-peel that will exfoliate and rejuvenate your skin. Mountain View Dermatology is a multidisciplinary practice that provides both general and surgical dermatology, as well as cosmetic procedures. They pride themselves on being a progressive practice that is continually expanding their services to offer patients the most advanced and effective treatments available in a friendly environment.
Reader & Staff Pick: Hiking
From the viewpoint of a visitor, Boulderites who wear hiking shoes around town are making some kind of odd, not-so-fashionable fashion statement. But anyone who's lived in Boulder long enough knows that most folks wear gear for one reason and one reason only—playing outdoors.
Situated in one of the most beautiful places on the Front Range, Boulder is a vast outdoor playground. Weekly readers choose hiking as their No. 1 sport because of the year-round accessibility and variety of trails in Boulder. The town gets an average of 300 sunny days, which means you can get out for a hike at any time of the year. Rocky Mountain National Park is another great asset to those Boulderites who want to turn their hike into an all-day event.
Skiing comes in second as Boulderites' favorite sport. Why? Because you can't do it all year round—unless you're some kind of crazy die-hard. Snow enthusiasts enjoy the more than 20 ski resorts that can be found around Colorado. If the crowded lift lines aren't your thing, the backcountry provides ample acreage to get in some turns. Those on a tighter shoestring enjoy Nordic skiing, which is pretty darn cheap once you purchase your own gear.
Reader Pick: Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill
1346 Pearl St., 303-440-3355.
Runner-up: Dark Horse
Honorable Mention: Walnut Brewery
We dare you to find a seat in the Lazy Dog where you can't see a televised sporting event. In fact, we double Lazy-Dog dare you. Such a spot just doesn't exist. Whether you want to see Culver launch the long ball or Melo take the alley-oop from A.I., this is the best place in town to watch it happen. The kitchen scores big on their menu items, and the beer is always a touchdown. With your belly and your sports jones satiated, all your bases are covered at the Lazy Dog.
There are three rules that any drinking establishment must follow to receive the coveted moniker of "sports bar": 1) they must have beer; 2) they must have random sports-related memorabilia on the walls; and 3) they must have a juke box that plays Queen's "We Are the Champions." The Dark Horse fulfills all these requirements––plus they have a fireplace and mounted animal heads. That, my friends, is a sports bar.
The Walnut Brewery is the best place in town to throw back microbrews and root for your favorite team. With classics like the Devil's Thumb Stout and the Old Elk Brown Ale, even Rockies fans feel like winners at the Walnut. And if the Avs start to falter and you're looking for a new team, join the Mug Club and drown your sorrows.
Reader & Staff Pick: YMCA of Boulder Valley, Mapleton Center
2850 Mapleton, 303-442-2778
Runner-up: Colorado Mountain Ranch
Honorable Mention: Doghouse Music
Summer camp is a rite of passage. While some spend their formative summers in band camp, others pass countless hours waterskiing, learning how to play chess and programming computers.
What did we get out of our summer camp experiences?
Not a lot, besides a boxful of God's eyes and a summer romance if we were lucky. But a summer camp experience isn't really something you can quantify—unless you've had a camp experience ˆ la American Pie.
If it's variety you seek, then it's variety you shall find at YMCA of Boulder Valley. Hiking, kayaking, making music or arts & crafts are just a few of the options for kids who attend YMCA summer camp.
The Colorado Mountain Ranch, nestled in the hills just above Boulder, offers another way to pack a kid's summer full of fun. Attend one of the day camps that have a variety of activities or get your marshmallows out for an overnight campout.
Kids looking to live the rock 'n' roll dream need look no further than Doghouse Music, which is quickly becoming one of Boulder's favorite summer camps. Doghouse has workshops and weeklong camps that provide instruction on a variety of instruments, from bass to drums and guitar.
Reader & Staff Pick: Tans To Go
1842 30th St., 303-444-7600
Runner-up: Le Tan
Honorable Mention: Executive Tans
Being part of the beautiful people is usually a time-consuming process. Some celebs spend countless hours futzing with their appearance and still don't quite make the cut. Britney Spears took off the last year to spend time with herself (and to have children with her white-trash beau Kevin Federline) and look where that got her—baldheaded and on the doorstep of rehab.
The good news is that changing your skin from pasty white to bronze is a quick way to increase your beauty quotient, and it won't take you hours to do it—nor will it make you bald and in need of alcohol or drug counseling. Boulder's best bet for tanning is Tans To Go, which offers five different tanning systems to fit a variety of needs. The regular bed is the best way to go if you're in the pasty white camp. As your tan progresses, you can move on to the super- and ultra-bronze beds. The two VHR tanning beds offer more lamps so you can get in and out quickly.
Runner-up Le Tan offers quality airbrush tanning that looks real and won't make you look like you have Paris Hilton's head on Halle Barry's body. Airbrush tanning is better than a spray booth tan because it's suited to individual customers' needs. Executive Tans provides an array of beds, including powerful standing ones that vary in price and suit a variety of tanning needs.
Reader & Staff Pick: Alpine Hospital for Animals
1730 15th St., 303-443-9661
Runner-up: Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic
In Boulder, pets are more than just loveable critters—they're trusted friends, companions and confidents. But loving your animal to pieces doesn't necessarily make him or her smarter. If your Doberman eats half a box of crayons and starts spewing Carnation pink, Prussian blue and mahogany, it's time for a visit to the Vet.
Weekly readers agree that Alpine Hospital for Animals is the best choice whether your pet needs routine shots to keep him healthy, has a life-threatening condition or just needs a stomach pump to retrieve your Crayolas. Alpine Hospital has been serving Boulder for almost 45 years, and they are compassionate when it comes to treating animals. The clinic also stays on the cutting edge of pet care, and offers acupuncture to treat animals. Runner-up Gunbarrel Veterinary Clinic is not only a full-service veterinarian clinic, but will watch your pooch during the day or kennel him overnight.
Reader & Staff Pick: Amante Coffee
4580 Broadway, 303-448-9999
1035 Walnut St., 303-546-9999
685 Marketplace Pl., Suite. C8, Steamboat Springs, 970-871-8999
Runner-up: Caffe Sole
We've all been there. Like a good patron, you buy your latte so you can justify sitting at the same table and drinking water for the next eight hours. You open your laptop and—what in the world?
You have to pay to access the Internet?
There are few things more irritating than coffee shops that charge for wireless access. We're not naming any names (Starbucks), but certain coffee shops have become the bane of our existence.
Thank God for reader pick Amante Coffee. Not only can you get top-quality espresso drinks, but you can surf the web for free. Readers love the big-screen TV at Amante's downtown location, which plays must-see soccer matches and all sports European. Cycling enthusiasts will want to check out Amante in July for coverage of the Tour de France. What new growth hormone will cyclists use in 2007? The big screen doesn't lie—stay tuned.
Year in and year out, Runner-up Caffe Sole is a Boulder favorite. The coffee joint has plenty of seating, free wi-fi, as well as yummy espresso drinks and pastries.
Reader & Staff Pick: öm time
2035 Broadway, 720-565-6115
Runner-up: CorePower Yoga
Ever huffed and puffed on a trail, only to find your ass smoked by a 60-year-old trail runner?
If you live in Boulder long enough, you start experiencing "only in Boulder" moments. Considering that most of Boulder's population starts practicing yoga as soon as they can walk, going to a yoga class in Boulder can be an intimidating experience. Let's just call it one hour of sheer embarrassment and torture—only in Boulder.
Fortunately, Boulder has öm time, a relaxed yoga studio in North Boulder. öm time's teachers are personable and approachable, and there's a shop in which you can purchase clothing and mats.
Runner-up CorePower Yoga is a popular favorite with the CU crowd, as well as the professional set. Yoga students rave about CorePower's hot yoga classes.
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Reader & Staff Pick: Fascinations
2560 28th St., 303-442-7309
Honorable Mention: Mile-High Emporium
Whether you're a virgin or a vamp, shopping for sex toys is good, clean fun. It's especially fun at Fascinations, where they have everything from flavored lubes to sex swings to those awesome vibes with the rotating pearls and the bunny ears. Check out their adult film collection, their array of gag gifts and their lingerie, as well. The staff aren't the least bit shy and will help you turn your next O (whether a solo affair or a group endeavor) into an "Ooooooooohyeeeeesss!!!!"
Both our runner-up, Pleasures Adult Entertainment, and honorable mention, Mile High Emporium, provide a comfortable place to shop for adult entertainment in the form of movies, books and magazines that are sure to provide lots of inspiration and entertainment.
And, hey, don't forget the condoms and the batteries!
Be sexy, and be safe.
Reader & Staff Pick: Hoshi Motors
2504 Spruce St., 303-449-6632
Honorable Mention: HonAccurate, Blue Spruce, Import Specialists
Year after year the independently owned Hoshi Motors continues to win raves from our readers because of its exceptional and trustworthy service. Specializing in the repair of Honda, Acura, Subaru and Toyota automobiles for 20-plus years, the mechanics at Hoshi Motors will get your wheels turning again without making you wonder if you've just been had. We're not sure when Subarus became the most sought after car for Boulderites, but the mechanics at Super-Rupair saw the trend emerging and started servicing and repairing Subarus all the way back in 1979. The three auto shops in the honorable mention category, HonAccurate, Blue Spruce and Import Specialists provide services for different makes of cars with HonAccurate specializing in Hondas and Acuras, Blue Spruce servicing both American and European makes and Import Specialists keeping your snazzy European imports running.
Reader & Staff Pick: Elevations Credit Union
2960 Diagonal Hwy., 303-443-4672
Runner-up: Wells Fargo
Honorable Mention: First Bank
The big news for this year's best bank (it's really a credit union in this case) isn't that it was once again voted the best in Boulder, but that it now has a new name. Elevations Credit Union was formerly known as the University of Colorado Credit Union until last May. CEO Bill Sterner says the credit union's members voted to change the name to accurately reflect their own diversity—and to dispel the impression that only CU students were eligible to open accounts. Credit unions are known for their not-for-profit, member-oriented service, and Elevations is a shining example of this. With a full range of services that cost less than those offered by banks, Elevations' membership is certain to grow.
Despite being a huge national bank, Wells Fargo, this year's runner-up, still has the small feel that it might have had back in 1852 when it was first founded, and with four branches in Boulder you are sure to find a location that works for you. First Bank is a locally owned organization that now boasts six branches in Boulder.
BATH & BODY
Reader & Staff Pick: The Body Shop
1200 Pearl St., 303-545-2044
Runner-up: Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary
Honorable Mention: Everybody, Ltd.
If you can't afford or don't have time to visit one of the great spas in Boulder, you can pamper yourself at home with the selections at The Body Shop. From skin care to makeup to hair care and aromatherapy, The Body Shop offers an amazing array of products inspired by nature and designed to get you feeling and looking wonderful. Best of all, you can shop guilt-free, knowing that the products weren't tested on animals and that your money is going to a company that is socially and environmentally active and aware. Pampering yourself isn't just about you, after all.
Rebecca's Herbal Apothecary, our runner-up, is a locally owned shop that focuses on herbal medicine provided by local, organic sources. You can find botanical medicines to heal your body including oils, salves, essential oils, salts and hydrosols. Pick up dried herbs, oils, waxes, butters, powders and other supplies to create your own botanical medicines. What originally began as a shop offering body-care products that were environmentally friendly and used natural ingredients soon evolved in to a mail-order catalog. Everybody, Ltd. is a great choice for essential oils, bath products, body care and facial products made from natural ingredients.
Reader & Staff Pick: University Bicycles
839 Pearl St., 303-444-4196
Runner-up: Bicycle Village
Honorable Mention: Full Cycle
Biking and Boulder are pretty much synonymous. University Bicycles has been serving our city's demanding cyclists for more than 20 years. Whether you're looking for a new or used bike or are in desperate need of a repair after your last rad trip to Moab, University Bicycles has a knowledgeable, professional staff that can get you back up and on the singletrack.
Bicycle Village, our runner-up, serves cities along the Front Range and has an expansive selection for all types of bicyclists. Full Cycle, now in its second year, is sure to keep you pedaling for years to come with its ideal location, knowledgeable staff and great selection.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Bookstore
1107 Pearl St., 303-447-2074.
Runner-up: Barnes & Noble
The Boulder Bookstore is to bibliophiles what Soldier Field is to Bears fans: a mecca. With the personality of a corner shop and the selection of a corporate giant, this local establishment satisfies even the most persnickety shopper. Over the years, the Boulder Bookstore has played host to thousands of local and international writers, including Christopher Moore, Sherman Alexie, Irvine Welsh and many more. Their staff is always friendly and helpful, and they are always ready with suggestions for avid readers. Don't wander into the Boulder Bookstore unless you're prepared to spend several hours combing through their endless shelves.
Barnes & Noble may be a corporate bookstore, but they have been trying their damnedest to become part of the Boulder community. They have even gone so far as hosting bluegrass performances at their establishment. Now that's dedication. It's nice to be able to shop for music and literature in the same store, and one would be hard pressed to find a better selection of magazines in Boulder. We appreciate the effort, B&N.
Reader & Staff Pick: Mike's Camera
2500 Pearl St., 303-443-1715
Runner-up: Wolf Camera
With technology changing in leaps and bounds, it's hard to know which digital camera is the best or to have a clue what to do with these electronic shots when you're done snapping them. Whether you are a doting parent, a grandparent obsessed with photographing the little ones or a professional photographer who needs serious gear to get the best shot, Mike's Camera has everything you need under one roof. Mike's provides everything from point-and-shoot cameras to top-of-the-line digital cameras as well as accessories. The knowledgeable staff will answer your questions and help you find exactly what you need. The name may be a bit misleading though, because Mike's is not just a camera shop. You can get other high-tech equipment like HD TVs, MP3 players, telescopes and binoculars. This year's runner-up, Wolf Camera, has a huge selection of popular brands like Canon, Nikon and Sony. Send in your best shots via the Internet, and pick up prints an hour later at the store.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Toyota-Scion
2465 48th Court, 303-443-3250
Runner-up: Flatiron's Acura Subaru Land Rover
Honorable Mention: Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda
When you think of cars in Boulder, the first image that comes to mind is a Subaru covered with bumper stickers. But the winner for Best New Car Dealership is changing this town one Toyota at a time. Boulder Toyota-Scion takes this category for the second year running. Whether you are looking for a hybrid, SUV, sedan or wagon, their knowledgeable staff will answer your questions and help you decide which car best meets your driving needs. In the odd chance that your new Toyota or Scion needs service, the maintenance staff will diagnose your problem and explain it in detail so you know exactly what is going on under the hood. They even have service hours on Saturday to fit your busy schedule.
Flatiron's Acura Subaru Land Rover allows you to peruse several makes before deciding on the perfect ride that fits your style and your budget. Rounding out this year's list is Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda, which garners praise as an honorable mention for its line of American-made cars and imports.
Reader Pick: Boulder Toyota-Scion
2465 48th Court, 303-443-3250
Staff Pick: Blue Spruce Auto Sales
4403 Broadway, 303-938-0580
Runner-up: Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda
Think "used-car salesman" and the image that comes to mind is bad hair, bad suit and a tendency to dissemble. (That means "lie.") You step onto a used car lot, and magically the music from Jaws starts playing in the background. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can put your fears to rest when you shop for your next set of used wheels at Boulder Toyota-Scion. Readers agree that these same folks, who are so trustworthy when it comes to selling new cars, are equally adept in getting you into the right used car. Blue Spruce Auto Sales is this year's staff pick when it comes to buying a used car. Owner Joe Morelli strives to demonstrate his respect for his customers and to share his knowledge with them—no hustle, no hassle, no baloney.
Fisher Chevrolet/Geo/Honda, this year's runner-up, has been keeping Boulder on the road since 1968 with quality used cars.
Reader & Staff Pick: Bart's CD Cellar
1015 Pearl St., 303-447-8150
Runner-up: Albums On the Hill
How many times has Bart's won this damned award? Even we don't know. A lot. Independently owned, Bart's has been satisfying music lovers' cravings for new tunes since 1991. While it might be a CD cellar, Bart's has got a load of vinyl in its attic. Browse among the 60,000 new and used vinyl albums upstairs for those who love the smoky, rich sound of old-fashioned LPs. Bart's also hosts in-store performances, so be sure to check their calendar to catch an intimate performance from an array of artists. If you are on The Hill, runner-up, Albums On the Hill has a diverse collection of CDs and vinyl for every type of music listener.
Reader & Staff Pick: Eads News and Smoke Shop
1715 28th St., 303-442-5900
Runner-up: Smoker Friendly
Honorable Mention: Johnny's Cigar & Martini Bar
If you're one of the hardy who persist on smoking despite a laundry list of laws and ordinances designed to make smoking inconvenient, there are some great places to find your smoky treat of choice. Eads News and Smoke Shop has offers a wide array of cigars, cigarettes and tobaccos, as well as a complete line of smoking accessories. Eads stocks both domestic and imported cigarettes and an assortment of fine cigars that is too vast to mention here. If you are fed up with nonsmokers who pester you about your habit be sure to grab a pack of "Go to Hell" cigarettes.
You won't take crap at Smoker Friendly. The Boulder establishment is just one of the nearly 300 stores across the U.S. that has been serving tobacco lovers since 1988. Johnny's Cigar & Martini Bar gives cigar connoisseurs an environment in which to enjoy their favorite cigar or try out a new one. After you puff away in the ventilated cigar smoking room, enjoy one of the deluxe martinis while tapping your toe to live music that varies from jazz to blues to Latin each weekend.
Reader & Staff Pick: Rocky Mountain Kids
2525 Arapahoe, Ave. # H16, 303-447-2267
Honorable Mention: Ginger and Pickles
Nobody likes ugly kids. Let's face it, children don't have much going for them anyhow. They're loud, they often smell funny, and some of them eat things that no human should attempt to digest. The least we can do is try to dress them up nice. And that's why Boulder parents choose to take their tattered tots down to Rocky Mountain Kids for a pint-sized makeover. RMK has a huge inventory that covers everything from diapers to suits. Bring out your child's inner fashionista with a trip to Boulder's largest kiddie closet.
If you are looking for kid's clothing that won't give you sticker shock, this year's runner-up, Savers, is the upscale thrift store for you. With a treasure trove of shirts, dresses and shoes, not to mention books, dolls, trucks and videos, you'll be surprised at how your kids love shopping. While you're there, you can even peruse the aisles for yourself. Ginger and Pickles sounds more like an indie prog band than a clothing store, but you won't find any angsty math rock at this children's boutique. Furthermore, they have a nice, little toy shop to distract the little ones while you pick out an outfit for them.
Reader & Staff Pick: Urban Outfitters
938 Pearl St., 303-247-0828
Honorable Mention: Starr's
As the immortal beard aficionados of ZZ Top once said, "Every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed man." Of course, the ZZ fashion trends didn't exactly stand the test of time, but the sentiment holds true. Just look at the success of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. In Boulder, fashion peacocks that want to strut their stuff head down to Urban Outfitters to fluff their feathers. Dudes who want duds can choose from a wide selection of faux-vintage T-shirts, urban jackets and retro sneakers.
What better way to spend your weekend than shopping at Weekends! Okay, so that joke was stupid, but so what? We may not be very smart, but at least we look good in our Tommy Bahama and Billy Blues gear from Weekends. So there. This local store has everything a guy needs to spiff up his attire. Hey, clothes may not make the man, but crappy clothes don't help.
This year's honorable mention goes to the stars down at Starr's. This shop is built for the true Boulder man: a dude who wants to hike deer trails and romp in the river and look damn good doing it. You can get all your fleece and flannel needs satisfied here.
Reader & Staff Pick: Buffalo Exchange
1717 Walnut St., 303-938-1924
Runner-up: Rags to Riches
Honorable Mention: Crazy Amy's
Boulder is committed to recycling—and not just the leftover bottles from last night's six pack. For Boulderites the best place to find slightly used, fashionable clothing is Buffalo Exchange. The college crowd and other financially strapped fashion divas love the reasonable prices on funky jeans, T-shirts, shoes and other emerging trends at Buffalo Exchange. The used clothing store also has jeans and fun retro T-shirts for guys.
At runner-up Rags to Riches, you can find a Donna Karan dress, Steve Madden shoes, and Moschino eveningwear, among other name brands like Gap and Nine West. You may have to search for a while, but you are guaranteed to find something that will make your day—and your pocketbook—happier. Crazy Amy's specializes in men's and women's retro wear. With the motto "Come naked, we'll dress you," how could you not have a good time? One word to the wise: Call ahead to make special arrangements if you plan on following the Crazy Amy's motto.
Reader & Staff Pick: Jacque Michelle
2670 Broadway, 303-786-7628
Runner-up: Crazy Amy's
Honorable Mention: Chelsea, T-BAR
In a town that strives to be unpretentious, Boulder has a variety of fashionably casual clothing for women. Reader pick Jacque Michelle is most commonly known for its unique gifts and housewares, but it also has a great selection of clothing from local designers, as well as accessories that will complement any outfit. At Crazy Amy's, you can find both vintage clothing and modern attire at dirt-cheap prices. For big-city quality and style, Chelsea, our first honorable mention, is a boutique where you can find anything from the latest trend in jeans to sophisticated, classy evening attire. Be sure to get on Chelsea's e-mail list for the best sales and mark downs on high-quality couture. The T-BAR may have only a few items for outerwear, but it's most commonly known for that which comes between you and your outerwear. From lacy panties and bras to swimsuits and camis, the T-BAR has everything a gal needs for a hot date or a comfortable night at home.
Reader & Staff Pick: Mac Shack
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., Lower Level, 303-443-2899
Runner-up: Data Doctors
Contrary to popular belief, when your computer freezes up while you're working on the most important project of your entire life, it does not help to scream obscenities and threaten to beat it with a crowbar. Computers are surprisingly street smart, and these intimidation tactics simply don't wash. That's why you need to work out a deal with the stone cold gangstas down at Mac Shack. They can technologically bitch-slap your computer and make it an offer it can't refuse. If your Mac is acting maniacal, take it on down to the Mac Shack and have them set that beeotch straight.
And if you think your computer caught a virus from someone else's hard drive, you might want to make an appointment with the Data Doctors. These medical media marvels will open up your database and make it say, "AAAAAHHH." With locations across Colorado and the rest of the nation, you can get immediate attention any time you have an emergency. Oh, yeah, and these doctors also make house calls.
Reader & Staff Pick: Comp USA
1740 30th St., 303-998-1108
Runner-up: Apple Store
Honorable Mention: Mac Shack
For some people, purchasing a new computer is on par with getting a root canal or attending a Michael Bolton concert. But the good men and women down at Comp USA are hoping to make technophobia a thing of the past. With enough gadgets, do-hickies and thingamabobs to excite even the most avid luddite, Comp USA is the leader in cool things with bright buttons. Their certified staff of "Techknowledgists" (no, we didn't make that up) will take you by the hand and lead you gently into the 21st century.
Recently, Macintosh has been challenging the Bill Gates technopoly with surprising success. Their iPods and computers have taken over the market, and they show no signs of backing down any time soon. To take advantage of the Mac revolution, swing by the Apple Store at Twenty Ninth Street, and see what you've been missing. Leave your computer preconceptions behind you, because the new face of Mac is going to blow your mind. There are no bad Apples in this barrel.
Even our honorable mention category is dominated by Mac technology. The Mac Shack has a great staff of salesmen and technicians. Whether you are buying a computer or getting your old one fixed up, these dudes are the ones with the answers.
Reader & Staff Pick: Environmental Cleaners
2850 Iris, 303-444-4546
Runner-up: Art Cleaners
Honorable Mention: Boulder Cleaners, John's Cleaners
Anyone who's needed dry cleaning knows that it can be expensive. It can also pollute our water supply. Boulder Weekly readers choose Environmental Cleaners as the best shop for service, reliability and friendliness to the environment. Art Cleaners, this year's runner-up, has five locations as well as free pick-up and delivery. This business hand-finishes every item and is known for its individual attention. And it will make you happy to know that Art Cleaners is a GreenEarth Cleaner—so it won't tax the environment. Readers love Boulder Cleaners' multiple locations and top-notch, same-day service. John's Cleaners earns a second honorable for providing not only dry cleaning services at its five locations in Boulder County, but also tailoring and repairs.
Reader & Staff Pick: Sturtz & Copeland Florists & Greenhouse
2851 Valmont Rd., 303-442-6663
Runner-up: European Flower Shop
Honorable Mention: Boulder Blooms
It seems that you're either a plant person or you're not—there's really no in between. Either you're boning up on your plant names in Latin, or you're slowly killing the world's easiest-to-care-for houseplant in your dorm room. You know which person you are; just accept it.
Fortunately there's Sturtz & Copeland, where they speak plain ol' English to you clueless plant people out there, or they can speak Latin to all you overachievers. Sturtz & Copeland has earned its reputation as Boulder's most famous greenhouse and offers everything from garden plants to roses for your sweetie.
Readers pick runner-up European Flower Shop for its exquisite flower arrangements. Guys: This is the place to pick up a romantic bouquet for your girlfriend.
Boulder Blooms has great handpicked flowers, and they specialize in top-notch customer service. If you want to leave a lasting impression, check out the Tropical Delight bouquet—specially designed to represent the Hawaiian tropical jungle.
Reader & Staff Pick: Art Mart
1222 Pearl St., 303-443-8248
Runner-up: Paper Doll
Honorable Mention: Jacque Michelle
Shopping for gifts ought to be a fun experience. Whether you are looking for a gift for your dear, old grandma or your significant other, the Art Mart will dazzle you with its choices. With an assortment of clothing, paintings, jewelry, candles and literature, Art Mart feels like a gallery. You'll find so many unique items that you might just have to treat yourself to something, as well. Go right ahead. We won't tell. If you're looking for something a bit more outrageous, check out the selection of jewelry, stationery and other intriguing gifts at the Paper Doll. Or check out the fun and unique gifts and cards at Jacque Michelle.
Reader & Staff Pick: Whole Foods
2905 Pearl St., 303-545-6611
Runner-up: Vitamin Cottage
With the recent acquisition of Wild Oats, it seems that Whole Foods is likely to remain the mega-alternative grocery store of choice for the Boulder crowd. With its selection of fresh, organic produce, sashimi-grade fish, bulk foods, homeopathic remedies and personal-care products, Whole Foods is the place to shop if you care about your health and the health of the environment. Have a latte while you shop, or enjoy a chair massage beforehand. And if you're in too much of a hurry to cook, you can pick up pre-made meals in the freezer cases or grab something from the deli.
Just a short walk from Whole Foods, you will find the runner-up, Vitamin Cottage. Slightly smaller in scale, Vitamin Cottage is a Colorado company that got its start in Golden. Don't let the name fool you; this place has a lot more than vitamins.
Reader & Staff Pick: McGuckin Hardware
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-1822
Runner-up: Home Depot
Don't get screwed; shop at McGuckin Hardware. That's not actually their tagline, but we think it should be. McGuckin Hardware takes the normal man's (or woman's—don't get offended Gloria Steinem) passion for blunt objects and sharp tools and raises it to a whole new level. Because, as a wise dude once said, "Man cannot live on manual screwdrivers alone." At McGuckin they have more than 20,000 items in stock to satisfy all of your building needs. If Noah were alive today, he would totally be down at McGuckin, purchasing cubits of wood and umbrellas and other useful stuff for the rainy season.
Nothing is hotter than a guy in an orange vest who knows about paint thinner. Nothing. Home Depot is like catnip for homeowners. They just can't stay away from that place. Even people who live in apartments like to hang out there and dream about one day actually purchasing a ceiling fan. There's just something great about a store that sells 50 different types of tape. Do you want masking tape? Or electric tape? Or painter's tape? How about some good ol' fashioned duct tape? Mmmmm, duct tape.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Peppercorn
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Runner-up: HW Home
Honorable Mention: Good Use
The Peppercorn was actually a cooking school when Doug Houghland founded it back in 1977. A Boulder institution, it has had a profound impact on the local décor. You can walk into hundreds of living rooms around Boulder and find the unique designs and thoughtful furnishings provided by Houghland and his friendly staff at The Peppercorn. Furniture stores have become such a massive industry that it's nice to see something tasteful and classic, as opposed to, well, Jake Jabs.
Even though they have expanded to numerous other locations in Colorado, Boulder is the original spot for HW Home. This knowledgeable team is so dedicated to providing a family atmosphere for their staff members that they even put their dogs on their webpage. HW Home supports numerous local charities, including the Humane Society of Boulder Valley and Colorado Children's Campaign. They give back to the community that has given so much to them.
Good Use is a smaller, more personable furniture shop that recently relocated from Pearl Street to Glenwood Drive. Their motto is: "Saving the earth with style." And Good Use is true to their word. Instead of producing more clutter for future landfills, they purchase their products from garage sales and auctions and turn them into household treasures. It's furniture with a history.
Reader & Staff Pick: Mr. Pool
2347 South St., 303-443-0821
Runner-up: Heat Wave Stove & Spa
Honorable Mention: Mountain Mist
Not many hot tub retailers that we know have art galleries. But then again Mr. Pool isn't just any hot tub retailer. With fantastic photos on display by renowned photographers Christopher Gruver and Dan Asher, Mr. Pool shows that they are a class above the rest. They offer spas, hot tubs, custom pools and other water features. All of their products are designed to be environmentally friendly and conserve the precious water we have in Colorado.
Heat Wave Stove and Spa is a local family business with a knowledgeable staff that promises to never steer you wrong. They have spas, fireplaces, stoves and barbeque equipment that will make you the envy of your neighborhood. No matter what you need, they will hook you up.
Operating out of Fort Collins and Longmont, Mountain Mist sells hot tubs, saunas, gazebos and much more. Not only do they provide high-quality products, they also have a staff that can handle all your future maintenance needs. When you buy something from the Mountain Mist team, you can be sure that they will never leave you high and dry.
Reader Pick: Hotel Boulderado
2115 13th St., 303-442-4344
Staff Pick: Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites
800 28th St., 303-443-3322
Runner-up: St. Julien Hotel & Spa
Rocking Boulder's best hotel category yet again is the Hotel Boulderado. The Boulderado's central lobby is breathtaking, and its old-world Victorian charm will transport you to another world. If you've worked up an appetite from sightseeing or hiking, stop in at Q's for some fine dining. More casual diners will enjoy the Corner Bar, which has some of the best people watching in Boulder.
Staff pick Boulder Outlook Hotel & Suites is great for traveling athletes and families with kids. Tourists can get some hang time on the Outlook's bouldering rock, or just ask for a trail recommendation. The Outlook also has a pet park and is a zero-waste hotel.
While runner-up St. Julien may be a newbie to the list, it's quickly becoming one of the most popular hotels in Boulder. The rooms are decorated in a casual contemporary style and the mattresses are something to dream about. Even if you can't stay at the St. Julien, stop in and enjoy a drink and appetizer on the hotel's back patio.
Reader & Staff Pick: Angie Star Jewelry
1807 Pearl St., 720-565-0288
Runner-up: Hurdle's Jewelry
Honorable Mention: Art & Soul Gallery
These days, when you see jewelry commercials on TV you can't help but chuckle. Does anyone really exchange rings while in a rowboat or riding a bike? Aren't they afraid they're gonna lose something?
Boulder has a great selection of independent, local jewelers to help you mark the significance in your own life. For the third year in a row, Angie Star Jewelry wins reader and staff pick for Best Jewelry Store. Readers love Angie Star's creative, unique contemporary designs. Angie Star's staff designs necklaces, rings and earrings by hand, and its Pearl Street shop has the most beautiful and creative display of jewelry in Boulder.
Further down Pearl Street, Hurdle's Jewelry has been serving Boulder since 1947. The store has bridal and diamond jewelry, as well as watches.
Art & Soul Gallery, our honorable mention, may be better known for its artwork, but its jewelry collection is not to be missed.
Reader & Staff Pick: The Peppercorn
1235 Pearl St., 303-449-5847
Runner-up: Chefsmart Quality Kitchen
So you just moved into new digs and there's nothing in your kitchen besides beer. Head to The Peppercorn. There you'll find everything you need to transform your empty kitchen into a chic den of gourmet cooking and classy entertaining. Peppercorn offers other luxury items for your home, such as dinnerware, linens, china and silver. Boulderites love Peppercorn's selection of European candies and cookies, as well as tea. Runner-up Chefsmart Quality Kitchen prides itself on being the "professional and serious home chef shop" for Boulder. Boulderites love the shop for its hard-to-find items, as well as everyday tools of the culinary trade.
Reader & Staff Pick: Christina's Luxuries
2425 Canyon Blvd., Suite 100, 303-443-2421
Runner-up: Victoria's Secret
Honorable Mention: The T-BAR
Underwear. Most people give it little thought, but it's the first thing you put on your body every day. We could chose to wear something that makes us smile, like a leopard-print thong, but instead we choose boring, white Fruit of the Loom granny panties.
So what are we trying to say?
Your underwear collection needs some spice—or sugar, depending on what you're into. Reader and staff pick Christina's Luxuries has a wide variety of bras, panties and pajamas, as well as high fashion dresses and swimsuits. Christina's staff is personable, and is great at making sure you've got a bra that fits well, makes the most of your natural endowments and isn't uncomfortable.
Runner-up Victoria's Secret, located in the Twenty Ninth Street shopping area, has the widest variety of lingerie, from cotton undies and pajamas to lacey bras and nighties. Honorable mention T-BAR is shining in its new location on Pearl Street. If you're firmly entrenched in the leopard-print thong camp, this is the store for you.
Reader & Staff Pick: Liquor Mart
1750 15th St., 303-449-3374
Runner-up: Superior Liquor
Honorable Mention: Boulder Wine Merchant
The Boulder Weekly staff likes alcohol, and Liquor Mart is the best place to buy booze in town. They are open from 8 a.m.–11:45 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and they have ongoing specials that make their selections affordable. For the dedicated drinker, there's Club Liquor Mart, which gives you updates and suggestions on new products coming through the door. Whether you're throwing a pre-summer bash at your house or just hanging out and sipping wine with friends, Liquor Mart has what you need.
You've gotta love a liquor store that advertises its products by holding regular tasting events. They also have a newsletter, coupons, a savings club and a delivery service. There's nothing better than waking up in the morning and discovering a fine bottle of Scotch waiting for you at the front door. There's really no reason to leave the house after that. Superior Liquor carries a fine stock of wine and a fantastic beer selection, including items from the award-winning Oskar Blues Brewery.
Every person who works at the Wine Merchant is an expert in some way. They have a dedicated staff of professionals that know absolutely everything about the art of making and drinking wine. It doesn't matter if you're a novice taster or a complete oinophile, you'll be satisfied after you visit the Wine Merchant.
Reader & Staff Pick: Robb's Music
1580 Canyon Blvd., 303-443-8448
Runner-up: HB Woodsong's
Boulder is a musical town, a place where everyone from your lawyer to the guy at the homeless shelter plays in a band. It's a city that comes with its own soundtrack. Take off the iPod for an hour and cruise through downtown on a summer day. You'll find a symphony of musical styles and exotic instruments.
Robb's Music, once again voted Boulder's Best Musical Instruments, is the supplier that keeps this town singing, strumming and drumming. Conveniently located downtown, Robb's has all of the instruments and services you need.
When it comes to acoustic music, HB Woodsong's, this year's runner-up, is your one-stop shop. In addition to an impressive selection of acoustic instruments, you can find a wide array of accessories for your next gig, whether you're headlining the Pepsi Center or strumming on a corner of the Pearl Street Mall.
NATURAL FOOD STORE
Reader & Staff Pick: Whole Foods
2905 Pearl St., 303-545-6611
Runner-up: Vitamin Cottage
Honorable Mention: Wild Oats
If you're looking to embrace a healthy lifestyle, then you definitely live in the right place. Boulder has more natural food stores to choose from than anywhere else on Earth. When it comes to buying their flax seed oil and their organic soy milk, Boulderites chose Whole Foods for their shopping needs. This store has the best bulk section in Boulder, not to mention a kick-ass salad bar and bakery. The parking may be a hassle, but a trip to Whole Foods is always worth it.
Runner-up Vitamin Cottage is a favorite with folks on a budget. The store has great deals on bulk food items, as well as reasonably priced dry food items, spices and teas.
Wild Oats rounds out the Natural Food Store category as a full-service store, featuring fresh meat, fish and veggies, as well as bulk foods and take-home dinners.
Reader & Staff Pick: Aspen Eyewear
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-447-0210
Honorable Mention: Tom's Sportique
At one time you were able to pass the eyesight test with flying colors. Now you have to crawl to the chair to take your eye exam because you can't see without your contact lenses. A new eyeglass prescription can be a real downer. But there is a bright side to all this: A new prescription means new eyeglasses—fashion-forward, ultra-hip eyeglasses.
Boulderites love reader and staff pick Aspen Eyewear if they're searching for their next pair of cool rims. The staff is friendly and will work with you to help you find eyeglasses or sunglasses that fit both your face and your budget. Runner-up Europtics helps shoppers afford designer wear on a budget. Honorable mention Tom's Sportique specializes in custom eyewear for athletes.
Reader & Staff Pick: REI
1789 28th St., 303-583-9970
Runner-up: Boulder Army Store
Honorable Mention: Neptune Mountaineering
Boulder is about the only town in the United States where a Dunkin' Donuts can go out of business, but a new outdoor recreation store can make mad money. It's thanks to the veracious climbing, hiking and skiing appetites of Boulderites that we have as many choices as we do.
Leading the pack this year in the outdoor category is outdoor gear colossus REI. Need a map of the Brooks Range in Alaska? No prob. The friendly folks at REI can help you find the best and most accurate map or anything else you might need, from long underwear to a tent that can handle the winds at Everest's Camp IV. Check out REI's newsletter for tips on great end-of-season sales, and watch for their in-store events. Runner-up Boulder Army Store has been outfitting Boulderites for decades. Check out the Boulder Army Store in the winter for great rates on snowshoe rentals. Honorable mention Neptune Mountaineering is the place for the climbing and bouldering set. If you're in the market for hiking boots, Neptune has the best selection in Boulder for light- and mid-weight boots.
Reader & Staff Pick: PetSmart
2982 Iris Ave., 303-939-9033
402 Center Dr., Superior, 303-543-6060
Runner-up: The Humane Society of Boulder Valley
Honorable Mention: PC's Pantry
There is nothing more revered in Boulder County than the family feline or pooch. Yes, pets are people, too, and our pet-loving readers choose PetSmart as Boulder's best one-stop shop for all your pet needs. From cat toys to obedience classes and doggie haircuts, PetSmart has it all. Runner-up Humane Society of Boulder Valley has a great pet adoption program, as well as a pet gift and supply shop. The nonprofit also hosts obedience classes for doggies and their guardians. For next year's Christmas card, be sure to consider Pet Photos with Santa, a benefit event for the Humane Society. Honorable mention PC's Pantry is a winner for those pooches with more discerning palettes. The store has homemade goodies and food for cats and dogs.
Reader & Staff Pick: Eads News and Smoke Shop
1715 28th St., 303-442-5900
Runner-up: Mile High Pipes & Tobacco
Honorable Mention: The Fitter
Where there's smoke, there's Eads. This is the one-stop shop for just about anything you want to put in your mouth and set on fire. They have books, magazines, smoking accessories and more than 200 specialty cigars. If Fidel Castro lived in Boulder, he would definitely be hanging out at Eads, smoking up a storm and talking about revolutionary politics. Originally established in 1913 as the Junction Newsstand, Eads is one of the oldest businesses in the area, and it shows in their amazing service and selection.
Watch your step when you head down the stairs to Mile High Pipes & Tobacco. In this cozy, underground den, they sell almost anything related to the Boulder smoker's lifestyle, including enough hemp garb to dress an entire hippie commune. Formerly The Pipe Fitter, The Fitter on 13th and College, specializes in smoking paraphernalia of all kinds. They also have a great, little gift shop where you can purchase cool presents for family and friends.
REAL ESTATE GROUP
Reader & Staff Pick: Remax of Boulder
2425 Canyon Blvd., #110, 303-449-7000
Runner-up: Wright Kingdom Real Estate
So you inherited a gold mine and won the lottery. Now you're ready to take that next step. You're ready to buy a house in Boulder County. When it comes to one of the biggest decisions of your life, you want to be sure that you're making a good one. Remax of Boulder has long been a favorite of local homeowners. Remax has knowledgeable staff members who are eager to help you find the home of your dreams and not break the bank in the process. Runner-up Wright Kingdom Real Estate is a great resource for those looking to buy or sell commercial or residential real estate.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Running Company
2775 Pearl St., 303-786-9255
Runner-up: Pedestrian Shops
Buying the wrong pair of shoes can be a drag, especially if you're having regrets during your 12-day Himalayan Mountain trek. That's why buying shoes from a knowledgeable, well-informed sales person is so important. Not every shoe salesperson can tell you whether your shoes will hold up on the Annapurna Circuit. Most can only tell you whether or not your shoes fit—or whether you look like a douchebag.
But the sales folks at Boulder Running Company actually have intelligent things to say about which shoes you ought to buy. The store has a wide selection of shoes, from running shoes to more casual summer sandals and clogs, and offers a video gait analysis, which enables staff to more adequately assess what footwear works best for your tootsies.
Runner-up and perennial Boulder favorite Pedestrian Shops has a great selection of women's and men's shoes, as well as a wide selection of Crocks and socks.
Reader & Staff Pick: Boulder Ski Deals
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-938-8799
Runner-up: Christy Sports
Snow-sliding in Colorado is a religious experience. Powder days offer a great reason to skip school or call in sick and head to the hills for some face shots. Helpful hint No. 1: People who have the "flu" should not show up to work or class with a bad sunburn on their faces the next day. Remember the sunscreen! Helpful Hint No. 2: Don't be irresponsible and use your entire student loan to set yourself up with the latest rad gear. (You'll need some of that loan for your spring break trip to Mexico.) Instead, check out Boulder Ski Deals, a shop that truly lives up to its name. Look into their fabulous pre- and post-season sales at the shop, as well as great rental rates for out-of-town skiers. Runner-up Christy Sports is another great place to check for before- and after-season deals. If you're looking for a new ski set-up, Christy's staff knows what they're talking about and will help you find the right equipment at the right price.
Reader & Staff Pick: ListenUp
2034 Arapahoe Ave., 303-444-0479
Runner-up: Ultimate Electronics
Honorable Mention: Circuit City
ListenUp, a perennial mainstay in this category, claims the top spot after losing out to Circuit City last year. Why? Well, we didn't take any exit polls, but from our experience we would say it has to do with ListenUp's fine selection and friendly customer service. And with electronics becoming an integral part of business and pleasure, being tops in this category has never been more important.
Ultimate Electronics—whom we prefer to call the Electronics Store Formerly Known as SoundTrack—takes second place this year. Though the name has changed, their wide selection of quality electronics remains the same. Circuit City, this year's honorable mention, is a one-stop shop for all your electronic needs. Is there anything you can't buy within its glowing red walls?
Reader & Staff Pick: Discount Tire Co., Inc.
3215 28th St., 303-440-6811
Runner-up: Big O Tire Stores
Honorable Mention: Barnsley Tire Co.
Boulder is a town that prides itself on being independent and homegrown—even when it comes to our tires. Discount Tire Co., Inc., the perennial winner in this category, is locally owned and operated. Not only that, it's America's largest independent tire company. In a part of the world where you can expect 70-degree days in December and snowstorms in May, having good tires is a must, not a luxury. Just ask anyone who survived last winter's blizzards.
Big O Tire Stores is this year's runner-up. While you can get new tires on the cheap at Big O, you can also get other services as well, such as shocks, struts and brake repair. And don't forget to have those tires aligned. Barnsley Tire Co., on Pearl Street, offers quality service at a reasonable price. Conveniently located between Twenty Ninth Street and the Pearl Street Mall, Barnsley is a short walk or bus ride from local restaurants and shopping to get you by during your wait.
Reader & Staff Pick: Grandrabbit's Toy Shoppe
2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-443-0780
300 Center Dr., Ste. C, Superior, 303-499-0780
Runner-up: Into the Wind
Honorable Mention: PlayFair Toys
Guns, mass-slaughter electronic games, Barbie dolls—looking at the toys most stores sell to kids could give you the material for a master's thesis on gender roles or violence in society. Fortunately, Boulder County residents have more than a few options besides the typical Junk-Is-Us toy store. Reader and staff pick Grandrabbit's Toy Shoppe has arts and crafts, dolls, magic tricks, science kits and infant and toddler toys that will entertain and educate. If that isn't enough to put a smile on your face, then the friendly staff will. Runner-up Into the Wind is the place in Boulder for kites, flags, banners and windsocks. Flying devices such as Frisbees and boomerangs can also be found at Into the Wind. Honorable mention PlayFair Toys prides itself on having "toys with a conscience." The store has everything from classic toys to theme-based music, arts and crafts and science toys, steering clear of toys that reinforce gender stereotypes or encourage conflict.
Reader & Staff Pick: Bolder Ink
2735 Iris Ave. # A, 303-444-7380
Runner-up: K&K Piercing and Jewelry
Honorable Mention: Enchanted Ink
The citizens of Boulder love their tattoos. Whether walking around University Hill with fraternity letters emblazoned on their beefy shoulders or meditating at Shambhala with pictures of Buddha inked onto their tummies, locals like to display their body art. And the most popular spot in town for the past eon or so has been Bolder Ink. Not only do they boast the best artists in town, but their attention to detail and cleanliness make them a cut above the rest—no pun intended.
This year, K&K has moved up through the ranks to snag the coveted No. 2 spot. If you're young and you want to piss off your parents by puncturing your body and sticking a steel rod through it, this is the where the magic happens.
Enchanted Ink has held a solid reputation in Boulder for as long as we can remember. What makes them special is their focus on client satisfaction. Whether they're covering up your ex-girlfriend's name or tatting your new boyfriend's name, Enchanted Ink makes sure it's done right.
Reader & Staff Pick: AAA Colorado
1933 28th St., 303-753-8800
Runner-up: James TravelPoints
Honorable Mention: Boulder Travel Agency, Cain Travel
Sure, Boulder County is a great place to live, but sometimes you just have to get away. When it's time to buy your tickets and reserve your hotel room, do you check out one of those Internet sites and hope you don't accidentally end up in Nebraska, or would you rather talk with a human being who can make certain you're getting everything you need?
AAA Colorado comes in at No. 1 this year as Boulder's Best Travel Agency. In addition to maps and help with travel and lodging, readers love the emergency roadside assistance that they can get through AAA. Runner-up James TravelPoints specializes in packages for the traveler who wants to escape. The agency features a variety of romantic, spa, ski and golf package vacations, as well as custom-made trips for the more creative-minded travelers. Honorable mention Boulder Travel Agency has served Boulder's travel needs for more than 60 years. Boulder Travel Agency works with corporate as well as vacation customers. Full-service Cain Travel also shines at helping businesses and individual customers get where they need to go without the hassle.
Reader & Staff Pick: Crazy Amy's Consignment City
1721 Pearl St., 303-415-0953
Runner-up: Rags to Riches
Honorable Mention: Savers
With corporate fashion mongers like IKEA turning everyone's living rooms into postmodern vomitoriums, it's nice to know there's a place like Crazy Amy's Consignment City where the customers create their own trends. Whether it's that perfect piece of antique furniture or a hat that no one has worn since the 1920s, Crazy Amy's will satisfy your retro jones. There's nothing like poking through a vintage treasure trove to truly lift your spirits.
Rags to Riches is the ideal place to shop for high-quality and unique consignment clothes at great prices. Want Prada but can't afford to buy it new? Check out the racks at Rags to Riches.
And if you want to buy a computer desk and some ceramic lawn ornaments shaped like various barnyard animals, you have to stop by Savers. Don't go in there unless you're planning on spending at least two hours rummaging through their back shelves and far corners.
Reader & Staff Pick: Video Station
1661 28th St., 303-440-4448
There's nothing worse than walking into a video store and seeing shelves filled with nothing but the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Of course, Steven Speilberg is nice every now and then, but sometimes you want something a little less obvious. You'll never have that problem at Video Station, where they love all films, from the popular to the obscure, and they can't wait to tell you about them. Their staff is made up of movie geeks (and we mean that as a compliment). If you need a film suggestion or just can't remember the name of that one actor in that one movie, they are always lights, camera, action.
It doesn't matter where you are in America, there's always a Blockbuster nearby. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, you can find those big, yellow letters calling to you from a neon sign. With a wide selection of our favorite flicks in stock, as well as the latest games, Blockbuster is an American mainstay.
Reader Pick: Verizon Wireless
1650 28th St., 720-406-5234
1955 Washington Ave., Louisville,
Staff Pick: Advantage Wireless
2705 Arapahoe Ave., 303-449-6800
Honorable Mention: Sprint
It's hard to imagine life today without a cell phone. We drive, walk, bike and live with the devices attached to our ears—sometimes literally. Thanks to the wonderful economic concept of competitive advantage, most of us have reasonable, well-priced cell phone plans that we can afford. Readers choose Verizon Wireless for its high level of service, reasonably priced plans and strong signal strength. Staff pick Advantage Wireless also receives high marks for its top-notch customer service and reliability. They can help you sort through the mind-numbing array of special offers and service plans so that you know what you're buying and are certain it meets your needs. Readers choose runner-up T-Mobile for its great independent, business and family plans. For the text-message illiterate, check out T-Mobile's website (www.t-mobile.com) for text lingo and shorthand. Honorable mention Sprint receives high marks for its reasonably priced plans and awesome service.
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