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Home / Articles / Special Sections / Best of Boulder /  Best of Boulder 2012: Food (continued)
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Thursday, April 26,2012

Best of Boulder 2012: Food (continued)

By Boulder Weekly Staff

Nederland Restaurant

KATHMANDU RESTAURANT

110 North Jefferson St., Nederland, 303- 258-1169

Second Place: Wild Mountain Smokehouse and Brewery

Third Place: Savory Cafe

Fourth Place: Backcountry Pizza

Fifth Place: Neopolitan’s Italian Restaurant

Whether you’re limping off the Fourth of July trail or pulling in from a day at Eldora, the array of spices, Colorado drafts, and casual color of the Kathmandu Restaurant makes for a welcomed recovery meal in any season. Kathmandu shares a breadth of Indian and Nepali cuisine during a daily lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., accompanied by a fresh naan bread basket at your table. Browse the menu for a common selection of Indian and Nepali appetizers, naans, parathas, saags and curries with a range of meat and vegetable entrees to refuel famished adventurers. Entrees include seeminglimitless curries, kormas, saags and masalas, and sauces are also available with non-dairy ingredients.

Kid-Friendly Restaurant

NOODLES & CO.

Various locations around Boulder County

Second Place: Red Robin

Third Place: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun

Fourth Place: Walnut Cafe/Southside Walnut Cafe

Fifth Place: Wahoo’s Fish Taco

We’ve always wondered why more restaurants didn’t follow the McDonald’s model and have a play area for the kids to blow off some steam and leave the grown-ups to enjoy a semi-quiet meal in peace. Well, Noodles doesn’t have a play area, but pasta is one of the easiest kid-pleasers there is, and Noodles does it well. We can safely say their food is way better than McDonald’s, and healthier, too. You’ve got everything from a classic mac and cheese to spaghetti and meatballs to Asian noodle bowls and Mediterranean varieties. And the environment is casual, so you don’t have to worry about your children disrupting some couple’s romantic merlot-and-filet-mignon candlelight dinner. In addition, Noodles now goes beyond its namesake dish, offering sandwiches, soups and salads. Oh, and there are Rice Krispie treats and Snickerdoodle cookies for dessert. Runner-up Red Robin is simply bright, colorful, good, clean All-American fun.

Pizza Slice

ABO’S PIZZA

1124 13th St., 303-443-3199

(and other locations in Boulder County)

Second Place: Cosmo’s Pizza

Third Place: Nick-N-Willy’s

Fourth Place: Beau Jo’s

Fifth Place: Pizza Colore

A big, honking, floppy slice of pizza will taste good at any time of the day (don’t pretend you haven’t had a slice of leftover pizza for breakfast). A single, cheesy slice is often the perfect solution to your hankering pang for pizza, and Boulder certainly has no shortage of options to fulfill the pizza-popping addiction. But alas, there can only be one slice that reigns supreme, and that, our pizza pals, is Abo’s Pizza. With locations in virtually every town in Boulder County, you really are never too far from a cheesy and gooey Abo’s slice, lathered with only the finest tomatoes, vegetables and pepperonis the world has to offer. And don’t forget to speak in a New York accent before and after you consume your portion of the pie. Slice hopping? Go for a triangle at runner-up Cosmo’s Pizza as well. Maybe put each piece on top of each other and create a slice sandwich. Do it in public, in front of all your friends. That wouldn’t be weird at all.

Place To Eat Outdoors

THE MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Second Place: Boulder Farmers’ Market

Third Place: Chautauqua Dining Hall

Fourth Place: Dushanbe Teahouse

Fifth Place: West End Tavern

Ah, the glorious season of rooftops and patios is upon us. Nothing like being outside to make you feel OK justifying the copious imbibing of fatty foods and caloric alcoholic beverages. The Mediterranean Restaurant takes home this year’s prize for best place to eat outdoors. Combine their colorful patio with the joyous, bustling atmosphere and a killer happy hour, and you get a pretty rad place for a meal. If you’re looking to support the little guy, try grabbing a lunch at the Boulder Farmers’ Market, where you can pick up locally grown produce or a meal from the food carts. And if you want a beautiful, quintessential Boulder experience, the Chautauqua Dining Hall and the Dushanbe Teahouse also both fit the bill.

Pancake/Waffle

THE WALNUT CAFÉ

3073 Walnut St., 303-447-2315

SOUTH SIDE WALNUT CAFÉ

673 S. Broadway St., 720-304-8118

Second Place: The Buff

Third Place: The Original Pancake House

Fourth Place: Dot’s Diner

Fifth Place: Turley’s

Not everyone can make a great pancake or waffle. It takes care and precision to achieve the perfect balance between fluffy and hearty. The Walnut Café has the science down. Have it any way you want with unique pancake flavors like blueberry cornbread and Grananola Chocolate, and classic waffle favorites like banana walnut. Smother them with butter, drown them with syrup or top them with fruit and nuts. Any way you have it, you won’t be disappointed. The staff is friendly, and the Walnut and South Side cafes offer the perfect Boulder atmosphere, packed full of happy people looking for a delicious meal. And don’t worry about getting there in the morning, breakfast is served all day.

Pizzeria

PIZZERIA LOCALE

1730 Pearl St., 303-442-3003

Second Place: Proto’s Pizzeria Napoletana

Third Place: Pizzeria Da Lupo

Fourth Place: Pizzeria Basta

Fifth Place: Tossa

Pizzeria Locale takes the biggest slice out of this year’s pizzeria contestants. Authentic Mediterranean tools introduce the unaffiliated to how Italians prepare pizza in Napoli, Italy. The Locale’s dedication abroad and specialized equipment make a statement as pronounced and unapologetic as its Pearl Street façade — Pizzeria Locale makes pizza, and they’re kind of a big deal. What else would you expect from a shop that claims its pies are fired in an authentic Stefano Ferraro oven and carries an imported prosciutto slicer? If the outstanding menu makes a trick out of deciding final dinner choices, the Aperitivo menu runs from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. daily for enjoying lighter Mediterranean specials and wine on the way to the weekend.

Restaurant Service

MOUNTAIN SUN

1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

SOUTHERN SUN

627 S. Broadway, 303-543-0886

WALNUT CAFÉ

3073 Walnut St., 303-447-2315

SOUTHSIDE WALNUT CAFÉ (tie)

673 S. Broadway, 720-304-8118

Second Place: Flagstaff House

Third Place: Frasca

Fourth Place: The Kitchen

Fifth Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Mountain Sun and Southern Sun are probably best known for their beer, their relaxed atmosphere and the fact that you can mail in your payment if you have no cash on hand, all of which make for a high rating on the best service scale. And the co-op-style management and collaborative serving efforts keep whichever staff member visits your table looking fresh with every water refill. Walnut Café and Southside Walnut Café have a similarly laid back environment with bench seating, creating a fun and comfortable setting in which to enjoy a large variety of sandwiches. Of course, we all still enjoy being fawned over by clean-shaven waiters in dress shirts every now and then. But it’s hard to beat a guy with dreadlocks handing you a beer and a messy burger with a smile.

Romantic Dinner

FLAGSTAFF HOUSE

1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640

Second Place: Frasca

Third Place: John’s Restaurant

Fourth Place: Black Cat

Fifth Place: L’Atalier

Attention, would-be Casanovas: Whether you’re planning on popping the question, celebrating an anniversary or just looking for a romantic evening out, the Flagstaff House is a sure bet for ensuring that your evening is one to remember. The amazing view of Boulder’s lights sets the stage for romance, not to mention the award-winning wine list, impeccable service and the fresh daily menu. No wonder it was recently named one of the “50 best restaurants in the U.S.” by Open Table. Be sure to save room for the fantastic desserts, loverboy.

Restaurant Ambience

BOULDER DUSHANBE TEAHOUSE

1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Second Place: Flagstaff House

Third Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Fourth Place: The Kitchen

Fifth Place: Black Cat

This contestant is a hard one to beat. Walk into the Dushanbe Teahouse, and you enter another world. Intricately carved wooden columns, hand-painted panels, a central pool surrounded by greenery and copper sculptures — even the ceiling is a specimen of incredible craftsmanship. The Dushanbe Teahouse was created by 40 artisans in Boulder’s sister city of Tajikstan. No power tools here, Bubba. This is the real deal, and took two years to create before it was shipped to Boulder in pieces and then assembled. What did we give them? A cyber-café that is now in sad shape. But we digress. This is one of the main destinations to bring out-of-town guests. But the Teahouse is not alone. We also recommend the second-place winner, the Flagstaff House, which has views, food and a wine list to die for.

Sandwich

SNARF’S

Various locations in Boulder County

Second Place: Salvaggio’s Italian Deli

Third Place: Half Fast Subs

Fourth Place: Great Harvest Bread Co.

Fifth Place: Deli Zone

We know, we know. This is a real shocker. Not. Snarf’s is a Boulder original, and it’s the place we turn to for original, fresh sandwiches made with love. We’re kind of partial to the Italian, but there are a host of other favorites, and the fact that this establishment is crowned the champ is saying something, because there are a host of other high-quality sandwich shops in Boulder County. The franchise has expanded to the outer reaches of the county and the greater Denver metro area. They’ve even opened shops in Golden and north Longmont, on Mountain View. Whether you call in a to-go order, have it delivered or eat it on site because you just can’t wait, it is always a tastebud treat. Plus, in the true Boulder spirit, they faithfully recycle and compost. We also recommend also-rans like Salvaggio’s, Half Fast and Deli Zone.

Seafood Restaurant

JAX FISH HOUSE & OYSTER BAR

928 Pearl St., 303-444-1811

Second Place: Hapa Sushi

Third Place: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Fourth Place: Sushi Zanmai

Fifth Place: Sushi Tora

Way back when, there was a PBS show called Numero Uno that profiled athletes such as cyclist Eddy Merckx and skier Jean-Claude Killy, at the pinnacle of their disciplines. If such a show existed for local eateries, undoubtedly an episode would focus on Boulder’s Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. While it’s well known for having been the erstwhile home base of Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg, it’s also noteworthy for great seafood specialties from both coasts, including classic Maine lobster tail as well as a crab trio composed of snow, Dungeness and Alaskan king crabs. Other waterborne selections include crispy Colorado trout, blue crab cakes and seared New England sea scallops. And of course, Boulder’s favorite oyster bar.

Sushi Restaurant

HAPA SUSHI

1117 Pearl St., 303-473-4730

1220 Pennsylvania Ave., 303-447-9883

Second Place: Sushi Zanmai

Third Place: Sushi Tora

Fourth Place: Japango

Fifth Place: Kasa Japanese Grill and Bar

Tradition,” Fiddler on the Roof lead character Tevye sings in the show’s opening number, “Tradition!” That’s the only word we remember from the song, but what Tevye later decides — that traditions has its place and then there are places to let it go — is something our voters may relate to. They’ve set tradition aside in favor of experimentation and innovation in this category, picking Hapa Sushi and its unique and creative sushi rolls over the more conventional Sushi Zanmai and Sushi Tora, which still calls its rolls “maki.” Hapa isn’t afraid to drop in creative ingredients like apples and honey, or bake and fry their rolls. Poor old tradition gets a spell in the deep fryer and a thick drizzling of sweet soy at Hapa, known for its over-the-top creativity in both making and naming their sushi. Look for their newest roll, the Laser Wolf, as soon as they catch on to the Fiddler theme.

Take-out

SNARF’S

2128 Pearl St., 303-444-7766

And other locations in Boulder County

Second Place: Noodles & Co.

Third Place: Khow Thai

Fourth Place: Nick-N-Willy’s

Fifth Place: China Gourmet

It’s Sunday evening, and you’re at home, recovering from the night before, in sweatpants. Peeling off the couch and putting on respectable clothes to pick up food feels like a nightmare. But you’re starving. You already had pizza late last night, so that’s out of the question, and the Chinese food menu is way too big for you to make a dinner decision you feel good about. You’ve got to find something delicious you can scarf. Scarf. Snarf. Snarf’s! Perhaps the absolute best decision, for take-out or delivery. Pick up your smartphone (just reach — it’s on the table), download Snarf’s mobile app, choose one of their absolutely scrumdidlyumptious sandwiches, and order away. But beware: once you order from Snarf’s, prepare to get exponentially hungrier than you were right before you placed the order. Can’t take the anticipation? Call up Noodles & Co. and slurp up their Wisconsin mac & cheese while you wait.

Thai Restaurant

KHOW THAI

1600 Broadway St., 303-447-0273

Second Place: Buddha Cafe

Third Place: Elephant Hut

Fourth Place: Thai Kitchen

Fifth Place: Busaba

In downtown Jackson Hole, there are two Thai restaurants: Thai Me Up and Bon Appe Thai. Needless to say, these places attract giggling tourists who are appreciative of both good food and a witty owner. Though the Thai restaurants in Boulder have yet to get that creative with their names, the food is still tasty. Khow Thai, despite the difficult-to-pronounce name that doesn’t inspire any juvenile giggles, has been the winner of this category for the past nine years. The café offers a large variety of Thai cuisine at reasonable prices on an easily navigable menu. Despite its growing fame, the restaurant is clearly not resting on its laurels. Heck, it will probably win again next year. For those Thai restaurants seeking to finally beat Khow Thai, we suggest a name change, possibly something involving a funny play on the word “Thai.” Really, there is so much for you to work with.

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

LEAF

1701 Pearl St., 303-440-0220

Second Place: Mod Market

Third Place: Ras Kassa’s Ethiopian Restaurant

Fourth Place: Turley’s

Fifth Place: Walnut Café/South Side Walnut Café

Vegetarians used to have pretty limited options for dinner. Most restaurants catered to the carnivores and provided a vegetable pasta or a salad for the people who preferred rabbit food. Now vegetarians have it easy, with faux “chicken” and “pork” and every other “meat” you can name, and upscale restaurants without a single animal byproduct on the menu. Leaf, for instance, offers a menu filled with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free delights. Sadly, for the meat eaters that find themselves either dating or married to someone with the above-mentioned dietary restrictions, and subsequently find themselves sitting at a candle-lit table at Leaf, there will be no baby animals or fuzzy cows to chew on. If you’re a smooth-talking carnivore, however, you may occasionally be able to convince your significant other to try one of the other vegetarian-friendly restaurants that won awards, all of which serve meat in addition to meat-free meals.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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