Thrive, 1509 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, thriveraw.com
Thrive’s a downtown spot for vegan and diet-friendly smoothies, salads, sandwiches and snacks. Flavor and freshness are paramount in Thrive’s raw, organic concoctions, and we found both in its nori wrap. Spicy, crunchy kim chi is combined with fresh, thick-cut avocado, cucumber slices, carrots, mixed greens and a spicy cashew-milk mayo. The nori is rich in umami, and Thrive achieves a pleasant balance of flavor and texture on the inside. The soy dipping sauce served on the side brightens the flavors in the wrap even more. $6.66.
Thai Basil Fried Rice with Pork
Folsom Thai, 1575 Folsom St., Unit 101, Boulder, folsomthaiatboulder.com
Folsom Thai serves fresh, modern Thai food, from curries to stir-fries to noodles to soups. We opted for the Thai basil fried rice with browned pork on a recent visit. The rice is addictive — long-grain and browned almost to a light char, imparting deep, savory flavor. Ground pork is browned and spread throughout the dish along with bell peppers, onions, garlic, scallions and basil. The basil perfumes the rice dish without being overwhelming, and the thick-cut scallions provide a burst of texture and flavor. Get it spicy. $12.
Upslope Brewing Company, 1898 S. Flatiron Court and 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Boulder, upslopebrewing.com
You blinked and it happened: Pumpkin beers showed up all over your local liquor store. Now, “pumpkin spice” has taken a beating in recent years, but like everything else, you can do the style well or poorly. We think Upslope does pumpkin spice well in their Pumpkin Ale, now available in cans (and soon in the tap rooms). Organic baby bear pumpkins are added to a malt-forward brew imbued with six well-apportioned spices. What makes Pumpkin Ale work is its restraint — less munching on potpourri, and more fresh-baked pumpkin bread. You won’t notice its 7.7% ABV, either. Prices vary.
West Vail Sandwich
Yellowbelly Chicken, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Unit 1B, Boulder,
There are three great things about Yellowbelly Chicken: it’s quick, it’s affordable, and the chicken is high quality. Yellowbelly uses all-natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free, free-range chicken. When fried, as in the West Vail Sandwich we sampled, it’s done so in gluten-free rice flour and pressure-fried in GMO-free rice bran oil. The chicken is tender and adorned simply with lettuce, pickles and a secret zesty sauce on a toasted hoagie roll. Get the smashed fries for a salty, delicious side. $7.