Winner, winner, local dinner

Boulder County boasts award-winning restaurants, TV-featured dives and celebrated breweries

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Boulder's Bohemian Biergarten dishes up Central European fare and imported European biers. Courtesy: Bohemian Biergarten

When it came to dining, Boulder used to be flyover territory. Now this small Colorado city is a bona fide American culinary destination and home to many bucket list restaurants. Food-minded tourists from across the nation and the globe are trekking here just to go out to dinner.  

It has been a long time coming. The Flagstaff House Restaurant has been grabbing wine headlines since at least 1983. Back in 1999, Boulder chef James Mazzio at 15 Degrees restaurant was named a Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef. In 2009, Hosea Rosenberg — then at Jax Fish House — won Season 5 of Top Chef. Boulder was dubbed by Bon Appétit as “America’s Foodiest Town” in 2010. Numerous local eateries have brought home James Beard Awards and nominations or appeared on TV food shows. 

Boulder truly strode into the culinary spotlight in 2023 when the Michelin Guide debuted in Colorado. The Michelins are regarded as the most prestigious dining awards in the world, and Boulder eateries grabbed more than their share of the honors. 

Michelin awards one, two or three stars to a small handful of exceptional eateries. It also awards Bib Gourmand distinctions to establishments that offer “great quality food at good prices,” meaning a three-course meal for under $50. A green star is awarded to eateries dedicated to sustainability, and other restaurants are given Michelin Recommended status.  

The result is that Boulder diners accustomed to easily securing a table on weekend nights are finding that they need to make primetime reservations weeks ahead.  

Here are the Boulder County eateries that should be on savvy diners’ bucket lists, according to the Michelin Man. 

Susan France PIzzaiolo Jose Rodriguez, left, prepares food in BASTA’s wood-fired oven.

BASTA  
3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder  

BASTA earned Bib Gourmand honors from the Michelin Guide in 2023. The 2024 James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards national semifinalists include chef Kelly Whitaker in the Outstanding Restaurateur category. His Boulder-based Id Est Hospitality Group includes The Wolf’s Tailor and BRUTØ in Denver and
BASTA and Dry Storage in Boulder, which have all earned additional honors from Michelin and the James Beard Awards.   

Blackbelly Market  
1606 Conestoga St., Boulder  

Hosea Rosenberg has grown his restaurant, market and artisan butcher shop into a nationally recognized destination. Michelin awarded Blackbelly a green star for its sustainability efforts and named Kelly Kawachi, Blackbelly’s head butcher, as Colorado’s top culinary professional.   

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse 
1770 13th St., Boulder 

North America’s only authentic Persian teahouse debuted 25 years ago in Boulder. One of the city’s most visited attractions features authentic tea service and an international menu ranging from Korean pan-fried noodles to Peruvian parihuela. The teahouse earned Michelin Guide Recommended status in 2023.

Chef and farmer Eric Skokan at his Black Cat Farm. Courtesy: Bramble & Hare

Bramble & Hare 
1970 13th St., Boulder 

Chef and farmer Eric Skokan is a James Beard Awards finalist. It’s not surprising that Bramble and Hare earned a Michelin green star since most of the produce and meat served at the restaurant is grown sustainably on Skokan’s farm. His beloved, pandemic-born feasts on the farm have been on hiatus for more than a year for building and permits, but the chef plans to relaunch the farm dinners this summer.

Flagstaff House 
1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder 

Every year since 1983, the Flagstaff House has received the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award for its wine service and cellar, now stocked with more than 16,000 bottles. The restaurant was recently named one of OpenTable’s Top 100 Romantic Restaurants in America. 

Frasca Food and Wine 
1738 Pearl St., Boulder 

The most celebrated Boulder eatery ever brought home the city’s only Michelin star as well as honors for the best service staff in the state under the direction of wine and hospitality guru Bobby Stuckey. Frasca has won three James Beard Awards, including the coveted Outstanding Service Award.

Susan France Isabelle Farm owner Natalie Condon (left) and Ginger Pig food truck owner Natascha Sherman Hess have created a tasteful partnership.

Ginger Pig  
1203 13th St., Boulder 

Starting as an Asian street food-oriented Boulder food truck in 2016, Natascha Sherman Hess’ Ginger Pig became a Denver restaurant in 2020. In 2023, she opened a second, takeout-only Ginger Pig on the Hill in Boulder. Denver’s Ginger Pig was awarded Bib Gourmand honors in 2023.Hess also competed on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flay

Marigold  
405 Main St., Lyons 

Marigold may be a new restaurant, but chef/owner Theo Adley has wowed local palates for 20 years at Pinyon and Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, and at Aspen’s Little Nell. The 40-seat Marigold focuses on fare from northern Italy and southern France, using local ingredients. Theo Adley is a 2024 James Beard Awards semi-finalist in the Best Chef: Mountain category. 

Shawn Campbell A cocktail from Oak at Fourteenth

Oak at Fourteenth  
1400 Pearl St., Boulder 

Chef Steven Redzikowski is a James Beard Award nominee. The American restaurant earned Michelin Recommended status.  

Santo 
1265 Alpine Ave., Boulder 

Chef Rosenberg’s eatery inspired by his New Mexico upbringing earned Michelin Recommended status in 2023.  

Stella’s Cucina 
1123 Walnut St., Boulder 

Despite the fact that Stella’s Cucina had only been open a short time, the upscale Italian restaurant earned Michelin Recommended status.  

Zoe Ma Ma 
2010 10th St., Boulder 

Zoe Ma Ma earned Michelin Recommended status in 2023. Chef and owner Edwin Zoe was a 2022 James Beard Award semi-finalist in the Outstanding Restauranteur category for his Zoe Ma Ma and Dragonfly Noodle restaurants in Boulder and Denver. 

Jason Lowrie/BFA.com The bar and dining room at Stella’s Cucina.

I’ll have what Guy’s having 

The Food Network has brought Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and its famous host, Guy Fieri, to Boulder numerous times. Here are the spots he visited and the items the audience watched him consume:  

Guy Fieri at Boulder’s Bohemian Biergarten.
  • Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage, 2675 13th St.: Meatball grinder sub  
  • Aloy Thai, 2720 Canyon Blvd.: Khao soi soup 
  • Zoe Ma Ma, 2010 10th St.: Pork steamed buns and za jiang mian 
  • Foolish Craig’s Cafe, 1611 Pearl St.: 21-layer butter rum caramel crepe cake  
  • The Sink, 1165 13th St.: Texas onion straw burger  
  • Bohemian Biergarten, 2017 13th St.: Apple strudel  
  • Rincon Argentino, 2525 Arapahoe Ave.: Milanesa Napolitana and tradicional steak empanadas 
Susan France Osaka’s burgers.

More celebrated destinations 

Osaka’s of Boulder, 2460 Canyon Blvd.: The Osaka Burger made Yelp’s list of the Top 100 Burgers in America 

Tandoori Kitchen, 199 W South Boulder RoadLafayette: Ranked No. 41 on Yelp’s list of the Top-100 U.S. Restaurants 

Spirits from two Boulder distillers received serious honors at the 2024 World Whiskies Awards: 

  • Hogback Distillery, 5311 Western Ave. Suite 174: Wallace Collection Peated Malt  
  • Vapor Distillery, 5311 Western Ave. Suite 180: Boulder Spirits Straight Bourbon Whiskey Cask Strength  
Susan France Wibby Brewing’s bartender, Shane Sauer

Award-winning ales 

Boulder County, often labeled the Silicon Valley of the craft brewing movement, is home to dozens of breweries that have taken home competition medals.

At the 2023 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, locals earning medals included Boulder’s Avery Brewing, Lafayette’s Liquid Mechanics and Westbound & Down, Knuckle Puck Brewing in Mead, and Longmont’s Pumphouse Brewery, Left Hand Brewing and Oskar Blues Brewery. Wibby Brewing in Longmont was honored as Brewery of the Year in the 5,001 to 15,000-barrel category. 

More winners: greatamericanbeerfestival.com