Best of Boulder 2018 — Food

Snarf’s Sandwiches master David Canova



Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Salvaggio’s Italian Delicatessen

Bronze: Cured

Write-in: Dish Gourmet

You can put pretty much anything between two pieces of bread and call it a sandwich… just ask the guy we once saw eating bologna and Cheetos encased between two slices of white bread. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Thankfully, the folks at Snarf’s Sandwiches know just what to sandwich between slices of bread to make the perfect meal. They know that provolone goes best with chicken salad and Swiss cheese with turkey. They make a mean Italian sandwich, and there’s even one featuring a hot dog. And if you can’t find something you like, choose from a variety of options to build your own.

American Restaurant


1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886

600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: The Kitchen

Bronze: Blackbelly Market

Write-in: The Post Brewing Co.

Whether you’re topping off a day hiking in the Flatirons, biking along the Front Range or climbing in Eldorado Canyon, all Boulder County roads seem to lead our hungry, beer-thirsty readers into one of Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries’ locations. The wide variety of American classics — more than a dozen unique burger configurations as well as salads, soups and sandwiches — are great paired with any one of the brewery’s award-winning beers on tap. Whatever combo you settle on, expect American fare that satisfies that post-mountain hunger.

Illegal Pete’s Kitchen Manager, Medardo Abreqo Sue France



1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955

1124 13th St., 303-444-3055

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Bronze: Santiago’s

Write-in: La Choza

Meet Pete: a CU Boulder English graduate and Littleton native who, in 1995, envisioned a music-filled, fun environment for customers and employees alike. He opened the first Illegal Pete’s on the Hill, and now 23 years later, he orchestrates the wrapping and mixing of classic mission-style burritos and salad bowls in dozens of storefronts around Colorado and Arizona. If you didn’t know, the burrito joint also runs a record label, Greater Than Collective, now you do. Burritos in Boulder County really do rock.

Business Lunch


1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten

Bronze: OAK at fourteenth

Write-in: Arcana

A business lunch requires a setting that’s both comfortable and conducive to productivity. It’s a hard balance, and our readers know The Mediterranean Restaurant strikes it well, making it the perfect lunch destination when stuff needs to get done but no ones wants to compromise good food and a warm, welcoming environment. Because why should you? The Med has it all — a selection of tapas, drinks and entrees that offers something to please every palate, and an atmosphere that’s both fun and professional.



2124 14th St., 303-442-4743

518 Kimbark St., Longmont, 303-774-9814

Silver: Snooze an A.M. Eatery

Bronze: Walnut Cafe/South Side Walnut Cafe/Super Mini Walnut Cafe

Write-in: The Parkway Cafe

On the menu at Lucile’s Creole Cafe, beside the list of egg variations, grits, gumbos and Cajun potatoes, there’s a photo of the owner and his mother, Lucile. Back in 1980, the mother-son duo developed something that had never existed before in Colorado: a Creole breakfast menu. Since then, six Lucile’s locations have sprouted up along the Front Range, marking not only the restaurant’s success, but also serving as a testament to Boulder’s innovative culinary scene.

Madeline Leverett, General Manager of Fresh Thymes Eatery Sue France

Gluten-Free Menu


2500 30th St., Suite 101, 303-955-7988

2690 28th St., 720-484-5969

Silver: Modern Market

Bronze: Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar

Write-in: bartaco

Whether you have to eat gluten-free because of food allergies or simply choose to do so as a health choice, there is simply no better place in these parts, according to our readers, to dine out than Fresh Thymes Eatery. To steal from its website, “Where whole foods are an obsession, gluten-free is a given, and everyone with taste buds has a reason to put on their party pants.” That last part is oh-so true. Even if you’ve never given gluten a second thought, one glance at the menu or the beautifully prepared daily specials behind the glass as you make your way to the counter to order and you’ll know you’ve found a new favorite place to eat.

Best Artisan Doughnut


1400 Pearl St.,

If you don’t like doughnuts, then we’re going to need you to go ahead and close this edition of Best of Boulder, rent a cabin outside Rocky Mountain National Park for a week, and plan to do some hard thinking about your life and the choices that led to you not liking doughnuts. Alternatively, you could stop by OAK at fourteenth, which offers doughnuts that’ll win over even the most ardent skeptic. Pillowy, bready and sweet, these doughnuts come in rotating flavors, including maple glazes, toasted marshmallow and chocolate pistachio. And OAK even gives you the doughnut hole. Now if that’s not worth embracing, then we don’t know what is.

Ice Cream


2628 Broadway, Boulder,

669 S. Broadway, Boulder,

637 Front St., Suite B, Louisville,

Silver: Glacier Homemade
Ice Cream & Gelato

Bronze: Fior di Latte

Write-in: Scrumptious

And the winner is… you already know who the winner is. Sweet Cow Ice Cream has been dominating this category for quite a few years now. It would seem that our readers have become addicted to something that Sweet Cow puts into its frozen concoctions. Let’s see, there is milk, sugar and cream, of course, along with a variety of other fruits, spices and flavors constituting the finest, locally sourced ingredients around. On top of that, Sweet Cow makes all of its ice cream in small batches, hand-crafted on-site and served fresh daily. And the final ingredient, according to the company? Love. Oh, there’s the addictive ingredient. Sneaky, Sweet Cow, very sneaky. We love you too.



1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: Brasserie Ten Ten

Bronze: The Kitchen

Write-in: 95a Bistro & Sushi

Years ago, excellent tapas were hard to come by outside of Europe. Nowadays, American diners can’t seem to get enough of small-plate dining. As our readers note, The Mediterranean Restaurant serves up the best tapas in Boulder County, with dishes like Spanish pork and ricotta meatballs, Greek spanakopita, Italian calamari and other plates from France, Morocco and Lebanon to round out the Mediterranean medley. Try a little bit of everything and you’ll end up taking a culinary tour of the whole region.

New Restaurant


1265 Alpine Ave., 303-442-6100

Silver: bartaco

Bronze: Emmerson

Tired of driving five hours to the border of New Mexico just to get some red chile, adovada and frybread? Well, good news: now there’s Santo. Chef Hosea Rosenberg (Blackbelly) opened Santo last year as an homage to his native northern New Mexico. The place, like Blackbelly before it, took off like gangbusters, and it’s poised to linger. There are so many things to try, so we won’t try to persuade you on certain dishes, but be prepared to go three courses deep and try everyone’s items at the table. OK, just one rec: the stacked blue-corn enchiladas are insane. So is the apple and green chile pie. And so is — OK, enough.



2720 Canyon Blvd., 303-440-2903

Silver: Busaba Authentic Thai Cuisine

Bronze: Buddha Thai Cuisine

Write-in: Panang Thai Cuisine

While the recipes at Aloy Thai Cuisine are closely guarded, there’s no keeping secret how great the food is. Since coming to Boulder Valley more than 10 years ago, the mother/daughters team behind Aloy Thai Cuisine has been serving up farm-to-table, slow-cooked dishes using traditional family recipes and Thai spices. Plus, they are committed to the Boulder County way: healthy options for people with particular diets. Every dish is MSG-free, with coconut, gluten-free and vegetarian options. Certain ingredients, such as lemongrass, known for its anti-carcinogenic and stomachache relief properties, have been incorporated into the menu in a variety of dishes and teas. This place is so popular, they just opened a sister store in Denver.

Hard-to-Find Delicious Food


3601 Arapahoe Ave., 303-997-8775

Listen, you’re gonna circle The Peloton at least three times before you find Basta for the first time, but don’t give up. You’re going to find it and you’re going to be happy. Really, really happy. You’re going to indulge in fresh, in-house made burrata smothered in allium butter, garlic and sea salt as you sip a mind-blowing Sangiovese from Tuscany. Do not skip the burrata, we beg of you. We’d suggest getting some shigoku oysters, too. This is a wood-fire eatery, so pizza is a must. There are small plates of duck confit and geoduck risotto, and large plates of lamb shank and whole fish. You can’t try every delicious thing Basta offers in one visit, so you’re going to have to go back. And you’re probably going to miss your turn again, but once you know what you’re in for, you won’t be so frustrated trying to find it.

Andrew Johnston, of Moe’s broadway Bagel, serves up fresh, hot bagels. Sue France



637 S. Broadway, Suite G, 720-287-0317

3075 Arapahoe Ave., 303-442-4427

2650 Broadway, 303-444-3252

3267 28th St., 720-406-9000

Silver: Big Daddy Bagels

Bronze: Einstein Bros. Bagels

Write-in: WoodGrain Bagels

As the saying goes at Moe’s: “Only the best get baked.” Every morning at 3 a.m., the bakery team verifies the integrity of each bagel, making sure only the crème de la crème of crunch-on-the outside, soft-on-the-inside bagels sit perfectly perched in their baskets, ready to keep your morning coffee and tea company. Each of Moe’s Broadway Bagels’ four Boulder County shops offers 20 bagel flavors and churn out as many as 10,000 rounded, doughy delights a day, to our readers’ delight. The bagels go great with Moe’s flavored cream cheeses and sandwich options.

Journey through Consciousness


2414 Regent Drive, 303-492-5002

Android Jones knows a thing or two about exploring the depths of consciousness. Jones has joined the ranks of artists like Alex Gray who have brought legitimacy to the genre of psychedelic art. And let’s be honest: What isn’t legit about exploring our own minds? Samskara at Fiske Planetarium is an evolving and ongoing collaborative project between Jones and 360ART, based on ancient Vedic tales and Sanskrit mantras. Samskara leads you on a journey through consciousness and beyond the mind to discover the inner self. In 30 minutes you’ll travel from creation, through evolution, corruption, conflict and destruction, to eventual rebirth, and a path to enlightenment. Keep an eye out for future showings at Fiske — these sell out fast.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant’s Executive Chef, Dallas Houle Sue France

Vegetarian Friendly


2010 16th St., 303-442-1485

Silver: Modern Market

Bronze: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Write-in: Morning Glory Cafe

It’s hard to beat a vegetarian restaurant with its own local farm where fresh produce is grown. Which is why Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant is our readers’ favorite spot to find an extensive menu of meat-free food. Serving brunch, lunch and dinner, the creative folks at Leaf make a plethora of veggie-forward dishes like avocado tartare, jackfruit-carnitas enchiladas, and spaghetti squash peanut noodles, to name a few. But it all depends on the season, as the restaurant embraces “the cycle of cuisine from seed to plate.” These folks even started their own Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette, which supplies the restaurant with organic produce, herbs and eggs.

Asian Fusion


2655 28th St., 303-442-1700

Silver: Zoe Ma Ma

Bronze: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Write-in: Khow Thai Cafe

This isn’t the first time Chez Thuy Vietnamese Restaurant finds itself in our Best of Boulder pages — since its inception in 1993, our readers have voted it one the region’s best Asian fusion restaurants plenty of times. That’s likely due to the expansive lunch and dinner menus. There’s a robust sampling of veggie- and spice-centric South Asian fare, with a menu large enough that you can try something new every time you go. When you go for lunch, try topping off your meal with a classic Vietnamese coffee, and for dinner, don’t shy from any of the traditional Vietnamese appetizers or soups alongside your stir fry, pho, hot pot or curry.



5541 Central Ave., Suite 272, 303-443-4049

Silver: Blackbelly Market

Bronze: Cured

Write-in: McDevitt Taco Supply

Be it weddings, work lunches, baby showers, show openings or a visit from the extended family, our readers noticed A Spice of Life Catering + Events acts like a sort-of fairy godmother. Give these folks a call, state your needs and desires, and poof! Cooking, one of the most stressful components of entertaining any group, is completely taken care of. The staff has nearly three decades of experience under their aprons, and works with you on details ranging from the food components themselves to menu lettering and selecting creative props.



2010 10th St., 303-545-6262

Silver: China Gourmet

Bronze: Spice China

Write-in: Hao Way Chinese Cafe

Unlike the Americanized “Chinese” restaurants that have become ubiquitous in cities across the United States, Zoe Ma Ma takes diners back to the real streets of China with daily house-made soup and noodle specials. Instead of accepting tips, the restaurant implements a standard “sustainability initiative” that collects an extra percentage of what you pay for your meal in order to support the restaurant’s renewable programming, organic sourcing and cage-free products. The food has been reader-tested, and as they like to say, “Ma Ma approved.”

Pizzeria Locale Sous Chef, Josh Dahl Sue France



1730 Pearl St., 303-442-3003

Silver: Lucky Pie Pizza & Taphouse

Bronze: Beau Jo’s

Write-in: Street Legal Pizza

Sure, you’ve had a long day at work; haven’t we all? Here’s a secret our readers want everyone in on: Heading over to Pizzeria Locale for one of its classic Neapolitan-style pizzas and a curated glass of wine is basically the same as hopping over the Atlantic Ocean and taking a mini-vacation on an Italian farmstead. How’s that for wiping away a long day? Sure, it’s still a bit hard to choose between their offerings — the endless combinations of savory meats, cheeses and vegetables piled on doughy delight — but our readers guarantee it’s easier than anything you had to do at work because, in the end, you can’t go wrong: Anything you select will transport you real quick to a world far, far away.

East County Restaurant


105 W. Emma St., Lafayette, 303-593-2066

1258 S. Hover Road, Longmont, 720-588-2883

Silver: Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

Bronze: Colterra

Write-in: Community

Let’s start with the bird. Humanely raised, all-natural chickens are prepped with the utmost love and care at The Post Brewing Co., known for its finger-licking good fried chicken. Brined for hours to maximize flavor, the chicken is then dipped in buttermilk, seasoned with gluten-free flour and fried to moist, yet crispy perfection before gracing your plate. The beer selection speaks for itself, having accumulated numerous awards and even piquing the interest of Guy Fieri himself.

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar Executive Chef, Sheila Lucero Sue France



928 Pearl St., 303-444-1811

Silver: Wild Standard

Bronze: Tortugas

Getting great seafood in landlocked Colorado might seem like a challenge. Thankfully there are places like Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar. Jax is committed to sustainable fishing practices by partnering with a variety of organizations like Seafood Watch and Sea to Table in an effort to respect and maintain global oceanic fish stocks and sustainable fisheries. Join the Oyster Club and get access to fresh oysters from around the continent and learn to wash, hold, shuck and store oysters for yourself. Doing good for the planet makes the food taste that much better.

Place to Eat Outdoors


2775 Valmont Road, 303-214-2127

Silver: Chautauqua Dining Hall

Bronze: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Write-in: Rosalee’s Pizzeria

There’s nothing better than a good backyard party — you’ve got all your friends there and the smell of burgers is heavy in the air. The Rayback Collective is the valley’s year-round backyard get-together, with the added bonus that you don’t have to cook. Take a break from playing a game of cornhole with your buds and grab a bite to eat at one of the four food trucks. Snag a beer while you’re at it and then maybe go warm up a little by the firepit. We live in Boulder County, which means we really know a thing or two about being outdoors. That’s why our readers love to eat al fresco at the Rayback Collective.

Mix of Food and History

Gold Hill Inn

401 Main St., Boulder, 303-443-6461

Gold Hill was a mining town full of mountain men. The Bluebirds were a group of self-reliant women from Chicago. For whatever reason, those strong, independent Chicago women decided to summer in Gold Hill.  They built a lodge and a dining hall. What they did all summer with those mountain men remains a bit of a mystery. But what became of the dining hall is a legend. The Gold Hill Inn is simply one of the most unique dining experiences in the state of Colorado. Five-star food served in a relaxed mountain setting where a cold beer or glass of wine by the fireplace is the perfect beginning or end to an amazing six-course meal.  What are you waiting for? Head up the hill and experience it for yourself.

Chef Sarah Amorese, owner of Piece, Love & Chocolate Sue France



805 Pearl St., 303-449-4804

Silver: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Bronze: Chocolove

Write-in: Chocolaterie Stam

Consider it Boulder County’s chocolate headquarters: Piece, Love & Chocolate specializes in every aspect of this beloved, versatile food. Walking through the doors of this Pearl Street location , customers are greeted by an abundance of truffles, cakes and creams filling the glass display cases. But that’s only the beginning. Peek beyond the counters into the open kitchen and you can watch the master chocolatiers at work, perhaps whipping up a fresh creation just for you. If it has anything to do with chocolate, our readers say this is the place to find it.

Frozen Yogurt


3133 28th St., 303-440-6542

4760 Baseline Road, 303-499-4760

Silver: Ripple Pure Frozen Yogurt

Bronze: Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

If it’s frozen, delicious, good-for-you and made from fresh ingredients, chances are you’re eating a pile of Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato’s amazing frozen yogurt. Whether it’s the bing cherry, chai or chocolate, you can count on it being low-fat, gluten-free and off-the-charts tasty. So don’t be one of those cold-things-are-for-summer-only people. Frozen yogurt will put a smile on anybody’s face any time of year. Just remember to eat slowly —brain freeze is a real bummer.

Sandra Aragon, Breadmaker for moxie Bread Co. Sue France



641 Main St., Louisville, 720-420-9616

Silver: Great Harvest Bread Co.

Bronze: Lucky’s Bakehouse and Creamery

Write-in: Button Rock Bakery

When it comes to baking, ingredients matter. Moxie Bread Co. uses only organic heirloom wheat flour for its sweet and savory goodies because, according to the company, these heirloom grain varieties are digested more easily than other modern wheats. Good, because the more efficiently we digest, the sooner we can go back for more, right? Walk into Moxie and you might believe you’ve been magically transported to a patisserie somewhere in northwest France, where fig and chocolate croissants, egg pastries and bubbling-over muffin crumbles delight the senses. As our cuisine editor wrote in 2015, “It’s what would typically be considered a high-end Euro-style bakery in the U.S., turned casual and authentic.” But we’re not this bakery’s only fans: Moxie’s Andy Clark was a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist in the category of Outstanding Baker. Think about that on your way to get your next baked-goods fix.

Georgia Boys BBQ Company co-owner Matt Alexander Sue France



250 Third Ave., Longmont, 720-999-4099

Silver: KT’s BBQ

Bronze: LuLu’s BBQ

Write-in: Big Daddy’s Texas BBQ

If Georgia Boys BBQ Company’s recent television debut is any indication, this Boulder County favorite is finally garnering the national attention its savory meats, slathered in thick sauce deserve. Clearly, our wise readers knew how great Georgia Boys BBQ is long before this local favorite was featured on the Travel Channel. So while the rest of the country is just now catching on , you can get a head-start to either their Longmont or Frederick location to experience the best BBQ in these parts. Thank you Georgia for your culinary contribution to Boulder County.

Best Pizza Shop Swap


2525 Arapahoe Ave., 303-396-6366

It was sad to see Pizzeria Da Lupo vacate the Arapahoe Village Shopping Center, but the mourning didn’t last long as Vero swept in to fill the pizza-shaped hole in our hearts. Andrea Frizzi’s wood-fired pizza joint has been winning hearts in Denver for years with its focus on traditional Milanese fare served in a laid-back trattoria setting. In addition to the ‘za, the Boulder location also serves up small plates of burrata, crudo, carpaccio and calamari. And there’s plenty of Italian wine to go around.

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery Chef Nate Lemcke



1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886

600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Larkburger

Bronze: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Write-in: Waterloo

You can’t go wrong with any burger you choose at Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries. Really, it’s just a matter of deciding what your taste buds are in the mood for; cheesy, spicy, fresh, bold… the Sun has it all. And if its menu of unique burger options doesn’t have exactly what you’re looking for, you can build your own from a selection of meats, toppings and buns. Add on a basket of fries to share with the table and you’re in burger heaven. Pass the malt vinegar, will ya’?

Place to Eat Alone


2850 Baseline Road, 303-442-5588

It happens. Your date doesn’t show up. Your friend bails. It’s just too late to call a back up. You’re alone. You need food. Now. In our eyes, there’s only one place to go in this situation and that’s Café Mexicali. We won’t even get into their mouth-wateringly delicious selection of smothered burritos, inside-out burrito bowls, salads with the works and quesadilla options… what matters is how single-friendly the place is. With seat-yourself two-top tables sprinkled upstairs and downstairs, tucked alongside large plants and cheery décor, and a always a welcoming kitchen staff, you’ll feel more than comfortable ordering your dream ‘rito and settling into your table-for-one.

Place to Look at Garbage


5880 Butte Mille Road, 303-444-2037

We’ve got good news for all you garbage-heads out there. Have you ever been curious about where your trash goes once the truck comes and hauls it away? Wonder no more — it goes to the Western Disposal Services Trash and Recycling Center. There’s literally no better place to watch a bunch of trash get all up in itself. Pizza boxes? They got ’em. Candy wrappers? Yup. Paper towels? Oh, H yes. And you better believe you can see some things getting recycled. Look, we know we all moved to Boulder County for its recreational opportunities, and that includes binge-watcing garbage dumps. Luckily, we have just the place to do it.

Food Truck


Mobile, Boulder County, 520-358-3670

Silver: McDevitt Taco Supply

Bronze: Waffle Cakes

Write-in: Los Dos Bros

Verde means green. In this case, Verde means a great big green food truck that its Arizona transplant owners dedicated to serving authentic, fresh and flavorful Sonoran-style Mexican food to Boulder County and beyond. This truck’s Southwest-influenced Mexican offerings include burritos, tacos, enchiladas and quesadillas. You can fill most of these with your choice of deliciousness, including chicken, machaca, carnitas or grilled veggies. And if you happen to see this big green truck in the morning, you don’t have to follow it around until lunch to place an order. They also serve up breakfast burritos and tacos. No wonder our readers love this truck.



2124 14th St., 303-442-4743

518 Kimbark St., Longmont,

Silver: Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

Bronze: Tangerine

Write-in: Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar

Ah, brunch: that sweet spot of time after you’ve slept in and before you’ve committed to doing anything with your day. Our readers say there’s no better place to spend this magical time than at Lucile’s Creole Café. Our readers know the value of a good, wholesome meal — it nourishes the body and soul. Spending a late morning at Lucile’s noshing on dishes like eggs Benedict, rice pudding porridge, creole omeletes and other Southern classics is just about as much as you can do to nourish and love yourself. Don’t forget to try one of their famous bloody Marys — it just ain’t brunch without a bloody.

Food Delivery


Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Cosmo’s Pizza

Bronze: Abo’s Pizza

Write-in: Pizza King

Snarf’s Sandwiches has been a staple in Boulder County ever since founder Jimmy Seidel decided that instead of searching for the world’s best sandwich, he’d just make it instead. Since the first shop opened on Pearl Street 22 years ago, Snarf’s has grown to 17 Front Range locations. And Jimmy didn’t just create the best sandwich, he created a chalkboard full of great sandwiches. So many, in fact, that hungry patrons have been known to become dizzy and confused trying to decide what to order. But don’t worry about slowing down the line, because Snarf’s delivers. Why move your legs when you can sit in your recliner and choose the sandwich that goes best with the game you’re watching? (Spoiler: you will have to use your hands to place the order online.) Not long after you decide, you’ll be honking down a little piece of sandwich heaven.

Food on the Hill


1165 13th St., 303-444-7465

Silver: Illegal Pete’s

Bronze: Cafe Aion

Write-in: Ado’s Kitchen & Bar

We know, this category sort of sounds like a Beatles’ song, and it has just about as much history as well. The Sink has been around in one incarnation or another since 1940. In 1958, the famous hickory sauce Sink Burger was created, and it’s been a mainstay ever since. Robert Redford was a janitor at The Sink a full eight years before John, Paul, Ringo and George ever invaded the States. The ’60s and ’70s still decorate the walls at this historic Hill establishment, and it’s been said that without The Sink, there wouldn’t be a Hill. Our readers must agree because they keep voting this place the Hill’s best year after year. So whether it’s burgers, pizza, a cold brew or an extra large portion of nostalgia, this place has it all.

Efrain’s Bartender Ally Jones Sue France



1630 N. 63rd St., 303-440-4045

101 E. Cleveland St., Lafayette, 303-666-7544

Silver: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

Bronze: T|ACO

Write-in: bartaco

Woo-wee, we can’t help but whole-heartedly approve of our reader’s selection of Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina as a supreme vendor of Mexican cuisine. They serve everything you could want in a sit-down Mexican joint: gut-busting burritos, spicy chile verde, dynamite enchiladas and robust tacos. Seriously, the chile verde is so good and so hot, you’ll be on a roller coaster of heat-induced emotion. The drinks are excellent companions to the fare, with a wide selection of freshly made margaritas. And if you’re feeling like your sweet tooth needs a little attention, pillowy sopapillas drizzled with honey and cinnamon sugar are the way to go.



1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733

Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Bronze: Japango

Write-in: Tasuki Sushi Bistro

In Japanese, zanmai can mean “ambition” but it also translates to “indulgence.” At Sushi Zanmai, the ambitious chefs deliver indulgent sushi our readers continually say is the best. There are classics like nigiri (raw fish over rice) and sashimi (raw fish, no rice). There are simple maki rolls like salmon with avocado or the beloved California roll. But there’s also extravagant specialty rolls such as the Dragon-Z (eel and shrimp tempura) and the Galaxy roll (eel, spicy tuna and roe). No matter what direction you choose, you’re sure to walk away satisfied.

Place to Play Real-Life Frogger

The Median on South Broadway at Table Mesa Shopping Center

Nothing focuses the mind like the awareness that to trip or slip off of the tiny concrete ridge you’re standing on would likely result in death. So just what is this daily death-defying ritual being practiced by dozens of South Boulder residents? Is it some Mr. Miyagi experiment to prep us for our next match against the evil dojo down the street? Heck no. It’s the South Boulder migration for sustenance, aka real-life Frogger.

Lucky’s, King Soopers and a host of restaurants and coffee shops are all located on the West side of Broadway in the Table Mesa Shopping Center, while a whole bunch of  hungry folks live or work just a stone’s throw away on the East side of that bust street. If you want food, it’s either a three-block walk to the corner or a 150-foot sprint across Broadway that, when traffic’s heavy, could qualify as an American Ninja event. To be successful, the hungry participant waits for a small break in traffic then sprints to the two-foot wide median with a hump in the middle, jumping onto the ridge without flying past into the other two lanes of traffic. Next you balance on the tiny ridge while cars fly by at 50 miles an hour in front and behind you. And finally, when the traffic gods allow, you finish off the other two lanes as fast as you can. Repeat this Frogger game on your return trip and you are rewarded with a plastic container of tuna fish. Hardly seems worth it if you think about it.      



637 Front St., Louisville, 303-666-5743

7916 Niwot Road, Niwot, 720-684-6888

Silver: Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries

Bronze: Noodles & Company

Write-in: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

Really, truly, honestly: Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House is as kid-friendly as a restaurant can get. Its Louisville location not only shares a building with Sweet Cow Ice Cream, but also sports a play area for kiddos to run around and, you know, be kids. There’s plant life and vegetables growing, so the value of local food can seep into their growing brains via osmosis as they chase their buddies. Not to mention Lucky Pie’s friendly staff, lively atmosphere and kid-friendly menu that make it a great place to take the whole family for a night out.

Nederland Restaurant


20 E. Lakeview Drive, Suite 212, 303-258-0176

Silver: Kathmandu Restaurant

Bronze: Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse

Write-in: Ned’s

Why fuss over dining decisions when Backcountry Pizza & Tap House is an option? They have everything you could want: fresh pizza with lots of options for toppings, well-made pub grub, salads, soups and of course, a world-class selection of beers to try. Seriously, that variety of brew is virtually unparalleled in the state, let alone the community of Nederland. Best of all, you can tailor a trip to Backcountry to fit your needs; pick up a slice on the go or stop in at happy hour to sample a few options.

Restaurant Ambiance


1770 13th St., 303-442-4993

Silver: Flagstaff House Restaurant

Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Write-in: Arcana

Our readers know the story of how the beautiful Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse came to reside near Boulder Creek downtown; how more than 40 artisans in Tajikistan (including in one of our sister cities, Dushanbe) created the hand-carved and hand-painted ceiling, tables, stools, columns and exterior ceramic panels; and how the tiles outside depict a “Tree of Life,” and the central pool inside features seven hammered copper sculptures by Ivan Milashevich. But, honestly, our readers didn’t even have to know any of that to know that the Dushanbe Teahouse has the best ambiance around. You can just feel it when you walk in the room.



1175 Walnut St., 303-443-9468

Silver: Pica’s Mexican Taqueria

Bronze: bartaco

Write-in: Centro Mexican Kitchen

Who doesn’t like tacos? They are the world’s most perfect food; some may even say they are a way of life. They are portable. They have the ultimate balance of meat, carbs, dairy and vegetables. You can indulge, eating more than one without feeling guilty. And you can find them almost anywhere. Still, our readers say that the tacos at T|ACO are the best around. Offering myriad combinations of tortilla-encased ingredients, the menu is a smorgasbord of flavors. From traditional Mexican street tacos to creative combinations dubbed “north of the border,” find a taco and a good time for everyone at T|ACO.

Nelson Rowe, Bartender at Rayback Collective Sue France

Place to Go on a First Date


2775 Valmont Road, 303-214-2127

Silver: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Bronze: The Mediterranean Restaurant

Write-in: Arcana

First dates — where to go? Having dinner sounds good, but you want something hip, something with variety. Music would be good; if you really hit it off you can dance. You’d like the option of hanging outside, but maybe your date will want to sit inside. Rayback Collective meets all our readers’ first date criteria. There are four food trucks available in a huge backyard-party setting — complete with cornhole — and a bar and lounge inside where folks can listen to some live music and sit down to eat. Essentially our readers are telling us your first date has a way higher chance of being a good one if you go to Rayback Collective.

Lyons Restaurant


303 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-6685

Silver: Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ & Taphouse

Bronze: Lyons Fork

There’s something about Lyons that makes us hungry just thinking about it. Maybe it’s because this community known as the  “town with grit” since the 2013 flood is also synonymous with enjoying the great outdoors, be it wading in the river, hiking a mountain trail or taking in tunes at Planet Bluegrass. All that recreation works up an appetite and so both locals and visitors are thankful for Oskar Blues Grill and Brew. In addition to its classic lineup of brews, the original Lyons outpost serves American and Cajun-inspired fare that’s easy on the palate and the wallet.

Flagstaff House restaurant chef Chris Royster Sue France

Restaurant Dessert


1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640

Silver: The Kitchen

Bronze: Boulder Cork

Write-in: Arcana

The views from Flagstaff House are pretty sweet, but our readers say the sophisticated, world-class desserts are even sweeter. Looking down on Boulder Valley, diners can choose from at least a dozen incredible desserts. Try a poached Barlett pear with candied orange, gingersnap crumble, pear ice cream and ginger sabayon (an Italian custard). Or how about this classic? Warm rhubarb pie, with orange cream, rhubarb compote and black pepper ice cream.  (Grandma never put black pepper ice cream on her rhubarb pie, but she should have.) Wanting Something more simple? How about homespun ice creams including dairy-free selections. Is there any wonder why our readers chose Flagstaff House.

Restaurant Service


1535 Pearl St., 303-546-0886

627 S. Broadway, Unit E, 303-543-0886

600 Longs Peak Ave., Longmont, 303-651-7886

Silver: Flagstaff House Restaurant

Bronze: Frasca Food and Wine

Write-in: Arcana

Our readers agree for another year: The fine folks at Mountain Sun Pubs & Breweries provide exceptional restaurant service no matter the situation or occasion. It could be a slow afternoon midweek or happy hour during Stout Month with a one-hour wait (with plenty of free fries to keep you busy), or maybe it’s your birthday or some other celebratory occasion. No matter what, there’s nothing quite like the smiling crew, rotating positions around the restaurant. At Mountain Sun everybody is your server and everybody is kind and friendly. No wonder our readers keep choosing these folks year after year.

Greg Carelli, owner of Carelli’s of Boulder



645 30th St., 303-938-9300

Silver: Pasta Jay’s

Bronze: Pizzeria Locale

Write-in: Zucca Italian Ristorante

It’s been 26 years since Greg Carelli opened his Italian sub sandwich shop in the William’s Village Shopping Center. Carelli’s of Boulder has come a long way since those early days. Today, it is an award-winning Italian restaurant, with fresh pasta dishes, pizza, salads and antipasti selections our readers call their favorite, which is saying something in one of America’s foodiest counties. While the decor has changed over the years — it’s now an unpretentious classic Italian atmosphere — the principles that have always guided the restaurant have stayed the same: Food made with the freshest and finest-quality ingredients, served with exceptional customer service, equals success. Can’t argue with that formula.

Fine Dining


1138 Flagstaff Road, 303-442-4640

Silver: Frasca Food and Wine

Bronze: OAK at fourteenth

Write-in: Arcana

Thanks to Flagstaff House, patrons from all over Colorado have an amazing world-class restaurant to enjoy. Who wouldn’t want to spend an evening of fine dining atop Flagstaff Mountain, gazing across a plate of carefully curated American cuisine right into the area’s best panoramic views? While the views guarantee a memorable dining experience, it is the creative and perfectly prepared food and five-star service that will have you dreaming of a return visit before you have left the parking lot. Without Flagstaff House charting the course, one could easily argue that our famed culinary scene wouldn’t be what it is today. And yes, the wine cellar is tremendous and the deserts are the best anywhere.

Dustin Green, Chef at Sushi Zanmai Sue France



1221 Spruce St., 303-440-0733

Silver: Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar

Bronze: Japango

Write-in (Tie): Sushi Leo; Yurihana

There’s almost too much to like about Sushi Zanmai. The sushi, the atmosphere, the drinks… they’re all primo, a-number-one at this famed Spruce Street establishment. But the extensive menu of Japanese culinary delights is arguably the best reason to visit. Its ramen bowls — tonkotsu, miso, spicy and more — are well-constructed, soul-enriching and bold in flavor. Its tempura dinners are healthy indulgences. And its grill and hot pot dinners are unparalleled in our county. Of course, it’d be a shame to leave Sushi Zanmai without dabbling in a specialty or standard roll, so maybe order one for the table to go with your udon bowl and sake carafe.

Take Out


Various locations around Boulder County

Silver: Chez Thuy Vietnamese Restaurant

Bronze: Curry ‘N’ Kebob

Write-in: Tiffin’s India Cafe

Sometimes you just want to grab some food and go. When it’s sunny outside, the park often calls you to sit and eat underneath a clear blue sky. If it’s snowy, there’s nothing better than curling up on the couch in sweats to chow down. In either case, Snarf’s Sandwiches has you covered. With an extensive menu of made-to-order sandwiches, salads and sides, our readers say it’s the best place for carry out.

Place to Walk Off Your Calories


4201 North Broadway

Those steps won’t count themselves. Plug in the headphones, lace up those shoes, hit play on your Cardio Blast workout playlist and get walking. One-two, one-two. You got this! As we know from the pages of this issue, there are just too many A-plus food options in the county. You need to try them all. So, in between your restaurant, frozen yogurt and café tours, head out to North Boulder’s Wonderland Lake. The smooth and even 1.5-mile trail loops around the water, delivering the freshest mountain air vibes you’ll find without committing to any elevation gain.

Michael Kramer-Duffield, bartender and server at the Kitchen Sue France

Organic Restaurant


1039 Pearl St., 303-544-5973

Silver: Fresh Thymes Eatery

Bronze: Modern Market

Write-in: Thrive

Kimbal Musk has taken his restaurant The Kitchen to amazing heights. Our readers have long appreciated his dedication to serving delicious foods made from locally sourced organic products. Vegetable menus invite curious diners to see the full potential of what our local produce can be, and the dinner menu samples various American culinary traditions while borrowing from overseas when necessary. The Kitchen represents what Front Range diners hold dear in their food choices; locally sourced, organic, perfectly prepared simplicity and delicious. The Kitchen is farm to table at its best, and for that alone it deserves all the kudos it receives.

[staff pick]

Place to Wear One of Those Umbrella Hats


5565 N. 51st St.

Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine every year. We bet you didn’t know that. We heard it from a guy selling little umbrella hats, the kind with a band that affixes around your dome and then provides cooling shade for half of your face. We were heading out to Boulder Reservoir for a day by the water, and thought to bring a stupid old baseball hat. But, umbrella man said, “You can wear an umbrella hat not only at the Res, but at black-tie functions, job interviews, grand openings of zoos, empty playgrounds and, yes, even on the set of SlapChop infomercials.” What’d we tell him? “You had us at the Res.”

Cosmos’s Pizza maker, Mikey Mann, works his magic. Sue France

Pizza Slice

Cosmo’s Pizza

659 30th St., 303-447-3278

3117 28th St., 303-442-3278

1325 Broadway, Suite 108, 303-447-1133

Silver: Abo’s Pizza

Bronze: Audrey Jane’s Pizza Garage

Write-in: Street Legal Pizza

Pizza is one of mankind’s greatest culinary inventions (along with tacos and empanadas): It’s portable, filling and unassuming. But perhaps best of all it’s customizable. When our readers are looking for the perfect, personalized slice of pie, they look to Cosmo’s Pizza. This place is no frills. Absolutely no nonsense. All the energy goes toward making great New York-style pizza. Walk into one of Cosmo’s Pizza three Boulder County locations for take-out or to grab a hot, pre-made slice to munch right there. So even though it’s debatable whether pineapple actually belongs on pizza, there’s no question that Cosmo’s serves up our readers’ favorite slices of pie.

Once again, the Med is Boulder County’s best overall restaurant.



1002 Walnut St., 303-444-5335

Silver: The Kitchen

Bronze: Brasserie Ten Ten

Write-in: Arcana

he Mediterranean Restaurant is what Boulder County would be if it were a restaurant; that is to say, it’s casual yet energetic, it’s eclectic and welcoming — and it loves good food paired with just the right beer or cocktail. The Med offers diners a tour of the Mediterranean via its hot and cold tapas, from ajo asado to spanakopita. There are piping hot pans of paellas, artisan pizzas and fresh seafood, rich pastas and melt-in-your-mouth steaks… and that’s to say nothing of the decadent desserts and digestifs. Wrap all of that into a warm, welcoming environment right in the heart of downtown Boulder and it’s clear why our readers choose The Med again and again as Boulder County’s best overall restaurant.

Best Popsicle


1048 Pearl St., Suite 107, 303-443-9803

Popsicles are terrific and too often undervalued. They’re light and refreshing, while still possessing bold flavors. Le Pops get this, which is why people can’t get enough of this shop. Le Pops unique popsicles are split into cream pops and ice pops. Flavors rotate but include salted caramel, butterscotch, milk + cookies, chocolate avocado and grapefruit mint. To gild the frozen lily, you can add dips of various chocolates and toppings, including toasted coconut, pralined almonds, pretzels and more.

Hannah Johnson, Server at Snooze, An A.M. Eatery Sue France



1617 Pearl St., 303-225-7344

Silver: Walnut Cafe/South Side Walnut Cafe/Super Mini Walnut Cafe

Bronze: The Buff Restaurant

Write-in: Morning Glory Cafe

Drive past Snooze, an A.M. Eatery on any given Saturday at 10 a.m. and there’s sure to be a crowd milling about waiting for a table. With a plethora of breakfast and brunch options around, what makes our readers wait it out for a table at Snooze? Several things, actually, but foremost on that list is pancakes. There are pineapple upside down pancakes, sweet potato pancakes, blueberry danish pancakes… and what?? I Want Sum’oa Pancakes? Y’all, this dish includes homemade vanilla creme anglaise, caramel sauce and shortbread crumble, drizzled with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with coconut and powdered sugar. Can’t make a choice? No one can, and that’s why you can get a flight of any three pancakes you want.

Late Night


1447 Pearl St., 303-440-3955

1124 13th St., 303-444-3055

Silver: Cosmo’s Pizza

Bronze: World Famous Dark Horse Bar and Grill

Write-in: bartaco

OK, let’s set the scene. It’s late. We’re talking 11:25 p.m. late. The only people out are vampires and raccoons. But you’re famished. You briefly consider hunting the raccoons for their tasty, tasty meat, but think, no, how about a burrito? You look up and there it is: Illegal Pete’s, a haven for burritos, tacos, quesadillas, taquitos and much more. There’s a bunch of meats to choose from to pack your burrito (all of which taste better than raccoon), plus vegetarian/vegan options, and there’s some choice brewski and cocktail options if you’re looking for a night cap. No matter how you got there at that ungodly witching hour, Illegal Pete’s welcomes you.

Place to Sit in Traffic



Winning best place to sit in traffic is like winning best emergency airplane landing or fewest instances of food poisoning. Even at its best, it’s still not great. And we know that at rush hour and on weekends, Boulder’s two main arteries — 28th Street and Broadway — can became constricted and clogged with the fatty plaque we call cars. Ever try to turn into any parking lot at 28th and Pearl on a weekend? Nightmare. What makes it the best traffic though? Seeing people run, bike or even walk past your stopped car and soon fade off into the horizon.

Sarki Sherpa, Executive Chef at Sherpa’s Restaurant



825 Walnut St., 303-440-7151

Silver: Kathmandu Restaurant

Bronze: Curry ‘N’ Kebob

Write-in: Tiffin’s India Cafe

How authentic is the Indian food at Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant & Bar? Consider this: the place is so authentic that the staff is largely made up of Sherpas, people from the Mt. Everest region, including the chef, Jangbu Sherpa, who has summited Mt. Everest 10 times without supplemental oxygen. So what happens when a restaurant puts that kind of commitment into its food? It turns out to be our readers’ favorite place for Indian food. Sherpa’s serves up Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan specialties that will blow you away. So whether you are craving dumplings, vindaloo, korma or tandoori, listen to our readers and form your own expedition over to Sherpa’s.

[staff pick]

Spot to Hang a Hammock and Read a Book


1505 30th St.

We’ve all been there before: You breeze through a busy morning and then afternoon hits and, suddenly, there’s nothing to do. Maybe it’s a rarer occurrence than you might wish, but these moments do sneak up every once in a while. Before you reach for your phone, flick on the TV or dive into another mindless time-sucking task, consider grabbing your hammock and that book you’ve been meaning to read but never have time for and heading to Scott Carpenter Park. It’s a great place to rig up your relaxation station between two of the trees that line the southern edge of the park. Hop in, kick back and crack your book wide open.

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