Boulder, Colorado is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, and there’s no better way to spend a day than hiking in Boulder and fueling up at some of the most amazing restaurants the city has to offer.
1. Moules Marineres at Brasserie Ten Ten
This French bistro in downtown Boulder has a wide variety of traditional French cuisine, but nothing tops the Moules à la marinière. These mussels seasoned with thyme, dressed in butter, and set on top of plate of fries are truly heavenly. As someone who has lived in Brittany, France, where moules originated from, I can say these are the closest I’ve had to the original.
2. Blue Plate Special at South Side Walnut Cafe
Located off of Table Mesa and Broadway, this breakfast and lunch joint serves up traditional diner food at very reasonable prices. From 7:45 am to 8 am M-F, you can get 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon, 2 pancakes, and breakfast potatoes for only $7.45. Score.
3. Saag Paneer at Sherpa’s Restaurant
The owner of Sherpa’s grew up in Sewangma, Nepal, near Mt. Everest, and worked as a professional mountain guide until 1991 when he fell in love with Colorado. Needless to say, Sherpa’s serves up the most delicious and authentic Nepalese food in Boulder. Order the Saag Paneer, which is creamed spinach with paneer, a common South Asian fresh cheese.
4. Classic Pizza at Cosmo’s Pizza
Nothing tastes better at 1am than pizza, and no pizza tastes better at 1am than Cosmo’s. With multiple locations in Boulder and a thin crust a gooey cheese, Cosmo’s Pizza is loved by students and Boulder locals alike.
#SpoonTip: Always get the spicy ranch. It’s just the right amount of creamy and spicy and totally delicious.
5. Frico Caldo at Frasca Food and Wine
Frasca Food and Wine has received two James Beard Awards, which means that it’s kind of a big deal in the food world. But even if you don’t have the most distinguished of palates, you’ll still appreciate the Frico Caldo. Made with potatoes, onions, and cheese, it is divine for food snobs and picky eaters alike. But while you’re savoring your Frico, make sure to save room for Frasca’s entrees, like seasonal pasta and ribeye steak.
6. The Breakfast Sandwich at The Kitchen
The Kitchen is on Boulder’s famed Pearl Street, and they pride themselves on the motto of “Community Through Food.” What better way to build community than doing so over brunch? Try their breakfast sandwich, a classic fried egg and ham placed on a french toast bun with just the right amount of maple syrup. It solves the age old brunch dilemma of sweet or salty with just one bite.
7. Short Rib Barbacoa Burrito at Centro Latin Kitchen
It’s super easy to fill up on the bottomless chips and salsa at Centro, as well as some of their incredible cocktails. But make sure to hold out for dinner, and order the Short Rib Barbacoa Burrito. Between the asadero cheese, guacamole, and hash browns, it’s sure to keep you full for the rest of the night.
8. Boulder Lamb Meatballs at Salt
Farm-to-table eateries are a growing trend across the nation, and there’s no doubt that they fit right in on Pearl Street in Boulder. Salt sources their organic food from their own farm, Soul Patch Farm, and boasts a 99% GMO free kitchen. For a brunch that is both aware and delicious, try the Boulder Lamb Meatballs with polenta and tomato.
9. Paella Valenciana at The Med
The Med has been serving up foods from all parts of the Mediterranean region for over 20 years, and while they make amazing dishes from Italy, Greece, France, Lebanon, and Morocco, there’s no doubt that what they do best is Spanish paella. Paella Valenciana is the most traditional paella on their menu, filled with saffron, meats, and vegetables, and cooked to perfection so that the edges of the rice crisp up.
10. Eggs Sardou at Lucile’s Creole Cafe
Located in a Victorian style home off 14th St, Lucile’s is a culinary ticket to the heart of New Orleans. Sip on a café au lait, listen to the jazz music playing in the background and sit down to a Cajun feast. With fresh gulf shrimp, grits, and hollandaise, Eggs Sardou is quite possibly the best thing on the menu, but it’s impossible to go wrong with anything at Lucile’s.
#SpoonTip: If you managed to save room for dessert, try the beignets or the rice pudding.
11. Reuben at Fate Brewing Company
Along with having over 30 specialty ales made in house, Fate Brewing Company also smokes their meat to utter perfection, creating a Reuben unlike any other filled with melt-in-your-mouth pastrami, gooey cheese and tangy sauerkraut. They also strive to serve local ingredients, all while putting an innovative twist on classic favorites like their (yet again) house-smoked hot wings and brisket gyro.
#SpoonTip: Their original Reuben is no longer officially on the menu but just tell your server that you want the traditional Reuben and they’ll make you one, no problem.
12. Chicken Tikka Masala at Tandoori Grill
Chicken Tikka Masala is probably one of the most well-known Indian dishes here in the States, and once you try Tandoori Grill’s version you’ll know why. It’s the perfect blend of spicy and creamy, and is especially tasty when mixed with the spiced rice that comes with every dish. Order it with the medium spice level and you’ll be transported to literal heaven.
13. Build Your Own Sushi Roll at Motomaki
The sushi burrito trend is sweeping the nation thanks to three words, Chipotle for sushi. At Motomaki, you can select your own ingredients to build a sushi hand roll, which is essentially a sushi burrito, filling that intense sushi craving without breaking the bank or taking time out of your busy day.
14. Foolish Huevos at Foolish Craig’s
Known for its crepes and quirky atmosphere, Foolish Craig’s in downtown Boulder never fails to disappoint. Their Foolish Huevos are a take on huevos rancheros, but are served with a crepe instead of a tortilla. Whoever thought of French-Mexican cuisine deserves a prize, and this dish is gold-medal worthy.
15. Fish and Chips at The Hungry Toad
Walking into the Hungry Toad you’d swear you had just been transported to London. The authentic British pub feel is made complete with their traditional, no-fuss fish and chips. I mean, what Brit doesn’t love some good fish n’ chips? The flaky white fish is battered and fried to perfection and comes with some of the best fries you will ever eat.
16. Tora Roll at Sushi Tora
Don’t be intimidated by the freshwater eel that is the star of this roll, the accompanying eel sauce drizzled on top is what makes this dish so memorable. You get the best of every sushi roll ever with avocado, salmon and eel, plus as an added benefit they top it all off with some roe. You know, just for kicks.
17. Chocolate Bag at L’Atelier
If all bags were made of chocolate life would be a million times better. Who would say no to a Chanel bag made of chocolate? Thankfully L’Atelier created their incredible Chocolate Bag that seriously makes me consider ordering three of them as my entire meal, and then another for dessert. Thin dark chocolate makes up the outside of the box, but once you break the shell, fruit and melty cream come oozing out. Getting hungry just thinking about it.
18. Farm Skillet at The Buff
What’s more perfect than brunch? Brunch at the Buff. Their Harvest Skillet is chock full of perfectly cooked veggies, oozing Muenster cheese (or “Monster” cheese like I said as a kid), potatoes and comes with two eggs on top.
19. Hamburger Steak at the Village Coffee Shop
The Village bills itself as “890 sq. ft. of Reality, Surrounded by Boulder.” This tiny diner feels like an escape from the trendy hipster restaurant scene that encompasses so much of the city. Try the Hamburger Steak, an 8 oz. patty with two eggs, hash browns, and toast, for Americana on a plate.
20. Rapa Salad and Tacchino Panini at Sforno
After shopping on Pearl Street, sit down to a delicious lunch at Sforno. Their Pranzo Veloce express lunch allows you to choose either a soup, salad, or panini duo along with a drink and bread for $12. Try the Rapa salad of beets and walnuts with the Tacchino panini. Delizioso!
21. Indian Samosas and Tea at Dushanbe Teahouse
The Dushanbe Tea House ended up in Boulder as a gift from the Mayor of Dushanbe, Taijikstan to celebrate the two cities’ status as sister cities. Today, it serves as a great place to meet friends for a snack or meal. Samosas, small fried potato bites, are easily dippable in chutney or yogurt, and make for an amazing afternoon snack.
22. Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai at Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Despite being a list of the best foods in Boulder, this list doesn’t bode well for our vegetarian and vegan friends. Luckily Leaf Restaurant comes to the rescue with a menu full of plant-based eats, delicious for vegetarians and omnivores alike. The Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai is filled with the peanut spice that you know and love, only made to be vegetarian-friendly.
23. Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream at Sweet Cow
Sweet Cow has multiple locations in Boulder County and around the state, made with locally sourced ingredients and a whole lot of love. The Oatmeal Cookie ice cream may very well be the best ice cream that I’ve ever eaten. You have to try it to believe it.
24. Street Noodles at Thai Avenue
Thai Avenue is located in a basement food court on the Hill, but their hole-in-the-wall location does not take away from the quality or the quantity of their amazing Thai food. Their Street Noodles consist of a plate piled high with thick stir-fried rice noodles with egg and vegetables, evoking the flavors of Thailand for about $8.
25. Mid-East Sampler at Arabesque
Arabesque is a tiny little family-owned restaurant that is an absolute joy to eat at. The Mediterranean flavors transport you to another world and the calming atmosphere is perfect for a weekend brunch treat.
#SpoonTip: Order the house-made chai. Just do it.
26. Anything at Piece, Love, and Chocolate
If you like cake, or chocolate, or pastries, or pure happiness, Piece, Love and Chocolate will be your new favorite place in Boulder. With over 30 different flavors of cake, including flourless cake and cheesecake, plus endless varieties of cookies and artisan chocolates, we’re pretty sure a little piece of heaven is now residing on Earth.
27. Spaghetti Alla Scoglio and Burrata at Bacco
The creamy, garlic tomato wine sauce in this dish is the perfect complement to the generous helping of shrimp, fish and scallops that are mixed in with the homemade pasta. A good Italian restaurant should know its way around pasta, and Bacco blows theirs out of the park.
#SpoonTip: Try anything from the Mozzarella Bar for the ultimate dining experience but their Burrata is my personal favorite.
28. Classico Pizza at Carelli’s
Another Italian staple in Boulder, Carelli’s has an extensive menu full of mouth-watering pasta, pizza, calzones, chicken, and fish. Their Classico Pizza is loaded with sausage, pepperoni, green pepper, mushrooms and mozzarella. You can even eat at home and get the pizza to go, but don’t worry, the fancy twisted dough crust makes even a night-in feel classy.
29. Stracciatella Gelato at Fior Di Latte
For the best gelato you can find outside of Italy, look no further than Fior Di Latte. The owners of Fior Di Latte trained in Italy learning how to make gelato from scratch, all while falling in love. That’s amore.