CU Boulder is a college student’s dream. Boulder, home to the beautiful Flatirons, unlimited outdoor activities, shopping on Pearl Street, “The Hill,” and endless incredible food options, there really is nothing better than being a Buff.

We’ve picked some of the must-try places for eating and drinking during your time at CU Boulder and, while there are so many awesome options, here are a few we highly recommend.

1. You’re craving a slice: Cosmo’s Pizza

Cosmo's Pizza is a favorite of all CU Boulder students. It is hard to find someone who hasn't tried it or doesn't love it. Located right on "The Hill," it is the perfect study break snack or after party fill-up. There is really nothing fancy about it—just huge and cheap pizza slices that always hit the spot.

What to Order: Good ol' slice of pepperoni pizza (only $4, heck ya.) Yes, it is the size of your face. You must get spicy ranch on the side, I promise (Cosmo's is famous for it). Dip the pizza in the ranch, and boom, best pizza experience in Boulder.

Location: 1325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302 (5-minute walk from Norlin Library.)

2. You’re sick of Starbucks: The Laughing Goat in Norlin Library

Laughing Goat has gotten me and many other students through so many late-night study sessions in the Lib. Open until the wee hours of the morning, it is a great on-campus refuel option. 

The coffee Laughing Goat uses is by the Kaladi Brothers of Denver, one of the finest small batch boutique roasters anywhere. So when you are sick of the same Starbucks drink, Laughing Goat is a definite must-try whether you are a CU Boulder student or just visiting CU Boulder.

What to Order: A simple vanilla latte.

Location: Norlin Library on campus.

3. You're craving Mexican: Illegal Pete's

It is basically Qdoba and Chipotle combined to make the best Mexican food experience for CU Boulder students.

What to Order: My personal favorite is the chicken nachos fully loaded with queso and guac, but you really can't go wrong with anything on their menu. Also, Happy Hour at Illegal Pete's is the bomb.

Location: "The Hill" 1124 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302 (5-minute walk from campus)

4. You’re “doing it for the Insta”: Rush Bowls 

This place is actually the best. It is the perfect quick breakfast go-to or post-workout indulgence. Plus, every single bowl ordered looks 100% #Instaworthy.

What to Order: The Jungle Bowl. Strawberry, pineapple, banana, shaved coconut, fat-free frozen yogurt (optional), guava juice, orange juice and topped with organic granola and honey. You can add fresh bananas on top too and it is life changing.

Location: "The Hill" 1207 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302 (5-minute walk from campus.)

5. You need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes: Half Fast Subs 

sandwich, lettuce, cheese, bacon, meat
Bonnie Blocker

Half Fast Subs has an extensive menu of sandwiches and salads. It is basically the Disneyland of sandwiches. Get anything from "The Gobbler" which is like Thanksgiving dinner in a bun, to one of their famously awesome vegetarian options. They are also well-known for their Happy Hour mixed drink pitchers that don't kill the budget. 

What to Order: The Buff Chicken Sandwich consisting of chicken tenders, authentic buffalo wing sauce, grilled onions, swiss, celery, and blue cheese. Wings and a sub combined—you cannot go wrong. 

Location: 1215 13th St, Boulder, CO 80302 "The Hill" 

6. You're craving Italian: Pasta Jay's 

So much love in my heart for Pasta Jay's. True authentic Italian dishes and the perfect dinner date spot. (Men, I am talking to you.) Pasta Jay's offers limitless different Italian options and creates a cute and intimate atmosphere. Every dish is HUGE, so you will be sure to have leftovers for the next day. Dreams do come true. 

What to Order: Tortellone Alfredo which is "housemade cheese stuffed, pasta pillows, and baked in alfredo sauce with chicken." Drooling right now just thinking about it. 

Location: 1001 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302 (5-minute drive from campus.)

7. You or your friends don’t eat meat: Leaf 

A photo posted by kathsteww (@kathsteww) on

It isn't uncommon in Boulder for there to be a lot of vegetarian and vegan food options, however, Leaf takes the cake. 

What to Order: Vegan Benedict on their brunch menu. 

Location: 2010 16th Street, Boulder, CO (just East of Pearl Street.) 

8. You're hungover: The Buff

You have not experienced all the glory that is breakfast at CU Boulder until you have been to The Buff. Let me tell you, I am a brunch fanatic and The Buff is at the very top of my list. There is nothing more to say then look at this picture and get in your car to go try it ASAP. 

What to Order: Two Step: two griddle cakes or slices of french toast, two eggs, potatoes, two slices of bacon, or two slices of sausage. You MUST also try one of their fabulous iced coffees that come in the cutest mason jar. Breakfast experience=12/10.

Location: 2600 Canyon Blvd, Boulder, CO 80302 (5 to 10-minute drive from campus.) 

9. You're craving something sweet: Sweet Cow 

A photo posted by @nolafoodandtravel on

Okay, it probably seems like I say everything that is on this list is the best place ever, but I mean, look at that picture. Ice cream is done so incredibly right by Sweet Cow. Treat yourself after that failed test and remember ice cream fixes all problems. 

What to Order: Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich is too legit to quit.

Location: 669 S Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305 (10-minute drive from campus.)

10. If you're 21: Salt 

I am not 21, so I can't relate. However, I have heard that Salt is the place to get your drank on. You basically get to make your own cocktail by picking different elements that you want to be put in it. If that isn't the coolest drinking experience, I don't know what is. 

What to Order: Cocktail Element—pick a spirit, pick an infused simple syrup, and pick your style. Better than make your own pizza. 

Location: 1047 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302 (5-minute drive from campus.)

11. You're craving Mediterranean: The Mediterranean Restaurant aka "The Med"

If you are craving Mediterranean food, there is no better place at CU Boulder than The Med. Known for their large tapas menu, family-style entrees, and wine and cocktail options, it is a little piece of Mediterranean heaven. Why go to Greece when you can sit on the patio at The Med? Equally as pleasant for sure.

What to order: Anything off the tapas menu during Happy Hour! From 3:00-6:30pm hit up The Med for special prices on beverages as well as their extensive tapas menu. (The Gyro Plate is my personal fave.) 

Location: 1002 Walnut St, Boulder, CO 80302 (5 to 10-minute drive from campus.) 

12. You have the munchies at 2 am: Boulder Baked 

You can ask any Boulderite what the best late night sweet tooth location is and their answer will always be "Boulder Baked." Open until 2 am with delivery as well, they are the best late night munchies option. They not only have sweet treats like cookies and sundaes, but they also have to die for mac and cheese. 

What to order: My personal favorite is their snickerdoodle cookie. I ask for it to be cooked half-baked and it is the gooey goodness that every cookie should be.

Location: 1911 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302 (near Pearl Street.)