Best Places to Eat in Boulder
In general Boulder’s food scene is a mish-mash of borrowed cuisines, heavy comfort foods, and transformed spaces. You’ll find family-friendly brewpubs, farmers’ markets, refined dining, and the spirited fast-food joints of University Hill. If you’re here in November, look for the First Bite Boulder dining fest. When in doubt, just stroll down Pearl St. to see what’s cookin’.
3980 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80304, USA
Or the best lunch, for that matter. I like to belly up to the counter early in the morning, when the rising sun blasts into the cozy eatery, and the servers rush to lower the blinds. I nod yes for coffee, then order from the hash bar (smoked pork hash, corned beef hash, or tofu flannel hash). Recent renovations, menu upgrade, and new outdoor patio make Lucky’s Cafe easy to recommend. Of course, I’m biased, since I live in the neighborhood, so feel free to try it and let me know if I’m wrong.
627 S Broadway E, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
The ample space, enormous lodge-like room, and huge stack of highchairs and booster seat make this restaurant and brewery very popular with neighborhood families who can no longer fit in the smaller, original restaurant, the Mountain Sun, downtown on Pearl St. They have games, kids menus, and tasty brews for mom and dad.
13th St, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
One of the best weekly events in Boulder is in full swing, Saturday mornings in downtown Boulder. My daughters love the live music, pupusa stand, balloon guy, and the stuffed mountain lion at the Parks and Rec tent.
1397 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
I don’t use the word “best” lightly, but Salvaggio’s deserves it. For decades, they’ve been serving up the best classic sandwiches in Boulder at their three locations—a kiosk on Pearl St. in front of the courthouse, a shop at 26th and Pearl St. and one up on University Hill. They use all Boar’s Head meat, fresh baked bread, and wonderfully spicy chilis. In the morning, they do big sloppy egg sandwiches. Pictured above: their Italian sandwich on a roll. Done.
2775 Valmont Road
This food truck park and beer garden has been packed since it opened in July 2016. Named after Marion Arthur Rayback, who died in 2014, and sitting on the site of his beloved community plumbing company, the Rayback Collective fills a niche which Boulderites didn’t even realize they’d been missing — a space that feels like Boulder’s backyard. There is a 30-tap bar, event area and stage, expansive indoor lounging, and a huge outdoor patio with yard games, picnic tables and a view of the Flatirons. Kids and pets are welcome. Up to seven food trucks at a time line up along this outside area according to a rotating schedule; expect to pay roughly $8-12 per person for a meal. 2775 Valmont Road, Boulder; open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; 720-507-8838.
2328 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
For years, John’s Restaurant was one of the only fine-dining options in Boulder. After four decades, Chef John retired, and the famed century-old miner’s cabin on the east end of downtown Pearl Street is under new management as River and Woods. Chef Daniel Asher (who Denverites know from Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s) and Josh Dinar (co-owner of T/ACO, a co-founder of Boulder’s Restaurant Week and publisher of DiningOut Magazine) have created an atmosphere that is just as cozy as before, but with an outdoor backyard seating area in what used to be weeds and rubble, an outdoor grill and converted Airstream trailer-bar (tented and heated in the winter). The unique crowdsourced menu pays tribute to Chef John’s famous gnocchi verde, but the rest of the dishes were selected from the best family heirloom comfort-food recipes they could find, including Oysters Hickenlooper, Woodlands Montreal duck wings and a lamb and oat meatloaf. 2328 Pearl Street, Boulder; happy hour 4-6 p.m., dinner from 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., closed Mondays. 303-993-6301.