List of Boulder Breweries (that keeps getting longer)

Metro Boulder has at least 38 41 breweries. That number will go up by the end of the week, regardless of what week it is. If you’re looking for a complete list of breweries in the state of Colorado, check out the Fermentedly Challenged beer blog.

Here’s a list of where to go and a brew or two to try while you’re in Boulder.

 

BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats, Boulder

5290 Saison, Rigley Red IPA (seasonal), or Citrum IPA

Bru's 5-beer sampler

Bru’s 5-beer sampler is whatever you want it to be. You pick, they serve, everyone wins.

 

Upslope Brewing Company (two locations), Boulder

Citra pale is fantastic, as is the pumpkin ale.

 

FATE Brewing Company, Boulder

Coffee IPA, Nohns, and Clotho

 

Shine Brewing Company, Boulder

Double Red IPA (Down Dog Red)

 

Avery Brewing Company, Boulder (now in Gunbarrel)

Hop heads will want to sample Dugana, Hog Heaven or Maharaja

 

Best Boulder County Breweries

Best breweries in Boulder County, in our humble opinion

 

Avery Brewing building - Gunbarrel, CO

Avery’s new Gunbarrel digs

 

J Wells Brewery, Boulder

English bitter (Defiance)

 

Southern Sun Pub & Brewery, Boulder

Annapurna Amber for a session ale… Illusion Dweller IPA for a bitter hop fix

 

Boulder Beer Company, Boulder

Grab the sampler (bring a friend) or order whatever’s on nitro.

Boulder Beer IPA sampler

Why drink one IPA when you can try four?

 

Sanitas Brewing, Boulder

Red IPA, Black IPA, or any saison

Sanitas Brewing - beer samples

Craft beer and Boulder… almost as popular as WEED and Boulder

 

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, Boulder

Rotating taps are always a good bet

 

Twisted Pine Brewing Company, Boulder

If you enjoy scalding-hot-pepper beer, try the Ghost Face Killah. Also: the Big Shot Espresso Stout has won several awards…

 

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery, Boulder

The grand cru is a solid choice, or try something barrel-aged if it’s available. Another perk: they carry bottles of the Nostradamus Belgian Strong Dark Ale from Brasserie Caracole year round.

 

Redstone Meadery, Boulder

Try the Mountain Honey Wine.

 

Walnut Brewery, Boulder

The Old Elk Brown Ale is a two-time GABF medalist.

 

West Flanders Brewing Company, Boulder

Try a Belgian flight!

 

Wild Woods Brewery, Boulder

Grab a pint of the Ponderosa Porter – aged with whole vanilla beans.

 

Echo Brewing Company, Erie

Order an English Pint of the Powder Run Pale Ale.

 

Industrial Revolution Brewing Company, Erie

Go get yourself shnockered on the Twin Gear Double IPA.

 

Old Mine Cidery & Brewpub, Erie

Gluten-free Handlebar Hard Cider

 

Asher Brewing Company, Gunbarrel

Try a Green Monstah strong ale.

 

New Planet Beer Company, Gunbarrel

Try something gluten-free, because it’s all they serve.

 

beer snob

Are you a beer snob? You should be.

Finkel & Garf Brewing Company, Gunbarrel

Reach for the Pale Ale

 

Vindication Brewing Company, Gunbarrel

American Bold Ale

 

The Post Brewing Company, Lafayette

Order the Townie Ale or the Bulky Oxen barleywine.

 

Odd13 Brewing, Lafayette

Pair a couple pints of Eric the Red IPA with the “Odd” beer hero artwork surrounding you…

 

Front Range Brewing Company, Lafayette

Grab a row of tasters paired with snacks from local Lafayette eateries

 

Liquid Mechanics Brewing Company, Lafayette

Definitely try a seasonal flight

 

Left Hand Brewing Company, Longmont

The Black Jack Porter and Milk Stout Nitro are staples in many Colorado ‘fridges.

 

Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont

Try the Gubna Imperial IPA or the G’Knight Imperial Red.

 

300 Suns Brewing, Longmont

Try something new from the “Collabeerations” menu in the tasting room.

 

Großen Bart Brewery, Longmont

Order the Chin Curtain IPA, just for the name.

 

Pumphouse Brewery, Longmont

Check the seasonal menu for creative twists on traditional ales.

 

Gravity Brewing, Louisville

Treat yourself to the whiskey barrel-aged DIPA because it’s freakin’ excellent, and so are you.

 

Crystal Springs Brewing Company, Louisville

Any IPA or double IPA is a solid bet.

Crystal Springs beer sampler

Crystal Springs brewed a high-IBU, hoppy winner in the “13” (far right)

 

Twelve Degree Brewing, Louisville

The Pink Panther Saison is fantastic.

12 Degree Brewing - tasters

12 Degree Brewing – low-IBU tasters

 

Oskar Blues Grill & Brew, Lyons

Ten Fidy is the best Russian Imperial Stout in the state.

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY Russian Imperial Stout

Oskar Blues Ten FIDY – chocolate, caramel, coffee, and hops. Pair with rum balls!

 

Bootstrap Brewing Company, Niwot

The Stick’s Pale Ale is perfect to pair with Wednesday night Euchre at Bootstrap. Also: Insane Rush is one of the top-five IPAs in Colorado.

 

Powder Keg Brewing Company, Niwot

Tilt back a Baltic porter and sip away any lingering sorrows.

 

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Best restaurants in Boulder, Colorado

This concept worked well for nearby Louisville, so here are our top choices for Boulder, CO eateries and breweries


Sanitas Brewing - beer samples

Craft beer and Boulder… almost as popular as weed and Boulder… Almost.

Argentine Fare

Rincon Argentino

Bar + Socializing

Absinthe House (rhymes with “neat market”)
T-Zero Lounge
The Rio Grande Restaurant (go for the margs, stay for the chips)
The Attic Bar + Bistro
Walrus Saloon

Bistro Cuisine

Chautauqua Dining Hall

Breakfast Bagels

Moe’s Bagels

Brunch

Brasserie Ten Ten (try the crepes, and order a cheese plate)
Lucile’s Creole Cafe (perfect brunch after a soccer game or hike; bring your appetite for the biscuits)
Snooze AM Eatery
Tangerine

Lunch @ Larkburger

Seriously good burgers – turkey, beef, tuna, truffle, portobello – at Larkburger

Burgers

The Sink (Obama was here)
Rueben’s Burger Bistro
(try the sweet potato fries)
West End Tavern (Boulder’s hidden gem for craft beer and distinctive bourbon)
Larkburger

 

Casual/Hip Dining

The Kitchen Next Door (the kale chips are the best in town)
The Kitchen Upstairs (great place to take out-of-towners, particularly if your company is picking up the tab)

 

Chinese Noodles

Zoe Ma Ma

 

Comfort Food

Murphy’s Neighborhood Restaurant

 

Craft Beer – Brewery

Bru Handbuilt Ales and Eats (can’t say enough great things about Bru; try the unfiltered ales and sourdough pizza)
Fate Brewing (coffee IPA? Yes – and it’s excellent.)
Shine
Southern Sun
Upslope Brewing
Sanitas Brewing
Boulder Beer (Order the barley veggie burger with blue cheese and real bacon. Trust me.)

Bru's 5-beer sampler

Bru’s 5-beer sampler is whatever you want it to be. You pick, they serve, everyone wins.

 

Craft Beer – Tap House

Backcountry Pizza + Tap House (cheap dinner – slice of pizza + Russian River Blind Pig IPA – always on tap)
Old Chicago Pizza + Taproom
Rueben’s Burger Bistro
West End Tavern

 

Craft Cocktails

The Bitter Bar
Salt the Bistro (check out the downstairs bar during happy hour)
Blackbelly Restaurant, Bar & Butcher
Oak at Fourteenth

Blackbelly cheese plate, olives, and happy hour blush

Blackbelly’s happy hour is hard to beat

 

Date Night

Oak at Fourteenth (order small plates and share with your better half)
Salt the Bistro
The Kitchen

 

Date Night (money no object)

Flagstaff House Restaurant (enjoy Boulder’s best view)
Black Cat Farm~Table~Bistro
Frasca Food and Wine (hard to find a better wine list – anywhere)
L’Atelier
Jill’s Restaurant

 

Farm to Table

Blackbelly Restaurant, Bar & Butcher
Bramble and Hare

 

Parisienne Macarons at Brasserie Ten Ten in Boulder

Don’t miss dessert at Brasserie Ten Ten – Parisienne Macarons paired with Taylor-Fladgate 20-year Port

French Fare

Brasserie Ten Ten
Mateo Restaurant Provençal (another top choice in Boulder cheese plates)

 

German Fare + Beer

Bohemian Biergarten (Boulder’s largest beer glasses and longest tables)

 

Gluten-free Menu

Shine (hip eatery + brewery)

 

Grain-free Menu

Blooming Beets (gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free)

Chorizo hash with poached eggs

Chorizo + sweet potato hash with poached eggs and dairy-free hollandaise @ Blooming Beets in Boulder — paired with local Firestone-Colorado-brewed, spiced-apple Wild Cider

 

Indian Fare

Tiffin’s India Cafe

 

Irish Fare

Conor O’Neills (watch futbol [soccer] here)

 

Italian Fare

Il Pastaio
Arugula Bar e Ristorante (grab a spot at this unique bar)

 

Latin Fare

Centro Latin Kitchen
Aji Latin American Restaurant (all-day happy hour on Sundays)

 

Mexican Fare

100% Mexicano (Boulder’s best Mexican food, in my opinion; UPDATE: sad to report 100% Mexicano has closed.)

 

Mexican Fare (higher end)

Tahona Tequila Bistro (try the duck!)
Agave Mexico Bistro + Tequila House

 

Monday Teahouse

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

 

Nepalese, Indian + Tibetan Fare

Sherpa’s Adventurers Restaurant + Bar

Pizzeria Locale

Delectable pizza dough stretched and tossed before your eyes at Locale

 

Pizza

Pizzeria Locale (Artisan Italian + gluten-free crust)
Basta (foodie)
Backcountry Pizza + Tap House (pub slices + gluten-free crust)
Bru Handbuilt Ales and Eats (sourdough + gluten-free crust)
The Sink (pub pie + gluten-free crust)

 

Pub Fare

Dark Horse Bar + Grill (dive-y in a good way)

 

Sandwiches

Snarf’s Sandwiches
Salvaggio’s Deli (sandwiches served with attitude… for whatever reason)

 

Seafood

Jax Fish House

 

Southwest Fare

Zolo Grill

 

Sports Bar

Harpo’s Sports Grill

 

Steak House

Boulder Chop House

Boulder sushi

It’s OK to eat raw fish in a landlocked state… honest.

 

Sushi

Kasa Japanese Bar + Grill (say hi to Mimi)
Izakaya Amu

 

Tapas + Small Plates

The Med (one of Boulder’s best patios)
Riffs Urban Fare (yet another great tap/bottle list)

 

Turkey Burger

Larkburger
Rueben’s Burger Bistro
The Sink

 

Vegan/Vegetarian

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant (sit-down dinner)
Julia’s Kitchen (earthy casual/to-go)

 

Vietnamese Noodles

Black Pepper Pho

 

BRU handbuilt ales & eats

Ian Clark, formerly of Centro and Jax Fish House, has officially nailed it with Bru handbuilt ales & eats in Boulder.

He could have stopped at unfiltered ales and sourdough pizza. That would have clinched it for me, but he took it to eleven. Here’s what to try at Bru:

Citrum IPA: this is one of my favorite Colorado IPAs (the others being Bootstrap’s Insane RushOdell, Avery, and Ska’s Modus Hoperandi).
– Sourdough basil (margherita) pizza… they’ll substitute locally available spinach if basil is not in season.
Beer mustard butter – are you kidding me? This is the peak of culinary creativity. Do I bathe in it or eat it? Hey, I can bathe in it *and* eat it! (thanks, Gaffigan)

Bru should top your list of Boulder brewery destinations, and happy hour is a steal. Check out special Bru beer events here.

Drool factor follows…

Bru's 5-beer sampler

Bru’s 5-beer sampler is whatever you want it to be. You choose, they serve, everyone wins.

Bru trail mix

At Bru, trail mix means almonds, caramel corn, pecans, and spice. Order from the happy hour menu, and a huge portion is $2.

Citrum from Bru in Boulder

Bru’s Citrum is Colorado’s finest unfiltered IPA, IMHO.

Bru sourdough pizza

Why isn’t all pizza made of sourdough? I just ate a ‘Merican-size dinner, and this still makes me hungry.

Bru salad with poached egg

Sometimes you have to pass on pizza and eat salad, so your salad should at least have a healthy damn poached egg on it.

Bru bread and beer mustard butter

Slather your loaf with Bru’s tasty beer mustard butter.

Bru wood-roasted veggies

Wood-roasted veggies w/beer vinegar. Beta carotene, anyone?

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Boulder Beer Company – Colorado’s first craft brewery

Boulder Beer IPA sampler

IPA sampler – Why drink one when you can try four? The Mojo IPA and Mojo Risin’ are Boulder Beer staples.

Best veggie patty in Boulder

The Barley Burger Betasso – it’s one of Boulder’s best veggie patties, and I order it with bacon on top and a side of mashed potatoes, because why not? Keep Boulder weird.

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Best gluten-free pizza in Denver/Boulder? Stay tuned…

We’re going to try it all. My extremely significant other even had “Pizza is a vegetable” t-shirts made (which *she* designed, btw… feel free to pick up one of your own here – 20-ish bucks).

We will find Colorado’s best gluten-free pizza crust. Oh yes. Here are the top several so far, as vetted by my wheat-free partner in crime:

#6. Backcountry Pizza & Tap House (Boulder)

#5. Lucky Pie Pizza & Tap House (Louisville)

#4. The Sink (Boulder)

#3. BRU handbuilt ales & eats (Boulder)

#1. (tie) Tony P’s Bar & Pizzeria (Denver – Highlands; gluten-free pie pictured below)

#1. (tie) Pizzeria Locale (Boulder)

Pizza is a vegetable t-shirt

About to dive in to gluten-rich (left) and gluten-free (right) pizza bliss at Tony P’s at 32nd & Zuni in Denver

Photo courtesy of Beth Photography.

How I won the lottery: Dinner for six with a prodigy chef

Cake as defined by Chef Aaron Kirschner

“Cake” as interpreted by prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner; delectable, chewy chocolate nougat crowned with cinnamon ice cream to the rest of us

In sixth grade, I won a cake.

We had a Cake Walk, which is similar to musical chairs, only when the music stops, if the number you’re standing on matches the number on one of the cakes being given away, you win a cake. Which… I suppose makes it not so similar to musical chairs. Maybe the opposite of musical chairs. Anyway, I was a winner!

Since then, I haven’t won much in terms of food, dining, cheffery, or any other culinary-related prizes – until earlier this year. A friend of mine, Kathleen, called to say she’d won a silent auction item. The auction item turned out to be a four-course meal with eight of her closest foodie pals, prepared by a 15-year-old prodigy chef. I hadn’t heard of Aaron Kirschner until then, and I was unaware of the impression his culinary expertise would leave on our palates in Boulder on a rainy evening in July. We were simply stunned by his talent.

Our evening went something like this: six of us arrived at Kathleen’s house around 6 p.m. Dinner was slated for eight people, but just six of us were able to attend. Chef Aaron and his sous chef, Oliver, proceeded to establish dominion over the kitchen and usher us into the dining room, where wine and water were waiting. The young chefs served as kitchen staff and waitstaff, announcing ingredients prior to each course, and accommodating the unique requests of individuals in the group by providing dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian dishes where appropriate.

You can read about Aaron’s junior chef competition on The Daily Camera, his work at the Black Cat on the Boulder Weekly, his Junior Iron Chef match on the Daily Camera, his experience at Chicago’s Moto restaurant on the Huffington Post, and on Aaron Kirschner’s personal blog, but the elevator pitch is: Aaron is an exceptional chef, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he’s a top-tier chef in the making. His understanding of food as art appears to be matched only by chefs who have already been at it for years. A visual sampling of Aaron’s culinary artwork is below, and it tastes as exquisite as it looks.

One challenge I’ve encountered in food blogging has been to adequately describe how good a dish, a meal, or an entire dining experience is. This is another one of those times. My best suggestion, if you want to experience Aaron’s culinary prowess for yourself, is to head to Black Cat in Boulder, where he currently works in the back of the house. Alternatively, give this a try: a six-course tasting menu prepared by Chef Aaron and his youthful team in a pop-up restaurant format in Boulder. Prepare to be impressed!

Hearts of palm confit

First course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Hearts of palm confit with squash puree, lychee kimchi, chewy lychee, pickled garlic scapes, green garlic aioli, and nasturtium flowers

Pan-roasted black bass

Second course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Pan-roasted black bass with glazed fava beans, sweet & sour onions, buttered mussels, braised artichokes, pickled grapes, purple basil, thai basil, fennel fronds, and pansies (photograph courtesy of Aaron Kirschner)

Duck breast and arugula pudding

Third course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Duck breast and arugula pudding with poached apricots, craklin, apricot puree, candied pecans, and baby arugula

Chocolate nougat with burnt cinnamon ice cream

Dessert course from Boulder Prodigy Chef Aaron Kirschner: Chocolate nougat with burnt cinnamon ice cream, pumpkin seed cake, candied pumpkin seeds, coffee gel, coffee crumble, cinnamon lace tuiles, chocolate mint

 

Note to self: Jettison corporate job. Open Brewery. Smile.

Add Niwot to Colorado’s expanding Napa Valley of Beer contingent… Bootstrap BrewingNiwot’s Neighborhood Brewery, is up, running, and awesome.

In October, I shattered the Phenomenal Luck Piñata by landing an invite to the Taste of Niwot – a paired beer and food tasting at Bootstrap Brewing’s tap room. The food was great, the beer was excellent, and founders Leslie and Steve Kaczeus are awesome. Their actual titles are Chief of Stuff and Yeast Whisperer, respectively. Leslie and Steve founded Bootstrap following the discovery that their corporate careers weren’t producing quite enough craft beer, so kudos to them for taking the plunge and chasing the dream.

So… as evidenced here, here, and here – I love beer.

Pliny the Elder esque

Are you a beer snob? You should be.

I didn’t always love beer, but a few fruitless years on match.com set me straight.

I was introduced to Bootstrap several weeks prior to the Taste of Niwot at the Fall Beer Rave hosted by Boulder Beer Company. Of the 40-ish tap-room-only beers on offer at the Rave, I scored just two brews with a lofty rating of 9/10, and one of those was the Merlot-Aged Boomer Brown Ale from Bootstrap. I can’t adequately do this beer anything approaching justice whilst limiting myself to the confines of prose, so I’ll stop at: It was heavenly fantastic. And as far as I know, it appears to be a seasonal brew, so… maybe start looking for it next summer? I’ll report back on availability following my next visit to Bootstrap, which will be soon.

But back to me getting lucky: As you’ll see below, the Merlot-aged ale was one of the seven Bootstrap beers chefs from local Niwot eateries paired with small plates for tasting that night. They weren’t full courses or beer pours, by the way… if so, they would’ve had to roll us out. Anyway… I feel lucky to have experienced the Merlot-Aged Boomer Brown Ale twice this year, and I’ll be lobbying the folks at Bootstrap’s tap room to see this one again next year, because they have a winner on their hands. More accurately: they have several winners on their hands. The Insane Rush IPA is as good as, or better than, any Colorado craft IPA. Around town, I’ve ordered Bootstrap’s Insane Rush IPA at Backcountry and the Kitchen Next Door. And thanks to this Brewers Association article, I’m going to pair it with some yuppie mac ‘n’ cheese as soon as possible. And to round out the trifecta, Bootstrap’s Mo-Mentus Fresh Hopped Imperial Amber restored my faith in the double amber ale. It’s a sipper, and its best friend is whatever you’re eating for dessert.

I’m looking forward to seeing more Bootstrap beers on tap around town, and I’m virtually high-fiving Leslie and Steve right now. Thanks for sharing your talents via carbonated awesomeness. Cheers!

Bootstrap Brewing’s 1956 Golden Ale

Bootstrap Brewing’s 1956 Golden Ale paired with French Vietnamese chicken wings from Trepedda’s Italian Ristorante… plus ample glasses of water as we prepared ourselves for the beer tsunami to come.

Bootstrap Brewing’s Oktoberfestbier

Bootstrap Brewing’s Oktoberfestbier paired with roasted pumpkin spaetzle from Niwot Market

Bootstrap Brewing’s Merlot-Aged Boomer Brown Ale

Bootstrap Brewing’s Merlot-Aged Boomer Brown Ale paired with port-poached pear on toasted ciabatta with prosciutto and blackberry-balsamic reduction from Niwot Tavern… I really hope they brew this beer again.

Bootstrap Brewing’s Insane Rush IPA

Bootstrap Brewing’s Insane Rush IPA paired with a Kobe beef slider, horseradish Havarti cheese, arugula, and amoroso tomato from the Garden Gate Cafe

Bootstrap Brewing’s Backfire Chili Beer

Bootstrap Brewing’s Backfire Chili Beer paired with chicken and shredded beef flautas from Ajuua!

beer jungle

Welcome to the (beer) jungle… We’ve got fun and games. And tons of beer.

Bootstrap Brewing’s Mo-Mentus Fresh Hopped Imperial Amber

Bootstrap Brewing’s Mo-Mentus Fresh Hopped Imperial Amber paired with a coconut macaroon

fresh hops

Hops… where it all starts.

running out of beer

More hops and not much beer left…

Bootstrap Brewing mantra

Words to live by at Bootstrap Brewing

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Boulder Creek Winery

My adorable niece

My adorable niece

Amidst a sea of negative news stories, I wanted to share a positive one.

In November-2009, my niece was born. This was one of the top-10 happiest days of my life. By contrast, the night before my niece was born was one of the most forgettable nights of my life, as some ass-face smashed my car window and stole my briefcase.

For the record, I don’t give much of a crap about my briefcase. It’s old, it contained a few gift cards, a pair of socks, my electric razor, my cell phone, and *no* computer. I hope the thief was supremely disappointed about the fact that he’d gone to all the trouble to commit a felony for a briefcase that contained little more than a few grooming items, footwear, and some Starbucks paraphernalia.

One sentimental item the briefcase *did* contain, however, was a $50 gift certificate for Boulder Creek Winery, which was missing when I recovered the glass-ridden briefcase. My sister bought the gift certificate for me as a “thank you” for standing up in her wedding, so losing that really pissed me off.

I reported the theft to the police, changed my bank account number, called the credit reporting agencies, etc… The final step I took was to call Boulder Creek Winery to tell them what happened. The conversation went something like this:

Me: (after I told them the sordid story)
BCW: We’ll just cancel the gift certificate and issue you a new one.
Me: Wow! Thank you!
BCW: You’re welcome. Also, if the thief tries to cash the gift certificate in our tasting room, we’ll take his driver’s license and hold it until the cops get here. I’m from the east coast, and we don’t put up with crap like this.
Me: This is as good as it gets. I’m speechless. Thank you.

The next day, I visited the Winery, tasted ten different wines, and bought ~$100 worth of wine and port ($50 of which with my replaced gift certificate).

Boulder Creek Winery’s gold-medal winning Zinfandel Port

Boulder Creek Winery’s gold-medal winning Zinfandel Port (as you can see, I already enjoyed most of this bottle)

Huge thanks to the folks at Boulder Creek. Excellent wine, nice people, and a great opportunity to buy quality products locally. Two serious thumbs up!

wine tasting at Boulder Creek Winery

Boulder Creek Winery is the perfect spot for wine tasting on a weekend afternoon… don’t forget to try the port!

Boulder Creek Winery folks

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Date Night in Boulder… It’s Business Time.

30-something kids on date night

Me + my much finer half @ Flagstaff House. They created a customized menu for G’s b-day *and* gave us a loaf of fresh pumpkin bread to take home. Yum. Needless to say: we love this place.

Business socks – check.
Sitter – check.
A night on the town with your sweetie – check.

You’re now ready to inhale half your weight in yuppie-riffic food at a local Boulder eatery. And you’re going… where? Here are some ideas…

More romance-y:

L’Atelier ($$$$) – French… fancy, awesome wine, excellent meat/cheese plate
Frasca ($$$$) – Italian… pricey, but arguably the best restaurant in the state
Black Cat ($$$$) – French inspired… slightly less expensive than Frasca, but at par, quality-wise. I haven’t actually eaten here yet, but my lovely girlfriend and I will make an evening of it this summer…
Flagstaff House ($$$$) – super romance-y, awesome views, stellar staff, top-notch fine dining, and top-notch prices (as in: expensive – but it’s time to spring for Date Night, so the sky’s the limit! Go big or go home.)
Dushanbe Tea House – very unique ambiance, eclectic blend of eastern European /Middle eastern /Indian /Asian cuisine

More hip:

Brasserie Ten Ten – French… reasonable prices, consistently excellent happy hour /dinner /brunch /dessert /wine /service
Pizzeria Locale ($$$) – Best pizza this ¼-Italian dude has ever had… fantastic charcuterie (fancy meat) plate, killer wine list (Frasca-owned)
Riffs (music-themed tapas destination next to the Boulder bookstore)
Aji Latin American – all-day food/drink happy hour every Sunday (3-9 p.m.) – seriously, the two of you can fill up on empanadas, taquitos, ceviche, gaspacho, and mojitos for under $15/each. Plus, the bartender’s name is Norm, and he looks like a slightly younger George Hamilton. Two more great reasons to go!
The Med – Mediterranean tapas… hard to beat The Med for absolutely any reason to celebrate in Boulder

Thanks to Teresa for inspiring this list, and I hope she takes full advantage of indulging in several of the above locales after Kid Number Two makes his appearance. Bon appetite!

And… for those of you Flight of the Concords fans… here’s the video so you don’t have to Google it. You know the song’s stuck in your head now… 🙂

Sarah and Sara – Besties in Boulder!

picture of Sarah and Sara

The Sara(h)s… about to show Boulder who’s boss…

Did somebody say Girls’ Weekend in Tropical Boulder? In March? Hells yeah. S&S are hitting the town, and I’m just sayin’… these are the places most loved by locals, so check ’em out. Have fun!

When money is no object

Black Cat
Frasca
L’Atelier
Pizzeria Locale

Most hoppin‘ & happenin’

The Med

For my favorite brunch

Brasserie Ten Ten

Vegetarian/vegan

Leaf

Best cocktails

Salt
Bitter Bar

Largest cocktails

Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace

Best sushi

Kasa Japanese Grill

Off Pearl Street, but not too far by cab or designated driver

Radda
Agave (happy hour in the upstairs bar from 7-10 p.m.)

All-day happy hour on Sunday

Aji Latin American Restaurant (food *and* drinks)

Boulder restaurant women seem to love most

Dushanbe Tea House

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar

Fonseca 'bin 27' ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port... consumed right to left.

Fonseca ‘bin 27’ ruby porto, Taylor Fladgate 20-year tawny port, and Taylor Fladgate, 10-year tawny port… consumed right to left.

Who knew the best place to taste test port in Boulder was at a fish house? This isn’t the world’s best photo, but if you drink enough port, it won’t matter. Full review to come…

Click here for:

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Kasa Japanese Grill & Bar

Snow Beauty sake at Kasa in Boulder

Pair your unfiltered sake with the best sushi in Boulder at Kasa

My best advice for your visit to Kasa in Boulder: Trust the sushi chef.

Your first step in dining at Kasa should be to return the warm greeting you received upon walking through the front doors from Mimi – the most enthusiastic and charming host in the universe. She makes you feel as though you’re a long-lost friend who just happened to wander into her home. If you’re feeling down, Mimi will brighten your day with a smile and a boatload of friendliness, so at least stop by and say hi.

Back to the sushi chef… after Mimi guides you to the best table in the house, she’ll hand you the nightly sushi features, which have been painstakingly scribed in colorful Sharpie-esque markers on a large, white dinner plate.

Kasa Sushi specials plate

Kasa Sushi specials plate

So here’s what to order: Ask the chef. Ask the chef to prepare whatever he has featured for the night, and you can’t go wrong. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know better than a sushi chef when it comes to ordering sushi. Unless you happen to also be a sushi chef, you will lose. This also means I can only suggest you consider trying whatever sashimi Kasa has on offer when you dine. If the sushi chef agrees you should try it, then go for it. Do not take my word for it. I’m not a sushi chef, nor am I a regular chef. I sometimes make a pickle/olive/cheese plate for dinner, so what the hell do I know?

Chefs, sushi and otherwise, are proud of their craft. Sushi chefs in particular, however, typically have closer interaction with customers than other chef-y types. If you’re sitting at the sushi bar, they’re typically standing right in front of you, waiting for your face to light up in moderate-to-full-blown ecstasy as you indulge in the fruits of their talent. Cooking – or not cooking, in sushi’s case – is their artwork, so feel free to take their word for it when it’s time to order.

you'll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your order at Kasa

you’ll want to hug a sushi chef after trusting said chef with your meal at Kasa in Boulder

chef's choice of sashimi at Kasa in Boulder

Kasa’s sushi chef, per usual, delivered sashimi perfection.

marmalade cocktail

Kasa’s refreshing orange marmalade cocktail… one is all you’ll need.

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Backcountry Pizza & Tap House

Backcountry bacon & cheese slice

Backcountry Pizza & Tap House does not skimp on the bacon

The story of Backcountry is pretty simple: pizza and beer. They have other edibles such as sandwiches, calzones, fried mac’n’cheese, salads, etc… but really, you go for the pizza and beer. Like most pizza joints these days, you can get gluten-free crust, and theirs is top notch. To be sure, the sandwiches and calzones are great as well, and you won’t leave hungry – everything on the menu is available in large or really large.

So… after you’ve decided you want pizza, the only real decision left is: do you want one of the 50 draft beers or 125-ish bottled beers? Good lord. It’s a beer geek’s dream.

Hofbrau Original at Backcountry in Boulder

Working lunch at Backcountry with a half liter of Hofbrau Original

My recommendation? Start small. Order a microbrew that won’t make your eyes googly right off the bat. Or split a new-to-you bomber with a few friends. Don’t go big right away. Work your way up after you’ve conquered half a cobb salad ($6) or a slice of cheese pizza ($2). Then make your move to the Pliny (Elder or Younger are both available frequently here). Or the 90 Minute. Or any of the 25 rotating taps…

This is one of my top, go-to places in Boulder – it’s a slam dunk for beer snobbery and cheap pizza… and they have a patio!

One last note: you really should try the fried mac’n’cheese. I know, I know… “heart attack”, “clogged arteries”… whatever. They’re friggin’ great, so dive in.

Words to live by - "Beer will change the world! I don't know how, but it will."

Wisdom donning the wall at Backcountry in Boulder

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Pizzeria Locale

 

Pizzeria Locale bartender

Treat yourself to the Charcuterie plate and a handsome bartender at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder.

Pizzeria Locale dough tossing

The artisans at Locale in Boulder toss the dough before your eyes at a sushi-style pizza bar.

Pizzeria Locale Mais

If Locale’s sweet corn & prosciutto pie were a presidential candidate, it would win the electoral college by a gigantic landslide.

Pizzeria Locale dough toss

The Locale flour is flyin’ everywhere – behind the protective glass, of course.

Pizzeria Locale Ripieno Calzone

The basil/ricotta/prosciutto Ripieno is Locale’s answer to calzone, and, as my mom would say: “It’s to die for.”

Pizzeria Locale Basil Margherita

Locale’s Margherita pizza is topped with Perfect and served with a side of Awesome.

When the goods are this good, it’s wise to be economical with words. I’ll just say this…

Several weeks ago while indulging at Pizzeria Locale in Boulder, my friend Ryan turned to me – in mid-bite of his sweet-corn prosciutto pie – and said:

“I think they must use a secret ingredient in their crust that makes it taste better than any other pizza in the entire universe.”

There you have it.

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Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant

If you’re craving vegan or vegetarian fare, Leaf should definitely be one of your top choices for a romance-y dinner in Boulder.

portobello mushroom steak at Leaf in Boulder

Jedi Mind Trick from Leaf in Boulder: this looks like a giant steak, but it’s actually a portobello mushroom

I recommend starting with the Raw Wrap (rainbow chard, pea shoots, mixed sprouts, carrots, basil almond pâté, cashew “ricotta”) and following it up with the Vegetable Wellington (mushroom, onion, tomato, spinach & fontina in puff pastry, bordelaise, twice baked potato, sautéed greens, endive) entree. There’s a fair chance you won’t be able to finish the Wellington because it’s huge and awesome. The puff pastry and accompanying sauce are incredible.

It turns out it’s probably just as well you don’t finish the Wellington as Leaf features a prix fixe option where you choose three of one small plate, one salad, one entree, and one dessert. It’s a great deal for a boatload of high quality food.

Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake

We inhaled the Leaf vegan blueberry cheesecake in less than 90 seconds.

As an aside, Leaf is owned by Aji Latin American Restaurant, which has one of the best happy hours deals in town on Sundays because it lasts for six hours – food and drink. Go get some.

Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant in Boulder

What Leaf has, Aji has, and vice versa

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