Best of the West: Reader’s Choice Food

Published on: April 14th, 2010

Readers’ Choice East County & Boulder:

Overall Restaurant (E. County) Sugarbeet, Longmont Sugarbeet returns to the top—as readers once again embrace this culinary darling as their premier dining destination. And it’s no surprise. Sugarbeet’s contemporary American fare is approachable and oh-so good. The atmosphere is perfectly unfussy (but just fussy enough to be special). Overall Restaurant (Boulder) The Mediterranean After more than a decade and a half, The Med still inspires new patrons and still lures old ones. It’s a magnetic charm—in the form of fresh, beautiful plates of wood-fired pizza, big salads and seafood-heavy pastas as well as a lively, colorful vibe—that has just not faded.

Contemporary American (E. County) Magnolia Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Lafayette A restaurant that offers a sushi menu alongside chicken with roasted sweet potato and orange-coriander pan sauce and smoked beef ragu is either brilliant or crazy. With exceptional execution and creative elegance, we opt for crazy brilliant.

Contemporary American (Boulder) Salt Drop in, if not for the organic, seasonal dishes that satisfy and beguile, than to be in awe of the history, design and strut of this new Boulder hot spot. The setting is just as interesting and thoughtful as the plates that come out of the kitchen. Don’t forget about the basement lounge. Cheap Eats (E. County) Sun Rose Café, Longmont The sweeping space, which is dotted with a gallery of local art and nicely filled with a smattering of tables, does not feel cheap; neither do the flavor-focused sandwiches, the ever-changing soups or the bountiful dinner salads. But for us, this Longmont café is as affordable as it is lovely. Cheap Eats (Boulder) Snarf’s Sub Shop Snarf’s is a longtime institution in Boulder County—turning simple ingredients into pure sandwich delight for the college masses and the lunch crowd. The bread is phenomenal and arguably the calling card of Snarf’s. The tuna melt is amazing, topped with hot peppers. Snarf it!

BBQ (E. County & Boulder) The Rib House, Longmont & Boulder Readers and critics alike love The Rib House for its amazing fall-off-the-bone ribs and pork sandwiches, the turkey, cheesy corn, fried okra and delicious, delicious sauces. The Rib House always pleases. It’s kind of like the Tom Hanks of restaurants. Bakery (E. County) Indulge Bakery, Lafayette You can find chocolates, cakes and pastries at any bakery, but at Indulge, the baked goods are always fresh, decadent, beautiful and perfectly indulgent.

Bakery (Boulder) Spruce Confections Whether you need an espresso and a cookie or a salad and piece of pie, the adorable Spruce Confections is the sweet spot. Try the cream cheese and peaches scone, and you will be walking on sunshine.

Bagel (E. County) Big Daddy Bagels, various locations A Big Daddy bagel is big and pillowy, chewy, with perfect doughy meat. And while we love their cream cheese, we prefer them as is…simple, fresh and unadorned.

Bagel (Boulder) Moe’s Broadway Bagels This iconic bagel-paradise has been the tried and true favorite of Boulderites for decades. The funky atmosphere and the staff’s passion for bagels just make you want to join in the fun.

Breakfast (E. County) Two Dog Diner, Longmont Plates of fluffy omelets, fun salt and pepper shakers, families sharing pancakes and crispy bacon. It all comes together to create the friendly, cool modern diner that is Two Dog.

Breakfast (Boulder) Original Pancake House At Original Pancake House, having breakfast is kind of like making a really good memory. The menu is packed with tasty treasures. If you’re in the mood for craveable classics, do try out the apple pancake or the Dutch baby. You’ll never forget it! Breakfast Burrito (E. County) Santiago’s, various locations Santiago’s won this category hands down. Perfect to grab and go, their breakfast burritos are not the kind that leave you unbuttoning your denim. Still, the lanky foil-wrapped packages fill you enough to leave you totally happy.

Breakfast Burrito (Boulder) Big City Burrito The best part of a Big City breakfast burrito? The potatoes. These babies are fried crisp and light and packed in a giant tortilla. Just add eggs, cheese, salsa de lupe and guac. You are good to go, literally.

Brunch (E. County) The Huckleberry, Louisville The beauty of Huckleberry starts when you walk into the funky, historical digs in downtown Louisville. Then it fully blossoms when you dig into the blueberry flapjacks, fried green tomatoes or chicken pot pie. Brunch (Boulder) The Greenbriar Inn Anything you pair with champagne is OK with us…and the Greenbriar’s Sunday brunch is no exception. This buffet is bountiful—with brunch classics like prime rib, omelets, oysters and salads…and champagne.

Burger (E. County) Waterloo, Louisville The potato burger is the specialty of the house but the Waterloo burger is the mainstay. Both are juicy, packed with accompaniments and bursting with savory, all-American flavors. It’s a burger destination that always satisfies.

Burger (Boulder) Larkburger This local newbie has done nothing but attract compliments and crowds since it opened. Probably because they serve up a mean burger and fries, perfect for those “I really need a burger” moments.

Coffeehouse (E. County) Brewing Market, various locations Readers love Brewing Market (all of them) because, here, there is no snobbery. Entire families gather for coffee and juice. Friends meet to gossip. Students pull out laptops and get to work. Plus, if you’re in need of a bite to eat or a nibble of chocolate, they have plenty of both.

Coffeehouse (Boulder) Vic’s Vic’s is the local’s refuge from the corporate coffee titans. Their coffee and espresso are killer and the pastries (we love the big, fluffy muffins) are always fresh. And no matter which location, there is always that special Vic’s brand of hipness.

Restaurant for a Date (E. County) Sugarbeet, Longmont Sugarbeet, with a reputation that is solid as gold, has become the place to go when you want to impress. Whether your date is a foodie or just regular person with a regular palette, the food, drink and service are spot on.

Restaurant for a Date (Boulder) The Mediterranean Let’s face it: The Med is a sexy place. The setting is sleek and cool. The drinks are flowing. The food is always delicious, fresh and just exotic enough. The lighting seems practically made to help you get a good-night kiss. And The Mediterranean vibe is pure and sensuous. That’s how you romance.

Dessert (E. County) Indulge Bakery, Lafayette When an Indulge cake is pulled out during a birthday party or special event, it’s really, really hard to say no. So, if we were you, we would just say yes.

Dessert (Boulder) Cheesecake Factory Decadence never perfectly describes the Cheesecake Factory. It is, in fact, as gluttonous as they come, but our readers tend to think big, especially when it comes to the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake.

For Families (E. County) Two Dog Diner, Longmont One need only look through the windows of Two Dog Diner to see that it’s terrific family fun. Parents and children fill the tables. The atmosphere is lighthearted, cool and playful. And their menu is a kid’s dream come true: pancakes and waffles and grilled cheese, oh my!

For Families (Boulder) Turley’s “Family friendly” doesn’t mean there are toys and games and a giant singing mouse. At Turley’s, it means that an entire family can gather for a delicious meal and enjoy the experience. Plus, Turley’s has a healthful bent that keeps our readers coming back—whether it’s with the kiddos or with co-workers.

Patio (E. County) Martini’s Bistro, Longmont Martini’s patio is kind of like a living room in the beautiful Colorado sun. Enjoy a martini and one of their killer appetizers lounging around the outdoor fire pit on a patio sofa.

Patio (Boulder) The Mediterranean The Med’s patio doesn’t have a view of rocky peaks or busy streets. It’s pure sunshine and flower pots and a true focus on the intimate setting and amazing food.

Green Chili (E. County & Boulder) Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant, various locations Efrain’s green chili is not like traditional Colorado chili. It’s thinner, like a spicy broth with big chunks of pork and a pertness. The flavor is up front and forward, just like it should be.

Lunch (E. County) Sun Rose Café, Longmont A cup of homemade soup. A fresco panini. An ice-cold glass of lavender lemonade. So simply scrumptious, Sun Rose’s lunches are the kind of meals that surprise you with flavor and satisfaction and leave you ready to tackle the rest of your day. Lunch (Boulder) Laudisio Italian Restaurant Laudisio reminds us that lunch does not need to be austere. It reminds us that we can enjoy a bibb lettuce salad along with the ridiculously good rucola pizza. And maybe dessert.

Chinese (E. County) Spice China, Louisville Spice China is legendary and it could win simply on the breadth and depth of its menu, but we suspect they actually won because the food that results is truly stellar.

Chinese (Boulder) China Gourmet Whether you order spicy beef tendon when you’re at a Chinese restaurant or you’re more of a sweet-and-sour pork sort of person, here there’s something that will surely please everyone. Order at the counter and act like a regular.

Italian (E. County) Zamparelli’s Italian Bistro, Lafayette Zamparelli’s is a local’s favorite. How could you go wrong with brick-oven pizzas, lovely salads and soups and mouth-watering sandwiches? No, seriously, that’s not rhetorical. How can you go wrong?

Italian (Boulder) Laudisio Italian Restaurant Laudisio has one of those menus that’s endlessly enticing but verging on frustrating. So much so that it’s painful to pick between chicken saltimbocca and spaghettini puttanesca. But eventually we do pick one, and we are so happy we did.

Salad (E. County) Zamparelli’s Italian Bistro, Lafayette A salad for every day. Sometimes we go for the arugula salad with prosciutto. Other times it’s the Caesar with tasty croutons. Pear and gorgonzola salad is best on a summer day, when the flavors match our mood.

Salad (Boulder) Mad Greens Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? A fast, fun salad stop that offers more dressings, toppings and types of greens than you can shake a breadstick at. Mexican Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant, various locations If you like it hot, you’ll love Efrain’s. Known for its funky vibe, Efrain’s serves up honest Mexican food. Cool your palate with a super strong margarita.

Mexican (Boulder) The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant The quintessential margarita spot needs a solid menu of craveable treats. At Rio, everyone has their favorites—whether it’s the soup and quesadilla on the lunch menu (even when it’s not lunch) or a steak burrito, smothered. Grab a seat on the roof and catch a slice of Boulder nightlife with a side order of Mexican-American fare.

Pizza (E. County & Boulder) Proto’s Pizza, various locations The Neapolitan-style thin crust at Proto’s brings people together. Especially, on Friday nights, when Proto’s serves up its specialty: the mighty tasty clam pizza.

Seafood (E. County) Tortuga’s, Longmont If you haven’t been to Tortuga’s in a while, it’s time to revisit this Longmont gem. Amazing fish in a landlocked state isn’t hard to come by here.

Seafood (Boulder) Jax Fish House How often do you get a chance to dine with a Top Chef? And beyond the celebrity factor, the food is delish. Start with oysters, order with abandon, and don’t forget to save room for dessert.

Steak house (E. County) Colorado Coal Company, Erie One of the best reasons to drive to Erie. Get a table or belly up to the bar with the locals and enjoy a great steak at a reasonable price—from top sirloin and flat iron to rib eye, New York strip and prime rib. Steak house (Boulder) Boulder Chop House Contemporary steak house feel with local and organic ingredients inspiring the menu. Timeless taste meets cutting-edge cuisine trends in a cool, super comfortable and intimate setting. This is how Boulder does steak house.

Sushi/Japanese (E. County) Sakura Japanese Cuisine, Longmont This Japanese gem looks innocuous from the outside, but inside, feels totally authentic. Order a bento box to try lots of things or just get your favorite sashimi.

Sushi/Japanese (Boulder) Sushi Zanmai Step through the doors and be treated to a hearty welcome from the sushi bar. It’s just a sign of things to come. This place is legendary for good reason. Order one of their house specialty rolls.

Thai (E. County) Thai Kitchen, Longmont Our publisher’s sister lives in Thailand, so when she tells us that a Thai place is authentic, we tend to believe her. Order the pork larb and order it spicy. It’s addictive.

Thai (Boulder) Elephant Hut Excellent food, a sleek, modern and impeccably beautiful atmosphere and art painted by elephants. Yes, elephants. Sandwich (E. County) Snarf’s Sub Shop, Longmont & Westminster Quality ingredients and classic preparations make this a beloved favorite. Hip-hip hurray for the new store in Westminster!

Sandwich (Boulder) Salvaggio’s Italian Deli Smack dab in the middle of Pearl Street isn’t where you might expect to find a traditional Italian deli, but one bite of the sandwiches here will make you a believer.

Indian (E. County) Taj Mahal III, Louisville The atmosphere is warm, the staff is friendly and our readers obviously dig their tasty, traditional Indian fare. Try a little of everything at the lunch buffet.

Indian (Boulder) Tandoori Grill Authentic Indian dishes with a modern twist, this restaurant is consistently listed among the best Indian establishments in Colorado. Vegetarian (E. County) Flavor of India, Longmont Saag paneer, vegetable samosas, aloo gobi—for any vegetarians looking to spice up their lives, you really can’t do much better than Flavor of India.

Vegetarian (Boulder) Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant Sick of salads? The entire menu at Leaf is vegetarian, offering tons of gourmet and eco-friendly options for herbivores and their omnivore friends.

Overall Bar (E. County) Pumphouse Brewery, Longmont Pumphouse is where Longmont goes to relax. Beers with the boys. Ladies’ night on the patio. Friends, teammates or co-workers enjoying a break from work and locally brewed beer.

Overall Bar (Boulder) West End Tavern The mixologists (that’s right, no bartenders here) at West End have skills coming out of their shot glasses. Sage Swink leads the team of cocktail craftspeople, serving up drinks in the cozy downstairs bar or on the rooftop patio.

Pub/Tavern (E. County) Mike O’Shay’s Restaurant & Ale, Longmont Longmont’s downtown Irish haven is one of the most reliable finds in the area. It’s a neighborhood bar and restaurant serving up consistently tasty food to a friendly crowd.

Pub/Tavern (Boulder) Walnut Brewery You can simply judge Walnut Brewery by the crowds that fill it—and do expect a wait if you show up on a weekend evening. With a Buff Gold in your hand, you’ll know it’s worth it.

Brewery (E. County) Left Hand Brewery, Longmont You can’t deny Left Hand Brewery’s reign: Sawtooth Ale, Milk Stout, Jackman’s Pale Ale and the seasonal Oktoberfest. With beers like these, Left Hand has truly become our own king of beers. And we are loyal and trusting minions.

Brewery (Boulder) Walnut Brewery The beers that Walnut Brewery create are flagship local drinks. Buffalo Gold is iconic, citrusy and gold like sunshine. The St. James Irish Red Ale has a staunch cult following. The Indian Peaks Pale Ale has a lovely, crisp flavor that makes it so amazing on a spring day.

Local Beer (E. County & Boulder) Left Hand Brewery’s Sawtooth, Longmont Coloradans are beer snobs and for a good reason. Our palettes are refined from all that consumption. So, when readers select Sawtooth as their favorite, it means something. The amber ale is drinkable yet complex with nutty and herbal flavors.

Happy Hour (E. County) Oskar Blues, Longmont After work, folks—from the suited up to the dressed down—hear the siren song of happy hour of Oskar Blues Liquid & Solids: $2 pints. Is it calling your name?

Happy Hour (Boulder) The Mediterranean At The Med, happy hour is a true art, with plate after plate of mussels, steamed octopus and all kinds of hummus. They practically invented tapas; well, at least they brought them to Boulder.

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