1. WILD STANDARD
1043 Pearl St, Boulder
If you want to meet a chef who is a genius, an artist, and a gentleman, spend an evening at Wild Standard. I was actually introduced to the fresh-picked-by-the-chef’s- children-that-afternoon porcini mushroom that would be highlighted in the evening’s risotto. I was dazzled by the bicoastal flavors of oyster, entranced by the green curry. The Smoked Salmon Hash Browns were absolutely glorious, #photographersfavorite. The Wild King Salmon was smoked the way great chefs of yore intended, laid on a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes that had been waffle ironed, and topped with creme fraiche and dill. As a person who has had some negative experiences with fish, this experience quite literally changed my feelings on seafood.
817 Main St, Louisville
In this stylish, musically themed haunt by Josh Karp, the food is as special as the atmo- sphere. I started with the ceviche: raw sea- food, various vegetables, and lime. Next was the bone-in ribeye, a succulent cut of meat that offered an explosion of tastes. I finished with the salmon. It was grilled to perfection, and served atop a roasted corn and tomato salad.
2. RINCON ARGENTINO
2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder
Rincon Argentina translates from Spanish to Argentine Corner, and Rincon is a special little corner spot in the Boulder foodie landscape. This gastronomical, culturally informed goodness is the brainchild of Argentine native Cristian Saber and his American wife, Carly. They opened the space just about five years ago with a three-week old baby in tow. The Gaucho, a traditional-style empanada famed for being a staple of the Argentine Sunday Sobre Mesa (all day meal, essentially), is ground beef, caramelized onions, red bell peppers, raisins, and spices, baked in edge-braided crust. Complement your empanada with the classic Ensalda de Palmito and a glass of their Yerba Mate tea, derived from the leaves and stems of the yerba mate trees of Argentina, and you have a magical, exotic, and scrumptious meal. Yes, we’d like one of each to go please. Yum.
4. ROSALEE’S PIZZERIA
461 Main St, Longmont, CO
“East coast pies under Western skies,” is how James and Amy Ross sometimes describe their Longmont pizzeria. This is not one of those elevated places that is taking a new approach to pizza. These are the pizzas you wish you had grown up eating and you want to feed your kids. They make a round pie of 18” and a Sicilian pizza cooked and served on a sheet pan. The Sicilian is crispy and airy, and the “pro” order is the Margarita (add sausage). Plum tomato sauce is spread as a base with fresh whole milk mozzarella, basil, and pecorino cheese layered on top. The hormone-free pork sausage is portioned on raw to keep it moist and the flavor permeates throughout the pie as it cooks.
5. ALPINE MODERN CAFE
904 College Ave, Boulder
You can’t help but enjoy brunch in a wonderfully restored Chautauqua cabin. Alpine Modern has taken both the environ and the avocado toast to a new level, offering the Avocado Tartine in brilliant fashion. The dish is fields of green, between the fresh and mountainous avocado and arugula, topped with shaved radish, and is flavored with delicious and deceptively simple seasonings and olive oil on Italian filone bread.
6. NAKED LUNCH
3301 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder
I had the Reuben, a staple at many sandwichshops. Naked Lunch ups the ante with a Thousand Island spread and a perfect corned beef topped with swiss cheese on rye that made my mouth happy. I took leftovers to work the next 8 day and it was still amazing. Even the breadheld up. A seriously recommended lunchtime destination you’ll want to check out.
1175 Walnut St, Boulder
The tortilla is often an afterthought when preparing a taco. The options for fillings, sauces, toppings, and garnishes take precedence. At T/aco, though, the tortilla gets special attention here though. Non-GMO corn is made into masa, then formed into the tortilla and cooked. The filling of the taco is not neglected, how- ever. One taco that stands out in texture, flavor and it’s uniqueness tis the grilled cotija taco, with it’s salty cheese seared until it melts into a patty with a brown crispy crust.
8. BRAMBLE & HARE
1970 13th St, Boulder
The gloriousness of quieted concern, easy airs of both an antiquated farmhouse and Parisian nonchalance. The marvelous bar turnstile spins out the bourbon used in my Catch Her In The Rye cucumber-infused cocktail as the brilliance of simple baby heirlooms and flower accents add a gentle touch of color to an otherwise subdued palate. The Braised Tunis Lamb with basil pesto is gorgeous in its simplicity, sided by a quinoa salad, pickled onion and red wine jus.
100 US HWY 287 – A500, Broomfield
Handmade Italian food has a long history in East county. If you’re grieved by some recent losses in this category take comfort in know- ing that Delvickios (from the Pinocchios’ family of restaurants) is still baking fresh bread, making in-house pasta, and blend- ing their own dressings. The standby favorites are on the menu but the standout dish is the Chicken Tiamo — a chicken breast with prosciutto and melted provolone served with fresh veggies and roasted potatoes.
1048 Pearl St, #105, Boulder
It’s official: I want every single burger on Eureka’s menu, starting with the Bone Marrow Burger. I had the Fresno Fig burger, medium, and it was basically a meat miracle. Fig marmalade dripped as I devoured under the yellow glow of antique-style bulbs. The melted goat cheese, bacon, tomato, red onion, arugula, and spicy porter mustard rounded out the flavor profile. A lovely and warmly decorated location makes this a great evening spot as well.
11. ROSARIO’S PERUVIAN
625 Ken Pratt Blvd, Longmont
Potatoes were originally domesticated in the Andes mountains, so it is no surprise that this tuber maintains prominence in Peruvian cuisine. Rosario, who emigrated from Peru, crafted all of the dishes on the menu including the tasty Papa de la Huanciana. The dish consists of boiled yellow potatoes covered in a sauce made with queso fresco and Peruvian aji amarillo escabeche (yellow peppers). This is Peruvian comfort food and it translates well to the eater who experiences that familiarity while being stretched slightly into the exotic.
12. DUGOUT BAR AND GRILL
149 Briggs St. Erie
Inside this baseball themed joint you find what you expect and love at a sports bar: beer, TV’s, and man-cave de?cor. Johnny Mares and Fausto Felix did most of the work themselves, from the barnwood paneling to the galvanized-pipe glass rack above the bar. In addition to standard pub fare, they also serve a Hall of Fame ceviche and fish taco. The real ringer is the Tachos. The guys cover extra crispy tater tots with homemade chili, an outstanding queso, chives, tomatoes, and jalapenos. Put these tot nachos in the line-up next time you settle in for the big game.
13. BLACK DIAMOND
103 N Public Rd, C, Lafayette
Rick Ross founded this establishment to honor the coal mining heritage in our area. A bronze bust of his grandfather, complete with mining helmet and headlamp, sits proudly on the bar. With this knowledge, I went with a Pocket Pie — a classic miner’s lunch — called “the Pluto #1.” Black Diamond’s take on the dish involves bread filled with locally made Italian sausage, cabbage, green peppers, and provolone cheese. For a side I recommend either the fresh veggies (mine included zucchini, sweet peas, and sweet peppers that they managed to get browned and crisp) or the thick-cut beer-battered onion rings. The onions are sweet and mild with a thick and crispy batter.
14. MANDALA INFUSION
4479 N Broadway, Boulder
Nothing is more amazing to me than the ingenuity of a chef and owner team dedicated to changing the gastronom- ical landscape. The chef at Mandala Infusion created a watermelon curry, which the owner claims is the only one of its kind in the world. Chunks of fresh watermelon and plantains surround a mountain of basmati rice, the whole of it drowned in Tibetan curry. The atmo- sphere heightened the meal; the sangha tables, traditional carpets, and Tibetan artworks made for an amazing dining experience. When they say Infusion, they mean infused with brilliance.
15. ROCKY MOUNTAIN RAMEN
3336 Arapahoe Rd, Unit D, Erie
Ramen is a Chinese invention that made its way to Japan after WWII where it became famous. Now serious ramen is also becoming popular in foodie centers around the U.S., but this is not your old college staple. Rocky Mountain Ramen starts by boiling pig femurs for 24 hours to create a complex, milky broth. Next, thick wheat noodles and a secret sauce go into the soup. The bowl is finished with spinach, baby corn or bamboo, and a custard centered egg. The rich broth, noodles, and fresh veggies provide a nourishing meal. A vegan option is also available so you can bring that friend, too.
16. 740 FRONT
740 Front St, Louisville
The historic back bar at 740 Front sets the tone for the food; served in a building of hand carved history, modern fusion foods just wouldn’t fit. Owner Paul Burns was inspired by San Francisco Chef, Nancy Oaks, who told him, “I’m not trying to come up with anything new. I just serve the best damn food I can.” This attitude shows up in 740 Front’s Certified Angus Beef ribeye steak, finished with a butter garlic sauce. The rich flavor and deep marbling is just what you hope to find in an old school, corn-finished beef.
17. ELEMENT BISTRO
6315 Lookout Rd, Boulder
Eric Lee was talked back into the restaurant biz when he saw the building where Element is housed. He couldn’t say “no” to the Flatiron views from the rooftop deck. The menu is full of classics that match this classic view. This is one of those meals that can be a real disappointment or can renew your faith in eating out. Atlantic Cod is battered with rice flour and gluten-free beer, giving the fish a crunch while also ensuring that the breading doesn’t separate from the fish, an oft fatal error. The choice of breading makes this a rare treat for those of us with dietary intolerances—real or imagined. Verdict? Faith renewed.
18. SUSHI YAMA
1627 E Coalton Rd, Superior
Easy to miss in the unassuming strip mall they occupy in Superior, Sushi Yama is a brilliant little spot worth the visit. With its deep red and mahogany, traditional Japanese sushi-house wooden framed decor, chic design and delicious offerings, they had me wanting more. The I Love You roll is their most popular, according to sushi chef/co- owner David and partner Jon. It is fresh and tasty, swimming in a sauce bed that’s both aesthetically pleasing and flavor effective. We definitely brought home leftovers. Also try the Rainbow Naruto roll. It’s brilliant.
19. GUSTAVOS LATIN AMERICAN BBQ
12920 Lowell Blvd, #1, Broomfield
Gustavo’s Latin American BBQ in Broomfield is out to prove their hybrid style an indispensable culinary concept. A luxurious menu highlighted with smoked and marinated lamb, pulled pork, and chicken is complemented by a salsa bar that boosts the tasting experience. The brisket is cooked with four different types of woods in the restaurant’s smoker until optimal tenderness, resulting in the dish customers gravitate toward.
20. MOTHERLODE CAFE
950 S Sherman St #100, Longmont
Motherlode Cafe is camouflaged as a ware- house, but don’t let that throw you. The mixed grill is the most requested lunch item; a mix of sausage, brisket, and ribs. The sausage was cut long and had perfect grill marks. The brisket was flavorful and juicy. The homemade barbecue sauce had the right amount of spice. The smoked ribeye was a delightful conclusion to the meal. Bold and cooked medium rare, the steak was a fine sight.
909 Walnut St, Boulder
Arcana’s pulled pork and grilled cheese sandwich is a happy hour treat made in heaven: tangy, aged white cheddar with tender, smoky pork between toasted artisan sour- dough bread. This is why having appetizers as entrees can be brilliant. And if you’re looking for more locally sourced goodness, you’ll find delicious trout, lamb, elk and Caribou Ranch beef short ribs on the seasonally changing menu.
22. THE KITCHEN UPSTAIRS
1039 Pearl St, b, Boulder
Yes, you could share the gravy topped, buttermilk batter-fried chicken on the happy hour menu, if only you could steal a bite before your friend made it disappear. As with most items at The Kitchen Upstairs, that one elevates a basic dish to art. Another example is the mussels in tomato curry broth that will have you reaching for a loaf of the artisan bread to sop up the broth. Or the perfectly crispy wood oven pizzas. And good luck finding the same offerings on the cheese and charcuterie menu two days in a row.
23. RAS KASSA’S ETHIOPIAN
802 S Public Rd, Lafayette
The traditional Ethiopian seating invites you to get comfy with friends, family, and strangers alike. The Ethiopian art hanging on the walls reminds you of the breadth of beauty and artistic diversity in the world, and then your tray arrives. Family style is the best style. You dig into lamb and mushrooms and lentils and chicken and egg, the spices tingling your lips, begging you to pour another glass of honey wine. And this is good. Slowly sip a cappuccino or double espresso after the meal, and you’re done.
24. RAYBACK COLLECTIVE
2775 Valmont Rd, Boulder
Special Mention: The Rayback Collective is less an eatery than a space that provides eateries. An intrepid group of friends owns and operates the establishment and they host a rotating collection of the area’s favorite food trucks alongside a coffee shop and bar. Ray- back features indoor and outdoor seating, bar games, and a very cool, very chill vibe. We can’t tell you what’s great to eat there given the ever-changing line-up, but we’d try it all. Food trucks forever! Check the website for their calendar.
25. HICKORY & ASH
8001 Arista Pl #150, Broomfield
This was special. Their “deconstructed pastrami sandwich” is a delectable treat for any palate. Officially called the Short Rib Pastrami, this beautifully designed and presented dish comes with brussels sprouts (which makes our mom happy), mustard seeds, and pumpernickel to complement a genius 24-hour braising and oven roasting process. Add to that the brine and thousand island dressing— made 100% in-house—and you’ve got a magical meal.