Take care of your cravings with eight restaurants, three food trucks, and a community lobster fest.
Just because we’re landlocked in Boulder County doesn’t mean that we have to go without seafood on hot summer days. We’ve scoped out the area’s best spots, from old standbys, to sushi, and kitchens on wheels.
From parks to breweries, here’s where you go to put a variety of fresh-caught seafood on your plate when you’re craving something from the ocean.
The sit-down stops
Spruce Farm & Fish – Let this be your stop for a Boulder hot weather happy hour. It’s complete with East and West Coast oysters on the half shell and an extended wine list to match. But if you’re looking for something more filling, Chef Mike Thom can also pull off blackened snapper over crawfish étouffée, a generous portion of seared scallops, or a spicier Caribbean shrimp made with grilled Gulf shrimp on rice noodles.
Boulder Cork – Along with a ton of other people, when we get off work early, we love to settle in at the Boulder Cork for a celebratory meal. While lots of people talk about the Boulder Cork for their steak, wine list, and fantastic bar, diners also love the restaurant for it’s seafood. We had the Sake Salmon when we stopped there, and we appreciated how lightly it was prepared, with a ginger flavor that was enough to be interesting but still let the salmon shine through. Although we haven’t had it yet, the Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout over green chile mac and cheese has also caught our eye.
Sakura Japanese Cuisine and Sakura Sushi Express – Sushi is a healthy, flavorful way to get your fish fix this summer. For 25 years, Chef Sung Kho has been offering some of the most delicious versions of it in East Boulder County. In Longmont, Sakura Japanese Cuisine is a great choice if you’re looking for a sit-down Japanese experience. In Erie just off of Highway 7, there’s a second option —, Sakura Japanese Express that’s as convenient as it is delicious.
Casian Seafood – Looking for an intriguing take on a seafood boil? At Casian in Lafayette, Chef Dovi creates some of the area’s best seafood boils with their “Asian Cajun” approach that combines fresh seafood flavors with Vietnamese spice. We sat down and worked through two smaller sized boils — their lemongrass and traditional — both with shrimp, mussels, clams, crayfish, potatoes, and andouille sausage. The lemongrass was our favorite because we liked how the spices balanced out with the stronger seafood flavors.
Reelfish – Fish and chips is a classic summer plate of food and, if you have it prepared right, it’s crisp, light, and definitely not greasy. Reelfish is a fast casual restaurant where you don’t just have to order fish and chips, you have to specify the kind of fish that’s going to be fried. Options include cod, cajun swai, and, if you come on the right day, walleye, halibut, or fresh salmon. There’s also a range of sides including fried clam strips, oysters, shrimp, lobster rolls, lobster bisque, fish tacos, and chowder. This is a menu that keeps their fryer busy.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar – When diners are in Boulder and thinking of a restaurant that knows their seafood, Jax is one of the first places to come to mind. For years, people have been heading there for the raw bar and cocktails at happy hour. We’ve spent our share of after-work time there as well. Diners who are staying longer might want to try the Charred Spanish Octopus on smashed potatoes or their enormous Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. But this summer, we’re heading there with the family for Sunday Cioppino — snow crab, mussels, chopped crab, and shrimp in a tomato broth that’s made to inspire bread dipping.
Swaylo’s Tiki Restaurant & Bar – Sometime this summer, you’re going to find a time when you wish you were in the islands, but reality says you have to stay in Boulder County. When this feeling hits, you can at least do a little something about it if you go to Swaylo’s, which opened a bit over a year ago on Dry Creek Road in Longmont. They have plenty of seafood plates including ceviche, salmon with flavor-forward furikake seasoning, fried seafood, coconut shrimp, and fish tacos, with rum-infused fruity island drinks poured into classic tiki glassware to go with. We tried the Furikake Crusted Salmon — it had complex flavors that didn’t blast our palate.
Tortugas – Located across from the post office in Old Town Longmont, Tortugas has been quietly serving diners for years. It’s where you go if you want to pull up a chair for an amazingly well-made meal paired with unstuffy wine. We linger under the festive lights on the back porch when we can and enjoy a full meal featuring their fish of the day with a variety of sauces — we typically go with the mojo. Then there are two items we always get — the shrimp ceviche which is one of our favorites in the area and a bottle of Pete’s Heat hot sauce to take home.
The food trucks
Jimbeaux’s Cajun Cuisine, Crawfish Boils – Though this truck is located in Fort Collins, it heads down our way from time to time. When you see it this summer, try to go. It can be found for special events at places like Left Hand Brewing or the Erie Farmer’s Market where Louisiana-born Chef James offers boils full of crawfish, sausage, corn, and red potatoes. When we have it, we pair it with beer from the brewery where the truck is parked. We also try to finish it off with Jimbeaux’s rum bread pudding, which is a sweet end to all the spicy goodness.
On the Hook – If you made it your mission to try as many varieties of fish and chips this summer, we wouldn’t blame you. If that’s in your plan, line up at On the Hooks’ recognizable blue truck for plates of line-caught Alaskan cod and chips. While the truck can be seen at locations up and down the Front Range, they’re in our area frequently, offering plates stacked with fried goodness that’s satisfying but not too heavy.
The MAINE Event – This truck is New England seafood on wheels, operated by former Mainer-turned-Boulderite Chef Marc Kurnick. If you somehow don’t feel like you’re in the mood for lobster or his lobster rolls, you could try a swordfish BLT with a side of crisp coleslaw, fries, or clam chowder. As long as you’re in the mood for seafood, there are always options here.
The community fest
Niwot’s Lobster Fest – While there’s plenty of dining options for Boulder area seafood, one of our favorites is a non-restaurant-based option. Since 2021, Niwot has been creating their own New England Lobster Fest at Whistlestop Park. If all it had was lobster, we’d still attend because we can’t enjoy enough bright red, butter-soaked crustaceans, but this festival is even better because you’re eating lobster with 200 other neighbors. Along with that, you’ve got live music, wine, beer, cocktails, cookies, and ice cream all served on red and white checkered tablecloths. This fest has always been held to benefit a good cause. Last year’s benefit was for Marshall Fire Victims, and before that, the dinner benefitted area youth sports. This year’s event on June 3 will support Niwot’s Sculpture Park.