Without a doubt try Frasca. Below is a fairly recent trip report:
and their website:
OK. I'm one of the few who does not get orgasmic over Frasca. If you insist on going, I'd suggest immediately trying to make a reservation. They have a bozo system which requires you to call, leave a message and wait for them to call you on their terms.
A "MUST" depends upon for what you are looking. Here's what I'd recommend:
Aji. Quite unique, excellent fish and the ceviches are fantastic!
7 Eurobar. Tapas.
Restaurant 4580. In North Boulder with a creative menu. The 'black' risotto made with truffles is terrific. Wednesday is Paella special night. Worth going.
The drive up Boulder Canyon to Nederland is beautiful. If you need to eat there check out the Sundance Cafe for down-to-earth wonderful breakfasts and lunches. Kathmandu is a Nepalese gem. Bring a coat - they tend to keep the room cold!
I would ditto Frasca but might be to late to get a reservation for a October weekend. They do set aside a certain number of tables for walk-ups and there are cancelations so you could try showing up when they open.
I agree with Mutts other suggestions and also that "must" depends on what you are looking for.
I like Aji although I think the small plates are the best bet.
A few more thoughts.
Dushanbe Tea House is unique with decent food. Good lunch place.
After Frasca, my favorite place for food is L'Atelier
If you are looking to take adavantage of the view and money is not a concern there is the Flagstaff House:
I am not an expert but thought The Kitchen had a pretty good wine selection.
For breakfast my favorite (except for the wait) is Luciles
A final thought in the general area near Nederland is Gold Hill Inn.
FYI. The Gold Hill Inn is closed for the season. They usually wrap things up Labor Day Week-end.
Just checked their website and I stand corrected. They have extended their opening. That drive will be interesting in the winter for any unsuspecting folks in a 2-wheel drive rental car!
The Flagstaff House is my absolute favorite in Boulder. Going to one of their lunch-time cooking demos this Friday. These are usually a blast!
Boulder! I went last year at this time for some R&R and loved it. I had dinner at The Kitchen as it was walking distance from my hotel and if I wasn't so tired I probably would have enjoyed it more. I dined alone and the staff could not have ben more friendly. I also recommend the pastries at Blue Fine Pastries - also on Pearl Street. Very nice people and atmosphere - enjoy. :)
Blue is gone already. Too bad -- it was excellent. Now Dish, a gourmet lunch/sandwich shop (mostly counter, not much in the way of seating there), is in its place. I haven't eaten there yet, but hear it's good. Last time I was in I balked at paying $9 for a sandwich.
I agree that Frasca is a must. They open at 5:30 if it's too late to reserve a table and you want to try to show up and see if you can get in. They are closed every Sunday.
We've had great meals at Mateo, across the street from Frasca.
Aji, one of my favorite Boulder restaurants, has a great happy hour every day of the week, with $3 mojitos (in multiple flavors; I like the original and the pineapple -- the watermelon one was way too sweet because it seemed to have watermelon liqueur and sugar in it) and $4 ceviches and other great small plates at reasonable prices. The ceviches are inventive and delicious. I recently had a braised pork sandwich with sweet potato fries -- yum. And the posole (which may be on the regular menu by now) was wonderful, especially after I asked for a wedge of lime to go with it.
For pastries and breads, Burnt Toast (on University Hill) is worth a visit. They bake all their own stuff (breads, croissants, pastries, coffeecake) and it is good. I am a fan of their apple turnovers.
I lived in Boulder and Nederland for many years. But have been gone quite a while now.
There was an Italian place in Ned called Neo's, Great lasagna!
They had these garlic rolls that were awesome.
A nice little bar and also Italian place was in the Hotel Boulderado, at the time it was called the Catacombs.
There was also a great rib joint in Boulder called Daddy Bruce's.
But the Flagstaff house is the place to go for Swank!!!!!!
For an inexpensive, quick, but otherwise great meal - I'd recommend Illegal Pete's on Pearl Street for a yummy burrito. When I lived in Boulder, my brother would fly in from NY, get to town, and immediately insist that we go and get a fish burrito!
Personally, I've found that Lucille's gets so crowded that the staff does not have the time for upkeep of the dining room. I've literally had a meal with a nice sized chunk of food ground into the carpet on the floor beside my table... not very appetizing.
For a special brunch (or any other meal for that matter), I'd strongly recommend Q's in the Hotel Boulderado:
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is one of my most favorite places in town, but their food is less than stellar. But I do think it would be a great treat to stop in for some afternoon chai (a must!) and a snack.
As for Ned - I say grab some sandwiches and drinks at Breadworks on Broadway (in Boulder), drive up the canyon, and treat yourselves to a picnic in a nice quiet spot overlooking the reservoir. That was always an old standby for us.
Enjoy your stay! My husband and I miss Boulder on a daily basis...
Thanks so much for the great advice! We have decided The Kitchen for a saturday night dinner (nice wine list) and also Sunflower for Suday brunch... and all the other spots we hope to work in in our 5 day stay. One question - we rented a SUV for our drive from Boulder to Nederland... we have driven the mountains of the East Coast, Spain, Ireland, and Germany - anything to compare? And any other good stops with also good eats is appreciated- we love food and the outdoors!
The Kitchen is a great choice, and the staff do an excellent job answering questions about pairings from the wine list.
I would suggest a stop at Dushanbe does not include food...it sucks. The ambiance and hot beverages are nice.
Masa Grill has a chorizo taco that is the best in the state.
For your drive in the mountains you can't go wrong whatever way you come back, but my suggestion would be to stop by Westfalen Hof up CO72 from 93(road between Boulder and Golden). It's a trip to Germany w/o the hassle of flying. All the servers and cooks are talking in German, the beer is cool but not cold, and the schnitzel(sp?) and venison are unbelievable. Had a meal here with friends a few weeks ago and we can't stop talking about how good the food and experience was.
Please post a trip report and tell us about any finds/experiences!
Great choices! You should have a great weekend. Try stopping by the tea house. Its a great experience and the tea house was actually a gift from Boulder's sister city.
Not to get to off the subject but the drive up Boulder Canyon to Nederland isn't that bad (if its snowing then thats a different story). I found driving in Spain much scarier! Just a suggestion- Instead of driving back down the same way- take a right (north) in Nederland and drive the Peak-to-Peak highway (hwy 72 I think) you can turn the drive into a loop and go through Estes Park or Lyons and back to Boulder on 36.
Frasca is great and has a superb wine list.
Flagstaff House is also very nice, especially for the view.
I have always enjoyed Laudisio for Italian. Their wine list is very nice, and reflects the food (Amalfi Coast) very well. They have recently moved, so check the address. I think it is now on 28th? street.
I'm in Boulder a good 10 times per year on expense account. For casual dining, I don't see how you can beat the Mediterranean. They have an excellent tapas menu; some of which is half price until the end of their 6:30 happy hour; and a more than adequate wine list. It's not haute cuisine but it's very good food and a very good value.
Frasca is not to be missed. It is my favorite restaurant of all time. I have fond memories of every single meal I ever ate there. First class food and service. Good value (but not inexpensive). Bobby Stucky, the owner will make you feel like the most important customer the restaurant has ever seen, and everyone in the restaurant will ensure you have a great experience. The choclate milkshake with brownie for desert is really amazing.
Directly across the street from Frasca is a great restaurant named Le Atelier (sic.). It is run by a long time restauranteur from those parts named Radek Cierney. It is also first class, and definately worth a try if you can't get into Frasca. It is mostly French interpretations of American dishes. Great sauces and presentations.
A great drive from Boulder is up through Lyons to Estes Park. When in Lyons, be sure to check out the Pinball Arcade (right a the end of main street). It is a local establishment with about 75 Pinball games (of various vintages). It is a one of a kind place and worth a look. Lyons is a quaint little town, which is a very short drive from Boulder. Not much good food in Lyons, but a really cool little town.
Although I have never been, I would second the recomendation to check out the Dashanube Tea House. It isn't probably the best place for food, but a unique place, and worth a look as well. Get some tea and cookies or something.
One more quick recomendation (although I could go on for a while). Lucilles for down-home creole breakfast (if you like butter, you are in the right place). It is always packed, but worth the wait (and a great setting). A great breakfast that will fill you up for a day of hiking the flatirons.