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Jun 26, 2009 12:05 PM

Recs for Boulder

Hello Southwest Chowhounds,
A friend and I will be visiting Boulder for a long weekend over the Fourth and would love to hear your favorite places for things like:

Happy hour
Best martini?
Best wine bar?
Mid-price dinner - entrees $10 - $20?
Nice dinner - entrees $20 - $30? (Probably too late to make reservations but it'd be nice to hear your thoughts anyway)
Best place to sit at the bar and sample a bunch of appetizers?

We are 2 forty-something professional gals who love to nosh - we like the French vibe but really any type of cuisine is fine. Thanks!

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  1. See for Boulder recommndations, especially the mid-priced dinner choices.

    Happy hour - If not on a weekend, in additition to those in the other thread, Tahona Tequila Bistro and Seven, next to each other on Pearl between 10th and 11th; Arugula at 28th and Iris.

    Martini - The T-Zero Bar at the St. Julien Hotel. 9th and Walnut

    Wine Bar - The Kitchen's bar has a lot of good wines. Upstairs at the Kitchen is more a dedicated wine bar. Get to Frasca when it opens (5:30 nghtly except Sunday) and score one of the few places at the small salumi bar for excellent wines and salumi.

    Nice dinner - Alba, Black Cat, The Kitchen, Arugula, Q's at the Boulderado, Jill's at the St. Julien, L'Atelier, Restaurant 4580. Go to and see who's got space when you want to dine.

    Also, I haven't been to the Chautauqua Dining Hall under the present chef, but it is one of the finest summer experiences ever. Get a table on the wide porch in Chautauqua Park restaurant and enjoy the ambiance -- and hopefully the food.

    French vibe - Brasserie Ten Ten, Mateo (Provencal), L'Atelier

    Bon appetit!

    8 Replies
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      Thanks so much Claire. I really appreciate your thoughtful response and am excited to try some of the places you recommend. I discovered your blog recently and am enjoying it a lot (planning a move to Boulder sometime soon).

      I wonder if you would know of, or know how to find, restaurants along part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway? ( ) We'll be driving from Boulder to around Nederland down to Golden then back up to Boulder -- on a weekday -- and are researching a nice place to have lunch (we would not complain if it included a nice glass of wine :)) Hope this is not overkill, but you seem pretty plugged into the foodie scene in your area and I'm coming up empty. Thanks! Karen

      1. re: griffin19

        There's really not a lot en route. Nederland has a few places -- a decent brew pub, an OK Nepalaese restaurant and mediocre bar called the Pioneer that people go to beacuse it's an institution. Between Ned and Black Hawk are a few cafes if desperate hunger calls. Black Hawk, being one of Colo's 3 gambling towns, has big casinos, some of which I understand have fairly good food. From the intersection of the Peak-to-Peak Hwy w/ US 6, you have two choices. One is to go west a 6 and then east on I-70. El Rancho, big log building on south side of the road, is a classic American restaurant that has been around for a long time. They serve wine, but I wouldn't take bets on how "nice" it would be The other is to go east on US 6 directly to Golden. Nothing (nada) between, unless someone is selling jerky from a roadside pullout. Grappa in downtown. Golden has fairly nice food and good wine. Other options are the Table Mesa Inn (Mexican) and the Bridgewater Inn in the Golden Hotel. From Golden, it's straight shop up Rte 93 to Boulder.

        1. re: ClaireWalter

          Claire, thanks so much. I really appreciate the info!

          1. re: griffin19

            Your most welcome, Griffin19. We look forward to reading about where you ended up eating and how it was.

          2. re: ClaireWalter

            Claire! The Pioneer In is mediocre? Not by my standard. It's got real mountain ambiance and is an institution. The Black Forest, formerly the Black Forest In in Black Hawk many years ago, in Nederland has great roast duck. Along the Peak to Peak Highway between Ned and Golden is a little cafe called the Sunrise (I think) is dynamite for breakfast and lunch.

            1. re: skyeking

              Skyeking - I agree that the Pioneer has great ambiance and is an insitution. I love going there. I just don't go there for the food. I didn't mention the Black Forest because it seems like a bigger meal than most people making a one-day Boulder-Ned-Golden-Boulder loop would want in mid-day. Sunrise? Sunset? Sundance? The one up on the hill a bit on the east side of the highway? Again, I think it's fine -- but not great. The views are good, and it's often crowded in summer. In Nederland, the Wild Horse is a fairly new brew pub. Pretty good stuff too -- and I think open in mid-day. I still miss Bob's Bakery!

              1. re: ClaireWalter

                I think you're thinking of the Wild Mountain Smokehouse in Ned. IMHO, it's the best dining option in Ned currently - solid, tasty smoked BBQ (including great smoked tofu - it is Nederland, after all) and great house-brewed beers. Plus a great patio. Not "high end" but also not a dive. I wouldn't really say that Ned has any "fine dining."

                1. re: monopod

                  You're right, Monopod. Wild Mountain Smokehouse indeed. I'm going there tmw w/ friends from Ned. We're going to a Central City Opera matinee, and then my husband is driving up the canyon to meet us for dinner -- and a brewski.

      2. For mid-price dinner, I'd highly recommend Radda Trattoria in North Boulder. One of my favorite places, the food is exquisite northern Italian but the prices are surprisingly modest (and, with lots of small plates, you can sample a lot of stuff).

        You can't go wrong with Zolo (southwestern), Jax (N'awlins fishhouse), or Centro (Mexican), all owned by the same guy - they're all noisy and hip, and they all have fantastic food. He has two other places in Boulder (West End Tavern and Happy Noodle House) that I'm not as wild about, though.

        Also, I think the Mediterranean (or the "Med") fits the bill for pretty much all of the categories you listed. Their tapas happy hour is my favorite in Boulder, their martinis are tasty, and you can get mid-priced or spendy depending on your whims. Not a fancy foodie kinda place, but I'm always happy after having a lot of tapas and martinis on the patio.

        1. Back from our visit - thanks Chowhounds for your recommendations. We didn't have time to visit all of the places we wanted -- guess we'll have to return sometime soon to remedy that!

          We made it to Brassiere Ten Ten, Barcaro and T-Zero for happy hours, Walnut Street Brew Pub for quick dinner (not on the list, but chosen for non-foodie friend), Centro for drinks & apps, Jax (twice!) for dinner (first time there was seating only at the bar and we had so much fun doing it that way we went back two nights later), Cascades Restaurant at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park for lunch (did not go to Golden after all). Tried to hit Luciles' in Fort Collins before rafting trip but the wait was too long.

          I think Jax and T-Zero were our favorites. Thanks again, Chowhounds. We do want to visit again so we can attempt to exhaust our list. Fine dining will definitely be on the agenda next time!