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Mar 4, 2012 11:06 AM

Boulder, CO

One of my 14 year old daughters and I will be in Boulder Memorial Day weekend, which is going to be packed with activities, I'm told. I'm looking for a Saturday night restaurant that is casual, but different than the NYC world she is used to. Thanks

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  1. Yes, Memorial Day weekend here is absolutely packed. The Bolder Boulder is a 10k race that brings 50,000 plus runners and their families to the area. Yes, that's more than the NYC marathon in a city of less than 300,000. Needless to say it can be very very busy.

    If I were traveling in I would look at restaurants that specialize in using local products and produce such as Frasca, Salt, Colterra (actually in Niwot) and The Kitchen. All have been reviewed here before.

    1. You might also consider Zolo Grill, since I'd imagine southwestern cuisine isn't as prevalent in NYC. And I'd add Radda and Pinyon to the local restaurants worth checking out.

      FYI, Frasca in no way qualifies as "casual," and I'd say Colterra is on the borderline as well. Both are fantastic, but a little more dress-uppy and so I wouldn't necessarily recommend them if casual is the theme.

      5 Replies
      1. re: monopod

        I'm a Frasca regular and I have seen people wearing Crocs with socks and shorts in the dining room. I certainly wouldn't encourage that in any venue, but it's Boulder. You'll see all styles of dress there, and you'll get great service whether you look like a runway model like Bobby's wife or you begrudgingly buy clothes about every five years like me. Since it's on the higher end, there are people dressed up for anniversaries and birthdays and such, but there are plenty of people dressed more casually, especially at the bar (which is available for walk-ins and might be the perfect way to sneak in on such a busy weekend). If you love food & wine and you don't smell like you woke up in a barn, you should be okay.

        1. re: rlm

          I don't disagree, but I still wouldn't call Frasca or Colterra "casual" (which is what the OP requested). It's true that you can show up wearing whatever you like and you'll still get amazing food and service, but I have a hard time thinking of either the atmosphere or the prices (it's hard to get out of Frasca under $80/person for dinner, especially if you're drinking any wine) as "casual."

          1. re: monopod

            Guess it depends on what is meant by "casual" (dress code, pricing, comfort). I'm extremely comfortable unwinding at Frasca, dressing up is not required, and the service is warm and friendly, so it feels casual and "neighborhoody" to me. If the definition of "casual" is low-priced, then no, it's not in that category. Colterra feels pretty relaxing and non-pretentious to me too (does anyone dress to the nines in Niwot?!), especially the patio, but it will set you back a few dimes as well. Worth it to me, but your mileage may vary.

            1. re: rlm

              It certainly does depend on what one means by casual. As someone who pretty much can't afford to go to Frasca ever, a meal there would be as far from casual as you can get in this town, for me. But I can totally see where you're coming from, because casual has an element of "I am comfortable here, and can be comfortable here regularly", which makes Frasca fit that definition for you, but not for me (or, apparently, monopod).

              1. re: rlm

                Fair enough, and good explanation of your point of view. I guess I just think of Frasca and Colterra as places I go for a special night out - not a weeknight "hey, wanna go to dinner?" place, which is what I'm thinking of as "casual." But your point is well taken (and I'm sure the OP has heard more than he/she wanted on the topic).

        2. Does casual mean dress or price point? Edited to add that the conversation clearly went here already.... Sorry.

          My teens like the following:

          Ilegal Pete's (Burritos)
          Mountain Sun (Brew Pub)
          Chiba Hut (On the Hill..Good sandwiches named after types of marijuana)
          The Med
          Boulder Cafe (fondue)

          The food is not that good, but it is always worth a trip to the Dushanbe Tea House. Moving to more expensive adult fare....

          You might try a new restaurant on Pearl called Riffs. It has outdoor seating which is always fun for people watching. The food at Frasca and The Kitchen is good but expensive. The Kitchen Next Door is a lower priced option as is Frasca's pizza restaurant. I have eaten at Salt twice and would not go back. I like The Bitter Bar (try the fried brussel's sprouts leaves). We had a nice meal recently at Oak at Fourteenth. My vegetarian friends like Leaf.

          1 Reply
          1. re: cbrand

            My tween kid likes the West End. She loves the chicken and waffles entree (and so do I). I like their wedge salad, the chicken and waffles, and several other dishes; I've always been underwhelmed by their deviled eggs, tho. The West End has good adult beverages, and it's a nice place to sit on the deck if it's not too hot (I know, it used to be nicer but it's still decent). It does get crowded and have long waits at peak times, tho. On second thought, that is true just about anywhere really good in town. We also love the Mountain Sun and have had good luck with food at the Lazy Dog (another good place to sit up on the deck -- and they have misters when it's hot out), the Walnut Brewery (I like their Santa Fe salad -- it's a classic southwestern chopped salad, but they top it with deep fried slices of jalapeno), and The Med is super-fun for happy hour -- order a ton of tapas and they have palate-pleasing beverages for all tastes and ages. The Corner Bar at the Hotel Boulderado often has really yummy happy hour food choices. All of these places are casual (flip-flops and shorts shouldn't draw any odd glances or snooty attitudes).

          2. For Boulder Flavor, I'd check out the Kitchen (usually great food from local purveyors, but ask for recommendations) or the Kitchen Next Door (much more casual in terms of time to eat, kid factor).

            Also love Pizzeria Locale (casual Pizzeria from Frasca).

            1. On that weekend you might want to stay away from downtown, unless you think your teen would really enjoy the madhouse. (I would have at that age.) Zolo Grill is a favorite of ours and although there will still be a wait, it's a little less zany.

              If you do want to stay downtown, I generally like Centro.

              If you want slightly more upscale and don't mind driving 20 minutes out of town, we've been very happy at Colterra. The semi-rural atmosphere is a nice change, too.