Boulder's Best Restaurants: Dining and Drinking at Their Finest

Compiling this 10 Best list was quite the challenge since Boulder offers so many eclectic dining options. What made a restaurant "list worthy," you might ask? We looked for local spots that serve quality cuisine, were affordable, had killer happy hours, a reputation for exceptional service and track record of excellence in dining. Amongst our selections, you'll discover the absolute best happy hour and margaritas in town at Pearl Street's Boulder Cafe and The Rio Grande, where to grab a bangin' burrito and some rockin' guacamole at Illegal Pete's, a wine list that would give any sommelier a run for their money at The Cork, along with the perfect gathering space for events, cocktail parties, and live shows at Boulder's SHINE. Many of our 10 Best Restaurants are located within walking or biking distance of one another, so taking a tour on your visit would be a piece of cake. Speaking of cake, you can order a slice at one of our featured eateries, along with other freshly baked treats. If you have the desire to continue your carbohydrate crawl, allow us to suggest our favorite pizzeria that will make you swear you've stepped out of the Rocky Mountains and into the streets of Napoli, Italy. So read on as we dish out the best of Boulder's culinary powerhouses.

10 Black Cat
Black Cat is the epitome of a Farm-to-Table restaurants, in fact that's what this Boulder favorite is known for. Pulling fresh, seasonal, ingredients from their 130 acre farm paradise situated just outside Boulder, Chef Eric Skokan and his wife, Jill, harvest their farm everyday to bring from-the-vine delights. They also raise sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and ducks. One of our favorites, the Beet Potato Napoleon features quinoa cereal crust, elderberry gastrique,house made ricotta, and spinach. Want to splurge a little? Try their Colorado Beef Ribeye complete with orange scented oats, carrots, and crisp capers. Keep in mind that this Farm-to-Table gem prepares seasonal delights, so their menu is ever-changing, meaning you can always find something new and fresh. ((303)444-5500)

9 The Mediterranean
If you're in the mood for variety, this locally owned gem is the place for you. Not only does The Med serve up a taste of Italy, but you can also take a tour of Spanish, French, and Greek cuisine having never left Boulder. Known for, but not limited to, its fresh, wood oven pizzas and hot-out-of-the bakery bread which is made fresh daily, this eclectic restaurant offers more than just carbs. Be sure to try their Kabob made with your choice of lamb, chicken, or shrimp and flavored to perfection with garlic hummus, tabouleh, basmati rice, seared greens, grilled flat bread & tzatziki. Stop by at happy hour to peruse a to-die-for wine list. (303-444-5335)

8 Pizzeria Locale
Located on enchanting Pearl Street, this pizzeria mixes traditional Italian elegance and charm with some American edge and swagger. Among their mouthwatering concoctions you'll find the Vesuvius, a lite tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad that will leave you refreshed, and more than ready for a glass of one of Pizzeria Locale's ostentatious wines. And, for the main course, may we suggest the Filetto pizza, complete with sweet cherry tomatoes, creamy burrata cheese, pungent garlic, fresh basil, and parmigiano reggiano ( we could call it plain, old, Parmesan, but that wouldn't quite describe Pizzeria Locale's take on this well-known cheese). (3034423003)

7 Snooze
Made from scratch recipes reinvent the way you eat breakfast and brunch. Featuring organic coffees, fresh produce, as well as all-natural and farm raised meats and eggs. To add to the fun, meals are customizable upon guest request. So you can make up your own pancake or egg concoction whenever you choose. Try the Sandwich I Am served on a soft pretzel roll filled with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and a sausage patty, served with a side of smoked cheddar hollandaise & house hash browns. For something savory, indulge in the Havana Daydreaming, featuring Free-range house pulled pork, sliced ham, jack cheese, homemade pickles and a sunny side egg (or your call) with Dijon hollandaise served open face on a hoagie roll. (3032257244)

6 The Sink
A popular college hangout, this eatery features graffiti-scribbled walls and a menu filled with burgers, sandwiches, seafood, steaks, pizzas, and salads. Specials include ancho-stuffed tenderloin and breaded seared scallops. The Ugly Crust Pizza is topped with an assortment of toppings, or you might want to try the famous Sinkburger. A fun fact about this trendy dive: Our Commander and Chief, President Barack Obama visited the Sink on his most recent trip to Boulder, taking pictures with the local customers and, inadvertently, getting yogurt spilled on his pants by a CU of Boulder college student. Hopefully, our POTUS won't hold it against the Boulderites and will stop in for a burger on his next visit. (303-444-7465)

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5 Sushi Zanmai
This high-energy sushi bar and Japanese restaurant transforms a simple meal into an adventurous spectator event. Watch as flashy Japanese chefs prepare your meal hibachi style or at the sushi bar. The contemporary setting is spacious and designed in neutral tones,natural woods, and traditional Japanese face-masks line the walls. Karaoke and nightly sushi happy hours add to the boisterous atmosphere. As an added bonus, the service is exceptional; hot towels are served at the beginning of each meal in true Eastern fashion and the service staff are knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic about the menu options. Be sure to ask about their delicious dumpling appetizers and start off with warm miso soup. (303-440-0733)

4 The Huckleberry
Located just outside Boulder in quaint Louisville, Colorado The Huckleberry is known for its fresh, delicious, and all-American food. Breakfast and brunch are the time of day when this place really shines, with a variety of eggs benedicts, biscuits and gravy, milkshakes, and homemade pies. Many items can be made gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan to suit your dietary preferences or needs. Tea and pastries can be purchased to take home, as well as a variety of local and handmade gifts such as jewelry, Christmas ornaments, and art work that can be found in The Huckleberry lobby. Also, be sure to have a delicious house chai. ((303) 666-8020)

3 Boulder Cork
This steakhouse is a long-standing Boulder favorite and features a creative menu that includes prime rib, grilled New York strip, and nightly fish specials. In addition, Wine Spectator has repeatedly acknowledged the award-winning wine list for its excellence. For a taste of something unique, indulge on their Sake Salmon or, for happy hour, enjoy Cork potatoes and baby back ribs. The Cork's ambiance of elegance makes it the perfect place to go for a special occasion, but its affordability ensures that you can stop by for a fun night out on the town anytime. (303-443-9505)

2 Leaf
This unique all-vegetarian restaurant offers scrumptious gluten-free and farm-to-table options. Furthermore, they pull the majority of their quality ingredients from their local farm in Lafayette, Colorado. Three Leaf Farm not only caters to Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant but also supplies their seven other restaurants in the Boulder County area, including the Dushanbe Teahouse, The Huckleberry of Louisville, and Zucca Italian Ristorante. For you raw lovers, they offer a raw flatbread and raw manicotti made with zucchini noodles, cashew-pine nut "cheese", spinach, sundried tomato marinara, yellow beet salad. If you're looking for something wholly unique, their beet steak with sesame crusted beets, garlic mashed potatoes,asparagus, wakame salad, wasabe coconut cream is out-of-this-world delicious. (3034421485)

1 Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
This lovely restaurant was a gift from Boulder's sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which donated the building to the city in the late 1980's. The ornately decorated structure was imported and then rebuilt by workers from Tajikistan. Appetizers include Persian grilled chicken strips marinated in yogurt and spices. Koresht Bademjan, which is Persian braised beef stew with eggplant, onions, tomatoes and spices served with orange currant couscous, and Persian tamarind shrimp are two of the featured main dishes. In the spring, be sure to take a seat on their patio and enjoy Boulder Creek as you sip on their delicious iced chai. (303-442-4993)

Hope Gately should have a bumper sticker proclaiming "Not a Native...But I Got Here as Fast as I Could!" A transplant from the Midwest, Hope has fallen in love with Colorado's mountains, lakes, and lush valleys. She plays in them as often as possible and, when she's not lacing up her hiking boots, she's slipping into some sexy heels for a night out at a local Boulder restaurant or brewery. Along with writing about Colorado in all its glory, Hope practices living locally, by attending farmer's markets, listening to live-local music, frequenting festivals, and recreating in her community!

Read more about Hope Gately here.

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Maps and Directions

Black Cat 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, European, French
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Chef's Table, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Pearl Street Mall
COST: $$$
The Mediterranean 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: Ethnic, Mediterranean
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$$
Pizzeria Locale 10Best List Arrow
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Counter Seating, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Cuisine: Italian
Neighborhood: Downtown
COST: $$$
Snooze 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
The Sink 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Group Friendly, Live Music, Non-Smoking, Parties / Private Rooms, Take Out
Sushi Zanmai 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: Asian, Japanese, Sushi
Dining Options: Counter Seating, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Group Friendly, Non-Smoking, Take Out
Neighborhood: Pearl Street Mall
COST: $$
Boulder Cork 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Continental
Dining Options: Bar / Lounge, Bar Dining, Disabled Accessible, Family Friendly, Parties / Private Rooms, Wine Cellar
Neighborhood: AIRPORT - WBU
COST: $$$
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Asian, Ethnic, European, Indian, Latin
Dining Options: Catering, Group Friendly, Parties / Private Rooms
Neighborhood: Pearl Street Mall
COST: $$