Restaurants with the Best Value in Boulder

Boulder Eats That Offer the Most Bang for Your Buck

Boulder, Colorado knows how to eat. What's more, Boulderites know how to eat for cheap. Most of the citizens of this Front Range town would rather spend their money on mountain sports gear and beer, rather than expensive or overprices food. As such, Boulder offers some delicious, local, options that will fulfill any craving and ensure that you don't max-out your bank account.

For fresh Nepalese dishes serves in healthy portion sizes, try Sherpa's. If you've got a hankering for beer, hot wings, and tacos, Southern Sun is your place.

Starting your day off right with breakfast or brunch at the Walnut Cafe is an affordable option and ending your night with karaoke, saki bombs, and sushi rolls at Sushi Zanmai is highly recommended.

For the best margarita in town, stop into The Rio and, afterward, if you've still got a hankering for libations stop into the Boulder Cafe which runs it's cheap, cheap, cheap happy hour from 3pm-9pm every night without fail.

With the multitude of affordable and delicious options, our list will give you more bang for your buck and help you keep cash in your pocket for entertainment, lodging, and all of the fun adventures you're sure to go on while in Boulder.


This cozy little hobbit-hole of an eatery looks like the nook where Frodo Baggins and Gandalf go to share their morning tea. Colorful paintings cover the wall from floor to ceiling setting a hippie-like Sistine Chapel vibe. The bar and booths are all made of carved wood and the food is every-bit as wholesome and savory as the surroundings. Their warm lentil soup is to die for and will warm you up on a cold, winter's night. If you're in the mood for carbs, The Yellow Submarine sandwich is vegetarian and features avocado, sprouts, and a secret sauce that will make your mouth water.

Recommended for Best Value because: Yellow Deli creates hardy comfort food that comes in good portion sizes for a reasonable price.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to try their Yellow Submarine; truly one of the best sandwiches in town.

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Illegal Pete's

Drop by this popular restaurant for the best burritos in town. You can't go wrong with the fajita burrito filled with chicken, cilantro-lime rice, salsa, sauteed onions and peppers. Taco options include fish, primavera, chicken, steak and vegetarian. The green chile is excellent, as are the sosapillas for dessert. This affordable option is a favorite of college students, but offers plenty of sophistication and options for the more refined palate. Have a hankerin' for breakfast instead of lunch? Well, it just so happens that this local gem serves up some killer breakfast burritos, and quesadillas. Wash it all down with one of their house rootbeers or, for brunch, a margarita. We won't judge.

Recommended for Best Value because: Fresh, affordable, food and a partnership with local farmers earns Illegal Pete's a spot on our list.

Hope's expert tip: Illegal Pete's burritos are a must on your visit, as is their house rootbeers.

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Two convenient locations allow you to choose between subs and burgers before or after the big game. This is truly the sandwich place of champions and a local favorite. Ask any Boulderite to recommend the best, cheap, sub in town and they'll point you in the direction of Snarf's, hands down. Several locations now serve brunch and this local chain has set it's sights on environmental sustainability in the past few years. Composting, recycling, and waste management are staples of the sub shop. So as you enjoy one of the "world famous" toasted sandwiches you can rest assured knowing that you're eating green. What's more, they offer savory gluten-free bread to cater to your dietary preferences. So good, you'd never guess that it's gluten-free.

Recommended for Best Value because: Snarfs offers the best sandwiches for miles around, gluten-free options, and fresh ingredients.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to try one of their savory toasted sandwiches.

Read more about Snarf's →


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 and natural woods. Karaoke and nightly sushi happy hours add to the boisterous atmosphere. Saturday nights, all rolls are $1 and $2 off and there are drink specials that run well into the late night hours. As an added bit of flare, the staff typically joins in for the singing fun. Be sure to try the Gladiator Roll which packs a flavorful punch.

Recommended for Best Value because: Fresh and delicious sushi rolls for cheap earn Sushi Zanmai a place on our list.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to stop in on the weekend for their killer happy hour and weekend roll specials.

Read more about Sushi Zanmai →

For a relaxed and salt-of-the-earth environment, try Backcountry Pizza and Tap House. With more than 50 beers on tap, gigantic pizzas, and scrumptious pasta concoctions that will satisfy any Italian craving, this local dive is a favorite for beer and pizza lovers alike. The Chicken Parmesan and Meatball Sub are both excellent options for those who like traditional Italian, and for those who'd like to go the more adventurous route, The Hot Mob: ham, salami, pepperoni, lettuce, tomatoes, provolone, and Italian dressing. Our personal favorite, the Nediterranean, blends pesto & red sauce, pine nuts, garlic, roasted red peppers, artichokes, kalamata olives, feta to create one of the most hearty and mouthwatering pizzas in the west.

Recommended for Best Value because: Large portion sizes for cheap and a variety of Italian dishes earn Backcountry Pizza a place on our list.

Hope's expert tip: Blend an American and Italian experience by ordering the Nediterranean Pizza ( named after Boulder's neighboring mountain town, Nederland) and beer.

Read more about Backcountry Pizza & Tap House →

The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Rio Grande

Serving some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine with a touch of American flair, The Rio Grande is a triple threat in dining: excellent menu options, exceptional service, and an atmosphere that will leave you feeling like you just spent a week south of the border. But don't forget the margaritas: Rio Margs (as they're lovingly called by Boulderites) will have you singing, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila...FLOOR!" These liquid desserts are consistently ranked #1 in the area by bloggers, beverage magazines, and locals alike. Be sure to pair Rio Margs with some creamy queso for dipping and the best taco option for miles around, Tequila Shrimp.

Recommended for Best Value because: Sporting the best margaritas in town and some killer happy hour options, The Rio is not to be missed.

Hope's expert tip: Hands down, the best margaritas in town! These babies pack a powerful punch and, as such, the limit is 3 per person. But don't worry, after you drink your fill you can top it off with one of their delicious Tequila Shrimp tacos.

Read more about The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant →

Southside Walnut Cafe

This adorable diner is located on the outskirts of town and offers gluten-free waffles and pancakes. Southside Walnut Cafe also serves up delicious fruit dishes, piping hot oatmeal, traditional eggs and pancakes for breakfast, and much more. If you have a hankering for brunch, try Southside's Quiche of the Day or their Sunrise Sandwich, complete with 2 eggs how you like them, your choice of meat and cheese, served on toasted Rosemary Olive Oil Bread. Need to keep your bread gluten-free as well? Walnut cafe offers a GF bread option for all of its sandwiches. Be sure to ask for their GF menu when you're in for a full listing of options.

Recommended for Best Value because: The Southside Walnut Cafe offers affordable breakfast and brunch options that are local and fresh.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to ask your server if your breakfast item can be made gluten-free along with your sweet treats.

Read more about Southside Walnut Cafe →

This local brewery offers some of the best refreshments in the area and is perfect to visit after a long hike at Chautauqua Park. One of their most popular beers, the Colorado Kind Ale, is dry hopped deliciousness and should be paired with one of Southern Sun's massive burgers or, our favorite, the grilled cheese. Hot wings and BBQ wings are a staple at this joint, as well as the delicious $1 tacos every Wednesday night. Choose from vegetarian or beef and eat late into the night since tacos service goes on well past pumpkin hour. Perfect place for a late-night snack.

Recommended for Best Value because: Southern Sun offers $1 tacos every Wednesday night and serves late into the evening for midnight cravings.

Hope's expert tip: Don't miss out of the to-die-for delicious hot wings.

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Mustard's Last Stand

Chicago-style hot dogs, German bratwurst, and home-style fries are featured at this popular diner. The Vienna Beef hot dog is an all beef wiener in a natural casing served on a steamed poppy seed bun with your choice of condiments. The menu also includes sandwich specialties made with charbroiled chicken and Italian meats, as well as tempeh burgers. Speaking of which, for you vegetarians, Mustard's offers veggie-dogs complete with delicious pepper relish, tofu Reubens, and veggie-chili. Back to you mean eaters, the Polish burgers and fresh french fries are, forgive us, dog-gone good. For something decadent and not-so-healthy, indulge on the chili cheese fries or charbroiled Polish sausage-don't forget the pepper relish!

Recommended for Best Value because: Mustard's Last Stand offers quick, yummy, dogs for cheap as well as sandwiches and vegetarian options.

Hope's expert tip: The Chicago-style hot dogs are so good, you won't be left standing.

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Owned by a true Nepalese mountain man, Sherpa Pemba spent his childhood in the Everest region and acted as a guide on more than 20 ascents over 20,000 ft. Colorado acts as his home away from home and his restaurant is an authentic homage to Nepalese cuisine, serving some of the most succulent and savory dishes for miles around. The garlic and cheese nan, Saag, and curry chicken or vegetables will nourish and entice you so that you'll swear you could climb Everest. and has an ambiance that will make you fall in love, eat your fill, and raise of merry glass of your favorite libation.

Recommended for Best Value because: Sherpa's offers simple, fresh, and delicious food with healthy portion sizes for cheap.

Hope's expert tip: You simply must try the garlic and cheese nan, along with a warm glass of their house chai.

Read more about Sherpas →


Meet Hope Gately

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 playing...  More About Hope