Get the Dish on Downtown: Boulder's Best Restaurants and Breweries

Boulder, Colorado has been ranked as one of the foodiest towns in the nation and with good reason. There is literally something for everyone in this hip, outdoorsy, town that insists on affordability and quality. Many of the restaurants on this lists include local ingredients which support Colorado farmers, several are adept at helping you find the perfect dish despite any food allergies, restrictions, or preferences, and many offer international cuisine.

For Italian flare, The Mediterranean offers traditial Italian cuisine, exceptional wine lists, and excellent service. If you're looking for pizza for cheap and beer in abundance, then try Backcountry Pizza, particularly after a long hike.

If you have a hankering for an elegant and international experience, Boulder's Dushanbe Teahouse serves up Turkish, Korean, and German dishes,as well as a variety of other flavors from around the globe.

Ecofriendly eater? For those of you who like to eat sustainably and locally, SHINE offers a variety of dishes that include ingredients from local farms and can accommodate those you are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free.

If breakfast is your favorite meal of the day then be sure to stop into The Buff, one of Boulder's most famous and beloved breakfast spots. Lucile's is another breakfast joint that will leave you hungry for more.


This spacious, high-energy seafood restaurant features an extensive menu that includes an East Coast-style raw oyster bar and fresh fish flown in daily. Dine on Rocky Mountain trout, South American sea bass, Atlantic salmon, Hawaii tuna, Mississippi catfish, and Prince Edward Island mussel stew. For starters, indulge in the Charbroiled Oysters or Fried Calamari. Notable entrees include the Cured Salmon Roe, Australian Seabass, and Jax Burger. Jax also offers an affordable Happy Hour menu sure to satisfy after a long day of work or play. This menu includes the Old School Gumbo, Peel 'N Eat Shrimp, and a smattering of refreshing salads. Pair with a house wine or martini and you've got a full course.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Adorable, delicious, and healthy servings make Sherpas one of Boulder's best.

Hope's expert tip: Be sure to try Jax's fresh and light calamari.

Read more about Jax Fish House →

Enjoy fine sushi and Japanese cuisine in contemporary-styled Asian surroundings. Appetizers include salmon kasuzuke marinated in miso, green lip mussels, New Zealand mussels served with the chef's special sauce, and lobster pot stickers with a pesto cream sauce. Entrees include beef, chicken and vegetable tempura, salmon teriyaki, sushi, and sashimi. Some of their more affordable and yummy lunch options include the Chicken Teriyaki and vegetable tempura or the stir-fry tofu. Also, be sure to try their light and fresh 4-piece California roll, Japanese lo-mein, or Hand-roll with yellow-tail, tuna, and salmon. For dessert, we highly recommend just a bit of Japango's plum wine. But don't go overboard, as it packs a sweet punch.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Japango is known to be Boulder's best sushi destination offering unique and fresh options with a lot of bang for your buck.

Hope's expert tip: The 4-piece California roll is sure to satisfy.

Read more about Japango →

The Mediterranean Restaurant

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.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: A happy hour that's easy on the wallet and coupled with an enchanting atmosphere earns The Med a place on our list.

Hope's expert tip: Try the Med's savory Greek Kabob and be sure to stop in for their well-known and frequented happy-hour.

Read more about The Mediterranean Restaurant →


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 Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Backcountry Pizza is the perfect local spot to get your pizza and beer fix.

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 →


Providing delicious and unique brunch concoctions for over 34 years, Creole cuisine and old-fashioned Southern breakfasts top the menu at this popular restaurant. Start with a beignet pastry and a steaming cup of coffee. Enjoy eggs Benedict or the vegetarian version, eggs Jennifer. The Cajun Breakfast includes ham, kidney beans and eggs folded in a spicy sauce. Grits, along with biscuits smothered in jam, will satisfy the Southerner in everyone. If you're in the mood for a sugary treat, try Lucile's Beignets, these New Orleans style doughnuts sprinkled with powered sugar are out of this world! For a true delight, try the Banana Fritters, topped with vanilla ice-cream, syrup, and pecans. They can make for a decadent dessert or a sweet breakfast treat.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Lucile's charming atmosphere and sumptuous Creole and Southern-style breakfasts earn it a spot on our list.

Hope's expert tip: The Cajun Breakfast is the best way to start out your day in Boulder.

Read more about Lucile's →

Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place
Photo courtesy of SHINE Restaurant and Gathering Space

Locally owned and operated by three spunky and innovative sisters, SHINE Restaurant and Gathering Space offers the perfect venue for building community, mingling, getting down to some local music, or just relaxing with a much needed cocktail at the end of the day. Now offering brunch, be sure to indulge in the Fluffy Buttermilk Pancake Short Stack! Not-to-be-missed, the beet hummus and mini-pizza with buffalo mozzarella, marinara, and arugula pesto are the perfect appetizers to start off your evening and, when you move on to the main course, be sure to consider the Braised and Glazed Local Pork Ribs, made complete with a crumbly buttermilk biscuit. Shine also hosts daily events including, dance, yoga, workshops of all kinds, private celebrations, weddings, rehearsal dinners, business functions and holiday parties.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Pizzas cooked in brick ovens and a traditional Italian pizzaria atmosphere makes Pizzaria Locale a must-visit on our list.

Hope's expert tip: The perfect space for gatherings, bring the entire family or meet up with old friends for unique cocktails and delicious soul-food.

Read more about Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place →

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.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Leaf is one of the tastiest and best vegetarian restaurants in the country. Known for its inventive, fresh, and nutritious food options, Leaf satisfies!

Hope's expert tip: Try their raw manicotti made with zucchini noodles,cashew-pine nut "cheese", spinach,sundried tomato marinara, and yellow beet salad.

Read more about Leaf →

This moderately priced restaurant is a popular spot amongst locals and tourists alike because of its elegant yet relaxed environment and high-quality food. Known for being gluten-free friendly, not only is the kitchen willing to accommodate your dietary preferences but they also offer a number of gluten-free items that need no modification, including Pan Roasted Monk Fish and their savory marinated olives. But never fear, gluten lovers, there's still plenty of variety for you as well, including Hand Rolled Gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Known for accommodating good allergies and preferences, many of The Kitchen's items can be modified to suit your vegan and vegetarian preferences as well.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: This local favorite serves up some of the best breakfast for miles around earning it a spot on our list.

Hope's expert tip: Try their Pan Roasted Monk fish and be sure to ask for gluten-free dessert options.

Read more about Kitchen, The →

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.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: Frasca is the place where fine-dining meets affordability placing it high on our list.

Hope's expert tip: The Beet and Potato Napoleon is to-die-for- delicious.

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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. Located in the heart of downtown, guests can literally sit creek-side under a vines pergola while eating. The Farmer's Market, happening just outside during the spring and summer months makes for excellent people watching. And, with Pearl Street nearby, shopping after dining is a must. If in the mood for brunch, you can try the salmon benedict, homemade oatmeal, or greek scramble. 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.

Recommended for Downtown Boulder's Best Restaurants because: The food, service, and ambiance are some of the best in Boulder at the Dushanbe Teahouse.

Hope's expert tip: You simply must indulge on the Indian samosas or salmon Benedict.

Read more about Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse →


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