Just over thirty days ago I found myself touching down in the beautiful city of Boulder, Colorado. It was only a month ago, but it feels like a lifetime ago.
In a mere month, I’ve gone from visiting family in the US to moving to Cambodia. But despite the fact that I’m now living in Phnom Penh I still wanted to blog about my time in the States. Especially Boulder because it just so happens to be one of my favorite cities in the US!
The reason for my trip to the great state of Colorado was to visit my older sister Jamie (who is lucky enough to call Boulder home) and to visit with my dad (who just so happened to be in the area on a business trip). I feel incredibly grateful that my sister lives in, what I argue is, one of the more beautiful and interesting cities in the US. And I could not have been more excited to visit.
Not only is Boulder surrounded by dramatic flatirons and chilled-out mountain towns, but the city itself is just my kind of place. It’s weird, it’s earthy, it’s inviting – all things that make me smile. It’s a great city to explore on foot and the main drag of Pearl Street is perfect for people watching, one of my favorite pastimes!
Oh and did I mention that Boulder is a really great city for eating? Because it is!
I had planned to do all sorts of activities during my visit to Boulder. I believe in a previous post I claimed that I’d be hiking, paddle boarding and brewery hopping during my time there. Um, turns out I did absolutely none of these things. As often happens when visiting with family I spent most of my time eating. And no, I’m not complaining. Not in the least. Because as it turns out, Boulder has a pretty incredible food scene!
My Guide to the Best Restaurants in Boulder:
Boulder is chock full of sandwich shops but I could not have been more thrilled that my sister and I stumbled into this one. The Organic Sandwich Company served up one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. And no, it’s not just because I’ve spent the past year living in deli-deprived Jakarta. I swear!
Because I’m a vegetarian I ordered the Spicy Veggie, a glorious concoction of avocado, caramelized onion and aged white cheddar all slathered with a spicy relish and sandwiched between a soft pretzel loaf. Yup, a pretzel loaf. This sandwich was even better than it looks. Jamie’s turkey and brie with honey mustard and apple slices looked pretty fantastic too, but there’s no way it was as good as mine!
People in Boulder (Boulder-ites? Boulderados?) love to get their food and drink on. And clearly that’s fine by me. And as someone who’s always budgeting and fretting about money, I’m all about sniffing out good deals. Luckily for me Jamie pointed the way to some of Boulder’s excellent happy hour spots!
Pizzeria Locale was the very first place Jamie and I visited during my trip. And it was indeed memorable because their Italian food was top-notch and their vino bianco was chilled to perfection. As a Boulder local, this is definitely one of my sister’s go-to places for happy hour. The staff even knows her by name!
During their daily happy hour (from 4:30 – 5:30) they serve up some fantastic appetizers (try the arancini) for $2-5. Pizzas cost around $5-8 and you can choose from everything from traditional margherita to a white pizza topped with sweet corn, prosciutto and crème fraîche. (FYI, they are famous for their prosciutto so if you’re not a vegetarian, like me, order that one!). Along with their food, their wine is also awesome and a glass will only put you back $4 during happy hour.
Lucile’s is an institution in Boulder. The New Orleans-style café is located in an adorable Victorian house in the heart of downtown and has been around for over 30 years. Yes, it’s a bit touristy and it gets packed on the weekends. But there’s a good reason for this.
I visited during a Monday morning and it was the perfect place to have a farewell meal with my dad and sister. Oh and the food? It was ridiculously good. Obviously you can’t go here without ordering the beignets (delicious fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar). Their Southern-inspired menu also features everything from praline waffles to shrimp and grits with spicy andouille sausage.
I went for the Eggs Jennifer, basically a delicious spin on eggs benedict: English muffins and poached eggs topped with avocado, spinach and tomato and drenched in a tangy hollandaise sauce. Did I mention you can choose to have either potatoes, grits or both on the side? I went with both. Best decision ever! I still dream about that breakfast and I cannot recommend this place more.
Mustard’s Last Stand is a Chicago-style hot dog stand and it has been in Boulder forever. Their dogs are made with real Vienna beef and they offer pretty much every topping under the sun from sauerkraut to relish to peppers. They also have a huge selection of sandwiches. What I loved about this place is that they also have an extensive vegetarian menu. So I was able to indulge in a veggie hot dog. I get very excited about things like this!
Shine kind of captures the essence of Boulder. This place is all about bringing the community together through music, culture, art and food. And it does it really well. Yes, you can come here to get your drink on and watch some live music, but they also serve up some really great and absurdly healthy food.
Shine is open for brunch, lunch and dinner and prides itself on offering “holistic comfort food.” I tried the eggs benedict with avocado “hollandaise” served with fresh biscuits instead of English muffins (right?!) and a side of yam fries.
Okay, maybe this wasn’t the healthiest meal, but some other dishes that caught my eye were the quinoa coconut curry and the Raw House Salad with a sprouted sunflower seed and miso vinaigrette dressing.
They are also famous for their “potions.” My dad, sister and I all sampled different ones. I particularly liked the Firewater: a concoction of ginger root, red chili, pomegranate and a bunch of other good stuff. My dad ordered The Reset Button, made from the roots of sarsaparilla, ginger and burdock. I’ll never forget my dad asking the waitress what the potion will “do” to him. The answer? “It will bring you into the present.” His reaction was pure gold.
So I’ll admit that I didn’t actually eat here, but this was by far my favorite place to get a drink. It’s located right downtown and is perched on an outdoor patio overlooking a picture-perfect babbling brook. Ah, I love Boulder and you seriously can’t beat this location.
Also, their cocktails are the best things ever. I ordered the Berry Fix, a berry-infused vodka with real berries and soda water. And Jamie had the Riverrita – tequila, agave, lime and grapefruit juice. My dad reluctantly ordered a local microbrew instead of his go-to Coors. (Way to go dad!)
If you head here during their “sunset hours” from 3 – 9pm (Tuesday through Sunday) you can get some great deals on food too. They have a huge selection of savory pies, fresh salads, meaty skewers and more.
Yes, I was only in Boulder for five days. Yes, I really did eat (or drink) at each and every one of these restaurants. And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every minute of it!
What’s your favorite city to do some serious eating?