Boulder Dining Guide: The “Can’t Miss” Restaurants

boulder dining guide

How do you condense the best restaurants in Boulder into one concise dining guide? Well it isn’t easy and we know we’ve missed a few.

Why? Because Boulder has some of the most diverse and well established restaurants in Colorado. From pizza to Mexican fare (along with great rooftop dining)

So whether you are new in town, just visiting, or even a local who is looking for a great bite to eat and don’t know where to go, I’ve compiled a list of some of the top restaurants in Boulder based on regional style and price. Bon appétit — here’s your Boulder Dining Guide (and so let us know if we happened to have missed one of your favorites).

American Food

The Kitchen Group ($$-$$$): Is definitely one of the more unique groups of restaurants in the Boulder dining scene. They have three locations in downtown Boulder and they all have their own twist of culture and fare. The Kitchen is the more upscale restaurant of the three with amazing traditional American food. The Kitchen Next Door (which is right next door to The Kitchen) has a more laid-back atmosphere with great comfort food and drink prices. The Kitchen Upstairs (you guessed it — just up the stairs from The Kitchen and The Kitchen Next Door) is designed for more of the premium drinks and finger-food crowd. Either way you go, you’re in for some really great food right on downtown Pearl Street.

Riffs Urban Fare ($$): One of my personal favorites. This newer style American restaurant is located on the Pearl Street Mall in the heart of downtown Boulder. They do a lot of great twists to some more traditional American dishes at very reasonable prices.

Flagstaff House ($$$$): With its long history, extensive wine list, and almost perfect rating on Yelp, Flagstaff House has definitely earned its reputation as one of the best and most upscale American restaurants in the Boulder dining landscape.

OAK At Fourteenth ($$$): I don’t know what it is about Pearl Street that attracts top-notch American style restaurants. Whatever it is, OAK at fourteenth is up there with the rest of them. With their relaxed professional atmosphere, in-house bottled sodas, and new-style American fare, OAK at fourteenth is a great neighborhood restaurant and perfect for a night out.

The Buff Restaurant ($$): If you’re looking for one of the best brunch restaurants in Boulder, then look no further. This place gets packed quick, so make sure you stop by early to grab a table (and they recently moved so make sure your visit their new location).

If you’re a big fan of the brunch, make sure to check out our list of other great brunch restaurants in Boulder.

Asian Food

There are so many different types and styles of food from our friends on the other side of the Pacific that our very own Kelly Tidd put together a list of the best Asian restaurants in Boulder, listed by type and country of origin.

Boulder also has some amazing Pho restaurants around town. Make sure to check out our list of the best Pho restaurants in Boulder if you’re looking to dive in to some great soup.

Indian Food

Even though India is technically in Asia, it is so unique in taste (and smell) that I felt like it needed its own category. See below for some great local Indian restaurants right here in the Boulder dining mecca.

Curry N Kebob ($): Don’t be fooled by the price tags at this place, this authentic Indian/Halal restaurant is as good as it gets. Make sure to check out the daily featured combo.

Tandoori Grill ($$): As a lunch buffet by day, and a more upscale, sit down restaurant at night, Tandoori Grill is quickly becoming one of the best go-to Indian restaurants in Boulder.

Gurkhas on the Hill ($): Though technically an Indian restaurant, Gurkhas also serves some of the best authentic Nepalese and Tibetan cuisine around.

Italian Food:

Frasca Food and Wine ($$$$): With their exquisitely prepared Italian fare and a comprehensive wine list with over 200 varieties, Frasca has not only put their Friuli-Venezia Giulia style cuisine (Northern Italy) on the map here in Boulder, they are renowned all over the country.

Il Pastaio ($$): This place might seem like a hidden gem if it’s your first time passing by, but this place is one of the most popular and authentic Italian restaurants in town. The owner is old-school Italian and makes the pasta and sauces fresh daily. The place itself is pretty small so make sure to call ahead before the tables run out.

Arugula Bar E Ristorante ($$): Nestled in a nice quiet shopping center in North Boulder, Arugula has everything you’d expect from an authentic Italian restaurant. Their chef was born and raised in New York City so you will see a lot of traditional Italian dishes and recipes. They are in Boulder however, so their menu has plenty of new takes and gluten-free options as well.

Pizzeria Locale ($$): Located right next door to Frasca Food and Wine (same owners) on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, this place is an excellent contemporary Italian restaurant and pizzeria inspired by the traditional cuisine of Naples, Italy.

Boulder Pizza: If you’re looking for the best slice of Pizza in town, make sure to check out our local Boulder Pizza Guide to find the best spots near you.

Mexican Food

Zolo Southwestern Grill ($$): Zolo is not your typical Mexican restaurant (more like New Mexican). They make everything from scratch and are very accommodating with their entrées. So if you’re allergic to typical ingredients found in Mexican food (such as onions in guacamole) or are a picky eater, stop by Zolo for a quick bite, drinks, or a full meal.

Efrain’s Mexican Restaurant ($): An authentic Mexican restaurant that won’t break the bank – needless to say, this is not a fancy place for a first date. It is a bit of the drive to the outskirts of Boulder, but many locals give it a thumbs up. Fans recommend the The Efrain Burrito.

Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace ($$): This Latin gem is located right in the heart of downtown Boulder. They serve out some great Mezcal and tequila margaritas and offer attractive happy hour prices.

Agave Mexico Bistro & Tequila House ($$): With plenty of gluten-free vegetarian options and delectable coin margaritas, this place epitomizes what a Mexican restaurant should be. They also have a great upstairs space, pool table, and tequila bar.

If you really want to feel like you’re South of the border, make sure to check out our list of the best authentic Mexican food restaurants in Boulder.

And again — if we left off any of your favorites, do tell. Add them in the comments and we’ll update as we go along so everyone, from locals to tourists, gets the best in Boulder cuisine.

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Ryan Bradley

Ryan Bradley

Ryan Bradley is the co-founder of Authority Networks, a digital brand development and marketing company. When he's not building and flipping apps, you can find him enjoying all of what the Colorado outdoors has to offer.
Ryan Bradley

Ryan Bradley

Ryan Bradley is the co-founder of Authority Networks, a digital brand development and marketing company. When he's not building and flipping apps, you can find him enjoying all of what the Colorado outdoors has to offer.

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