The glorious view from the foothills of Colorado may leave most thinking the restaurants of Boulder are fuel for hikers. We, on the other hand, know what it takes to power the bustling tech startup scene, university life, and even the weekly Boulder Cruiser ride. Read on for our favorite places to grab lunch in and around the People’s Republic of Boulder.
1 (303) 544-5973
Basking in the culture of family gathering for food, The Kitchen is the pitch perfect example of an American bistro focused on community. Part non-profit organizing learn-and-grow gardens, part celebration of the local seasonal foods that bring Coloradans together.
White Anchovies ($8.00)
Forget every bad joke you’ve heard about these pizza toppers. A delicate way to casually start your lunch and the perfect sharable for your business meet-up, these expertly prepared fishies are served with fresno relish and water crackers.
Longs Peak Grilled Lamb Burger ($16.00)
Like you, I once believed I had tasted a great lamb patty. This grilled blend topped up with balsamic onion jam, blue cheese, and greens changed everything. Available with a side of fries, I strongly recommend the garlic upgrade.
Pasta Bolognese ($18.00)
Nothing says bistro like a hearty pasta with rich, fresh flavors. Look no further than this al dente blend of beef, pork, lamb, tomato, topped with a crisp parmesan.
Organic Sandwich Company & Cafe
1 (720) 639-3986
Obsessive about their sandwich, Organic Sandwich Company considers all perspectives from their sources to their ingredients. A taste of the Miller sisters meat and bread is the best way to understand the raw passion and unbridled love brought to the handheld meal.
Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich ($10.25)
Oh, to live everyday like it were Thanksgiving – if only Thanksgiving were this delicious. Roasted turkey comes with a spread of house cranberry chutney, herbed aioli, romaine, red onion, and black pepper on a fresh baguette.
Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich ($9.50)
A sandwich designed for the very many vegans of Boulder, but enjoy by the very many who aren’t. House-made chickpea salad with lime and cilantro fits quite nicely with tomato and cucumber on a French country loaf.
Brie, Apple, and Caramelized Onion Sandwich ($10.50)
Hop in the car and take a quick drive down to flavor country with this grilled majesty. Brie and honey mustard spread is a surprising pleasure on sliced apple and caramelized onions. So so so good.
Yellow Belly Chicken
1 (303) 532-4596
While they may have started in Vail, Yellow Belly Chicken has found their home in Boulder as the go-to for expertly roasted chicken. Flavorful meals, plates, and sides shine as recipes so simple that you’ll know love was always the key ingredient.
Original Sides ($3.00)
Because even the most amazing meal ever needs a little friend to switch things up. Roasted seasonal veggies are always marvelous, but the smashed potato fries match very well to sandwiches. Not to overplay my hand, but I’m also a very big fan of the brussel slaw, just saying.
Barn Burner Sandwich ($7.00)
Do you like your chicken hot? As someone who’s excited to see spicy warnings, I know I fell in love with this fried chicken sporting hot peppers, lettuce, and the house creamy ranch.
Roasted White Sandwich ($6.50)
It’s not a cheat day when you’re not cheating. Skillet roasted breast served on the bone with just the right seasoning and lots of taste, it’s kind of the perfect fuel for conquering the day.
1 (720) 708-6309
For those searching out a lunch on the go, or looking to stay casual, Zeal offers passionately made food with the healthiest ingredients available. Sit down or keep moving while you savor the dishes built by enthusiasts for enthusiasts.
Summer Gusto Salad ($16.00)
This salad in the summer is all that matters. Arugula and spinach blend is a bed for peaches, braised pork belly, and a mix of red onion and peas. A terrific bacon peach coriander vinaigrette makes up the dressing.
Plant Burger ($10.00)
I can’t tell you how important it is that you make room for this handy hunger helper in your life. A patty of carrot and chickpea falafel comes with tomato jam, spinach, and their cashew cheese. You can choose a side salad, but you’re going to want the roasted fingerlings. Trust me.
Vegetable Rainbow Curry Bowl ($13.00)
One of the pluses in a bowl is getting free reign to decide how many flavors you take in each bite. Get their seasonal roasted vegetables with sesame, lentils, toasted coconut, and coconut curry over rice. Get them in every bite.
1 (720) 542-8159
Squarely in the corner of the farmer, Next Door is the restaurant bringing sourced food to the heart of cities. Every week this joint serves up to 10, 000 meals with ingredients from the pride and joy of American farmers.
Daily Special Baja Fish Tacos ($11.95)
I’m not saying you absolutely, positively need to come on Tuesdays, but this recommendation is definitely worth it. If you can find time for these tacos in your lunch, your afternoon will be pure bliss.
Sweet and Spicy Shrimp Bowl ($16.95)
If your ideal shrimp is a sweetened blend of honey sriracha and pickled veggies, served with a cilantro slaw, and broccolini on brown rice, then I have some great news for you.
Merlin’s Carolina Pork Sandwich ($11.95)
You needn’t be in the deep south to find great barbeque. Give me that BBQ with a snappy mustard, cole slaw, and top it with crispy onions and house pickles on a bun, I will do nothing but think about it all day and night.
1 (303) 444-3622
In case you somehow missed it, Colorado is a raw jewel of nature, and few locales celebrate that rustic outdoor spirit like Oak. Recognizing that all great meals feature a prodigious drink pairing, Oak offers mixology that matches the austere meals honoring the wild.
Tomato Braised Meatballs ($12.50)
At this point, a potent stable for the start of all Oak meals, make sure you put in an order for the table to share. I know that I fell head over heels for the tender meat that felt so at home with creamy Grateful Bread grits and Stracciatella cheese.
OAK Grilled Double Cheeseburger & House Made Soda ($14.50)
A burger that could easily claim the throne above all burgers, a topping of gruyere and harissa aioli join greens on a toasted bun. Sided by their house tater tots, take the time to wash it all down with their very tasty house-made soda and just enjoy life.
A noodle dish celebrated the world over, Oak has worked hard to create a memorable bowl that remains distinctly Colorado. House noodles are made fresh for roasted Colorado pork, mushrooms, fresno peppers, and a soft boiled egg. Try not to devour it too quickly.
1 (303) 442-4133
Straight from the grills of Buenos Aires to the heart of Boulder, Rincon Argentino is the result of a husband and wife slaving away at their passion. Bringing their favorite ingredients to some unexpected sandwiches and empanadas, no other sandwich shop is this authentically Argentinian.
Carne Picante Empanada ($3.95)
With over a dozen different empanadas to choose from, you may come to fear making the wrong choice. Lucky for you, there are no wrong answers, especially when you go with the carne’s spicy steak cooked with onions, peppers, green olives and a blend of unreal spices.
Milanesa De Pollo Sandwich ($10.95)
A filling sandwich with light ingredients, thinly sliced chicken breast is expertly breaded and seasoned before ending up on baguette with lettuce, and tomato, and love.
Milanesa Napolitana Sandwich ($12.50)
For any newbies to the milanesa, I’m super jealous of your first experience. Their signature breaded meat is served up on a baguette with marinara sauce under with a blanket of melted mozzarella and oregano.
Zoe Ma Ma
1 (303) 545-6262
An untraditional take on American Chinese, Zoe Ma Ma is a restaurant devoting every ounce of energy into preparing fresh comfort food. Built off of traditional family recipes, daily specials and mandatory must-try’s have generated a strong following in the hearts of Boulder and its people.
Steamy Bao Bun ($3.21)
If you’re keeping food on your brain 24/7 like me, wondering what it would be like to bite into a fluffy cloud of happiness keeps you up at night. Lucky for us, we have these steamed organic wheat buns packed with your choice of slow marinated pork or vegetables.
Za Jian Mian ($8.04)
As far as classical Chinese dishes go, this Northern noodle dish is an absolute knockout. Freshly made egg noodles are topped with a savory ground pork sauce and plenty of vegetables.
Roast Duck Wonton Noodle Soup ($14.71)
While only available for the Friday and Saturday crowd, it’s well worth your time and planning to score a bowl of the slow roasted duck, baby bok choy, handmade wontons, and egg noodles in a rich duck broth.