Boulder, Colorado, is a wonderful place to visit and an even better place to eat. It’s no secret that this city of just over 100,000 people has a high concentration of excellent restaurants. Furthermore, among the restaurants in Boulder, a wide variety of cuisines are represented, so there’s something for everyone among them.
If you’re looking for places to eat in Boulder, you came to the right source. Below, you will learn about some of Boulder’s most popular restaurants, including where the locals eat, and we promise you that you’ll be impressed with your meal at each and every one of them. Read on – and bring your appetite!
Best Restaurants in Boulder, Colorado
1. Flagstaff House
Address: 1138 Flagstaff Road, Boulder, CO 80302
Flagstaff House is one of the best restaurants in Boulder no matter who you ask, so we think that it’s the perfect start to our list. Flagstaff House sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet atop Flagstaff Mountain, and it offers incredible views of the rest of the city below. The main dining room is full of windows, so you’ll be able to enjoy the view from any seat you get, and there’s an outdoor patio for more of the same during the warmer months.
The views are only one of Flagstaff House’s draws, though; it would be excellent even without them due to the high-quality food offered and served here. This establishment has been recognized with dozens of awards including 42 Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star ratings, 32 consecutive AAA Four Diamond ratings, and numerous Best of Boulder Awards each year.
This is fine dining at its best. The cuisine at the Flagstaff House is New American with a French twist. Executive Chef Chris Royster offers an ever-changing menu that features local and seasonal ingredients, and the dishes are plated so beautifully that you’ll think that they belong in a museum.
Everything is good at the Flagstaff House, but you might try the filet mignon, the Colorado rack of lamb, or a game bird like quail or wild duck. No matter what you order, you’re sure to be happy with your selection.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colorado
2. Frasca Food and Wine
Address: 1738 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
If you’re looking for a fantastic place to dine with friends or colleagues that’s right in the heart of Boulder, then you’ll love Frasca Food and Wine. This spot is perfect for anyone who loves Northern Italian cuisine and the wine that pairs with it because Frasca is a master of both.
Not only does Frasca Food and Wine serve Northern Italian dishes, but this restaurant focuses on serving dishes inspired by one particular region of Northern Italy – the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. This northeasternmost region of Italy borders Austria and Slovenia, so don’t expect the thick, saucy, pasta-heavy meals that most of us associate with Italy.
Instead, you’ll find robust meat-centered dishes, fish and seafood entrees, foods with a hint of horseradish, and sides like polenta. These are Italian dishes, but they are influenced by the region’s neighbors as well.
This adventurous and rather unique angle earned Frasca Food and Wine a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest for Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson in 2008. In fact, Frasca has won three James Beard Awards for Excellence; the other two were for Outstanding Wine Program in 2013 and Outstanding Service in 2019.
3. Fresh Thymes Eatery
Address: 2500 30th Street #101, Boulder, CO 80301
Fresh Thymes Eatery is in a rather busy and commercial area, but don’t let that sway you from giving this place a try. You’re sure to love it and you’ll want to come back to it time and time again to try more of its healthy, conscious, sustainable, and fresh menu offerings. This spot is far more casual than the two restaurants we’ve mentioned above, but the food you’ll find here is equally good, if not as upscale.
Not only is the food great, but Fresh Thymes Eatery, which opened in 2013, caters to people with dietary restrictions. The entire restaurant is gluten- and peanut-free, it uses only organic soy, corn, and dairy, and it steers clear of cane sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you have allergies, this is the place to go.
But even if you don’t, you’ll be amazed at how good the food is at Fresh Thymes Eatery; you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. Owner and chef Christine Ruch sources as many ingredients as she can from local Colorado farmers, and everything is ethically-sourced and organic, too.
Everything at Fresh Thymes Eatery is made from scratch in-house so you know it’s as fresh as can be. Try the salads, burgers, pizzas, tacos, and desserts – you’re sure to be pleased with whatever you choose.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Colorado Springs
4. Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
Address: 928 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Seafood is not something that land-locked Colorado is known for, but there are a few gems in the state that should not be missed, and Jax Fish House is one of them. This spot in downtown Boulder is one of five Jax locations in Colorado, and it’s not the only restaurant from the fantastic Big Red F Restaurant Group that we’ll mention.
This Boulder location was the first Jax, though – it opened way back in 1994 – and it’s still going strong. The atmosphere here is classy yet laid back, and it’s a spot that’s perfect for a family meal, a dinner with friends, a working meal with colleagues or clients, or a date.
Sustainably sourced seafood is important to the owners and operators of Jax Fish House, and it’s also important to the people of Boulder. This restaurant’s dedication to sustainability has played a big part in its popularity and longevity. Jax was the first restaurant in Colorado to be certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, which is a very big deal for any restaurant that serves fish.
Everything at Jax is great. Try some calamari, seafood chowder, charred Spanish octopus, oysters, caviar, peel n’ eat shrimp, crab, scallops, tuna, lobster, or catfish. You’ll be happy with whatever you select, and you’ll still want more even when you’re full.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Vail, Colorado
5. Black Cat Bistro
Address: 1964 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Black Cat Bistro is a charming spot right in the middle of Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall, an active and inviting four-block-long pedestrian mall that many people consider to be the best part of Boulder. The restaurant itself is small, and reservations are required, but it’s well worth planning in advance to get a table.
This farm-to-table bistro opened in 2006 as a piece of the larger dream of Chef Eric Shokan and his wife Jill. The couple also owns the 425-acre Certified Organic Black Cat Farm (along with its sister restaurant, Bramble & Hare, next door to Black Cat Bistro) and when possible, nearly all of the dishes’ ingredients are sourced from it.
The farm not only grows vegetables, but it also raises sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and geese as well. And the restaurant team even goes a step further by foraging wild fruit and mushrooms, too.
The menu at Black Cat Bistro changes daily, but Chef Eric’s goal with every dish he serves is to showcase food from the forests, fields, and mountains of Colorado, and he considers his establishment to be an incubator for the developing Front Range Cuisine genre. It doesn’t get more Colorado than this, folks, so if you’re a Colorado resident or even a temporary visitor, don’t miss this place.
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6. Blackbelly Market
Address: 1606 Conestoga Street, Boulder, CO 80301
This chic eatery is on the eastern outskirts of town but the journey to it is quick and easy, and you’ll love the interesting spins on simple dishes it offers. Blackbelly Market began as a catering company in 2011 and has since grown into not only a brick-and-mortar location that serves dinner six days a week and breakfast and lunch on weekdays, but also the Blackbelly Butcher Shop, which sells only the finest cuts of high-quality, natural, hormone and antibiotic-free, Colorado-sourced meats to eager home cooks.
Owner and head chef Hosea Rosenberg takes great pride in everything he serves. You’ll find epic meat dishes at Blackbelly, as you might imagine, including perfectly prepared entrees with chicken, pork, beef, and lamb as their foci.
Don’t miss the housemade charcuterie that changes daily. Further, when eating at Blackbelly Market, try to sit at the chef’s counter – that way, you can watch the magic happen before your eyes.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Estes Park, Colorado
7. Centro Mexican Kitchen
Address: 950 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Like Jax Fish House, Centro Mexican Kitchen is part of the Big Red F Restaurant Group, a collection of Kansas City and Colorado-based restaurants that never disappoint. Colorado is known for having excellent Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine and Centro Mexican Kitchen is a perfect example of that. In some ways, this is a fusion restaurant; the chefs here artfully draw Colorado flavor and attitude into traditional Mexican dishes that look beautiful on your plate.
You can’t go wrong with any item on the menu at this Boulder Mexican restaurant. You might try one of their creative burritos or enchiladas or a build-your-own taco board, and you’ll love everything about the salsa sampler appetizer before your entree comes. Brunch at Centro is a very big deal as well, with a wide variety of Mexican-based breakfast dishes to try.
If you have lunch or dinner at Centro, be sure to save room for dessert, too; the churros and the Goat’s Milk Tres Leche Cake are to die for. Further, if there’s a vegetarian or vegan in your party, he or she won’t starve – there are numerous options at Centro in that realm to choose from as well.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Vail, Colorado
8. The Post Chicken & Beer
Address: 2027 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Yet another dining establishment in the Big Red F Restaurant Group, The Post Chicken & Beer has several locations in Colorado and every one is immensely popular. The Boulder location is just off the Pearl Street Mall near the center of town. Although this is a Colorado-based restaurant, it produces some of the best Southern-fried chicken that you’ll ever try, and the rest of the menu is just as great.
If you’re looking for comfort food to fill your belly and then some, you’ll adore this place. On top of all that, The Post is also a brewery, and you’ll love their wide selection of beer that is tailor-made to go with the food.
One especially great thing about The Post is that it’s kid-friendly; there are many restaurants in Boulder that aren’t, so this is a spot that the whole family can enjoy, and there are family meal options on the menu if you want to share. You’ll almost certainly want to get chicken at The Post, and you can choose between chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, fried chicken, roasted chicken, and chicken and waffles for your main. However, if for some crazy reason you’re not feeling like chicken, the meatloaf is also fantastic, and so is the salmon, or you could order an entire meal of sides like mac and cheese, biscuits, and collard greens.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Breckenridge, Colorado
9. Avery Brewing Company
Address: 4910 Nautilus Court North, Boulder, CO 80301
Because of Coloradans’ dedication to the brewing of beer, this list wouldn’t be complete without a restaurant that’s a brewery first and a restaurant second, and Avery Brewing Company fits that role quite nicely. Fortunately for all who visit, this establishment excels in both areas and is just as good a restaurant as it is a brewery – the brews and food at Avery are both excellent, and it’s a great place to spend an afternoon or evening enjoying both things.
Brewer Adam Avery opened this brewery and restaurant in 2013 after brewing craft microbrews in a small warehouse for 20 years. He hired Chef Chris Blackwood to design the restaurant menu, and the rest is history. Both parts of this place have been a huge success for almost a decade now, and Avery Brewing Company is one of the top-rated restaurants and breweries in Boulder year after year.
It offers over 30 beers on tap year-round, supplemented with rotating Tap Room Rarities, and the food menu changes with the seasons. Each season’s menu is minimal, but you can order with confidence knowing that everything on it is quite good. The most popular dishes feature meats that are smoked in-house, but there are also vegetarian options, a kids’ menu, and desserts that are well worth saving room for.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Colorado & Places to Visit
10. Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
Address: 1617 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
If you like breakfast even a little bit, then you cannot skip Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. This breakfast-only restaurant is a chain that’s growing nationwide, but it started right here in Colorado in 2006. Two brothers opened the first one in Denver that year and it was immediately a huge hit.
It spread throughout the area, and now locations can be found in ten states. However, despite its rapid expansion, one thing is always true – you will always have to wait for a table, at any location, on any day of the week. But the wait is well worth it. Trust us.
The Boulder location of Snooze is on Pearl Street, but it’s not in the famous Pearl Street Mall; it’s a few blocks down from it. However, it’s right in the middle of everything and there’s some outdoor seating available. The service is quick and friendly – they need to turn over tables rapidly due to demand – but you never feel rushed, either.
Every breakfast item you can imagine is served here, and each and every one of them is elevated to a higher, almost mythical level. The breakfast you have at Snooze is one that will stay with you for a very long time.
Of course, there are plenty of breakfast cocktails to enjoy, but again, the focus here is the food. The OMG! French Toast is a popular dish, as are Snooze’s pancake flights, its Mexican-inspired breakfast items like tacos, burritos, and tostadas, and its perfect Benedicts and breakfast sandwiches.
There are plenty of plant-based options for vegans, too. You’re going to love this place, and you’ll be craving whatever you ordered well into the foreseeable future, long after you’ve left Snooze and Colorado behind.
11. Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery
Address: 1535 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery on this list, as it is the most Boulder-y place on this list. The brewery first opened this location in 1993 and has expanded to four more locations with similar names since then. But, the Boulder Mountain Sun is the true heart and soul of the restaurant group.
Over the course of any given year, Mountain Sun and its partners brew over 75 different beers in all different styles. If you’re short on time, it’s worth stopping in for just a pint of one of Mountain Sun’s award-winning brews.
If you have more time, though, sit down and have a meal. There is a lot to look at and take in regarding the decor, and you’ll soon feel as comfortable as if you were at home.
The food here is casual and laid back but also quite tasty and you can’t go wrong with Mountain Sun’s nachos, burgers, salads, or make-your-own grilled cheese sandwiches. The service is friendly and fast, too. However, keep in mind that Mountain Sun is cash-only, so be sure to come prepared.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Denver, Colorado
12. The Buff Restaurant
Address: 2600 Canyon Boulevard, Boulder, CO 80302
The Buff Restaurant is an institution in Boulder that opened in 1995. It’s family-owned and is everything you’ve ever wanted in a diner-type establishment.
This spot is one of the best restaurants in Boulder for having a meal out with your favorite people. The kind service and tasty food keep customers coming back time and time again. This is one of those Boulder restaurants that makes you feel right at home.
This restaurant is primarily a breakfast and brunch spot; it closes at 2:00 pm each day. Be sure to get there early so you get a table and have time to enjoy your meal. There’s patio seating during the warmer months, too.
The Buff serves several lunch items if you’re feeling more like lunch than breakfast, but it’s the breakfast dishes here that really shine. Choose from lists of “basic breakfasts,” omelets, skillets, Benedicts, griddles, and “southwestern kicks” – although you may have trouble deciding. All the breakfast options at The Buff are great and are the perfect way to start your Boulder morning.
13. Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Address: 1770 13th Street, Boulder, CO 80302
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is one of the most unique places to dine in Boulder and that’s exactly why you should go there. Also, if you love tea, you’re not going to get a better cup of tea anywhere else.
This teahouse once stood in Dushanbe, Tajikistan – a sister city of Boulder. It was disassembled there and shipped all the way to Boulder as a gift. Many artisans took part in its creation, and it’s a breathtaking sight to see both inside and out.
This teahouse serves over 100 different teas, of course, but it also serves brunch, lunch, and dinner as well. The menu is very diverse and international; dishes from all over the world are represented here, and it’s all great food that is prepared with both care and great attention to detail. From Ethiopian Tibs to Peruvian Parihuela to Korean Pan-Fried Noodles, there are so many different things to try here that you’ll surely find something to delight you no matter what your desire or mood.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Estes Park, Colorado
14. The Kitchen American Bistro
Address: 1039 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
The Kitchen American Bistro is another of the best restaurants in Boulder that everyone should try while they’re in town. Situated in a prime location in Pearl Street Mall, this lunch and dinner restaurant has an eclectic menu that focuses on New American cuisine with an international twist. The interior is classy and warm and many people are drawn to this restaurant because of its creative cocktails, but then end up sticking around because The Kitchen also serves excellent food.
Anyone with dietary restrictions will be a big fan of the menu at The Kitchen; most items are gluten-free and many are vegetarian or vegan as well. However, meat eaters can also get an impressive meal at this restaurant as well – steak, chicken, pork, and fish are also always on the menu.
No matter when you go to The Kitchen, and even if you’re just stopping in for drinks, it’s wise to make a reservation in advance. This spot is both small and popular, and you don’t want to miss out.
15. Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant
Address: 1710 Pearl Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Of course, it wouldn’t be a list of the best restaurants in Boulder without at least one strictly vegetarian restaurant included. True or not, many people automatically think of hippies when they think of Boulder, and automatically think of vegetarian cuisine when they think of hippies. And the very best all-vegetarian restaurant in Boulder is Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant.
Everything at Leaf is vegetarian or vegan. The menu isn’t large, but the options are broad and interesting, and you’re sure to find something on it that you’ll love, even if you usually prefer entrees with meat or fish. Many of the ingredients are sourced from the farm owned by the restaurant, Three Leaf Farm in nearby Lafayette.
It doesn’t get much fresher and healthier than this, folks, so plan a meal at Leaf while you’re in Boulder. Brunch, lunch, and dinner are all equally splendid and satisfying, and you’ll be glad you stopped in and gave it a try.
What is the most famous restaurant in Boulder?
Although it’s certainly not the most upscale restaurant in Boulder, thanks to its welcoming and laid-back atmosphere, the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery is the most famous restaurant in Boulder. This is likely due to several factors.
First, the food and beer at Mountain Sun are excellent. Second, this place has been around for almost 30 years and is still going strong, and has expanded to five locations since its start in 1993. Finally, its location in central Boulder means that it’s well-known by all, and in many ways, its cuisine and atmosphere capture the true vibe and essence of this Colorado city.
How many Michelin-starred restaurants are there in Boulder?
Although there are a vast number of fantastic restaurants in Boulder, there aren’t any that have yet earned a Michelin star from the famous Michelin Guide. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that there are no Michelin-starred restaurants at all in the Centennial State. This is a shame – we feel that many are deserving! Send someone from the Michelin Guide out here stat!
Where can I find the greatest concentration of excellent restaurants in Boulder?
If you’d rather just stroll around town and choose a restaurant on sight, rather than choose a restaurant online and then go to it, then you’ll have the most luck in the Pearl Street Mall area and on the streets nearby. This area is downtown Boulder, and it is where the vast majority of the action is when it comes to all kinds of dining. Good luck!
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