1. Boulder Farmers Market
The Boulder Farmers Market was named the best in the country by USA Today, and it’s easy to see why. With 150 farmers and food artisans selling everything from eggplants and olive oil to goat cheese and gluten-free pastries, the market is a one-stop shop for both staples and specialty items. It happens outside next to a park, running from April to November on Saturday mornings and from May to October on Wednesday evenings. There’s live music and a food court dishing out made-to-order pizza, dumplings, barbecue and ice cream.
2. Boulder County Farm Trail
You’ll meet lots of farmers at the Boulder Farmers Market, but if you want to go behind the scenes, check out The Boulder County Farm Trail. Boulder County has more than 850 farms, and many of them open their gates (and barns and chicken coops) to visitors. Enjoy a scenic drive through Boulder’s bucolic countryside (with plenty of farm stops along the way), pick the perfect pumpkin, cuddle with baby goats, take a beekeeping class or gather around a long, rustic table for a farm dinner.
3. Go on a “Top Chef”-Inspired Itinerary
Boulder was featured in an episode of “Top Chef” Season 15, and now you can tour Boulder like a Top Chef contestant, judge — or simply a fan! Visit the places that are on every foodie’s buzz list, be inspired by Top Chef champion and Boulder resident Hosea Rosenberg and even see one of the locations where they filmed the show! See the Insider’s Guide to Top Chef Boulder here.
4. Farm-to-Table Restaurants
With so many farms within a few miles, it’s no surprise that Boulder is home to some of the state’s best restaurants. A stroll down Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall will lead you to Black Cat, a bistro that sources many of its ingredients from its own 130-acre organic farm; The Kitchen, a community-focused restaurant serving food from local farmers and ranchers; and SALT, a neighborhood gem that operates on the premise that “the best food travels the shortest distance from farm to table.”
Get up early to beat the brunch crowd to Lucile’s Creole Restaurant for chicory coffee and beignets in a charming Victorian house. Or head to The Hill (just across Broadway from the University of Colorado campus) to Cafe Aion for traditional Spanish tapa made from Colorado ingredients. Blackbelly Market features a seasonally changing menu, as well as a butcher counter selling hormone- and antibiotic-free fresh sausages, salumi and charcuterie from Colorado farms and ranches. Or, if meat’s not your thing, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant serves up vegetarian meals using produce from owner and Executive Chef Lenny Martinelli’s Three Leaf Farm.
For fine dining, reserve a table at Flagstaff House Restaurant, with its award-winning wine list and location on the side of a mountain. The view of the foothills and the lights of Boulder below will make you feel like you’re miles away from it all.
5. Coffee and Tea
Start your morning with an espresso from Boxcar Coffee Roasters on Pearl Street. The coffee purveyor shares a space with artisanal cheese and wine shop Cured, so pick up your picnic provisions while you’re there. Further west on Pearl, you’ll find Alpine Modern, a sleek coffee and gift shop.
The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse is a must-visit for any tea lover. The menu includes more than 100 types of tea (including tea cocktails, if you’re in the mood to imbibe), but the building itself is the main attraction. The teahouse was a gift from Boulder's sister city of Dushanbe, Tajikistan, handcrafted by more than 40 artisans and decorated with intricate carvings and vibrant murals. Pekoe Sip House is another tea retreat where you can settle in among locals with a hot chai or bubble tea.
6. Health Foods
Boulderites take their health and fitness seriously, and it shows in the town’s restaurant scene. Thrive offers raw, vegan smoothies, salads and other snacks. For gluten-free, GMO-free options, visit Shine Restaurant & Gathering Place, where they also create a line of delicious, herbal potions. Native Foods Cafe dishes vegan-friendly, fast-casual food like the Big Ol’ BBQ (Veggie) Burger, while Blooming Beets Kitchen pleases the Paleo crowd.
Pick up some healthy fare at Fresh Thymes Eatery, a locally sourced take-out or eat-in marketplace that claims rave reviews for its gluten-free grilled pizzas, burgers, mac and cheese and more. Or linger over fresh-pressed organic juices, chicken lettuce wraps and Harrison River wild salmon at Zeal.
7. Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries
Does it come as a surprise that such a health-conscious town also has a bustling craft brewing, wine and distilling industry? Maybe, but it’s a paradox no one seems to mind. Boulder is home to Colorado’s first microbrewery, Boulder Beer Company, which has been joined in recent years by about 20 more breweries, both large and small. (Not to mention a handful of wineries, distilleries and even a meadery.) Belly up to the bar, snag a spot on one of the many outdoor patios or take a tour to find out how hops and barley become your favorite brew. For more ideas, see the Boulder Beer Trail.
8. Food and Brew Tours
If all this food talk has whetted your appetite, delve deeper into Boulder’s culinary scene with Local Table Tours’ Taste of Boulder Culinary Tour, a walking tour of some of Boulder’s best independently owned bars and restaurants for cocktails, dinner, dessert and specialty food shopping.
9. See What Chefs Say About Boulder
Who better to advise you where to eat and drink (and read and hike) than Boulder’s own top chefs? Check out these Chef Guides to Boulder — there are 21 of them! — to find out where Black Cat’s Eric Skokan goes for the perfect cup of coffee and where to find Cafe Aion’s Dakota Soifer when happy hour rolls around.