The Bitter Bar 835 Walnut St., Boulder 303-442-3050
The Big Red F Restaurant Group’s foray into the world of artisan cocktails, the Bitter Bar has taken over the former Happy Noodle venue. Drinks here range from original award-winning concoctions such as the Gone Fishin’, featuring naval-strength rum and ginger liqueur, to old chestnuts like Irish Coffee. But the focus on libations doesn’t detract from the food, which includes such winning options as a freshtasting lobster risotto and the unique gingerbread cake garnished with bacon caramel popcorn.
Shine 2027 13th St., Boulder 303-449-0120
Boulder’s Shine is the newest venture from the Emich triplets, late of Trilogy fame. Shine is a bar and restaurant as well as a performance and gathering space showcasing everything from world music concerts to yoga classes. The menu features healthful offerings ranging from locally sourced, grass-fed beef burgers to meatless jackfruit tacos. There’s also a selection of housemade beer, and various elixirs and potions flavored with herbs and touted for their restorative qualities.
95a Bistro and Sushi 1381 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette 303-665-3080
95a Bistro and Sushi is a worthwhile addition to the East County dining scene. It provides an opportunity for a reasonably priced lunch prepared with care, an intriguing small plate meal, or a dinner combining comforting home cooking with gourmet flair. Winning small plate choices, none of which cost more than $7, include clams and chorizo, braised pork over potato, and chile pepper and avocado tempura.
L’Atelier 1739 Pearl St., Boulder 303-442-7233
Chef Radek Czerny’s L’Atelier, deeply influenced by classic French cuisine, builds upon a traditional foundation.
At dinner, starters range from Thai-spiced mussels to traditional escargot and shrimp Louis. Classicism marks the entrée menu, which includes filet mignon and rack of lamb. The lunch menu features lighter options like a tuna nicoise salad and a salmon, lettuce and tomato panini, and both meals feature the can’t-miss lobster ravioli.
Murphy’s 2731 Iris Ave., Boulder 303-449-4473
For those desiring a lighter, reasonably priced meal combining bar standards with a touch of gourmet, try the small plates menu at the North Boulder location of Murphy’s. Marked down for happy hour, this menu includes south of the border specialties like Six Bite Nachos, larger than the name suggests. Other winning options include the falling-off-the-bone Caribbean pork ribs with habanero mango sauce and the smoked salmon with brie on crostini.
Aloy Thai Cuisine 2720 Canyon Blvd. Boulder 303-440-2903
Formerly Chy Thai, Aloy Thai Cuisine claims the same ownership and food as its predecessor with an upgraded dining room. Indeed, the solid Thai selections of the old venue live on, and the lunch menu provides an opportunity to enjoy several classic choices for less than $9. Lunch highlights include the red roast chicken curry and Pad Kra Pow, a basil-scented stir-fry.
Minglewood 1606 Conestoga St. #3 Boulder 303-442-0585
The Grateful Dead is the main influence on the ambience at Minglewood, a new eatery primarily catering to a lunchtime worker crowd near 55th and Arapahoe. Hot and cold sandwiches, entrée salads and a rotating selection of soups and desserts make up the bulk of the menu. Rotating special highlights include the lamb meatball panini and cream of red pepper soup.
Korea House 2750 Glenwood Dr. #4, Boulder 303-449-1657
Under new management since last spring, Boulder’s Korea House has a newly upgraded ambience. It still serves up a menu of Japanese items such as sushi and teriyaki, as well as classic Korean specialties such as barbecue beef and short ribs. The gal bi, or short ribs, are a can’tmiss selection featuring tender beef and a marinade balancing soy, garlic and a hint of sweet.
Tossa Pizza 2400 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder 720-214-3254
Located at Folsom and Arapahoe in Boulder, Tossa Pizza functions as a typical fast-casual, order-at-the-counter joint during lunch. Come late afternoon, it switches to table service throughout dinner and until closing. This affordable Italian-accented eatery dishes out pizza, salads, pasta and panini of a quality that’s pleasantly surprising for the price. Highlights include the macaroni and five cheeses and the arugula and mushroom pizza.
Brooklyn Deli 1515 Main St., Longmont 303-684-8400
Longmont’s Brooklyn Deli brings a taste of the Big Apple to the Front Range.
Classic selections include a can’t-miss Reuben with a choice of turkey, pastrami or corned beef on grilled rye, and a satisfyingly homespun matzo ball soup. Other star attractions include Long Island A&S bagels topped with cream cheese and lox from Brooklyn’s Acme Smoked Fish.
Snooze 1617 Pearl St., Boulder 303-225-7344
Snooze, a self-described “a.m. eatery” that originated in Denver, now has a Pearl Street outpost. The menu includes a variety of eggs Benedict interpretations, like the delightful Upstream, featuring a hunk of delicately honeyed smoked salmon. There are also several $7.50 pancakes, which include the usual suspects, like blueberry, as well as more unique selections like a dessert-like pineapple upside-down version. Of course, a full complement of egg dishes, ranging from omelets to huevos rancheros, are available, as are oatmeal, granola and French toast.
Riffs Urban Fare 1115 Pearl St., Boulder 303-440-6699
Riffs Urban Fare occupies the former site of Boulder’s Bookends Café. Featuring small plates, Riffs also offers larger dishes like short rib ravioli and lobster risotto. Soups, salads and sandwiches are also on tap, including a Colorado’s Best Beef Burger and a Kentucky Hot Brown, featuring cheese sauce over turkey. Top choices here include the tangy house-made pickles and a perfectly prepared duck confit worthy of a Parisian bistro.
Tiffin’s 2416 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder 303-442-2500
Boulder’s new Tiffin’s showcases vegetarian Southern Indian street food at reasonable prices. What it lacks in ambience it makes up for with friendly service and unique, fresh flavors. Start with the dosa, a rice crepe served up with a pair of chutneys. The samosa chat features a potato and vegetable-stuffed turnover smothered with onion, cilantro and curry, and is a more than satisfying choice. The Bhel Puri, a puffed rice, noodle and vegetable “trail mix,” is a citrusy counterpoint.