The Louisville Rex
817 Main St., Louisville 303-666-6224
One of the main attractions of The Louisville Rex is its expansive yet comfortable rooftop deck. This spot is reminiscent of a warm-weather resort spot and makes for either a fine staycation venue or just a place to knock back a few with friends after work. The bar food classics are another strong suit, and these include Buffalo chicken wings and a decidedly guilty pleasure, fried pickles.
Moe’s Original Bar B Que
675 30th St., Boulder 303-440-4BBQ
Located a stone’s throw from Williams Village, Moe’s Original Bar B Que is the Boulder outpost of a ‘cue operation that originated in Alabama. It spotlights sandwiches and platters featuring such classic choices as brisket, pulled pork, hot links and fried catfish.
One of the top choices is a platter of fallingoff-the-bone ribs sided with bright fried green tomatoes and creamy banana pudding to finish.
Royal Clay Oven
5290 Arapahoe Road, Unit B, Boulder 303-444-1626
Located in East Boulder on Arapahoe, the Royal Clay Oven dishes out a reasonably priced lunch buffet with an emphasis on freshness and service. The lime-marinated tandoori chicken has a lively citrus undertone, and vindi masala, spiced okra, has a pleasant crisp-tender consistency. The staff constantly replenishes such items as the hearty potato-filled samosa, ensuring that diners enjoy fare fresh from the oven.
218 Coffman St., Longmont 303-772-6954
Combining a hospitable, homey, Key West feel with a menu of fresh seafood prepared in the manner of the Caribbean, Mexico and New Orleans, Longmont’s Tortugas is an easy winner. Noteworthy dishes include the Creole BBQ shrimp appetizer wrapped in bacon, and the bright-tasting shrimp Mojo, with a Cuban citrus, garlic and olive oil sauce. Chocolate bourbon bread pudding is an exquisite dessert, among the best endings available locally.
1047 Pearl St., Boulder 303-444-SALT
Downtown Boulder’s SALT Bistro, one of the newest entrants in the affordable midday meal sweepstakes, now serves a “farm-to-table” lunch for $9. Favored choices include the Reuben, made with pork belly instead of corned beef. The meatless eater will likely favor the quinoa and chickpea fritters. Preferred sides include the tomato soup garnished with a tiny grilled cheese wedge and the beet or apple salads, available for $2 more.
Jai Ho Indian Kitchen, Bar and Lounge
1915 28th St., Boulder 303-444-5151
Jai Ho, the Boulder spinoff of a popular Aurora restaurant, offers an intriguing blend of Northern and Southern Indian food, ranging from street-style eats to the ubiquitous lunchtime buffet. The buffet offers a fine opportunity to appreciate the skilled spicing of such dishes as the creamy chicken Tikka Masala and its fiery chile-based relation, Vindaloo. The dosa, a crisp, cylindrical crepe, is also a winner, featuring hefty veggie stuffing and subtle sourdough tang.
Zucca Italian Ristorante 808 Main St., Louisville 303-666-6499
Located smack dab in the middle of downtown Louisville, Zucca Italian Ristorante boasts an inviting ambience balancing the rustic with a subtle but unmistakable European flair. The same can also be said of the menu, which ranges from old standbys like comforting spaghetti and meatballs to more elevated selections like seafood cannelloni and rack of lamb. Can’t-miss items include the fried calamari starter, garnished with piquant pickled peppers and fresh tomato, and the arugula salad, a winning combination of greens, gorgonzola and apple.
Fan’s Chinese Cuisine
7960 Niwot Road, #C9, Niwot 303-652-6249
Fan’s Chinese Cuisine, situated in a Niwot strip mall near a sheriff’s office substation, serves up dishes free of MSG, as well as gluten-free choices. Outside of that, the reasonably priced lunch bill of fare is a Chinese- American hall of fame, spotlighting classic, time-tested chestnuts like chow mein, Szechuan beef and vegetarian Buddha’s Delight. Top menu choices include flavorful Mongolian beef garnished with expertly stir-fried pepper and onion, as well as the fresh-tasting Grand Marnier shrimp.
Santa Fe Coffee & Burrito Co.
33 S. Main St., Longmont 303-996-1010
Longmont’s Santa Fe Coffee & Burrito Co. certainly lives up to its name. This welcoming breakfast and lunch spot features caffeine ranging from classic diner coffee to espresso drinks and hearty, New Mexicoinfluenced meals. Morning highlights include anything with the green chile; piping hot skillets such as the Santa Fe, featuring bacon, chorizo, potato, bell pepper and onion; and the compelling enchiladas and eggs.
1710 29th St., Suite 1076, Boulder 303-442-1300
While Laudisio is best known for its Italian-influenced lunches and dinners, it certainly satisfies with its solidly constructed brunch menu on the weekends. Offerings include egg-based dishes such as a Hazel Dell mushroom frittata, sweet choices like a perfectly balanced lemon ricotta pancake, and breakfast pizzas topped with prosciutto. Other noteworthy items include the hearty steak and eggs sided with homefries, and the hot Italian-style donut holes.
Whole Foods Market
2905 Pearl St., Boulder 303-545-6611
The expanded food court at the Pearl Street Whole Foods quite literally has everything from soup to nuts. Available items range from a crisp, anise-scented fennel salad to a surprisingly flavorful interpretation of Chinese barbecued pork. Made-to-order fare includes taqueria-style Mexican street food and Asian noodles, highlighted by the Vietnamese-influenced pho ga, a chicken and rice noodle soup.
Oak at Fourteenth
1400 Pearl St., Boulder 303-444-3622
Oak at Fourteenth is back with a vengeance, serving up winning gourmet fare inspired in part by American regional cuisine. A sleek interior coupled with denim-clad waitstaff give it a subtle cowboy-meets-foodie feel, accented by attentive service. Dinners include a porterhouse steak for two and house-made pastas. At lunch, the shrimp grits are sublime, and the $11 burger lunch special includes two grass-fed patties, Old Bay seasoning-scented tater tots and house-made root beer.
Pearl Street Steak Room
1035 Pearl St., Boulder 303-938-9604
Wagyu steak is a pricey delicacy, and the Pearl Street Steak Room is a coolly retro venue where people can indulge their taste for this artisan beef. Richly marbled, sweet and tender, the Wagyu filet’s a good way to go, especially after one of their smooth martinis. The adventurous can start their meal with chicken-fried sweetbreads, but more sedate choices like duck confit also tempt.