Boulder has some terrific restaurants, including Arugula, the site of a recent Slow Food dinner that fed the mind, body and soul of Juliet Wittman. But Arugula isn't the only Boulder restaurant that feeds us. Here are five more of our favorites:
Frasca Food & Wine, 1738 Pearl Street, 303-442-6966. After all the gushing, all the awards, Frasca still remains the best we've got. Some people would say that the expectations are too high, that no restaurant can possibly live up to such standards. But those people would be wrong. Frasca stands in the top tier of restaurants not just locally, but nationally. The service is better, the knowledge deeper, the menu broader and brighter than sometimes seems possible. And yet Frasca still feels like a special place meant just for you. That's because owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson ignore all the hype and just focus on the next table, the next plate, the next glass of wine.
L'Atelier, 1739 Pearl Street, 303-442-7233 Radek Cerny, the man behind such legendary hot spots as Papillon Cafe and Radex, has come back from the brink with L'Atelier. The place is almost ludicrous in its excesses, with giant plates, fawning service and bright, spartan decor, but what saves it from going totally over the edge is the firm hand with which Cerny controls his kitchen. Everything here is about high-concept, high-priced, high-end food. Just don't forget your sense of humor, and don't forget to make reservations.
Pupusas Sabor Hispano, 4457 Broadway, 303-444-1729 There's hardly anything on the planet that makes us happier than the banter and laughing that comes from the infectiously riotous kitchen at Pupusas Sabor Hispano, a roadside shack in Boulder that turns out the most fantastic pupusas. The made-to-order griddled spheres of masa, enveloping beans, molten white cheese, chicharron and loroco, a Salvadoran spice, are the culinary gods' gift to Boulderites. Awesome salsa bar, too.
Centro Latin Kitchen and Refreshment Palace, 950 Pearl Street, 303-442-7771 Not only is Centro a beautiful restaurant, a casual restaurant and an undeniably cool restaurant with a bar that pours some stiff drinks, its food is good, smart, original and stubbornly uncompromising. It's nominally a Mexican restaurant, with a menu listing bocaditas of chips and salsas and rellenos; simple carne asada and enchiladas and carnitas are among the mains. But on almost every plate, something extra has been added, something that muddies the dish's origins; these innovations, taken altogether, make chef Ian Clark's menu less Mexican comfort food and more a fusion of taquerias around the world.
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Salt Bistro, 1047 Pearl Street, 303-444-7258 Located in the former Tom Tavern's space, the iconic Boulder burger joint and bar that occupied the corner at 1047 Pearl Street for fifty years, Salt is chef/owner Bradford Heap's "Johnny Local" bistro, a pasture-to-plate restaurant that utilizes the bounty from local purveyors. In his exhibition kitchen, Heap turns out flat breads, roasted vegetables and even pastas from a wood-fired oven and fish, burgers, beef, pork and half chickens from a wood-burning rotisserie.