Boulder Restaurants that Double Up as Art Galleries


The food here is almost as good as the views. In an art-centric community like Boulder, it’s rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t double up as an art gallery — or at least boast local or unique artwork on the walls.

From high-end sculptures to awe-inspiring architecture to quirky and colorful murals that tell a story, Boulder restaurants look as creative as their menus.

Here are just a few of our favorite places to feast your eyes while you fill your bellies.

1. Dushanbe Tea House

But of course, this amazing restaurant is a work of art like no other. It was hand-built using ancient techniques in Tajikistan (Boulder’s sister city) by more than 40 artists. Details include:

  • the colorful exterior, including eight ceramic panels telling the story of the Tree of Life and a lush flower garden
  • the hand-carved, hand-painted ceiling inside
  • the 12 dramatic, uniquely-carved white pillars
  • the oil-painted artwork on the walls (a blend of Soviet art with ancient Persian influences)
  • and the water feature in the center of the dining hall. Inside this fountain are seven copper sculptures inspired by the poem “The Seven Beauties.”
A sculpture in the Dushanbe Teahouse. Courtesy photo

2. Cheese Importers

Cheese Importers in Longmont is where to go if you like your art French, pastel, a little (OK, a lot) gaudy, retro, cozy and mismatched. This entire restaurant-slash-cheese-store could fill a full Pinterest folder. You will find interesting furniture, artwork, mirrors, sconces, candles, lamps, pillows and table decor everywhere you turn.

An artsy lamp on the bar at Cheese Importers in Longmont. Photo by Aimee Heckel

Don’t miss the less-busy upstairs, where the decor really shines. The private back room is made up of a series of cozy vignettes, all different and beautiful. Pick the table, mismatched chairs and wall hangings that inspires you.

The French-inspired upstairs dining area at Cheese Importers in Longmont. Photo by Aimee Heckel

The outside is also inspiring, especially in the spring and summertime when the flower gardens are in full bloom.

A colorful outdoor seating area at Cheese Importers. Photo by Aimee Heckel

Want to take some of this art home with you? You can. The Cheese Importers is a great place to shop. Both upstairs and downstairs has a wide selection of home goods, kitchen goodies and artwork, both vintage and new, that you can buy.

The Brickstones Kitchen wing of the Embassy Suites in Boulder. Photo by Aimee Heckel

3. Brickstones Kitchen

Brickstones gets its vibe from the hotel it’s stationed in: the ultra-artsy Embassy Suites by Hilton in Boulder. This hotel features more than 1,500 pieces of unique art, many of which are locally made.

Two little woodland statues in the lobby of the Embassy Suites. Photo by Aimee Heckel

A cool thing about Brickstones Kitchen and Bar is how it’s set up. It’s not a separate restaurant, blocked off from the hotel. The tables are scattered throughout one wing of the hotel and blend with the lobby area, which means all of the crazy artwork set up in the halls and lobby is also part of the restaurant decor.

An artsy collection in the lobby of the Embassy Suites. Photo by Aimee Heckel

Make sure you set aside extra time to browse the sculptures, wall exhibits and small collections throughout. Each pocket seems to tell a different story. You never know what you will find here.

Embassy Suites
Artwork in the Embassy Suites’ lobby. Photo by Aimee Heckel

4. Taco Junky

This casual taco joint on University Hill is alive with art. A giant mural painted by local artists Laura McGowan and William Thompson is showcased on one wall. It tells an elaborate and detailed story, following the impact of youth’s political and social impact through the years. You will see lots of musical and pop culture references. Everything on the mural has a purpose and is meant to make you think.

A mural on the wall at Taco Junky. Courtesy photo

Another wall features two large glowing stars around painted eyeballs.

Even the bar is thoughtfully decorated. The tequila bottles glow, seeming to lure you in for just one more marg.

Other artsy restaurants in Boulder County:

Here are some other local restaurants with great art.

A mural outside of Bramble & Hare. Photo by Aimee Heckel

Bramble & Hare: The whole vibe here is artsy, but lowkey artsy. It’s hip, rural, vintage. There’s an old piano, a retro scale in the restroom, repurposed farm equipment and sweet details throughout that will catch your eye and keep you amused throughout your meal.

The giant tree mural and unique light fixtures at Shine. Courtesy photo

Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar: Shine’s new location features a nature-inspired mural across one whole wall, painted by Jake Johanson. He left three leaves unpainted for the three triplets who run the restaurant to each paint, leaving their mark on the wall, before it re-opened.

Lots to look at on the walls of The Sink. Courtesy Photo

The Sink: This is Boulder’s most famous indoor mural. The entire restaurant of this casual burger joint is painted and drawn on, from floor to ceiling.

The Celestial Cafe’ in the Celestial Seasonings tea factory. Courtesy photo

Celestial Seasonings Tea Cafe: If you like the artwork on the Celestial Seasonings tea boxes, you’ll love the charming art on the walls in the Celestial Cafe in Gunbarrel. The art is bright, cozy, cheerful and folksy, inspired by the famous tea labels.

The wine cork art behind a bottle of wine at PMG in Boulder. Photo courtesy of PMG’s Facebook page

PMG Wine

This wine bar and restaurant features a super cool piece of art made entirely out of wine corks. PMG, which stands for Pour ma gueule (French for “for my trap”) offers great wine and locally sourced food in a casual yet sexy environment. While wine is the focus here, the food deserves a nod, too. Food includes the likes of cavatelli with lamb ragu or grilled squid with chickpeas.

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