It’s no secret that last year was a hard year for bars and restaurants because of the coronavirus pandemic. And even this year, as COVID-related restrictions ease, many eateries are still grappling with labor and supply chain issues.
Now, in addition to dining in and ordering takeout, you can help support Boulder County’s beloved restaurants yet another way, as First Bite Boulder County Restaurant Week returns this fall. The nine-day event, now in its 16th year, will be held Oct. 8-17 and will offer three different price levels for participants: $29, $39 and $49.
Last year, First Bite had to cancel its annual restaurant week because of the pandemic, successfully pivoting to instead create the “A Bite of Boulder” cookbook featuring recipes from local restaurants. Sale proceeds from the book also went to Boulder County restaurants.
This year, the event’s organizers are excited to be back in action with a star-studded list of participating restaurants — both new and old.
“My original goal in 2019 was to evolve First Bite into a deeper community of like-minded diners, patrons who cared more about the people making the food or the stories behind each restaurant more than the price of their dinner,” said First Bite producer Jessica Benjamin. “Writing ‘A Bite of Boulder’ really showed us that the community’s enthusiasm for our local restaurants is unwavering, and their appetite for getting to know them more intimately is stronger than ever.”
This year’s First Bite Restaurant Week will include:
- Avery Brewing Co.
- Bohemian Biergarten
- Boulder Cork
- Brasserie Boulder
- Cafe Aion
- Centro Mexican Kitchen
- Chautauqua Dining Hall
- Dagabi Tapas Bar
- Dry Storage
- Fringe, A Well-Tapped Eatery
- OAK at Fourteenth
- River & Woods
- Sforno Trattoria Romana
- Ska Street Brewstillery
- The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
- The Empire Lounge & Restaurant
- The Greenbriar Inn
- The Post Brewing Co.
- West End Tavern
Since she took over restaurant week in 2019, Benjamin has tried to make the week-long event more diverse and inclusive.
And her efforts are paying off: Many new restaurants are participating for the first time, including T/aco, which will offer all-you-can-eat tacos and all-you-can-drink margaritas for 90-minute periods.
“Working with First Bite will give us a very unique opportunity to offer up our favorite guests a new and original way to enjoy dinner at T/aco,” said owner Peter Waters. “We are incredibly excited to invite Boulder to join us this fall for the return of First Bite. We will be waiting with open arms and tacos for days.”
First Bite plans to share menus and open up reservations for this year’s participating restaurants next month.
“We have the most engaged and most enthusiastic restaurants ready to welcome our deeply engaged foodie community,” Benjamin said. “I am so proud of the 27 restaurants that are joining First Bite to celebrate what we’ve all been through these past 18 months. Diners are eager, chefs are excited — it’s going to be a fabulous week.”
Also new this year: First Bite is partnering with Local Table Tours to offer preview tours and group tastings. The preview tours are scheduled for Sept. 25 and Oct. 2; tickets are $95 and available online from Local Table Tours. Participants in small groups will get a sneak peek — and taste — of what will be on the menu during restaurant week.
First Bite is also collaborating with Table Mountain Farms in Longmont to host a dessert competition featuring Table Mountain’s gourmet caramel sauces.
The organization is also partnering with local food delivery service Nosh Boulder for Dine Out Give Back, a fundraising effort that benefits the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA). From Oct. 8-17, 10 percent of all orders placed through Nosh Boulder will go directly to EFAA, which supports families in need through its food bank and other programs and services.
“When Nosh Boulder started their Give Back Mondays, I knew we had to partner with them for First Bite,” Benjamin said. “They are owned and operated by local independent restaurants and they truly work to support the larger Boulder community.”