While the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on local restaurants, and some such as the Boulder Three Margaritas have closed their doors, others are adapting along with the changing restrictions as best they can to stay afloat by being fluid and flexible. There is still a bevy of eatery options to satisfy whatever craving you might experience after a vigorous hike or relaxing stroll in Boulder. And if you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for the foodie in your life, don’t forget about gift cards! Many of these restaurants are encouraging gift card sales with tempting discounts.
Navigating the COVID restaurant scene might require getting acquainted with some of the technological options that have changed the market in recent years. Some establishments prefer you to order on their website or by calling ahead, since this means they don’t have to pay fees to the ordering platforms (this is the best way that you, as a customer, can ensure that you’re sending the most support you can to local restaurants and small businesses). Others are on Grubhub, Hungry Buffs, Doordash or UberEats. There’s also OpenTable for reservations. If you are sitting at home in your PJs and need mouthwatering visuals to decide what restaurant you will support tonight, go follow @bouldertakeout on Instagram.
On a related note, the city of Boulder is paying the restaurant portion of any third-party delivery fees, so long as you order through the Nosh Boulder app.
If you’re searching for quality seasonal ingredients plus a mini-outdoor food court, the Boulder County Farmers Market is open every Saturday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Nov. 21 on 13th Street between Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue. There are handwashing and hand sanitizer stations, masks are required and the food stands only have outdoor dining available.
Unfortunately, several restaurants have closed permanently during the pandemic, including The Med, Brasserie Ten Ten and Via Perla, which decided to keep their doors closed for good in June. Other COVID-19 casualties include: BRU, Riffs Urban Fare and Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe.
But, on the plus side, there are a few new restaurants in town, despite the challenges of the pandemic.
There’s delicious food available at all price points in Boulder, but here are some options — some brand new, some long-time favorites, some that are adapting in new and innovative ways — that are filling without having to dig too deep into your wallet.
Avanti Food & Beverage
Where: 1401 Pearl Street
Hours: Method Roasters opens at 7 a.m., Other restaurants 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Know before you go: Groups of 6 or fewer can dine-in on a first-come, first-serve, no reservations basis; Currently expanding their winter outdoor seating options; Parking validation at 1434 Spruce St. garage from 6 p.m. to close weekdays and all day on weekends
Happy Hour: 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays and all day Sundays
Avanti is billed as a “modern-day food hall” and it is truly a unique dining experience — and a new one in Boulder, since it opened in early October. Mix and match your meal and accommodate different tastes in your group by choosing from six different mini-restaurants, housed in modified shipping containers. For example, you could warm up with a matcha latte from Method Roasters and start your meal with baba ganoush from Boychik’s middle eastern menu. Then, you might be in the mood for dirty south fried chicken from Rooted Craft American Kitchen and a Bambolini ice cream sandwich from New Yorkese for dessert. Pick up arepas from Quiero Arepas or Taiwanese Gua Bao buns from Pig and Tiger for later. It’ll be a hard choice, especially with additional classics from Rye Society Delicatessen and Picklery.
Where: 1695 29th Street Suite 1248
Hours: 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m daily
Know before you go: Offering curbside and delivery through UberEats.
CAVA is relatively new on the scene (they opened in July!) but an exciting entry in the growing Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant category. The chain spot is perfect for the health-conscious diner who needs something quick and full of nutrition to keep them going. The menu features a selection of bowls, pitas and salads with a mix and match combinations of proteins, greens, grains and veggies. Make dinner simple and feed a whole family for $45 with the customizable Build a Family Meal.
Mustard’s Last Stand
Where: 1719 Broadway
Hours: Open every day 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Know before you go: Offering curbside and delivery through Grubhub or Hungry Buffs. There’s a patio in the parking lot for outdoor seating.
If you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned Chicago-style hot dog, then look no further than the iconic and punny Mustard’s Last Stand. Chicago native Dan Polovin founded two stands in Denver and Boulder in 1978 after he kept running into Chicagoan-turned-Coloradans who couldn’t find a good dog. For those who don’t care to eat their meat in delicious cylinders, there are also burgers, hot sandwiches and vegetarian options.
Where: 2716 28th Street
Hours: Mon – Sat 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; Sun 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Know before you go: Offering curbside through Toast, still offering distanced indoor dining and spacious outdoor dining space
Sometimes nothing hits the spot like a good, flavorful plate of diner food. If you need that fix, make sure to hit up Dot’s Diner on 28th. Schedule a pickup online and leave with both breakfast and lunch and a cappuccino to wash it all down. There’s a vast selection of the classics: stacks of pancakes, biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros and patty melts. There is Nepali fare on offer too, including chai curries made in-house. For vegetarians and gluten-free folks, there are varied options ranging from gluten-free flapjacks to Saag tofu curry.
Spruce Farm & Fish at The Hotel Boulderado
Where: 2115 13th Street
Hours: Brunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily; Happy Hour: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily; Dinner: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily; Corner Bar open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Know before you go: Indoor dining reservations accepted through Open Table and by calling with a maximum of 10 people per table. Indoor 25 percent capacity is 30 people currently. Order online with Doordash for pickup or delivery.
While you can order pickup or delivery from Spruce Farm & Fish, part of the charm is dining in The Hotel Boulderado’s original dining room, which is Boulder’s oldest continuously operated restaurant. The room is sun-drenched by arched windows with beautiful chandeliers and pillars scattered throughout. But whether you enjoy Spruce’s fare in its historic setting or in the comfort of your own home, there is plenty here to nosh on for when you’re in the mood for some finer dining. Go for the quiche of the day if you’re there early enough or treat yourself to a prime rib and glass of cabernet sauvignon for dinner. The speakeasy-style bar also housed in The Hotel Boulderado, License No. 1, is closed, but there are cocktails and beers aplenty to choose from at Spruce.
Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
Where: 1770 13th Street
Hours: Tues-Thurs and Sun: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fri and Sat: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Know before you go: Call for dine-in reservations. Parties of 6 or fewer allowed, ample space in the dining room and outside. The Teahouse asks people to limit their visit for breakfast, brunch, lunch and teatime to 75 minutes and to 90 minutes for dinner. Curbside pickup orders available through Toast.
The Dushanbe Teahouse is a Boulder landmark and remains a popular place to have a tea party, even in the COVID era. The Teahouse has significantly expanded its patio seating and is planning on erecting tents for COVID-safe winter dining. If you can snag a reservation inside, you can marvel at the hand-carved pillars and carved and painted ceiling decorated in the centuries-old style of Persian artisan work. The Teahouse was gifted to Boulder by its sister city, Dushanbe, Tajikistan in 1990. Stop by for breakfast, lunch, dinner or tea time from 3 to 5 p.m.
Where: 1039 Pearl Street
Hours: Brunch Fri-Sun 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner Mon-Sun 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Know before you go: Dine-in reservations as well as pickup and delivery available online. Dine-in reservations are available to parties of eight or fewer.
You can’t miss The Kitchen in Boulder at the corner of Pearl and 11th Streets. The decidedly upscale eatery founded by Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk (younger brother of Elon) offers a seasonal menu of classics with fascinating combinations. The brunch menu features chilaquiles with chicken, pumpkin mole, pumpkin seeds and all the usual fixings of cotija cheese, pickled red onion, radish and cilantro. For dinner, you might try the foie gras with candied cranberry mostarda (Italian condiment made with mustard-flavored syrup). For dessert, you might try the twist on a classic PB & J with peanut butter mousse, pomegranate, angel food cake and peanut wafer. To polish off your special meal, don’t forget the expansive wine menus (yes, there are multiple).
Meanwhile, the same team behind Next Door American Eatery has developed a new mobile ordering app called Next Door ON Demand that makes it easy to view the menu, order food to your table and pay — all hands-free.