We are lucky here in Boulder to have a plethora of special restaurants that continually wow us. There are however, unique ways to uncover the culinary spoils of this area beyond sitting at a table for dinner service. I’ve been compiling (and experiencing) these and realized these local purveyors deserve shout-outs in a big way, curated here together.
- Local Table Tours [$]: Megan and I first met because she found my blog and invited me on her dining tour in 2010. I’ve been on a couple tours since then and one time I put together a custom dining tour with Megan for my mom when she was in town which is a great gift or idea for visitors. These are special because the groups are intimate and you get to personally interact with the chef/owner of each location, while sampling special dishes and/or drinks made just for your group. I always leave full! Even if you’re from the area, you will likely learn more than you realized as it’s not just for tourists. Megan has since expanded to also offer: coffee and pastry tours, cocktail tours, market to table tours and a cheese tasting tour. If you’re interested in setting something up, I encourage you to check out Local Table Tours (they also have tours in Denver). http://www.localtabletours.com
- Fork Social Lab [$]: I recently visited with Christina of FORK and wrote about their culinary classes, experiences and community-centric engagements. Operating remotely throughout the Boulder/Denver area, Christina’s exact vision and words for FORK are to: “create and collaborate on fun and memorable experiences based around food, drink and conviviality.” From artisan sausage making class at The Bitter Bar with Chef Joe Arena to a spicy chocolate class at Savory Spice Shop to an Italian Cooking Demo and dinner with Chef Valerio Castellano, there’s really something for everyone as FORK helps arrange with local culinary stars, and you just have to show up and enjoy. To stay up to date, sign up for their newsletter and you can of course see their adventures and classes on their website here. http://forksociallab.squarespace.com/
- My Handle Bar [$]: This one is probably one of the more unique of the group. Let me paint a picture – a 16-seat “bicycle-bar” that cruises down the road, powered by a screaming group of 16 pedaling with all their might (with one driver “steering”). My Handle Bar has routes in Boulder and Fort Collins and I’ve participated on media tours, birthdays and just for fun. It’s always a blast. They always bring a “designated driver” who steers while everyone else pedals and you stop at various bars (your choice where you want to go within the Boulder route downtown) over the course of a few hours, run into the bar, enjoy your drinks, then pedal onto the next place. Things worth noting: pedaling is a lot more work than you think, bring your iPod or iPhone to bump your own personal music (they have a system setup), be sure you’re with your favorite people because it’s a blast and everyone stares at you and finally, yes, you will likely be more than buzzed at the end (if you participate in drinking that is). http://www.myhandlebar.com/
- Culinary Classes [$]: My friend Lacy of Laughing Lemon Pie and Yellow Scene Magazine has a great piece featuring the different culinary classes that are options around the Boulder area. It ranges from Escoffier Cooking School, to cooking classes at local restaurants from their chefs, to Simple Spoon cooking classes to Stir It Up Cooking for young chefs. You can read that article here since she has everything you would need right there.
- Brewery, Winery and Distillery Tours [FREE]: Colorado has about 140 breweries statewide and has repeatedly ranked highest in beer production per capita and for number of breweries (Denver in particular). Boulder Distillery is one of the few distillers of potato vodka, Boulder Beer is Colorado’s first microbrewery and Redstone Meadery, which makes honey wine are all worth noting. With so many breweries in Boulder, they all offer a tour (usually free) in some capacity. You can find a list of breweries, wineries and distilleries in Boulder here.
- Boulder Brew Bus [$]: In conjunction with Banjo Billy’s Bus and West End Tavern you can hop on the bus to sample beers from some of the top breweries in the area. Also included in the bus tour is dinner and dessert as well as a complimentary appetizer for a future visit at West End Tavern. The bus tours run from April – October, every Sunday starting at 5:45 PM. Reservations are required: (303) 444-3535. You can learn more about the tour here and here on West End’s site.
- Celestial Seasonings Tour [FREE]: Celestial Seasonings is one of Boulder’s iconic brands. Started in 1969 where they harvested herbs from the Rocky Mountains by hand and sold them at local health stores, it has now become a household name globally. They serve more than 1.6 billion cups of tea every year, and source more than 100 different ingredients from over 35 countries. This tour is one of the things that as a local, you probably don’t think to do (at times, it can be hokey) but I’ve brought many out of town guests on it and it’s free, sweet and short. The tours are 45 minutes in length and the tours are everyday, from 10 AM-4 PM. You can make group reservations and while you’re touring the factory, you can even sample their seasonal tea. There’s a gift shop at the end of the tour with a lot of Celestial products and my favorite room is the mint room. That will clear up your sinuses. You can learn more about the tour here.
These are the excursions I’ve taken part in personally. Did I miss any? What would you include to this list? Happy trails!