Best of the U.S. by Local Bloggers Series: I’ve been invited and recognized as part of a select blogger group through the Elite Blogger Series with ShopMoxie.
I’ve lived in Boulder for the last five years and love this small city deeply. Voted Bon Appetit’s Foodiest Town and as Raymond Sokolov wrote in Wall Street Journal, “(Boulder is) the best small city for great meals we know of in this country.” Boulder is filled with wonderful specialties.
Personally, as an Italian (with my Italian dual-citizenship) food has been a central part of my life, since I was born. I love gathering over a table, with food to warm your belly and hearts, laughter, friends and family and yes, always with the wine flowing. Through my food blogging and writing for Eater Denver, I’m always on the look out for the next best thing, the hole in the wall that is hard to find but you would never forget and the essential foodie places you can’t miss. Food after all, connects us across cultures, religions, geography and differences – it binds us.
I’ve compiled six of my favorite “best of Boulder” foodie shops, locales, tours and stops that you can’t miss. Note: this doesn’t include restaurants, (with one exception), that’s another list, another time.
Cured | 1825 B. Pearl Street
Cured is a small, artisan grocery and special foods shop that offers hand-selected cheeses, cured meats, table wines, fresh made daily sandwiches and other unique grocery items. As husband and wife owners, Will and Coral Frishkorn say, they focus on “preserving a personal connection to food.” There’s a story behind every product they hand select; from the small farm in Vermont that produces that special soft cheese to the unique vintage bottle of wine and the vineyard it’s from. Each of their employees are well versed and knowledgeable when it comes to the products and share a joy for food, so your experience as you shop for gifts, for a party you’re hosting or just to browse on your visit to Boulder, is sure to be pleasurable. I try to bring every food-loving visitor here, it’s that good. While you’re browsing the store be sure to try their made-fresh-daily sandwiches posted on the chalkboard or the cheese they always have out on display to sample.
Added Bonus: They share the space with Boxcar Coffee Roasters, a roaster and coffee shop that has a unique heating system that allows them to steep at the perfect temperature (203 degrees to be exact) thus creating the perfect cup of coffee. Ask for their “cowboy coffee” while you shop through Cured. Theirs is amongst the best in Boulder.
Boulder Dushanbe Tea House | 1770 13th Street
I cheated a bit on this one because it is a restaurant but it’s also a cultural milestone in Boulder and its uniqueness is worth mentioning. Boulder has a sister city in the Middle East, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and this tea house was delivered as a gift to Boulder. This tea house was built by hand, without the use of any power tools and shipped across the world to re-assemble thus representing the symbol of friendship and cultural exploration. Rebuilt downtown, on Boulder Creek and alongside where the Boulder Farmers Market occurs twice a week, the teahouse is elaborate, extravagant and a beautiful cultural symbol in Boulder. The ceilings are carved and painted with detailed patters akin to Persian art with bright, vibrant colors and there are 12 cedar columns lining the restaurant; no two columns are alike. You could spend the entire time in there just looking up in awe.
You can order from a plethora of unique hand blended teas and sit outside on their patio along the creek or join them for brunch, lunch or dinner weekly. Their food focuses on international cuisine, so you’re sure to find something from all parts of the world.
For something a little different, I recommend going for their English-inspired Afternoon Tea, which is served, from 3 – 5 p.m. You receive a three-tiered tower of sweet and savory pastries, scones, and cucumber sandwiches, sweet cakes and the chef’s special creation, all created that day. Of course, you also receive a pot of premium tea. The cost is $19.95 per person and reservations are required 24 hours in advance, as everything is prepared the day-of.
Peppercorn | 1235 Pearl Street
Peppercorn is right downtown Boulder, on the infamous Pearl Street, our walking pedestrian mall. One of the older mom and pop / independently owned stores in Boulder, Peppercorn has been open since 1977 and is a 12,000 square-foot gourmet kitchen store. They have kitchen appliances, unique kitchen gadgets, gourmet and imported foods, cookbooks, kitchenware and more.
If you love food, entertaining or simply spending time in your kitchen – this is the store for you. There are multiple rooms and floors and you’re likely to find any type of gadget you may need.
The best part is that the staff quite literally, knows how to find everything. They’re happy to talk about cooking techniques or refer you to a product they love, that you’re looking for and that in itself is impressive. They also host special foodie events such as local food product tastings or cookbook author visits. You can learn more about their events here.
Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour/Factory | 2600 Sleepytime Drive
Founded in Boulder in 1969, their fresh teas were harvested from fresh herbs in the Rocky Mountains by hand, then dried, blended and packaged in hand-sewn muslin bags that were sold at local health food stores. Today, Celestial Seasonings is a household name and they’re one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America. They serve 1.6 billion cups of tea every year and they source more than 100 ingredients from over 35 countries.
Beyond being a great company, they offer free tea tours through their facility to learn about the history of the company and watch the production live. They even generously offer you tea samples throughout the tour to enjoy, sample and taste. These tours are everyday (except major holidays), they leave on the hour and are 45 minutes in length. The crowd favorite is the peppermint room that always clears your sinuses and has shelf after shelf that house all their peppermint. For visitors, you pop out into their gift shop if you want to purchase any of their special gifts or teas. You can learn more about their tours here.
Local Table Tours | Downtown Boulder
Local Table Tours is a Boulder’s premiere food tour company. Owned by Boulderite, Megan Bucholz, (another foodie friend and blogger) she hosts a variety of tours in downtown Boulder. There are dining tours, pastry and coffee tours, cocktail tours, beer tours and market to table tours. On each tour, you can enjoy the downtown sights as you stop by each location. You receive a personal touch from either the chef, manager or even owner sometimes at each of the stops and get an inside view into the locale you’re visiting that you might not get as a regular diner.
Amongst the handful of tours I’ve been on, I also created a custom tour when my family was in town and Megan and her team will work with you to find something that suits your best of Boulder cravings, as well. This is a fun option for visiting guests or if you’re with a bigger group.
Personally, I love the “A Taste of Boulder – Downtown Dining Tour” because they include food and drinks. You’re so full by the end, the price is worth it for how much you receive. Megan is also careful in her selection of the restaurants and locales she works with. This ensures, top quality. You can learn more about the tours and pricing here.
Boulder Farmers Market | 13th street
Started in 1987 in Boulder, Boulder Farmers Market is known nationally for its size and great amounts of farmers and vendors. With over 150 vendors and farmers participating regularly, the farmers market is right downtown alongside the Boulder Creek and Central Park. You can find local farmers, artisan food products, beer gardens, live music, food trucks and great people watching.
It runs every Saturday beginning in April through the third Saturday in November, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and every Wednesday beginning the first Wednesday in May, through the first Wedneday in October 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you’re looking for something a little more low key, visit on Wednesday evenings as Saturdays are often packed and require navigating the crowds. Most vendors offer samples and you’re sure to find the latest small, artisan food vendors that are trying to break into the Boulder food scene. Look for the smoothie stand where you “blend” your fresh fruit smoothie, via bike pedal power (yourself).
The colors, the sights, sounds and food are a perfect way to explore Boulder at its core. I love buying food from one of the food truck vendors and sitting in the park on the creek, enjoying the sights and sunshine. You can learn more about Boulder Farmers Market on their website.
This is a guest post I’ve written over at Shopmoxie you can find the full post here. Note: Photos are either my own, or derived from the company’s website.