The Rio Grande

by Jessica on August 21, 2011

Despite The Rio’s prominent location on Walnut alongside popular bars and pedestrian passageways, the rooftop disguises the space as a tropical escape as opposed to an urban hotspot. Diners are cooled with mist from the moment they step foot on the patio and cacti create an ambiance similar to a Southwestern landscape.

Due to the long wait for an outdoor seat on a Tuesday night (who would’ve thunk?), we opted to sit at one of their community style picnic tables. Skeptical of what this might mean and why the originally proposed hour wait magically disappeared, we readily accepted the offer. Though I was dining with two friends, this is a great option for solo diners, quick drinks and appetizers, or anyone looking for a more than average dining experience.

Immediately upon being seated we ordered The Rio’s standard margarita: rocks no salt. I had high hopes after hearing all the hype, and the first sip instantly confirmed everything I had heard: strong, delicious, and absolutely worth the $6.50. The three drink minimum confirms my first point, drinkers beware.

We started with the Queso containing melted cheese and a fresh pico de gallo, served with chips. I honestly have never been a fan of queso because I honestly cannot tell the difference between melted cheese and gourmet queso, but I humored my friends and agreed to sample the dip. To me, The Rio’s queso tasted like a standard melted cheese dip with a little heat, yet it is exactly what I was craving after downing a margarita.

I also sampled my friend’s Tortilla Soup. Hotter than I imagined, the water-based soup was layered with tortilla strips and scattered with flavor. Next time, order it with chicken.

For my main course, I opted for the Tequila Shrimp Tacos by the suggestion of our waitress. The tacos (two) were served open faced with some slaw and a drizzle of sauce, which I perceived to be some type of aioli, alongside steamed veggies and Spanish rice. The presentation had absolute potential, but the tacos looked bare with the few baby shrimp and skimpy on the slaw and sauce. It is easy to fluff up a dish like this with fillers such as copious amounts of shredded veggies, salsa, beans etc. Since they were served open faced, the dish may easily arouse excitement from any foodie when the dish arrives in front of you because they look huge. Yet when you roll them up ready-to-eat, each taco consists of about three or four bites. Good, not great; next time I would try the Blackened Mahi option.

The Rio is the ideal spot for a late afternoon cocktail and appetizer. The rooftop patio is incomparable to any other Boulder eatery and the margaritas are top notch, though I cannot say the same about the rest of the options on their menu. The menu went past a standard mexican restaurant, with options such as Chile Rellenos and Flautas de Pollo, but I was not impressed with their originality, quality or service.

Agave Mexican Bistrot & Tequila House

by Emily Kane on August 15, 2011

2845 28th St


I was a little skeptical at how great this place would be when we pulled into an old strip-mall north of 28th street. However, when we walked in I was taken aback by the high class decor and immediately felt under dressed and under prepared.

The traditional menu was expansive with something for everyone-we didn’t even know where to begin! We finally decided on the Tequila Tempura Shrimp which were absolutely delicious. Between the three of us there simply weren’t enough to go around. The tempura was very light, just enough to give the shrimp a needed crunch without the heavy, deep fried feel. The accompanying sauce was a sort of chipotle cocktail sauce and really brought out the slight tequila flavors.

For our main entrees we each ordered something a little different. Our resident vegetarian ordered a bean and cheese burrito which arrived fully stuffed. While I prefer something a little more carnivorous, I must say it was pretty darn tasty.

I ordered the Enchiledas Verde. They arrived swimming in a deliciously spicy green chile tomatillo sauce filled with juicy shredded chicken.

Lastly, we ordered the fish tacos. Served open faced they were towered with bits of fish, cabbage, and hearty pieces of avocado. It was very light although lacked flavor. I would’ve preferred a little more seasoning.

I absolutely love fried ice cream and have it whenever I can. Agave’s fried ice cream is served differently to what I am accustomed. Arriving in a giant taco shell coated with generous amounts of cinnamon and chocolate sauce, the dessert was delicious. Even my reluctant friends devoured it faster than the ice cream could melt!

While Agave is a little pricier than your average college meal, and slightly off the beaten path, I would highly suggest it for family dinners or even a first date!

The Laughing Goat Coffeehouse

by Emily Kane on August 12, 2011

1709 Pearl Street


Boulder is jam packed with locally owned coffee houses each offering something unique to coffee-house fiends. The Laughing Goat has two locations; one conveniently placed in Norlin Library (on CU’s campus) and another on East End Pearl St. Both locations are run by well-trained, friendly baristas, creating a truly welcoming atmosphere.

While all of their beverages are handcrafted and truly to die for, I love the Venetian Creme on a warm summers day. True to its name this drink is sweet and creamy and packed with caffeine. All it takes is a small twelve ounce cup to have you wired in the library for hours: a perfect study break treat.









More than just coffee, The Laughing Goat offers a wide variety of pastries, sandwiches (both breakfast and lunch), and calzones. For breakfast I really love the ham, egg, and cheese croissant. It is just rich enough where you feel like you’re truly indulging but with enough substance to get your day started. However, make sure you microwave your sandwich thoroughly or else suffer from rubbery ham and slippery cheese…definitely not a great way to begin the day.

I have tried a variety of their lunch sandwiches but truly enjoy their caprese. Huge chunks of mozzarella are lightly brushed in balsamic vinegar and nicely complemented by the savory roasted tomatoes. It’s a really nice afternoon pick-me-up and at a great price to boot!

The Laughing Goat on Pearl is also host to live music and other events almost every night making it a nice place to unwind after a long day. While I have yet to attend one of their open mic nights they are rumored to be fantastic. Whether on campus or down on Pearl, I highly suggest The Laughing Goat for a cozy and accessible place to grab coffee, food and rev up for your day!

Boulder Organic Pizzeria

by Emily Kane on July 28, 2011

1175 Walnut Street

The Boulder Organic Pizzeria, or the BOP as it is more fondly called, is a locally owned Italian pizzeria located on the corner of Broadway and Walnut. I have walked by this restaurant countless times on my way to Pearl Street but had yet to check it out. When I walked inside I was pleasantly surprised by the high ceilings and open kitchen.





While its name suggests it is just a pizzeria, the BOP has an extensive menu with a variety of Italian appetizers and entrees. I have always loved calamari so when I noticed it on the menu I had to give it a try. A decently sized plate arrived with a hearty cup of cocktail sauce. The calamari itself was a little too greasy for my taste and could have been fried for a bit longer, but the horseradish infused cocktail sauce and lemon juice lent a hand and saved the dish. We also ordered the focaccia, an Italian wheat bread, to start. It was served lightly toasted and garnished with rosemary and basil. I really enjoyed the bread, especially when dunked in balsamic vinegar!

The BOP showcases a “Mezza Luna” pizza, a half calzone half pizza concoction. I had never heard of such a thing and was excited to give it a try. We ordered the Napoletena.  The calzone side was served stuffed with ricotta and finochiona, a similar meat to pepperoni, and the pizza side was served as a margherita pizza. The creamy ricotta was bursting out of the calzone and was fantastic when dipped in the red sauce. The margherita pizza was also very good. With plenty of fresh tomatoes and basil, this pizza did not lack in flavor.

I ordered the Devil’s Thumb, described as a spicy margherita pizza served with finochiona, roasted peppers, and spice. Although you cannot see in the photo, beneath the arugula are plenty of spicy finochiona pieces and a delicious spicy, red sauce. The spices were not overwhelming and perfectly complimented the savory finochiona. I absolutely loved this pizza.

Both pizzas were heartily sized and made for perfect leftovers the next day! The cozy atmosphere and fantastic pizza make the BOP a great place to eat. Additionally, the BOP has an acclaimed gluten free pizza crust which can be substituted on every pizza at no additional cost. The BOP has recently been added to HungryBuffs’s online ordering. So the next time you’re craving pizza, and are too comfy to leave the couch, treat yourself and opt to order the BOP!

Illegal Pete’s

by Emily Kane on July 17, 2011

1320 College Avenue


A great local competitor to Chipotle and Qdoba, Illegal Pete’s homegrown goodness is a must for any burrito lovers out there. With two locations in Boulder, one on The Hill and one on Pearl St., their wide variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options has something for you at any time.

I ordered from their Hill location, and their speedy service sent me home in no time, greedily clutching my bag of goodies. I started with their homemade chips. Impossibly thin and crunchy, they are perfect when paired with a side of salsa or their guacamole (pictured). Their almost sweet flavor, contrasted by the salt, is absolutely to die for. My only complaint is that there were too few!

For my main course I ordered a steak burrito with black beans, pico de gallo, shredded cheese, and sour cream. This burrito was so large I needed two hands in order to even begin to manage it. Packed with flavor, the steak was juicy and tender, thankfully not overly chewy as some burrito meat tends to be. Although I would’ve preferred less rice, the rest of the ingredients were not overshadowed and I was left perfectly content after my meal!

In addition to their fantastic quesadillas, burritos, and tacos, Illegal Pete’s serves enormously delicious breakfast sandwiches, perfect after a late night. I love Illegal Pete’s and highly suggest it when you’ve got the itch for some tasty Mexican food – it’ll definitely curb your cravings!

You & Mee Noodle House

by Emily Kane on July 15, 2011

1311 Broadway Street


On my way to work I popped into You & Mee Noodle House for an early dinner. A friendly older woman behind the cash register greeted me. Starving, and unable to make a decision, she suggested I try the Udon noodle stir-fry. I decided to go with it and chose to add shrimp to my entrée and also added an order of shrimp spring rolls as an appetizer.

The shrimp spring roll arrived first, accompanied by a dish of peanut sauce. The spring rolls were filled with cold vermicelli noodles and shrimp all rolled in a sticky rice paper. While the rolls themselves had little flavor, when dipped in the rich peanut sauce the crunch of the cold spring rolls were nicely complemented by the savory peanut taste.

Next my stir-fry arrived, and the large portion pleasantly surprised me. The thick udon noodles were coated in a yummy spicy-sweet sauce and mixed with crunchy vegetables. Moreover, the dish was topped off with more than a half dozen fresh shrimp. I had trouble finishing my meal, not due to poor quality, but between the rich flavors and large portion I had to stop myself before reaching a food coma!

While perhaps not the swankiest Asian restaurant in Boulder, You & Mee Noodle House has great tasting food at reasonable prices in a fantastic location! I really enjoyed my meal and will be sure to try their bao buns and Pho (a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup) on my next visit. The next time you’re on the hill and craving Asian cuisine I highly suggest you give this place a try!

Pasta Jay’s

by Emily Kane on July 9, 2011

1001 Pearl Street


My roommate and I were craving something rich and warm, a comforting meal to curb the homesick blues, so headed out to Pasta Jay’s–the infamous Italian restaurant on the west end of Pearl Street. When we arrived, there were about fifteen other people all crammed in the waiting room desperate to get out of the rain. Fortunately, the wait was all of ten minutes and we were seated in a tiny but cozy table (warning: the wait is usually a bit longer than ten minutes on a busy night).

Pasta Jay’s has all of the typical Italian-American dishes. I started with the spinach and arugula salad. It was decently prepared, with plenty of Gorgonzola cheese, but was missing that extra pizzazz and there wasn’t nearly enough dressing to cover the entire salad. Next I ordered one of the night’s specials, a portabella mushroom cap stuffed with a mélange of cheese over a bed of spaghetti and topped with marinara sauce. I was warned it was rich, and boy was it!

Although the meal wasn’t life changing, it was definitely what I was looking for that night. My roommate’s order, tortellini baked in a small ceramic dish, was also very satisfying, reminiscent of a delicious home-cooked meal.

Our waitress could not have been nicer and was very attentive throughout our meal. The cute bus boys were a definite plus as well! I would suggest Pasta Jay’s for families with picky eaters, as there’s something on the menu for everyone. The intimate and lively atmosphere also made for a very enjoyable experience. If you’re looking for a dependable Italian restaurant, Pasta Jay’s is for you!

Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar

by Emily Kane on July 2, 2011

1200 Yarmouth Avenue


There’s something about summer air that just screams to be accompanied by Italian food. Recently, my roommate discovered Bacco Mozzarella Bar in far North Boulder and fell in love. After she dragged me out there I understood why.

The restaurant is beautiful, clean, and spacious with a full service bar, patio, and plenty of indoor seating. As Bacco is a self-proclaimed mozzarella bar, we had to try some as our appetizer. With four different cheese choices we opted for the Bufala mozzarella, a high grade and very creamy mozzarella. It was accompanied by prosciutto, pesto, and a lightly sautéed mix of peppers and tomatoes. The three large balls of mozzarella and various condiments allowed for a very delicious build-it-yourself hors d’oeuvre. I was even more impressed, and pleasantly so, by the size of the dish. Between the two of us we struggled to keep enough room for the rest of our meal!

As for our main course we chose the lunch special : your choice of over seven different raviolis (from cheese to lobster), and five different sauces and a side salad. My friend paired her spinach and ricotta ravioli with a traditional tomato basil sauce. While very simple, it was nicely prepared and the tomato sauce was fresh and light – perfect for a summer afternoon.

I opted for the wild mushroom ravioli with sage butter sauce. It arrived in a deep bowl swimming in a shallow puddle of sauce. The ravioli were tender and stuffed with whole pieces of tiny mushrooms. Although it was butter sauce, the sage flavors kept it from becoming too heavy (and there was just enough to dunk some leftover bread into it!). I absolutely loved this dish, and the sauce.

Although the portions appear small, they are appropriately sized when paired with an appetizer. I really appreciated the attention to detail and the flavors that were consciously added to each dish. The simplicity allowed us to savor the flavors, and the meal.

After my first visit to Bacco, I would highly suggest it to Italian food lovers. While a little more upscale for a casual dinner, Bacco is a fantastic for a first date (or 100th) or even a nice family dinner. While its location is a little further removed from Boulder’s main business district, it is most definitely worth the trip!


by Emily Kane on July 1, 2011

1047 Pearl Street


I have an unhealthy addiction to salt, that lovely chemical compound, so when I discovered Boulder was home to a restaurant by that very name I simply had to check it out. On the corner of 11th and Pearl, SALT is an intimate and upscale bistro with a unique menu. SALT’s philosophy is that food should take the shortest route from farm to table and they practice what they preach serving only locally grown veggies and meat.

Before each meal the restaurant showcases two different salts. On this occasion, there was hickory smoked salt (right) and a Brazilian sea salt (left). I tested the hickory-smoked salt with a little bread and butter, which created an incredible juxtaposition of flavors. The savory flavor of the salt contrasted the sweet bread perfectly.

We ordered the Braised Lasater Ranch Oxtail Ravioli, listed under the small plate section, to start. The tender ravioli was stuffed with shredded meat, served over a bed of sautéed spinach, and topped with a creamy red-wine sauce. The rich sauce was further enhanced by the creamy pieces of goat cheese. Although small, it was a truly delicious, and rich, way to begin the meal.

For my main entrée I ordered the rosemary rotisserie half chicken. The chicken arrived in a deep dish, cut into pieces and set atop chunky mashed potatoes, mushroom caps, and thick asparagus. A fancier version of a country feast, this entrée was rich in flavor and did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed the addition of cinnamon to the savory flavors of the meat and potatoes. While chicken has the tendency to be overcooked, it was perfectly prepared by SALT.

The lively ambience and fantastic service was the cherry on top of a lovely dining experience. Although expensive, the food, and experience, is well worth the price tag. I highly suggest SALT for anyone looking for fresh, locally grown food in a fun bistro atmosphere.

Daphne’s California Greek

by Emily Kane on July 1, 2011

1695 29th St. #1249


Growing up in Chicago, I was spoiled with fantastic Greek restaurants and because of my fiendish obsession with garlic and lemon; it quickly became some of my favorite food. Ever since moving to Colorado I have been searching for a good Greek restaurant to feed my cravings. That’s how I discovered Daphne’s. Conveniently located in 29th Street Mall, Daphne’s is reasonably priced, tasty, fast food Greek.

One of my favorite items on their menu is the fire feta burger. It’s a Greek rendition of the classic American burger, a beef patty smothered in spicy feta and tucked between two pieces of pita. Boy does it hit the spot. Although it’s definitely more on the fast food side, this burger is always very flavorful and not as obscenely greasy as most fast food burgers. The spiced feta is not overwhelmingly hot but packs just the right amount of punch. I opted for a side of fries and although they were great I would have preferred a larger portion for the extra two dollars I paid!

Since I can never pass up baklava, I always grab a piece when I’m at Daphne’s. A little gooier than most, Daphne’s baklava is crunchy and packed with sweet honey flavor.

Although it may not stack up to Greektown in Chicago, Daphne’s California Greek hits the spot and leaves your wallet intact. With fast and friendly service, it’s great for a quick bite before a movie or a late night craving.