Zoe Ma Ma

by dan on June 30, 2011


Anyone who knows me, knows how obsessed I am with asian food.  Good japanese and Indian restaurants such as Japengo and Tandoori Grill  are easy to come across in Boulder.  But when it comes to good Chinese food, this town is hurting.  That is until Zoe Ma Ma opened last year on 10th street right off of the pearl st. mall.  Don’t expect to find your average american chinese sesame chicken dish here.  Mama brings a unique style of chinese food from Asia and boy can mama cook!  My favorite thing about this restaurant is their dim-sum menu.  I grew up loving dim-sum and its always a challenge to find some quality dim sum.

I started off with four original pot stickers and they were some of the best pot stickers I’ve ever had.  According to the menu, its a top secret recipe so I won’t give away too much information (I don’t want to piss off mama!)  But the pot stickers are big and stuffed with pork, shrimp, garlic chives and vegetables.  When dipped in spicy soy sauce it has the perfect flavor.  I devoured the first two and then remembered I had to take pictures!

Then the “CPR” came out.  Normally it consists of chicken and potato mixed with gravy served over rice, but I was in the mood for noodles so substituted the rice with noodles.

The description on the menu reads “It’s so good, you’ll need it.”  The menu never lies.  Two chicken breasts (not cut up) mixed with potatoes and cool noodles was definitely something I’ve never experienced before.  The combination was simply perfect.

I can finally say that I found my chinese joint in Boulder.  It only took me 5 years! “Its quality for your tummy and Mama approved.”


Thai Avenue

by Jessica on June 30, 2011

1310 College Ave.


How many times have you passed by the food court on the Hill and wondered what’s in there and who goes there? Or, like my roommates, do you even know where the food court is? I, too, was skeptical of the quality of the food in a fast-food style food court, yet after reading countless outstanding reviews about Thai Avenue, I decided it was time to give it a try.

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One great thing about a food court is it enables everyone in the party to get what he or she would like. With options like Indian, Thai, Shish kabobs and pizza, this food court is sure to please.

I opted for Pad Kee-Mow (Drunken Noodle), thick rice noodles stir-fried with mixed vegetables. I was turned on to this dish by my dad, someone who can never have it hot enough, a few years ago. Typically, the dish is very spicy with vegetables such as red and green peppers, thai basil, and maybe tomatoes or baby corn. But there, I loved that Thai Avenue asked me how hot I’d like it, even though the dish traditionally is served hot. The noodles were flavorful and fresh, and piled sky-high on the plate.

Additionally, I sampled the Thai Spring Roll, which came stuffed with bean thread noodles, carrot & cabbage, served with a homemade chili sauce. This spring roll absolutely blew me away. Probably because their food is so quick and fresh, the outside was so crispy and inside was warm and cooked to perfection. I usually stay clear of fried food, but this one left me guilt free and didn’t taste like it had been soaking in oil. To make it even better, the chili sauce was the perfect dip and had the ideal amount of heat.

Of course, atmosphere is something that Thai Avenue lacks. But the convenience, speedy service, huge portions and deliciously authentic Thai cuisine simply cannot be beat. Best of all, it passes my regular test: the place is operated by Thai people, and the only other patrons in the space were Thai. I will be returning ASAP to check out the curries and stir fries.

Khow Thai

by Zoey Ripple on June 24, 2011

1600 Broadway Street


Thai food is one of my absolute top favorite foods. The exotic Thai spices combined with the flavors of coconut, lime, and peanut creates delicious curries, noodle dishes, and soups. Being a Thai food fanatic, I discovered Khow Thai three years ago when I arrived in Boulder. Since then, I have been a frequent customer as all of their dishes are tasty, and the meals are perfect to share with large parties of people. On this past visit, the food was not as good as usual but I learned that the main chefs are cooking on Saturdays and Sundays, which does make a difference in the quality of the food.

Individual bowls of complementary soup are always brought out for the table prior to ordering. The soup, Tom Yum, tastes slightly like a mild sweet and sour sauce, and is served with tofu, mushrooms, tomato, ginger, and cilantro. Truthfully, I, as well as those I have brought to the restaurant, have never been the biggest fan of the soup. For our hors d’oeuvre, we ordered Spring Rolls with Shrimp. The rolls were served nicely chilled with shrimp, crisp lettuce, and carrots wrapped in a chewy rice paper, and served with Hoisin sauce (a Chinese dipping sauce) topped with chopped peanuts. The Spring Rolls were the perfect light and fresh starter for our meal.

The main entrees, at Khow Thai, are perfect for sharing. They are large portions, are all served with the option of white or brown rice, and can all be ordered with a choice of vegetables, sea food, beef, chicken, or tofu. The Chicken Peanut Stir Fry was served with strips of chicken and steamed vegetables with a spicy peanut sauce. On this visit, the sauce was too thick of a consistency for my liking, but flavors of the dish were satisfactory despite this. I never fail to order Pad Thai when I visit Khow Thai. The stir-fried rice noodles are never overcooked, and it is impossible (even for the pickiest of eaters) not to like the dish, which is served with scrambled egg, crispy bean sprouts, and topped with coarsely chopped peanuts and lime.

Curries at Khow Thai are truly delicious. This time, I deviated from my standard Green Curry, and ordered the Yellow Curry with chicken. The base in the Yellow Curry is a creamy coconut milk spiced with curry powder over tender chicken, carrots, soft potatoes, and peanuts. I’m convinced; this curry truly MUST be the comfort food of Thailand.  Lastly, we ordered the Pad Kee Mow. The dish was flat rice noodles with fresh chili, garlic, bell pepper, basil leaves, tomato, onion, and broccoli. And it was SPICY! My palate fortunately is used to unusually spicy foods, however the meal had a member of our party with tears in her eyes courtesy of the spice. So BEWARE, those who cannot handle the heat, stray from the items on the menu with chili peppers by their name! The service at Khow Thai is not the best, but the little Thai restaurant never fails to bring in customers.

It is an excellent restaurant for students, as the prices are low and I always leave the restaurant very full and very satisfied.

Walnut Brewery

by Emily Kane on June 19, 2011

1123 Walnut Street


While the Walnut Brewery is famous for their in-house brews, my age restricted me from trying them out (but they seemed pretty popular with our neighboring patrons) so I opted for something a little less fermented. I began with their homemade strawberry lemonade. Nicely balanced between sweet and sour, it was a great thirst quencher on a hot afternoon.

To start off our meal we ordered the Firecracker Shrimp. The shrimp were lightly battered and fried, coated in a spicy Thai chili sauce and generous amounts of cilantro. The flavors were intense but the cream based ginger dip that accompanied them helped to lessen the burn. They were so delicious they didn’t last longer than five minutes on the table.

For dinner my friend ordered the mac n’ chicken while I opted for the Bourbonzola steak sandwich. The mac n’ chicken was served baked in a ceramic dish covered in parmesan breadcrumbs. The pieces of chicken were very thin and hidden throughout the creamy macaroni. I would’ve preferred heartier pieces of meat but overall the dish was pretty good.

My Bourbonzola sandwich was pretty incredible. The steak was thick and juicy, a lot less greasy than traditional hamburger meat, and covered with melty gorgonzola cheese. The sandwich was topped off with loads of crispy onion “straws” (thinly cut onions, lightly breaded and fried) and a thick buttery bun. The bourbon sauce served on the side was very sweet but was a great juxtaposition to the savory flavor of the meat. The Bourbonzola was a rich dish overall, but was not weak in flavor. I would suggest this option for the more adventurous palate, and hungry stomach.

While our server was a little quirkier than most, he was very attentive and we had an enjoyable dinner. The high ceilings and open cased beer casks give the Walnut Brewery a large-scale tavern feeling. Great for family dinners, friend get-togethers, or even a laid-back office party, the Walnut Brewery was a really great dining experience!

Hapa on The Hill

by Emily Kane on June 17, 2011

1220 Pennsylvania Avenue


Hapa is popular with college students and true Boulderites alike. With two locations in Boulder, one on Pearl St. and one on the Hill, Hapa is always hoppin’. While the Pearl St. location is always packed and energized, Hapa on the Hill maintains the modern sushi den feel with a more laid-back attitude.

Hapa’s menu has many traditional appetizers and sushi in addition to their own cleverly named specialty rolls. To begin, we ordered the ginger pork gyoza (pot-sticker) and yaki onigiri. The gyoza was served with a side of spicy soy sauce which, mixed with the ginger flavors, made for a lighter starter than traditional pot-stickers. Yaki onigiri is a rice ball served with sweet teriyaki sauce. It is a sizable hors d’oeuvre and is really great to share amongst a few friends.

For our main entrée we ordered the Salmon Avocado Roll, Rock N’ Roll, and a Cucumber Avocado Roll. The Salmon Avocado had sizable pieces of both fish and avocado, both with incredibly buttery soft textures. I am a sucker for raw salmon and really loved this roll as it allowed for full appreciation of its flavor. The Rock N’ Roll is a spicy shrimp roll. Although I could have handled a little more spice, this roll was simple but delicious. The cucumber avocado roll is just that, a satisfying sushi alternative for vegetarians.

The last roll was one of Hapa’s specialty rolls, the Mork and Mindy Roll. With white tuna, salmon, chives and mandarin oranges this roll’s drastically different flavors makes it really dynamic. The tuna and salmon complemented each other nicely with neither outshining the other.

I have never had a bad meal at Hapa and I love it for girls’ night out or birthday parties (be sure to ask for ‘the nasty’ for your birthday boy or girl). Hapa on the Hill now has an all summer long 24/7 happy hour – so you can enjoy great sushi for a more affordable price!

Whole Foods

by Hayley Hudson on June 14, 2011

2905 Pearl St.

It’s not just a grocery store anymore. (But was it ever? I could spend hours staring at beautiful displays of produce and perusing the aisles for crazy and awesome products like coffee-flavored goat cheese).

The recent expansion of the Whole Foods location on Pearl Street has boosted what was already a great selection of ready-to-eat meals. The new prepared foods area of the store resembles something like a fancy mall food court in that you find a concentration of food possibilities in one relatively small space. Unlike mall fare, however, nothing here seems questionable because it’s all prepared from fresh, quality ingredients. You won’t find Hot Dog on a Stick.

Where do I begin? There’s the pizza station, where both individual slices and whole pies sizzle and beg you to eat them. Linger too long and you’ll probably end up buying pizza.


Sometimes my food cravings emerge based on continent of origin, and the Asian area comes in handy during those moments. Order a noodle or rice bowl, create your own bowl, or select sushi that an in-house sushi chef hand rolls before packaging it up for easy meals to go.

Noodle Bowls


If that won’t do, visit the barbecue stand for some killer collard greens and pulled pork, grab a burrito, or choose from a selection of artisan sandwiches including a tasty-looking eggplant muffuletta.

Sandwiches and Burritos

Flatiron Flatbread Sandwich; Eggplant Muffuletta Sandwich

I recommend “greens, beans, and grains”: choose one of each, add a protein, add a sauce, and bask in your own creative genius. Buffalo meatballs and barbecue sauce over brown rice, chickpeas, and miso greens is my favorite, but I invite you to let loose and try whatever sounds good. Be impulsive!

Greens, Beans, and Grains

On top of all that, this grocery store to end all grocery stores offers a salad bar, a soup bar, a build-your-own baked potato bar, a deli counter, a stop for smoothies and fresh juices, and in the mornings, an oatmeal bar.

Salad Bar


And this:


The gelato sneakily hangs out right by the door, coaxing those last few dollars out of your wallet. It’s worth a stop on your way out, assuming you made it this far without getting lodged between the sandwich and burrito counters or submerged in a display of imported cheeses.

Give Whole Foods a try during your next moment of food indecision–they’ll have it covered. Good luck finding a parking spot, though.


The Sink

by Emily Kane on June 13, 2011

1165 13th Street


Originally from Chicago, I was feeling a little homesick for my dad’s Midwestern summer BBQ’s so I decided to head to The Sink to kick the homesick blues. Since starting school at CU two years ago I have eaten at the sink a myriad times. Its prime location on the hill and its huge menu sealed the deal and it quickly became one of my go-to stops. Another plus is their great delivery service (through hungrybuffs.com), which is perfect for game days!

Not only am I a carnivore but I am also a bit of a bacon fiend so The Sink’s BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger is one of my all-time favorites. Their thick beef patty is served smothered in cheddar cheese, The Sink’s own hickory BBQ sauce, and topped off with crispy bacon and onion rings. Truly a meat lover’s heaven. The burger is also served with your choice of side. I couldn’t decide between onion rings or French fries but the waitress was nice enough to let me have both. The French fries were crispy, not too greasy, and coated in a Cajun spice. The onion rings were pretty darn good too!

Although I was pretty stuffed after my meal I was able to snarf down a few pizza breadsticks that my friend ordered. The Sink’s version of the pizza breadsticks are much thinner than average, eliminating that heavy bread overload that usually accompanies them. They’re a great appetizer for sharing.

Although I have had a few greasy burgers at The Sink, in all the food is usually great and, by my experience, the service has never been bad. The lively atmosphere and mural covered walls really makes this restaurant a great stop. All you meat and BBQ fanatics out there hit up The Sink! You won’t be disappointed.

Proto’s Pizza

by Zoey Ripple on June 12, 2011

4670 Broadway


For those of you looking to try a new restaurant, Proto’s Pizza is the place to go. It’s a fresh, refreshing, and VERY Italian take on pizza. Warning: Do NOT go to Proto’s if you are hoping to satisfy your cravings with large portions of greasy, cheesy loaded hunks of dough. It’s not their style. Protos serves Neapolitan style pizzas, which are traditionally made with tomatoes, creamy mozzarella cheese, wheat flour dough, and baked in an brick or oak wood fired oven which results in crispy, tender, and very fragrant pizzas. Walking into Proto’s your senses are teased as the aroma of mozzarella cheese and fresh tomato sauce envelops you. Fortunately for hungry diners, the service is quick (although we dined at an earlier time) and the staff is so personable. Unfortunately, my camera was dying so I was  unable to snap a picture of one of our pizzas.

As I struggle with the decision making process, I was very happy to see that Proto’s menu is simplistic offering only pizzas, salads, and desserts. You can customize your own pizza or order from one of the fourteen pizzas on the menu. As I was dining with younger children, I ordered  “The Traditional”, a mozzarella cheese pizza with Proto’s handmade tomato sauce, and a “Tomato Pie” with added mushrooms and spinach. Our waiter politely informed me that the tomato pie does not have cheese, which allows you to fully appreciate the taste of the fresh tomatoes layered over oregano and San Marzano crushed tomatoes. To begin, I had a light “Mixed Salad” which was, following with the simplistic model, mixed greens with a light balsamic dressing, a sprinkling of kosher salt, and garnished with a flavorful roma tomato.  A sprinkling of kosher salt on both the salad and the Tomato pie added a delicate crunch and kick of flavor to both totally satisfying dishes.  Both pizzas were the perfect blend of chewy, without ever becoming soggy, and cracker thin crunch on the crusts. As a pizza crust connoisseur, I was impressed to find one of the best thin crust pizzas I have ever had.  Every aspect of our restaurant experience, from our engaging waiter to the simplicity of the meal’s components, was true excellence.

Proto’s location in North Boulder is ideal as it brings in many families and thus it caters to a family model by being very child friendly. Although it has a slightly higher price point than may be desirable for some students, Proto’s Pizzeria is not to be missed as they offer a delicious pizza in a warm, inviting, and bustling atmosphere.


by Jessica on June 11, 2011

1630 63rd St. #10


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After hearing my friends rave about Efrain’s for weeks, I finally persuaded them to bring me to their favorite, local spot for quick and cheap eats. Better yet, I persuaded them to drive so I could sample my first Efrain’s margarita, and damn was I sure we made that arrangement.

I decided to dive right in and order a marg from the bar while we waited for our table: rocks, no salt. As I watched the bartender pouring this delicious concoction, I kept waiting for her to lay off the tequila, but it kept coming until about right below my thumb. For five bucks, this strong and icy beverage was the perfect way to pass the time while waiting the ten minutes for our table. Yet by the time we sat down, I was already feeling the tequila and ready for the chips I’d been eyeing since we walked in.

Immediately upon being seated, we dove into the chips and salsa, which were waiting for us at our table, accompanied by a side of guac which we ordered in addition. There was nothing canned or mass-produced about any aspect of this starter: it was the real deal. The salsa was hot, yet paired with the fresh guac, was the perfect combo of spicy and cool. Though the salsa was a little soupy for my liking, the guac was hearty enough to make up for it, and I enjoyed dunking one chip in both dips.

My date (Kate) and I both opted for Efrain’s combo platter for our main course. This dish featured the choice of three different tasting options. For ten bucks, this colossal dish was more than satisfying and a great way to sample a few different items. Out of the choice of about eight options, I went with a chicken enchilada, chicken taco and rice and beans. It would be a struggle to find something bad to say about any of them.

First off, the enchilada. I could barely focus on the filling inside the tortilla because the sauce and melted cheese was so killer. The red sauce that the enchilada was swimming in contained the perfect amount of spice and flavor without overpowering the dish, but I wished the sauce was smothered over the entire plate, not just the enchilada. Though I’m still debating whether or not the enchilada actually had chicken in it, it didn’t even matter.

For the chicken taco, it was the presentation that really made it stand out. After stuffing (and I mean STUFFING) a tortilla with shredded chicken, shredded lettuce, and cheese, they then grilled the entire taco to make the tortilla crispy. I had never heard of a taco being prepared this way before, but it really added a nice touch to an otherwise standard dish. Though the chicken inside was a little dry, a little of the red enchilada sauce did the trick.

Last, but not least, the rice and beans. Normally, I would never order such an average dish when every other item on the menu was popping out at me. Yet I took Kate’s advice, and ordered her absolutely favorite dish of all time, which she swore Efrain’s did it right. One bite in, and I was glad I took the advice. The rice and beans were out of this world. The beans were flavorful yet not mushy, rice was cooked perfectly, and all was topped with a layer of melted cheese, which again I mixed with the enchilada sauce. I think it was the melted cheese that really put it over the edge, but no matter what I order at Efrain’s from now on, I will absolutely be sure to order the rice and beans as a side.

The combo plate was the perfect option to first-timers like myself to sample a few different items. And it was so huge, I took about half of it home for lunch the next day. Efrain’s is hands down one of the best deals in town, absolutely the best Mexican I’ve had in the area, and is so off the beaten path it is a great change of scenery. The only draw back to this is it is about a ten minute drive, which is unfortunate if you’d like to sample a margarita, or two. Nevertheless, it is absolutely, 100% worth the drive and possible wait, for hands-down the best Mexican food in town (but what do I know, I’m from Boston).

Chez Thuy

by Jessica on June 11, 2011

2655 28th St./Menu


How many times have you cruised by Chez Thuy, casually glanced at it, thought about it for a minute, and then let you mind wander elsewhere, assuming that it couldn’t be good? Well Chez Thuy might be the ultimate sleeper restaurant of Boulder, unexpectedly turning out awesome and creative dishes for every palate.

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Upon opening up the menu, the bound booklet appears more like a textbook, rather than a menu. With pages and pages of options (think Cheesecake Factory), from traditional pho soup, to countless vegetarian options, to standard noodles and stir fries, there’s a problem if nothing on the menu appeals to you.But for my crew, we had the opposite problem: everything appealed to us. The solution- split it all.

First up, we started with the Fresh Spring Rolls, one of my all time favorites at Thai or Vietnamese restaurants. Chez Thuy did it right, stuffing rice noodles, lettuce, cilantro and shrimp, roasted pork, or tofu (check) inside rice paper, served with peanut sauce. I have been disappointed by similar dishes so many times with poor quality ingredients or hard and chewy rice paper wrapper. These ones were awesome, made even more awesome by the homemade peanut dipping (or pouring) sauce with plenty of fresh crushed peanuts. The sauce was so good, that my friends were eating it with a spoon.


Our first part of the bargain was Kung Pao Tofu, a spicy dish with peanuts, hot peppers, celery, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, stir fried in a spicy sauce. This dish was so far from the standard greasy and tasteless Chinese dish that I was expecting, I was possibly even taken aback by the amount of true flavor and authentic spices. The tofu was moist, veggies fresh, and all around it was a great dish.

After drooling over the noodle page for far too long, my buddy and I settled on the Pan-Seared Noodles with chicken and vegetables, and we opted for the rice noodles with a peppery sweet sauce (spicy). This dish was a really cool interpretation (or maybe it actually was the traditional way) on a typical noodle dish because instead of stir frying everything together, the chefs at Chez Thuy pan-seared a huge noodle pancake, cut it into four large pieces, and layered the chicken and veggie stir-fry on top. The noodles had a very interesting crunch and added surprisingly terrific texture to the pile of deliciousness. At first, we thought we had been served the wrong dish because the sauce looked more like a curry rather than a peppery sweet sauce. But after one bite, we were delighted to learn that the sauce was in fact a combination. I am not personally a huge curry fan, but this sauce was so different and simply delicious.

And last, but not least, the Tofu Basket, a dish so interesting sounding we couldn’t resist. When was the last time you saw the word “basket” anywhere on an Asian menu? Or any menu, for that matter? We hadn’t seen it before either.

Basically the basket looked like a woven string basket, that was actually made of fried egg-noodles, which proved to be a delicious snack. In the basket was stir fried rice noodles, tofu, eggplant, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, cashews and chili. The taste was rather similar to other Asian stir fries I was used to without being greasy and bland, but the concept was unique and memorable (and just as good the next day!).

I can no longer complain that Boulder has a void of innovative Asian restaurants. Though the prices and service are nothing to brag about, the food absolutely is. The high prices barely matter considering each dish is enough for at least two meals in leftovers. From the timid or non-adventerous to the foodie go-getter, Chez Thuy’s massive menu and unique specialties will have you everyone running back for more.