I love going to eat in Boulder (I love going out to eat in general—who doesn’t?) I love a restaurant with a great atmosphere (a great vibe in a restaurant is my SCENE) and affordable food and drink that is quality! Winding down the day at a nice place with a few friends and drinks is one of my favorite pastimes. Sometimes picking out a new restaurant can always feel like a gamble; you never really know what you’ll get, especially because there are plenty of options in Boulder. Well, I got you, because these are some restaurants you certainly must try in Boulder; you really can’t go wrong with any of these! From the great atmosphere to the delicious food and drinks, each restaurant will fit whatever mood you’re in. Now go round up some friends and try these places out—you won’t be disappointed!


  1. Next Door American Eatery

Next Door American Eatery (also known as The Kitchen Next Door) has been a favorite of mine for a while. The atmosphere has a bit of an upscale modern vibe without it being too pretentious, but a feeling that you are treating yourself here. It’s located on the west side of the Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall, away from the bustle of the mall. It’s got a great vibe and even greater food. The menu is American food based but has fun variations of classic meals like the pineapple burger. The appetizers here are to die for as well—my favorite is the garlic parmesan smashers, a take on crispy potatoes covered in garlic and butter reminiscent of a truffle fries dish. The drinks are a little upscale with elegantly crafted cocktails and a selection of beers on tap. This is a great place to try for great food and a bit of an upscale atmosphere that is still comfortable and affordable.


  1. Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery

Mountain Sun is one of my favorite places in Boulder to eat. It’s got such a low-key vibe with high-key service and food. This is located on the east side of Pearl Street Mall and it has a little patio outside as well. Inside, the place speaks the true ‘Boulder vibe’ of old school, rustic hippie. It’s got a long list of beers and burgers, and anything you try here is amazing. While you wait for a table, you can get as many free samples of their list of beers, which is a nice plus. The burgers here are to die for, with burgers ranging from simple, to complex, to vegan (we are in Boulder after all!) There is something here for everyone, and that something is delicious every time. The vibe is so low-key and welcoming, and I always feel very comfortable stopping by this joint. Another perk of this place? They offer free live music on Sundays—a great way to wind down the weekend.



  1. Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

The Rio is a staple of the Boulder Mexican restaurant scene, and with its recent remodel it looks better than ever! The Rio is a great gathering place for a few margaritas and a meal. Not only is the food amazing, but the margs are also agreed to be the best of the Boulder. They offer margaritas on the rocks and frozen, as well as several different variations. They just renovated this place, and it looks nice—crisp and modern with the renovations but has a nice rustic Boulder feel to it. On Thursday nights you can expect to get $4 margs—such a steal that sometimes there will be a line outside. In addition to the margs, the Rio has a stunning rooftop that offers gorgeous views of the Flatirons mountains in Boulder. If you’re anything like me and love a good rooftop, this should definitely be on your destination list. This is a great place to sit on the rooftop as the sun is setting with friends.


  1. Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar

For being in Colorado, it’s crazy how good the sushi is at Hapa. Hapa is a staple of the Boulder Pearl Street Mall, and without a doubt some of the best sushi you’ll get in Boulder. They have a wide selection of rolls, some simple and some more complex, loaded with delicious add-ons

such as cream cheese, sweet soy, tempura, Japanese aioli, etc. It’s a nice variety if you want to treat yourself with a creamy delicious sushi roll or just grab a basic roll. The food is always worth the price here, and so are the drinks. They have sake, sake bombs, a nice selection of sake cocktails, and a full bar. One of my favorite things about Hapa is the late-night happy hour they offer Thursday-Saturday nights. You can get great deals on rolls and drinks with this happy hour—a nice affordable treat to end a long day, or start a fun night out!



  1. BarTaco

BarTaco has really become something since it opened a few years in Boulder. It is a nice little place for a drink or two and some light food. It has a bit of an upscale vibe for a Mexican place, but not too pretentious and just enough class. It has a lot of light and fun atmosphere that is open and clean. The drinks are very high quality and have the type of care and precision put into them that really puts the place a step above the rest. Their margaritas are made super fresh with no artificial mix, and the mixed juice drinks are made with juice that is made in-house. Same goes for the food; the quality is clearly there, and the pork tacos are my absolute favorite. This is a place where you really get the value you are paying for without it being outlandishly expensive. This a favorite place of mine for when I just want to treat myself and have some really good food.

Rea McLaughlin is an enthusiastic soul that loves life from Colorado. She loves the Colorado sunshine and enjoys partaking in it often by going climbing, hiking or camping. She attained her BFA in Film Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she fell in love with storytelling. After living in NYC for a year to pursue film, Rea is happily back in Colorado enjoying the mountains and sunshine. One of her favorite themes to explore in her art and writing is the human spirit and human connection. When she’s not climbing or creating, Rea loves traveling to music festivals and going to Red Rocks shows. She might ask you for your birth time to check out your astrology chart too! (She is a Leo Sun, Scorpio Moon, Aquarius Rising). She loves to enjoy life and squeeze the very best of out of it.