Riffs Urban Fare in three words: trendy, whimsical, exquisite. I love this contemporary cocktail lounge so much; I dare say they serve the most innovative, creative meals in all of Pearl Street Mall. Need more convincing? Here are some of the amazing features this eatery offers:

The Ambience

Photo courtesy of Calluna Events

Riffs Urban Fare’s cocktail lounge setting is two parts cool, one part whimsy. The contemporary interior is balanced with quirky wall fixtures, like the framed jigsaw puzzles or blush colored moutainscape painting that engages the expanse of the wall behind the bar. In size, the restaurant is modest, containing a mix of long, high tables for the happy hour crowd and lower booths and tables for the couples and families. In the warmer seasons, the outdoor patio serves guests at the entrance facing Peal Street Mall. Perhaps one of the coolest features of the dining room is the open kitchen, which allows patrons to watch as the chefs prepare and plate their meals. Every couple of minutes a whoosh of flames erupt from the kitchen as the cooks ignite a saucer with booze. The overall feel of this spot is trendy, but the glitz and glam are supported by excellent service, delicious food, and artful plates.

Good For: Cocktail hour with co-workers, first date, anniversary

Reservation: YES, this spot fills up fast

The Food

Riffs takes four-star dining staples like small plates, pasta, burgers, and seafood and modify it to create something truly unique in appearance and flavor. This lounge is perfect for patrons that enjoy being surprised by innovative and one-of-a-kind meals. For example, one of their highest rated dishes stars brussel sprouts. I’ll be honest, I hate the things. But Riffs has a way of reimagining food, pairing it with its flavor soulmate to create something truly tasty. They flash cook those blah brussel sprouts with brown butter, hazelnuts and shallots and BAM—suddenly, those inedible green demons taste irresistibly delicious.

My personal favorite item on the menu is the mussels. These babies are nice and fat and served atop a broth of chardonnay, roast tomatoes, lemon, garlic, capers, herbs, and grilled bread. The broth is so delicious it could be served a la carte as a soup.

The prices at Riffs are reasonable and make fine dining accessible to all. The portions are hearty and tasty, and every plate is artfully crafted.

Bonus: They serve daily specials, so you’ll never get bored by the menu.

The Specials

Photo courtesy of Yelp

Riffs is the ultimate happy hour lounge. Between 3-5 PM Monday-Friday, Riffs offers happy hour deals that include 1/3 off wines by the glass, $2 draft beers, $6 select cocktails, and reduced price plates. Not a drinker? Non-drinkers can enjoy Riffs’ specialty non-alcoholic beverages like their lavender lemonade.

Those mussels I love so much? Only $6 during happy hour. It almost feels wrong enjoying something so delicious for the same price as a Wendy’s Baconator.

I can’t recommend Riffs Urban Fare enough. Whether it’s because you love food or want to impress your date or like supporting local businesses, there are 1,000 reasons you should stop into Riffs.

Katy Caballeros moved to Boulder from Grand Rapids, MI. She studied English and writing at Aquinas College and pursued a liberal arts career path gone crooked, occupying jobs ranging from telemarketer to kindergarten phonics tutor. Passionate about local advocacy, Katy admires Boulder’s proclivity towards progress, scholarship, and environmentalism. When she isn’t writing or listening to KUNC, Katy likes to explore local cafes and bookstores with her partner, Em. Passionate about motivating young people, Katy is an assistant coach for the Boulder High School cheerleading team (Go Panthers!). Grateful to be welcomed into the Boulder community, Katy wants to give back by informing Boulderites about the best places to play and visit in their community.