Best of Boulder County '06
Spring is here. The birds are chirping, the prairie dogs are scurrying, and Boulderites everywhere are putting away their skis, boots and winter outdoor gear in anticipation of yet another great summer.
Soon, Boulder Farmers' Market will be in full swing. Thursday cruiser rides will once again take to the streets. Hikers will converge upon Chautauqua in full force, and Boulder Creek will yet again be filled to its banks with tubers, swimmers and kayakers.
In many ways, Boulder has changed over the past year. Crossroads Mall is a distant memory, and mixed-use housing and shops have taken over what will soon be Twenty Ninth Street. Hikers and climbers have said goodbye to some of their favorite trails and climbing spots and welcomed new ones, thanks to the new Open Space and Mountain Parks Visitor Master Plan. And there will be decidedly fewer Army Humvees roaming around Boulder, thanks to Boulder Valley School District's stricter military recruiting rules, enacted earlier this year.
While so much development and change is happening around us, there's still a lot that hasn't changed and that continues to define our fair city. Boulder still has one of the best-educated populaces in the country. We're wealthier than most American cities, ranked No. 7. On average, we continue to have more sunny days than just about any other city in the country. And open space, hiking trails and the Flatirons continue to make Boulder unique. Whether they know it or not, most Boulderites have fallen completely under the fabled curse of Chief Niwot: Once you come to Boulder, you can never leave—it's just too spectacular.
It's with all this in mind that we offer our 2006 Best of Boulder edition. Some things never change, and yet Boulder has so many new faces and businesses that it can't help but get better. When it's all said and done, the Best of Boulder is a compilation of all the things that make our city great—both old and new. We hope you enjoy our 2006 edition.
In the Oct. 20, 2005, installment of the popular B-dub fiction column, People's Republic ("Blowing this pop stand"), Rob Sheely wrapped up a successful editorial run of more than three years that produced two books and volumes of community feedback. During his tenure, Sheely captured the spirit of our quirky little community—the good, the bad, the stellar and the downright silly—with a witty wisdom and a master pen.
In the closing chapter, the protagonist Bobby makes an attempt to flee Planet Boulder, making it as far as Pecos Street before the magnetic pull of the People's Republic brings him back in "Hotel California" fashion.
"He would never go, and neither would we," Sheely concludes. "And we would grow old with all the rest of you, together in our ridiculous little paradise."
To which the B-dub can only salute: "Author, author!"
Best Way to Pimp Your Salary
Colorado House Minority Leader Joe Stengel is a hardworkin' man. In fact, he's so hard-working that he billed Colorado taxpayers more than $23,000 for out-of-session work, collecting the $99 per-diem salary for about 240 of the 247 days the Colorado State Assembly was not in session. Considering that most state legislators are compensated for about 105 out-of-session workdays, that's a whole lot of strategy sessions and power brokering during the off season.
Unfortunately, all of Stengel's "strategizing" didn't really pay off. Not only did he get busted for billing an exorbitant amount of time, but Stengel went over the edge and collected $900 from tax-payers for a seven-day vacation to Hawaii. Stengel says that he worked every day, but making phone calls to Colorado between spa treatments and beach volleyball games doesn't really count.
Even though a House committee investigated the issue, the group said that rules were too ambiguous, and there was no way to tell whether Stengel actually swindled Colorado taxpayers. While Stengel paid $900 back from his vacation, he did not return the rest of the $23,000, which funded Stengel while he advocated Referenda C and D for cash-strapped Colorado. Anyone else see the irony in this?
Best Assassin Karaoke
David Race Bannon sang the tune as if he'd truly written it, raising awareness about the terrible crime of child sex trafficking in Colorado through public speaking and nationally through his book, Race Against Evil. Bannon—aka David Wayne Dilley, aka David Dilley Bannon—claimed to have worked for Interpol as an assassin, killing the monsters who profit off the sexual exploitation of children. The stories he told of child rape—kids chained to beds, women hacked apart by cold-blooded murderers—were enough to hold an audience's attention and turn people's stomachs.
But it turns out Bannon isn't what he claimed to be. Instead, he's a comic book reader who desperately wanted to be treated like a hero. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation ended Bannon's gig in February, arresting him on suspicion of criminal impersonation when he tried to sell them a training workshop. His case is now working its way through the judicial system.
Still, the fact that Bannon was a fake doesn't change the fact that the cause he'd taken on his shoulders—child sex trafficking—is a vitally important one. Bannon wanted so badly to be a hero that he'd become a de facto expert on this horrendous crime. Think how much good he might have done if, instead of trying to enrich himself through a bogus memoir, he'd used his energy to open a nonprofit.
Best Pet Guardians
Boulderites love their animal companions. Where else could you pick up your beloved pooch from day care, get a pet massage and purchase organic pet food—all in one day?
While many of Boulder's critters may be living la vida dolce, their pampered lifestyles are nothing compared to one pet parrot named Greeny. After committing suicide together in January, Greeny's guardians, Paul Scott and Patricia Birosik, left their $500,000 mountain estate to their beloved winged buddy. Scott was facing a lengthy sentence after being caught by police for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor, and he and his wife arranged a trust for Greeny before their suicide. For the rest of his feathered life, Greeny could enjoy the Scotts' 4,458-square foot home as his own cozy bird sanctuary.
Acquaintances of the Scotts knew they had a special bond with their pet, but the extent of it surprised even their closest friends. After learning of the trust one friend commented, "They treated it like a child. They thought the bird could hold conversations with them."
Best Excuse to Get Naked in Boulder
For some, it was a chance to protest dependency on foreign oil. For others, riding naked through Boulder provided an opportunity to demonstrate cyclists' vulnerability in the streets. For the rest, participating in Boulder's second-annual World Naked Bicycle Ride was an opportunity to show skin and wear body paint in public—without feeling pervy about the whole thing.
Thanks to its multifarious purpose and the good-natured fun of WNBR, the naked form of protest has gained much support in recent years. In 2005, the event drew more than 1,000 activists in about 50 cities, some as far ranging as Edinburgh and Golden Bay, New Zealand. The size of last year's events varied greatly, from 250 participants in London, to nine in Ottawa, Canada. Depending on the location, police intervention was a problem. WNBR-ers in the South found themselves piling on G-strings and thongs to avoid time in the clink.
Those who didn't bare-all last June missed a breezy one-hour jaunt through Boulder's streets, steering clear of elementary school playgrounds and childcare centers and ending at the Boulder Beer Company. Contrary to the previous year, when WNBR-ers encountered a large raucous group partying in front of the Brewery, last year's event went off without a hitch.
Biggest Shock (not!)
The University of Colorado spent the second half of 2005 "searching" for a new president. More than 40 people applied for the job, and five applicants, including Hank Brown, who'd taken the job on an interim basis, were interviewed. On April 5, the Board of Regents stunned the state by announcing that Hank Brown, 66, formerly a U.S. Senator and president of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, was the only finalist.
No one—absolutely no one—was surprised by this, though some members of the search committee publicly criticized the search process, saying that more candidates should have been included as finalists.
But those who didn't get the job might well be sighing with relief. In exchange for a six-figure salary and a whole range of perks, Hoffman's successor inherits a university system plagued by budget woes and bad publicity in a state that puts education behind most other priorities, especially paving highways.
Considering that Iraq is on the verge of full-scale civil war, the military is scrambling more than ever to find fresh meat for the frontlines. From pens and shiny brochures to fast-paced video games and climbing walls, the military is constantly stretching boundaries to find new ways to attract and recruit kids. Recruiters even showed up at Fairview High School with a flight simulator loaded on a semi-truck.
Moving to defend kids is Boulder Valley School District, which put in place a district-wide policy on military recruiting. Not only did BVSD limit each branch of the military to a two-visit maximum per year, it put a kibosh on the use of military toys for recruiting. With the diverse political spectrum and values represented in Boulder County, instituting guidelines wasn't easy, but school board members got the job done.
Also in place for the '06-'07 school year is a policy that makes parents aware of their right to opt out of sending their kid's contact information to the Pentagon's recruitment database. While contact information for children was once protected by public schools, Bush's nifty 2002 No Child Left Behind Act required schools to release children's contact information for the purpose of military recruiting unless parents opt out. Unfortunately, few parents knew about either policy.
Saddled with debt and an unknown departure date from Iraq, our country's situation feels pretty hopeless. But just because we're at war halfway across the world doesn't mean we can't do something about it at home. Bravo BVSD for taking action to keep the military in check in our district. Schools should be institutions of learning and not Army farm teams.
Best Place to Hang Out When You're Undead
Got a vampire fetish? A penchant for the performing arts? A role-playing jones you just can't kick? Just like hanging out with interesting people?
Or perhaps you simply need an excuse to dust off that cape in the back of your closet?
Either way, there's a place for you on the CU campus, where every other Saturday the LARPers Society of Colorado University hosts the live-action role play (LARP) campaign Vampire—In the Shadow of the Fool.
Think of LARP as a cross between the table-top role play of Dungeons & Dragons and improv theater. In other words, there are no dice, more props, and the action unfolds with as much emphasis on character development and interaction as imagination.
Whether you LARP or not, there's no question that Boulder is a lot more colorful with these Goth gamers summoning the undead to the CU campus on Saturday nights. Go to www.shadowofthefool.com.
Best Place to Get a Bohemian Makeover
A newcomer on Pearl Street's East End, Urban Pearl Studios and Rising Tide Tattoos has quickly established itself as a one-stop shop for culture in Boulder. The upstairs of this multi-use studio features a trendy hair salon in the front and an award-winning tattoo parlor in the back. The downstairs serves as an art gallery featuring top local artists and participates in Boulder's First Friday art showings. Urban Pearl/Rising Tide, 1537 Pearl St., also hosts films in the downstairs gallery. So here's the B-dub's tips for a hip bohemian makeover—Urban Pearl/Rising Tide style: cool haircut; get fresh; fine art. Now you're a bona fide Boulder bohemian.
Best Thing to Happen to the Internet Since Craigslist
Connecting to the Internet from anywhere is easier than ever these days, and that bodes well for the upstart live Internet TV channel, ManiaTV! This brand-new form of interactive media has people from all over the globe switching off their TV sets and logging online for their news and entertainment. Streaming live 24/7, ManiaTV! also has a built-in chatroom with integrated webcams so users can see and interact with fellow viewers and the on-air hosts. ManiaTV! launched in September 2004 and has seen its viewership grow each month, ballooning to 3.2 million viewers in March 2006. With a wide variety of music videos, news stories and 7,000 searchable viral videos, ManiaTV is the MTV of the future.
Best reason to hate Governor Bill Owens
Proving yet again that he doesn't care about women, Gov. Bill Owens vetoed legislation that would have given Plan B emergency contraception over-the-counter status. While Owens claims he's concerned about the potential impact OTC status could have on minors, we say that's a bunch of B.S.
A look at Owens' record on Plan B gives the real story. Three times, he vetoed legislation that would have required hospitals to give information to rape victims about Plan B. Back then, Owens was concerned about religious hospitals, which would have ostensibly disseminated Plan B information against the moral beliefs of the organization. We're just being selfish, but we think that hospitals should venture outside their moral comfort zones to ensure the health and safety of rape victims.
So long as Owens sits in the governor's seat, Colorado doesn't have women's best interests at heart. Fortunately, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Ritter has announced that he supports Plan B legislation. We just hope that the Dems can hold onto the majority long enough to welcome Ritter to the governor's mansion.
Best Cultural Experience on Wheels
Yeah, the Banjo Billy bus turned a lot of heads last year during the inaugural run of Banjo Billy's Bus Tours. Seemingly a shack on wheels, the eye-catching bus sports an exterior made of wood paneling and a pitched roof—not to mention the hillbilly music blaring from its speakers.
In truth, Billy doesn't even play the banjo—and his name's not even Billy. It's John Georgis, former cog in the credit-industry machine turned colorful local businessman. In 2005, Georgis and his funky, hillbillied-out school bus began offering tours of Boulder in the summer, with Georgis, as Banjo Billy, pointing out notable landmarks and sharing historical anecdotes. Hands down, Banjo Billy's Bus Tours is the best—and most colorful—way to introduce out-of-town guests to the city we love. In its second run, Georgis is incorporating more specialty trips and offers, such as the Bolder Boulder Tour May 26-29, the Ghost Tour in October, family discounts on Tuesdays, a free service-industry night the first Wednesday of every month, and, beginning in May, Singles Night the first Friday of every month. Call 720-771-0087.
Best Voice of Denver's Underground
In December, the B-dub spent some time with Denver's best-kept musical secret, hip-hop MC D.O. the Fabulous Drifter. On a bus ride both historical and geographical, he shared pieces of Denver's hip-hop past and present, including a live performance with his crew, Ground Zero Movement.
Most importantly, he offered a glimpse of hip-hop's future in the Mile High City.
At the time, D.O. was putting the finishing touches on a solo release, the CD single "Wake Up." The CD hit the streets at a release party in Denver on March 3, and the Front Range music scene has been on notice since.
The fact is that the Front Range's stale music scene needs a fresh voice—and it can't come from the contrived jam scene or the pretentious indie rock set. The B-dub says the smart money is on D.O. and his crew, spitting sharp rhymes, bringing fresh flavor and making Denver the capital of underground hip-hop.
Safest Place for American Journalists to Embed
The villages of Medina Wasl, Medina Jabal and Al Sharq seem peaceful enough. Men stroll the streets in traditional Arab thobes, gather at a mosque, welcome American soldiers into their shops and stores. And yet signs of war are everywhere. Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Humvees patrol the dusty dirt roads. U.S. soldiers inspect humble buildings, assault rifles at the ready. From the rooftops of Medina Jabal, not far from the minaret, insurgents take occasional shots. The words "Slow Deth to America" are painted on a nearby wall. Once in a while a vehicle parked along the road explodes.
Does this intimidate print journalists embedded there? No, not one bit. They stroll about with notebooks and cameras, chatting with locals and soldiers alike, behaving as if it's just another news day. Perhaps like most journalists they're uncommonly ballsy—yes, that must be it.
Or perhaps their lack of nerves is due to the fact that they're in the safest place they can possibly be in this war—at home in Colorado.
Medina Wasl, Medina Jabal and Al Sharq are three mock Iraqi villages erected at Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs. Soldiers stationed at Fort Carson train at the villages, staffed by Iraqi-Americans and other Arab-speaking volunteers, prior to deploying to Iraq. The goal of the training is to prepare U.S. soldiers for the conditions they'll find in Iraqi villages, where insurgents and civilians mingle and where getting along with peaceful Iraqi civilians is not only polite, but a survival skill.
Best Local Example of Why Media Conglomerations Suck
If you didn't know what you were looking for then you may have missed last fall's announcement that Scripps purchased the Colorado Daily newspaper. Articles pertaining to the deal were buried deep in the pages of the Daily, and tight-lipped Scripps, which also owns the Rocky Mountain News, the Boulder Daily Camera and Dirt, remained hush about their long-term plans for the Daily and Dirt, which target the same demographic.
While the financial and news impact of the Scripps purchase will take years to unfold, we do know one thing: There's just not a whole lot of independent news left in Boulder County. Actually, there's only one. We're not going to name names, but let's just say it starts with a "B" and ends with a "oulder Weekly."
Scripps-owned Daily Camera has already seen direct interference from the general HQ. In addition to being forced to endorse George Bush during the 2000 election, a Scripps vice president called Camera editors to the carpet in 2004 to address "concerns" over a front-page photo that some viewed as disrespectful to George Bush.
Contrary to our competitors, we still like to worry about the quality of the news, not about who it's gonna piss off.
Best Place to Get Low With Poets
Combining the coziness of a house party and the attitude of cutting-edge artistic expression, the best below-ground poetry locale in Boulder is The Cellar, which hosts poetry readings every Monday, including a high-energy poetry slam on alternating weeks.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, a poetry slam incorporates poetry, hip-hop and performance art, creating a rhythmic and lyrical open mic experience unlike your traditional coffeehouse reading. And The Cellar serves it up hot.
Attached to a guitar shop, The Cellar, 1209 13th St., also offers grassroots appeal, featuring a makeshift stage, random bits of furniture ranging from futons to bean bags and a pass-the-hat sensibility as much charm as couture.
Best Example of Mitakuye Oyasin
It had all the makings of a catastrophe. A bit of damaged land sacred to American Indians. An all-white City Council committed to building a biosolids composting facility on that land. City staff who'd worked for years to bring those plans to fruition and didn't want to let go. Millions of dollars already spent to buy the land.
Two years ago the land south and east of Valmont Butte seemed destined to be buried under human waste and concrete. Already the site of an old processing mill and its tailing ponds, the land had been purchased by the city of Boulder for its long-envisioned biosolids-recyling facility. Situated near the Western Disposal facility and not far from the smokestacks of the electrical plant, it seemed to city planners like the ideal place for the recycling plant, as well as a much-needed fire-fighter training facility.
City planners hadn't understood—despite oral and written records that make the facts clear—that the Valmont Butte and the land surrounding the butte are sacred to American Indians, particularly the Plains cultures, and are still used for ceremonies. Initial attempts to persuade the city from going through with its plans were rebuffed by city planners, who'd already invested so much—including $2.6 million on the land itself—into building these structures on the land.
Joined by the descendants of Boulder County's first pioneer families, the American Indian community persisted, raising the issue in the media and with City Council members, making it clear that further damaging the land was unacceptable. And City Council listened, nixing first the biosolids plant and then working hard to find someplace else to build the needed fire-fighter training facility.
The decision was a victory for public process, proving that some elected officials want to do the right thing. But it's also a victory for unity. There's no doubt that had American Indians not organized, joining forces with pioneer descendants and other supporters, Boulder County would have lost a valuable historical and cultural site.
Mitakuye Oyasin. We are all related.
Best reason not to try before you buy
You've seen 'em: They lurk in the dark aisles of supermarkets and Home Depot, hawking free samples and cosmetic makeovers to the unsuspecting masses. While the company of Mary Kay may not come to mind when you think of controversy, a recent Boulder Weekly exposé revealed the darker side of this otherwise pink and perky organization.
Laura Ryan, who runs a discussion group and website for ex-Mary Kay consultants, says her group members are saddled with debt, ailing marital relationships and low self-esteem as a result of their experiences. Despite the fact that some women become consultants to stay at home to raise children, Ryan says that rising the ranks in the company requires 24-7 attention to lipstick and blush—a task we wouldn't wish on our worst enemy.
BEST REASON TO SAY "NEIGH"
When Alesha Matchett learned that unwanted American horses were being sold and killed at foreign-owned slaughterhouses, she was compelled to do something about it. She started the Animal Angels Horse Rescue in order to save as many horses as she could from the chopping block, and back in November Matchett had reason celebrate. After years of legal wrangling, animal-rights activists were finally able to protect American equines when Congress passed an appropriations bill that cut taxpayer funding for USDA inspection in horse slaughterhouses. No inspections meant no export; no export meant no slaughter. Alas, the Bushites are allowing the kill-houses to pay the $350,000 annual price tag for inspection. The fact that Americans don't eat horsemeat and find the thought of it repulsive—eh, who cares about popular opinion, right?
BEST UNDERDOG VICTORY
When Steve Engman started Beat The Bookstore, his plan was to open a shop where students could buy textbooks for less and sell them back for more. What he didn't count on was running into a brick wall when it came to getting a copy of the booklist. Being a state-funded institution, the University of Colorado is subject to state open-records laws. However, Engman was told he would only be supplied with a paper copy of CU's book list for a fee of $1.25 per page, the maximum allowed under the law. This worked out to a $3,500 fee for the information. Engman was upset and requested an electronic copy, but was told the list didn't exist in that format. After an anonymous source in the university's IT department informed Boulder Weekly that the list did, in fact, exist electronically on their server, things got a little more heated. Vice Chancellor of Admissions Paul Talbot finally stepped in and called both sides in for a meeting where Engman says he was told he'd receive the electronic copy for $75. Finally, victory for the little guy.
FOOD & DRINK
Offering a taste of New Orleans in the Rockies, Lucile's is everyone's favorite destination for breakfast or brunch. Enjoy a beignet and a cappuccino, trout and grits, a spicy vegetarian skillet and a fresh biscuit, or Eggs Benedict, topped off with homemade condiments like strawberry-rhubarb jam. One bite and you'll understand why Lucile's consistently wins this category year after year. You can take a bit of that scrumptious Creole cookin' home with you, as they offer a line of jams, teas and sauces.
Walnut Café and South Side Walnut Café take runner-up again this year. Both offer a range of breakfast options, as well as a variety of espresso drinks to help jump-start your brain, all served by one of the friendliest wait staffs in the city. Our editor's favorite meal: the Boulder Scramble with a bit of diced jalapeño added for fun.
Dot's Diner is a longtime Boulder tradition, offering delicious and hearty breakfast options, with enormous fluffy biscuits and fresh coffee or maté. A meal at Dot's will remind you of what Boulder was like 20 years ago—laid-back, friendly and truly unique.
For the umpteenth year in a row the top Chinese restaurant, voted by both readers and staff, is Orchid Pavilion. Conveniently located downtown—where the West End is building up around this Boulder mainstay—it's the perfect place for lunch, dinner or takeout. Come for the sesame chicken, but stay for the amazing duck, which you can get served up honey roasted, Szechuan-style, in garlic sauce or Peking-style.
Runner-up Golden Lotus has survived destruction, construction and even massive amounts of road work in the past five years, as Crossroads Mall has been torn down and rebuilt as Twenty Ninth Street. But when you use fresh ingredients to make healthy, delicious food, your customers will brave the construction zone. Golden Lotus is definitely worth the trip.
Moongate is a success story worthy of Boulder's "buy local" mentality. Started as a tiny shop in the suburbs, Moongate is now one of Colorado's favorite Chinese restaurants, with locations in Boulder and Denver. Their sesame chicken is easily the best in the state.
With their penchant for hippie music, hippie art, hippie culture and, well, hippies, you wouldn't expect Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery and its south-side sister, Southern Sun, to make the best burgers in Boulder.
These all-natural beef patties, free of antibiotics, growth hormones and steroids, are hands-down the best in town, as proven by both the B-dub and B-dub readers. And it's mighty convenient that you can get some of the best craft-brewed beer in the city, made right on location, to go along with that award-winning burger.
Of course, you can't discuss burgers without giving a nod to the world-famous Dark Horse Saloon and its famed Burger Madness. These are thick burgers served up right with amazing curly fries. Plus, between burgers and beers, you can enjoy rounds of pool, foosball and air hockey.
The Sink may be known for its quirky drink specials (Flip Night anyone?) and former janitors, but what has kept The Sink a mainstay on The Hill is its legendary Sink Burgers. Don't even think of considering yourself a Boulderite until you've munched on a Sink Burger.
Thanks to Boulder's many bakeries and pastry shops, you don't have to live in France to get a good patisserie. Recently renovated Breadworks offers treats that delight the eye as well as the palette. Boulderites enjoy popular favorites like ginger cookies, toffee pudding, pecan pie and Breadworks' to-die-for espresso and raspberry brownies—guaranteed to kick your salivary glands into overdrive. Delicious handcrafted artisan breads await those in search of a savory treat. And if you want to turn your pit stop into a meal, try Breadworks' grilled sandwiches and their daily menu of soups for lunch.
If it's bread you seek, then it's bread you shall find at runner-up Great Harvest Bakery Co. In addition to scones and muffins, Great Harvest offers sweet breads like apple crunch and cinnamon swirl for the morning crowd. Those watching their waistlines love Great Harvest's carborator bread, a popular favorite with carb counters. Honorable Mention Spruce Confections promises mouth-watering pastries and a true European café feel. During the summertime, sipping a café latté and people watching from the store's outdoor seating is a must.
EAST COUNTY COFFEE HOUSE
It's everything a coffee house should be. Charming red brick interior. Lots of comfortable tables, couches and chairs. A plethora of drink choices—espresso, organic Numi teas, smoothies. Ziggi's is owned by locals Brandon and Camrin Knudsen. They keep their place sparkling clean, and their staff provides some of the best service in the county. With live jazz and bluegrass nights, as well as delicious gelato and scrumptious baked goods, Ziggi's is a great place to hang out for an hour or four and easily holds its own against Boulder's hippest coffee joints. And, yes, they offer free wireless Internet.
Quite simply there are no words to describe the food at Frasca Food and Wine. Suffice it to say there's a reason Frasca has earned national attention in addition to garnering every notable restaurant award along the Front Range—and the accolades just keep coming. Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson has been nominated for a prestigious James Beard award for Rising Star Chef of the year, the ceremony of which takes place the first weekend of May. We think that James Beard award would look great next to this B-dub Best of Boulder plaque.
Sunflower Restaurant has been a Boulder favorite going on seven years. The reason? Fresh, healthy produce and all-natural meat served up in delicious gourmet style. Specializing in "fine organic cuisine," Sunflower combines two of Boulder's passions: great food and healthy living. So it's no wonder that it would be included among the city's best spots for fine dining.
There are many advantages to living in the modern world—like cheese in a can and frozen dinners in pretty, rectangular boxes. Thanks to Jamba Juice, you can take advantage of revolutionary, innovative culinary tools (i.e., the blender), and still stay close to what Mother Nature intended. Debuting this year is Jamba Juice's all-fruit smoothie category. One serving promises to fill all five servings of your daily fruit requirement. And with Jamba Juice's many boosts, like Vita Boost and Energy Boost, is there really a need to venture outside juice for your daily nutritional intake?
Runner-up Wild Oats offers a full juice bar from wheat-grass shots to more sophisticated fruit medleys. If you don't know what you're looking for, the friendly folks at Wild Oats can help you design a delicious, nutritionally balanced fruit drink.
Tapas. While the word means "appetizers" in Spanish, many American establishments have liberally interpreted it to mean "trendy, expensive food in very small quantities." Thanks to happy hour (Mon.-Fri., 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m.) specials at The Med, you can rest assured that the cultural meaning of "tapas" remains fully in tact. Most dishes are well within the $1 to $3 range. Mouth-watering baked Brie, calamari, hummus, mussels and to-die-for smoked trout top the list of popular favorites. Drink specials include $1 off all well cocktails, draft beer, house wines and sangria.
Runner-up Trilogy offers the best happy hour (Mon.-Fri., 5-7 p.m.) drink deal in town: free wine refills for only $5. Trilogy also offers great menu options within the $3-$5 range—the coconut shrimp and grilled trout are a must for any self-respecting tapas connoisseur.
For great patio seating and people watching, check out Connor O'Neill's (Monday all day, Tues.-Sun., 2-7 p.m.). The Irish pub offers great bands and entertainment, as well as a $3 appetizers and $1 discounts on all alcoholic drinks during happy hour.
Italian food just doesn't get better than Laudisio Ristorante Italiano. Serving upscale Italian cuisine and award-winning wines in a relaxing, sophisticated atmosphere, Laudisio's has been tantalizing taste buds for two decades. But the Laudisio family's love affair with the kitchen goes back even further—to their ancestors' days as cooks for the last Italian king. It's a love affair that will continue with the opening of L, their new restaurant in the soon-to-be-completed Twenty Ninth Street complex.
Dagabi Cucina offers authentic Italian cuisine in a contemporary atmosphere. With nightly dinner specials and a martini menu, Dagabi Cucina will have your mouth watering when you smell the aromas of garlic, olive oil and freshly baked bread. Come for the tapas during Happy Hour, and stay for dinner and dessert.
At The Pumphouse Brewery and Restaurant, the effort doesn't stop with the beer. Offering a variety of killer microbrews, The Pumphouse is also a bona fide restaurant with a menu that will completely redefine how you view brewpubs. Try their nachos—hands down the best in Boulder County. Or go upscale and have the Grilled Wild Coho Salmon or the Drunken Sirloin, marinated in their Red Alert beer and maple syrup. Executive Chef Seth Sandstrom keeps the menu fresh, updating it every couple of months, refining dishes to bring out the best. Want sports with your gourmet meal? Step next door to the Pumphouse's Red Zone, which serves the best food you'll ever find in a room filled with television sets. Is it worth the drive from Boulder? Abso-freaking-lutely.
Once again, The Rio Grande takes top honors for its margaritas. They take ice, salt, lime and tequila and make margarita magic. Rumor has it they use a secret ingredient in their margs, but none of the wait staff will talk. As investigative reporters, we keep going back, ordering margarita after margarita, trying to figure out what that ingredient is. But be warned: There's a limit of three margs per customer. And although you can occasionally get away with breaking that rule, you might not be happy about it the next morning. It's a lesson we learned the hard way. Be sure to sample the Rio's delicious Mexican cuisine while you're imbibing.
Pearl Street landmark Juanita's serves affordably priced and authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, together with cold Mexican beer and tangy margaritas in a funky, laid-back atmosphere.
Maybe it's the sheer quantity of nostalgic East Coasters living in Boulder? Maybe it's the quality of the sauce? Or maybe it's just that sweet-ass two-slices-and-a-soda deal? Whatever it is, Abo's Pizza was chosen by B-dub staff and readers as the class of Boulder pizzerias. With slices as big as your head and three convenient locations (with killer old-school arcade games at the South Side location), you're never that far away from an authentic New York-style pie.
Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana serves it up just like they did in good old Naples. And when you do it as good as Proto's, that gets you a well-earned runner-up nod in the Boulder pizza wars.
Proving that we Boulderites celebrate diversity in our pizza as much as in our culture, Jalino's gets an honorable mention for their blue-ribbon gourmet pizzas. Even the do-it-yourselfers got in on the voting, also giving an honorable mention to last year's winner, Nick-N-Willy's Take-N-Bake Pizza.
With names like "Dancing Queen" and "Sextini," how could you possibly go wrong? Offering an extensive martini menu, the Trilogy Wine Bar wins again for best martini. Popular drinks include the Chocolatini, with Godiva liquor and Stoli Vanilla, and Trilogy's Lemondrop. Trilogy uses fresh juice in all its martinis, which makes them fresher—and better—than other Boulder watering holes. Drop in between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. for happy hour, and enjoy a $2 discount on Trilogy's martinis.
From classic martinis to cosmopolitans, runner-up The Kitchen's martinis are a close second. Its swanky, new upstairs lounge offers casual, urban environs that will have you sipping your martini in style. Honorable mention Styr offers comfy seating, music and a killer martini menu.
Whether you order from the menu or pile your plate high with entrees from the all-you-can eat lunch buffet, Tandoori Grill will satiate your senses with its delicious East Indian cuisine. Known for its tasty Tandoori chicken, Tandoori Grill also serves delicious curry and masala dishes, together with warm naan, fresh salads, steaming chai and exotic mixed drinks.
Combining mouth-watering Himalayan fare with great atmosphere, Sherpa's earns Runner-up honors again this year. Try the wonderful lentil soup or a big bowl of Tibetan noodles. There are lots of vegetarian dishes also, just one reason Sherpa's remains a favorite. The Taj, with its Indian lunch buffet and top-notch dinner menu wins honorable mention this year.
No disrespect to the other fine restaurants considered in this category, but when ranking Boulder's best tapas could the distinction really go to anyone other than locally owned and operated powerhouse The Mediterranean Restaurant (better known as "The Med")? The Med is the Babe Ruth of tapas, featuring a wide selection of hot and cold offerings, most of which cost less than $5. If you were to take the B-dub there for tapas, you'd better believe we'd be ordering up the duck leg confit, spinach and lamb empanadilla and the yellowfin tuna tartare.
Tucked away behind Lucky's Market on the developing north side of town, Dagabi Cucina will be a heavy hitter in Boulder cuisine for years to come. Combining contemporary décor with old-school fare, Dagabi is the perfect place for post-work tapas Italiano.
Of Boulder's many summer treats, few compare to sipping sangria on the patio and enjoying a round of freshly prepared tapas at Bácaro. Don't even think of leaving without trying the trio bruschetta, pommes frites and pizza margherita.
Since opening its original location on University Hill, Illegal Pete's immediately became Boulder's most popular burrito joint and never looked back, quickly opening two more locations in Downtown Boulder and Denver. The most often cited reason for the dominance of Pete Turner's burritos: size. In fact, these burritos are so enormous they should be "illegal." Made with giant flour tortillas, these monster burritos are chock-full of any and all fresh ingredients, from corn salsa to fajita veggies, and then hand mixed so everything is evenly distributed. Pete's burritos are made to order and a request of "just a little more guac" can deliver the perfect meal. Runner-up winner, Chipotle, just a few blocks west of Pete's on Pearl Street, offers the same made-to-order style with fresh ingredients. However, we would be remiss if we failed to point out that this franchise is owned by—gasp!—McDonald's, a fact that they are slow to publicize. Casa Alvarez and Masa Grill receive honorable mention for the strong reader support they received this year, in a very competitive category.
In many parts of the country (mostly the "red states"), the only option for a bagel lover is to look for one of those long frozen and forgotten packages they sell at mainstream supermarkets. And in some truly deprived areas, the closest thing to a bagel is a donut. Well, in Boulder County, you're more likely to see a dawdling police officer at one of our numerous bagel bakeries than at a donut shop, as the former outnumber the later two to one (true fact, check it out). Year after year, Weekly readers vote overwhelmingly for Moe's Broadway Bagel, and with good reasons. Moe's not only serves up a superior brand of bagel, but the ambience is, well, so Boulder. This is one category, though, where there is a bit of disconnect between B-dub readers and staffers, who have a slight preference for the bagels at City Street Bagel Café. One bagel in particular has captured the fancy of the persnickety tastes of Boulder's best newspaper staff: the sunflower bagel. In any event, in Moe's and City Street we lucky Boulderites have two of the most awesome bagels on the planet. And don't spare the cream cheese.
The best dessert category has been arguably the most controversial in the history of B.O.B. That's because we just couldn't handle having to give the award to a certain metaphor for the advancing corporatization of our town, located at the NE corner of Pearl and 14th. In a town with so many amazing dessert options, we considered this cookie cutter institution (indeed, the word "factory" is part of its name) beneath the award—as well as unworthy for a city that prides itself on its uniqueness. Enter Glacier Homemade Ice Cream, a local business that has captured the hearts of a community that insists on only the best. And Glacier just got even better. After winning us over at its flagship location on N. 28th Street, and then at its second location on University Hill, Mark Mallen and Co. have broken the mold with a third location at the Meadows Shopping Center at the former location of the Healthy Habits salad bar. The newest, spiffiest Glacier is more than an ice cream shop, with a full service coffee and tea bar, featuring Amante coffee. Now you can stop by on your way to work for a latté and bring the kids over after dinner for a Stracciatella (Chocolate flakes added to a Madagascar vanilla infused gelato). What a concept!
When you go to the Trident for some coffee, you aren't just going for a caffeine jolt. Buzzing with friends deep in conversation and baristas chatting with customers like they actually care, you know you're in Boulder. And the best thing about Trident isn't even the coffee. Once customers pick up their cappuccinos, they can drift back into the bookstore, with a quirky collection for every taste. Both our runner-up and honorable mention, Amante and Caffe Sole, are also locally owned businesses. Caffe Sole is a favorite B-dub hangout, just across Broadway from our offices, where the greatest newspaper staff in the world can pick up a comforting steaming latté on a chilly winter morning or a mean frozen chai when the sun beats down. Just a few months back, the evil monster of coffee houses, which starts with a star and ends with a bucks, bought out Peaberry's. As two new Starbucks are taking over, we hope Boulder Weekly readers will continue to support the local businesses they voted for.
LATE NIGHT FOOD
Worked up a sweat rockin' out at the Fox Theatre? Got all puckered up suckin' down margaritas at Mamacita's? Or maybe you just need a little late-night nourishment to help pull an all-nighter during final's week? Whatever the reason, when your tummy starts a-rumblin' after midnight, B-dub staff and readers agree that the best late-night hookup is at Abo's Pizza, where you can get New York-style slices as big as your head.
Of course, eating late doesn't mean you can't eat fancy. This year's runner-up is Hapa, which features two convenient locations to suit your late-night sushi needs, because nothing beats a Multiple Orgasm before a good night's sleep.
Honorable mention Cosmo's Pizza serves up monster-sized slices of pizza that might prove daunting for even the most gluttonous night owl, but these pies are worth the thickened morning-after belly. An added bonus is that Cosmo's employees have the best taste in music of all of Boulder's pizza pushers, so they're certain to have some quality tunes blaring while you wait for your pie.
It's funny that the term "Mexican food" can conjure up many different images. For some, "Mexican" really means Tex-Mex, while others scan obscure restaurant listings hoping to find authentic hole-in-the-wall mom-and-pop shops. Sadly, there's a large third contingent of people who think margaritas signify the cuisine of the large North American nation. Topping this year's list in Boulder is Juanita's Mexican Food, which boasts delicious green chile, blue-corn cheese enchiladas, as well as tasty tamales and tostados. Vegetarians love Juanita's veggie fajitas, tamales and burritos. Portions are generous and topped off with savory rice and beans. For food with a southwestern flare, try staff pick Zolo Grill. Favorites include shrimp and fish tacos, chicken enchiladas and the smoked chicken salad. You'll be dreaming about Zolo's mouth-watering, innovative creations long after the last fork-full. Runner-up Casa Alvarez serves a wide variety of authentic soups, specialty burritos and enchiladas in its Boulder and Lafayette locations. The shrimp and tilapia dishes will tempt seafood lovers. If you're looking to start your night out on the town, honorable mention Rio Grande's margaritas are not to be missed. Those wanting to stay for heavier fare can expect Tex-Mex food with delicious and fresh ingredients. And keep your eyes open for the Rio's rooftop deck, set to debut next spring.
For the third year running, Glacier Homemade Ice Cream is still No. 1. And the best just got better. Glacier now has three conveniently located Boulder locations. Their newest store on Baseline has added a coffee shop and teahouse to the scorecard, making this once-close category into a blowout. Whether you're looking for a mug of tea, a little straight-off-the-streets-of-Italy gelato, or a place to watch Oprah in the afternoons, Glacier has got you covered. But even more importantly, Glacier has the best ice cream, hands down. From traditional chocolate and vanilla to green tea or prickly pear gelato, they have something for everyone. And, of course, all ice cream is fresh and made from scratch. While it may be moving to the FlatIrons Shopping Center, Cold Stone Creamery continues to be a local favorite. At Cold Stone, you can mix piecrust and strawberries into cheesecake ice cream for the culinary equivalent of mom's homemade specialty.
Sure, the other categories are nice, but everyone knows that craft beer is king in Boulder. As Keith Jackson would famously say, this is "The granddaddy of 'em all," and it should come as no surprise to Boulder's hops-and-barley elite that the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery/Southern Sun have repeated as undisputed champs. The Colorado Kind Ale and the Java Porter are head and shoulders above the competition, and we love that they also show love to another B-dub favorite, Redstone Meadery.
Coming up on two decades as a Boulder institution, you can never go wrong with a quality craft brew and a gourmet meal at the Walnut Brewery downtown. B-dub must-haves include Old Elk Brown and Indian Peaks Pale Ale, but you're sure to find a favorite of your own at this world-class brewery.
Should you find yourself visiting Longmont, our favorite suburb to the northeast, be sure to stop in at the legendary Left Hand Brewing Co. for some Black Jack Porter and the signature Sawtooth Ale.
While One Boulder Plaza, the new mixed-use development on the 1800 block of Broadway, supplied all three of last year's BOB winners, this year's champs are more dispersed. Leading the pack is Aji (pronounced ah-hee), a fusion restaurant that serves innovative dishes inspired from the cuisines of Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America. All dishes are served with interesting side dishes like purple potato chips, sweet potato chips, yucca chips and spicy popcorn. Readers love Aji's unique drinks from down South, such as Pisco Sour, a white grape brandy mixed with lime juice, egg white, bitters and sugar.
Runner-up South Side Walnut Café, sister to the popular Walnut Café, made quite the splash this year in South Boulder. With reasonably priced dishes, South Side provides fast service and incredible breakfast and lunch entrees. Eggs Marcos, with bacon, cream and cheddar cheeses, is a must-try for breakfast, while vegetarians crave the Boulder Melt, a grilled sourdough sandwich with green peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Featuring daily fruit cobblers, pies and cakes, South Side is a great place to skip lunch altogether and go straight to dessert—you won't regret it. Honorable mention Trattoria on Pearl boasts fine Italian dining on the Pearl Street Mall, including seafood, pasta, pizza and salads. And don't miss Trattoria's great espresso drinks and patio seating, a satisfying pick-me-up for those mid-week blues.
PLACE TO EAT OUTDOORS
What could be a more authentic Boulder experience than enjoying a meal at Chautauqua Dining Hall? Established in 1898, the Chautauqua Dining Hall offers delicious American cuisine made with locally grown organic produce and free-range meats and served on a wide-open deck with views of Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons. Try the Duck Confit Quesadilla, the Apple and Watercress Salad or the Grilled Coleman Ranch Natural Lamb. Wash it down with a bottle of affordable fine wine, and follow your meal with a hike on the Mesa Trail.
The Boulder Farmers' Market is where the hungry go to graze. Purchase organic produce from local farmers, nibble freshly baked breads, or buy a jar of olive tapenade or a bouquet of flowers—all while enjoying the Colorado sunshine.
If you like eating al fresco, you'll love the patio at The Med. You'll feel like you're sitting in a little piazza while you're eating your freshly made pizza. Or you can enjoy burgers, steaks and salads on the West End Tavern's famous rooftop patio, where you can suck suds under the stars and enjoy the fresh Rocky Mountain air.
So you can't afford a trip to Cádiz or Naples or Athens. But you can afford a scrumptious lunch or dinner at The Med. Start with some tapas or the fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella appetizer. Have a fresh Greek salad or the Seafood Paella—both enough to sate the biggest appetite. Or try a pizza fresh from the wood-burning oven. Top-notch service, quality wines and a to-die-for dessert menu make The Med a great place to take a date or to escape the work week.
Offering fine organic dining, Sunflower brings upscale taste and healthy eating together. Try the Black Tea Dusted Elk Tenderloin for dinner or the Ocean Garden Salad for lunch. Top it off with Chocolate Nirvana—a flourless chocolate cake filled with white-chocolate mousse—and an organic coffee. With plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, as well as free-range meat dishes, Sunflower proves that eating well can be good for the body as well as the planet.
Offering brunch, lunch and dinner, Brasserie 1010 has been delighting locals since the summer of 2003 with its creative French-inspired menu. Their long and lazy Happy Hour runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, giving you plenty of time to sample their delicious appetizers and wines.
Full Moon Grill is the place to go for an intimate lunch or dinner. Its scrumptious Northern Italian fare and quiet atmosphere will have you coming back—as will the Molten Chocolate Cake. Yes, it's as good as it sounds.
Offering bliss by the pound is reader pick Whole Foods, which has more than 30 feet of organic veggies, prepared salads and gourmet dressings delicious enough to tempt Boulder's pickiest eaters. In addition to the ever-traditional salad items, Whole Foods offers eaters multi-cultural delights such as dolmas, feta, Caribbean black bean salad, Teriyaki chicken and the all-American egg and tuna salads. Remember: Just because you can't afford that trip to Greece this year doesn't mean your taste buds can't go there. If you're looking for something a bit down-tempo from the Whole Foods buzz, staff pick Sunflower offers diners lush greens, delightfully grilled tempeh and other fresh ingredients at their relaxing Pearl Street location. You can also get your spring-vegetable mix on at runner-up Wild Oats, which has three Boulder locations. Newbie restaurant and honorable mention Boulder Greens offers students and Hill-dwellers dozens of salad options. Check out the ever-popular Boulder salad, which features mixed greens with blue cheese, apples and mandarin oranges, topped off with Crasins and a light raspberry-walnut dressing.
RESTAURANT TO TAKE KIDS
Red Robin is a perennial favorite with children and their parents. Sure, there are balloons and arcade games and a guy in a fuzzy red robin suit. But there are also tasty French fries and 22 kinds of gourmet burgers and creamy shakes—the food adored by children from 9 months to 90 years. Mom and Dad will enjoy the full bar and the peace of mind that comes from dining someplace where kids can be kids.
Offering tasty noodle dishes in a casual, friendly atmosphere, Noodles & Co. takes runner-up honors for the second year in a row. From Asian noodle bowls to everybody's favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese, Noodles & Co. is the perfect place for harried parents to feed their flock on the fly.
Mountain Sun and its little sister Southern Sun offer smooth microbrews and sweet mead—but that's for parents. Kids will like the burgers and quesadillas and the open, child-friendly atmosphere.
Being a vegetarian can be challenging. If you want to eat out and live in Topeka, Kansas, chances are you'll be nibbling on iceberg lettuce and carrots. Thanks to the wide variety of restaurants in Boulder that cater to the veggie crowd, vegetarians can have their cake and eat it, too. At the top of this year's list is perennial favorite Sunflower. Using mostly organic ingredients, vegetarians crave Sunflower's Tempeh Scaloppini, Pad Thai with tofu and Red Curry Noodle Bowls. The brunch crowd will want to visit Sunflower for great smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and espresso drinks. And don't forget about Chocolate Nirvana and the rest of Sunflower's mouth-watering desserts.
Coming in as a close second-place contender is runner-up Ras Kassas Ethiopian Restaurant. Tender stews and vegetables are served traditional Ethiopian-style over flat bread. The dining experience will have vegetarians everywhere uttering "finger lickin' good." Gourmet Rudi's World Cuisine offers delicious salads, wraps and sandwiches for lunch and an extensive menu of vegetarian items for dinner.
Though stuck in a less-than-obvious location, Chez Thuy was able to garner top Best of Boulder honors again this year, proving that if you build it (and serve up delicious meals), they will come. Chez Thuy offers authentic Vietnamese cuisine you might not recognize as well, as familiar Asian meals that will satisfy the most American of appetites.
There's nothing ostentatious about Kim Food To Go, this year's runner-up. The tiny carry-out restaurant on The Hill may be little bigger than a lemonade stand, but its tastes are huge. With its location in a strip mall on Baseline, it's easy to forget about May Wah—unless you've tasted their delicious Vietnamese cuisine. One visit, and you'll understand why people go out of their way to eat in or get carry-out at May Wah.
Frasca Food and Wine takes top wine honors this year. Inspired by the cuisine of Italy's Fruili region, Frasca stocks its cellar with more than 200 varieties of wine—bottles from renowned vineyards, reserves from lesser-known winemakers and rare vintages. You don't have to be a oinophile to partake in this bounty—Frasca's wait staff are available to tell you which of those 200 varieties goes best with your meal.
A county landmark for 35 years, The Greenbriar Inn has won the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator every year since 2001 for its acclaimed wine list. Featuring 350 varieties of wine from the world's most acclaimed winemaking regions, The Greenbriar Inn is famous for its Sunday brunch, its elegant décor and scenic location, not to mention its sophisticated American cuisine.
Runner-up Trilogy Wine Bar offers an array of quality wines from around the world and regularly makes readers' short list of favorites.
Never underestimate the magic of a toaster oven. Topping this year's reader and staff pick for best sandwich is longtime favorite Snarfs. The popular lunchtime shop starts with all the usual suspects—juicy tomatoes, fresh lettuce and quality meats and cheeses—but then something happens inside that miraculous toaster. Vegetarians will find plenty of options, including an eggplant parmesan sandwich. And don't forget to grab an ice cream cone for dessert. Where else can you get a tuna melt and mint chocolate chip ice cream in one stop?
Runner-up Salvaggio's Italian Deli is a close second to Snarfs, using delicious homemade breads and gourmet meats to craft delicious sandwiches. If you're on the Hill, Half Fast Subs offers more sandwich varieties than you could ever possibly consume in one lifetime. In addition to meat sandwiches, Half Fast offers soup, made-to-order salads and a wide selection of beers and microbrews.
Here's a category where the debate continues to rage, and the winners change almost every year. There was a time when Boulder was a two-sushi-bar town: Zanmai and Tora, with the margin razor thin year after year. Now there are numerous options for great sushi, and our readers seem to change their loyalty as often as they shed or add a layer of fleece in our ever changing climate. This year Hapa gets the nod from our discerning readers, Japango wins the approval of our sushi-loving staff, and once perennial winners Sushi Zanmai and Sushi Tora follow closely behind. In a cuisine focused on presentation, Hapa ramps it to another level with creative rolls, fresh tastes and new risqué concepts—like the multiple orgasm and foreplay rolls, and the magic mushroom appetizer. And, while stopping short of taking the art of sushi to a marketing concept, Japango firmly positions itself in the "new sushi" realm that seems to have revolutionized a once-traditional cuisine. But marketing and tradition aside, Boulderites appreciate a good deal, which is why Japango's Tuesday night all-you-can-eat special is one of our town's best kept secrets—until now.
For three years, Pekoe Sip House has been treating North Boulder residents to some of the finest tea in the city. Its cozy atmosphere, outside patio and top-shelf tea made it this year's favorite among B-dub readers. With a nice view of Mt. Sanitas and the tips of the Flatirons from the patio, it's the perfect combo of views and brews.
But the B-dub staff has to give a nod to history and the legendary Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and its supernatural chai. The décor is breathtaking, the creek-side seating is to die for, and you can't beat the location, with the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the Farmer's Market and Central Park all sharing the same block.
What list of teas in Boulder would be complete without mention of the company that started it all, Celestial Seasonings? Sure you can get their fine, locally made teas at the grocery store, but with such a great resource right in our back yard, why not go to the source and enjoy a fresh brew at the Celestial Café.
Known for fast service, generous portions and quality ingredients is perennial winner Khow Thai Café. The popular lunchtime hangout offers an extensive Thai menu with Pad Thai, curry, noodle and rice entrées. Vegetarians love Khow Thai's Pad See-ewe, flat noodles stir-fried with vegetables in a highly addictive brown sauce. And don't forget to top your meal off with a Thai iced tea, a true Khow Thai specialty. If you want to diversify your culinary experience to the rest of Asia, try Siamese Plate, which serves sushi in its downstairs restaurant Sumida, in addition to Thai and Japanese cuisine upstairs. If you want it all, you can mix and match sushi with curries or Pad Thai in Siamese Plate's reasonably priced Bento Boxes. Honorable mention Gemini Thai Kitchen offers quick lunchtime service and a friendly, informative wait staff. Dishes are reasonably priced and feature fresh, quality vegetables and meats.
CULTURE, SPORTS & SCENE
Day spa. The word alone sends some women into a temporary state of bliss. Fortunately for Boulderites, our fair city hosts many such places that provide a haven from the stress of everyday life. Topping this year's list is Essentiels Spa, which offers many services including facials and therapeutic massage. From the relaxing waterfall sound that greets you to the soothing aromas that permeate the spa, Essentiels creates an experience that you won't soon forget. Runner-up Sensorielle specializes in natural therapeutic treatments and has something for everyone. The day spa offers massage therapy, hand and foot treatments, as well as waxing and tinting. If you want to include a haircut with your spa regime, The Finishing Touch is a great place to visit. And this year's second honorable mention winner, Amore Spa, features friendly staff, attentive pampering and a great North Broadway location.
Dr. Craig Beyer was one of the doctors who first helped pioneer LASIK surgery and the first doctor to perform the procedure in Colorado. Not surprisingly, his skill has gained him the confidence of local residents interested in trading those glasses or contacts for 20/20 vision. Dr. Beyer owns Beyer Laser Center, which offers the latest in laser innovation. InSight Lasik offers the talents of Drs. Jimmy Jackson and Keith Miller, experienced surgeons who specialize in cutting-edge LASIK surgery. Dr. Dennis Dupuis of the Eyecare Center of Boulder specializes in contact lenses and LASIK surgery co-management. College Optical offers optometry services, including eye exams and a wide selection of frames.
If you were to mention Big Head Todd and the Monsters anywhere outside of Colorado, you'd most likely get a blank stare. At best, you'll get someone asking, "Are they still together?" But Big Head is very much alive and kicking; they've virtually become a Colorado institution over the past decade or so, selling out huge venues like Red Rocks, playing sweaty, intimate shows at the Fox and bringing their brand of catchy folk rock to an ever-expanding Colorado audience. Jammers the String Cheese Incident are also local faves—check 'em out at Red Rocks this July with Bob Weir and Ratdog. Finally, voters gave an honorable mention nod to Hazel Miller, whose powerful blend of gospel, blues and pop wins over crowds wherever she goes.
LIVE JAZZ CLUB
Despite our remote mountain and decidedly non-urban setting, you can still find jazz in Boulder. According to B-dub staff and readers, Trilogy Lounge is the city's resident juke joint, where you can enjoy cool jazz with a delicious martini. Trilogy has become a major venue in recent years, attracting not only top local artists but big-time national acts to the People's Republic.
RedFish New Orleans Brewhouse upholds the world-renowned jazz heritage of its namesake with cold brews, hot blues and cool jazz. They've got a full lineup of great musicians throughout the week, in addition to great Louisiana-style cuisine.
ALTERNATIVE HEALTH CARE
The stereotype of Boulderites is that we're an easy-going, laid-back people. That's true for the most part, but not when it comes to massages. That, my friends, we take very seriously—and don't you forget it. So it's no surprise that the Boulder College of Massage Therapy has repeated as champion in the Best Alternative Health Care category. At BCMT you can take advantage of the school's Student Clinic, which offers a one-hour Zen Shiatsu or therapeutic massage (such as Swedish, Normalization of Soft Tissue and Integrative Therapeutic) for less than $50. With the Boulder College of Massage Therapy right in our back yard, it's no wonder us Boulderites are so mellow.
In Boulder, health care is not just a luxury of the rich. The needy can get the health care they need at the People's Clinic, which offers high-quality health care for the entire community.
Boulder is home to a plethora of amazing artists, and thanks to world-class art galleries like the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, these great artists can be featured alongside national talents. BMoCA also serves as a community gathering center, hosting numerous events in addition to its regular gallery showings.
Dairy Center for the Arts, this year's runner-up, is Boulder's other cultural hub, bringing together the visual arts with the performing arts. Boulder Arts & Crafts Cooperative is an anchor for local artists to show their wares and the public to enjoy them. Just off the Mall, Art and Soul features some of the finest, and quirkiest, art in Colorado, mixing high-end fine-art pieces with affordably priced curiosities that make perfect gifts.
The word "chocolate" really says it all. The Boulder County Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence gives chocoholics a chance every year to feel good about indulging in our passion. The Chocolate Lover's Fling is the Alliance's primary fundraiser, helping fund the Safehouse and other programs designed to help battered women and their children.
KBCO has been raising money for Boulder County AIDS Project by treating the public to Studio C CDs—recordings made while well-known musicians perform live on the radio. The much-needed funds go toward helping those in our community who are struggling with AIDS/HIV, as well as public education and outreach.
Get your kink on at the Exotica Erotica Ball and help raise money for the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, which enriches our community through theater, fine arts and music.
FESTIVAL (OTHER THAN MUSIC)
Never mind what the calendar says, summer in Boulder officially begins with the Boulder Creek Festival on Memorial Day Weekend. Incorporating such big-time events as the Bolder Boulder and the rubber-ducky race, the Creek Festival also features multiple stages of live music, performance and spoken word. Got vendors? Oh, yeah, including some of the finest festival food you can imagine.
While the Creek Festival may mark the official beginning of summer, the official festival of summer has got to be this year's runner-up, the Boulder County Farmers' Market. Every Saturday and Wednesday, local growers get together to shop their fresh, organic produce and other goods.
When you think classical music in Boulder, the first thing that comes to mind is the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, which offers big-city classical in cozy old Boulder. The BPO has a special performance coming up this Saturday at Macky Auditorium, when Maestro Theodore Kuchar conducts his final performance.
Recipe for a perfect summer day in Boulder: an afternoon of hiking in the foothills, dinner at Chautauqua Dining Hall, and an early evening classical music concert at the Colorado Music Festival in beautiful and historic Chautauqua Park. The phrase "world-class" is synonymous with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, which features some of the world's finest musicians performing some of the greatest music ever written on sheet music. Swing by the Buell Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to experience one of the most memorable nights of music you'll ever have.
INDOOR CLIMBING WALL
Boulder Rock Club is Boulder's first indoor climbing gym, dating back to a time when people said, "Climbing gym? What's that?" Offering both adult and youth classes and available for hosting birthday parties and other events, Boulder Rock Club helps fitness-hungry rock jocks get their fix of vertical. The Rock Club is known for its superior route setting, with roped climbs that range from beginner quality to a freaky 5.14a.
The Spot Bouldering Gym, runner-up again this year, is famous nationwide for its world-class bouldering routes. With 11,000 square feet dedicated to climbing, the Spot attracts experts from across the country, who hone their skills on the 5.13 routes, as well as beginning climbers, who cut their teeth on a breezy 5.3.
For many, finding a good chiropractor is like finding a good hairdresser: You're not going to trust just anyone to crack your bones. While Café of Life can't crack your back and highlight your hair, it does offer friendly chiropractic service and therapeutic massage at a reasonable price. If you've got that "hip thing" that just won't go away, Café's informative staff is great at helping you get on the road to recovery. Runner-up Whole Body Balance offers thorough treatment at great prices. In addition to chiropractic care, Whole Body Balance offers therapeutic massage, acupuncture and Rolfing.
Dinner and a movie has become quite the cliché in American culture. Enter this year's reader and staff pick for Best Live Theater, Boulder's Dinner Theatre, which offers world-class theater with gourmet cuisine. The BDT cast has taken on such heavy-hitters in the past as Cats and Phantom of the Opera. The current show is The Music Man, running through Aug. 19.
The runner-up, Dairy Center for the Arts, is host to many arts organizations working in many media, from music and dance to theater and the visual arts. Shows are put on year-round by resident organizations like Upstart Crow Theater Company, Lemon Sponge Cake Ballet, Frequent Flyers Productions and Imagination Makers Theatre Company.
This summer, take a road trip without ever leaving the 1300 block of Pearl Street. Just catch a performance by the legendary David Rosdeitcher, better known as Zip Code Man. With his chain-link map of the U.S.A., Zip Code Man identifies the zip codes of tourists and transplants from around the country when they give him the name of the town they're from. In most cases, he can even tell them a little bit about their town. It's an amazing talent—one that has landed Rosdeitcher in the Guinness Book of World Records.
The NFL Draft is this weekend, and Boulderites will recognize at least one name called at the podium: Jeremy Bloom. The one-time CU Buff receiver and special teams ace is certain to make somebody's roster as a return man so that Buffs fans can enjoy seeing him play on Sundays just as we enjoyed his exciting play on Saturdays here in Boulder. Of course, Bloom is known for more than football. For one thing, he's known for his losing battle with the NCAA in which he was screwed out of football eligibility. But he's also known as a world-class skier who was part of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team at the age of 15, a member of the U.S. Olympic Ski team in 2002 and the youngest freestyle moguls World Cup champion in skiing history.
Massage therapy and Boulder. It's like wine and cheese or coffee and chocolate—the combination is just meant to be. With a large number of athletes per-capita and a strong alternative health community, massage therapy is everywhere in Boulder. Topping our list this year is the Boulder College of Massage Therapy (BCMT). Thanks to BCMT's generous student population, the school runs a student clinic, which provides massage therapy at discounted rates. Also popular in Boulder is free—that's right, we said free—massage from BCMT students for all Bolder Boulder participants. It's a long line, but well worth the wait.
Our runner-up, MassageSpecialists.com, is known for same-day appointments and its friendly, professional staff. If you've got that knee pain that just won't go away, Dirk McCuistion and his team of massage therapists can help assess, treat and educate you on how to best recover from your injury. Whether it's an ailing knee or an hour of spa-like bliss that you're looking for, MassageSpecialists.com can help you get there.
MARTIAL ARTS STUDIO
Hay-YA! Find your inner Bruce Lee at... Easton Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? OK, Bruce Lee may not have practiced this particular brand of South American martial arts, but he'd no doubt approve of Easton's excellent instructors, their state-of-the-art facilities and diverse schedule of classes. Easton offers very effective children's programs, as well as tons of beginner, intermediate and advanced adult classes covering Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, submission wrestling and Muay Thai kickboxing.
The martial arts aren't just about kicking ass and taking names—the Boulder Quest Center takes a kinder, gentler approach to self-defense—its To-Shin Do Martial Arts Program uses an elemental model to describe the different ways we can feel in response to conflict. Using a physical model of interpersonal reactions, the training leads to the ability to live life fully, fearlessly and freely. But don't worry, you'll still learn how to kick ass.
Tran's, with its multiple locations along the Front Range, offers a range of martial arts classes, as well as kickboxing for fitness.
Learning is a lifelong experience—just because you're no longer of "college age" doesn't mean you can't keep going to school. Naropa University is the hands down most popular place for Boulderites to expand their horizons, their minds and anything else they may want to expand. The school is a one-of-a-kind institution, with a widely respected creative writing program, Buddhist-focused psychology programs and the renowned TCP Art Therapy Program, among a wide array of educational opportunities. Expect the unexpected from Naropa. CU's Continuing Education has summer and evening courses in pretty much every subject imaginable—from Art History to Microeconomics to beginning Chinese language. Also in Boulder are two schools that will make you immediately very popular among friends—the Boulder College of Massage Therapy and the Culinary School of the Rockies.
As if we weren't spoiled enough here in the beauty and splendor of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, we are blessed with a music scene that is the envy of dozens of cities far larger than Boulder. This is largely due to the efforts and nature of our outstanding music venues, which bring in some awesome artists. The differences between the winner and runner-up in this category are negligible, with our readers showing a slight preference for the Boulder Theater. This may be accountable to the Fox Theatre's greater emphasis on the college-age audience that surrounds the University Hill community. In any event, both the Boulder Theater and the Fox Theatre provide a great backdrop for the fantastic artists they attract, ranging from Donovan for the Baby Boomers to Rose Hill Drive for the younger set. As summer approaches, many of us Boulderites begin to make plans for those hot summer weekends when you really want to do something outdoors. At the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, you can end a sweaty day of rock climbing or mountain biking with an amazing outdoor music experience. This summer, Red Rocks is showing everyone from Def Leppard to Willie Nelson.
PLACE OF WORSHIP
No matter how or who you worship, there is a place for you to practice in Boulder—even if that means just honoring Nature herself with a walk through Chautauqua. But if you're part of Boulder's large Buddhist community, you might want to check out the Shambhala Center, which both B-dub staff and readers selected as Boulder's Best Place of Worship. Shambhala offers many classes and seminars, many on a weekly, drop-in basis, and bring in heavy hitters from the spiritual world to speak and teach workshops.
There's no way Boulderites were going to overlook runner-up Unity of Boulder, the legendary house of worship that welcomes all denominations. Spiritual rock star Jack Groverland gives weekly talks and classes at Unity, and recently the church put on one of Groverland's original works, a metaphysical musical comedy titled, The Frame of Mind.
Boulder is a city made for rooftop decks, and the newest edition is the large patio atop the Lazy Dog. In addition to fun in the sun, Lazy Dog is known as the place in town to watch sports. Featuring three floors of seating, numerous TVs and killer grub, whatever your sport, whatever your team, Lazy Dog can make you feel at home. And after a year without hockey, the Lazy Dog will be the best place in town to cheer on the Avalanche in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
You could say that the Dark Horse is as much a museum as a sports bar, with its quirky curios and mementos and monster-sized game room. It's also a great place to enjoy a baseball game and a fresh beer on a warm summer night. The Walnut Brewery is best known for its craft-brewed beers and gourmet food, but it's also a great place to root for the decimation of the visiting team.
"Most people play golf for the first time out of curiosity. Every time thereafter they are motivated by revenge."
This statement by David Feherty, a former professional golfer and now a golf commentator for CBS Sports and a columnist for Golf Magazine, sums up the feeling of playing the cruel first hole at Indian Peaks Golf Course. Any golfer knows that the first hole is always the hardest, and for that reason most courses start out with a fairly simple first hole—to help build confidence, an integral ingredient to a successful golf game. But not Indian Peaks. The first hole is a long par-5, with a sharp dog-leg to the left. The green, which cannot even be seen from the tee, is elevated and lies beyond a ditch that appears to have a magnetic attraction for little white balls having already been struck for the fifth, sixth or even seventh time on just this one impossible hole. Despite walking off the green, time and again, with the feeling that the round has already been ruined on the first hole, golfers continue to return to the first tee at Indian Peaks to avenge the last time out, only to card another "snowman." But that's the allure of golf, the challenge of finally taming the dragon, and it can be found on virtually any golf course in the world. Boulder Weekly readers continue to pick Flatirons Golf Course year after year, with a surprise runner-up this year, Boulder Country Club, a private course that requires an investment akin to a down payment on a house for membership. It is truly astounding to witness the lengths to which golfers will go to ensure the continuation of their suffering. But some golfers have discovered a more serene approach to the game, as expressed by the legendary Bob Hope: "I get upset over a bad shot just like anyone else. But it's silly to let the game get to you. When I miss a shot I just think what a beautiful day it is. And what pure fresh air I'm breathing. Then I take a deep breath. I have to do that. That's what gives me the strength to break the club."
Some personal trainers stick you on weight machines and talk with their buddies while you pump out reps. Some look like they're about to fall asleep when your abs are screaming. Some seem less concerned about your wellbeing than they are the weather. Corey Wiegand at Mountain's Edge Fitness Center isn't one of those trainers. A former Golden Glove boxer with a BS in kinesiology and multiple trainer certifications, Corey knows how to coax your body into losing fat and gaining muscle. Starting with your level of fitness, he combines core work, cardio and strength training in an endless variety of exercises designed to make you stronger and get your heart pumping. But Corey knows that getting fit is about much more than sweating. It's about nutrition. It's about sleep. It's about handling your emotions. It's about how you live your life. Corey pays attention to all of these elements to help you not only transform your body, but also your life. Compassionate and inspiring, he's not just your trainer, he's your biggest fan. Go to www.fit2go.net to schedule a consultation.
It's Friday night and you want to see a movie. There are two options. First, in order to sit in that luxury movie theater with the comfortable seats, drive out to Louisville, Broomfield or Westminster, shell out $20 for tickets for you and a date, buy a $5 popcorn, and enjoy that new blockbuster that is making rich people in Hollywood even richer. Sounds like a nice evening. Or, you open up Boulder Weekly, and see what's playing at the Boulder Theater. In between the Boulder Theater's hectic concert schedule, they take time out to show some alternative or cult classic movies, with fresh popcorn and an open bar. In typical Boulder style, people viewing a movie at the Boulder Theater form a community, without "public reminders" to turn cell phones off. And where else could you spend a relaxing Friday night watching the Wizard of Oz synchronized with the Pink Floyd album Dark Side of the Moon? Only in Boulder, and only at this year's reader and staff pick for best movie theater.
Note to Boulder Weekly readers: B.O.B. stands for Best of Boulder (County), with an emphasis on Boulder. Telluride, where arguably the world's most highly acclaimed outdoor music festival takes place every June, is in an idyllic box canyon surrounding the lovely San Miguel River in the unparalleled beauty of the gorgeous San Juan Mountains in the Southwest part of Colorado—practically in another state. We understand that the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, which takes place June 15-18 this year, features some of the finest musicians on the Planet—such as Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Tim O'Brien, Bonnie Raitt, John Prine, Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer, Mike Marshall and Tony Rice. And, yes, we are aware that the festival is produced by Planet Bluegrass, the Boulder County-based outfit that also puts on the runner-up winner RockyGrass festival in Lyons (July 28-30), featuring many of the same world-class musicians (plus more). And, since the Weekly is the print sponsor for all of the Planet Bluegrass festivals and sends representatives each year to "work" the events, we have observed that a large percentage of the audience at the Telluride festival comes from Boulder. But, still, can someone explain to us why a music festival some 350 miles from Boulder keeps winning this award? We just don't get it.
As would be expected of a progressive place like Boulder, there are a plethora of alternative education options available for the city's children, who—Whitney Houston has told us—are our future. And if anyone should know, it's Whitney. First up is the Shining Mountain Waldorf School. The Waldorf education method is based on "a developmental approach that addresses the needs of the growing child and maturing adolescent. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head." The September School offers students a chance to interact on a more one-on-one basis with instructors—class sizes are kept small, ensuring that no child is actually left behind. Finally, Lafayette's Alexander Dawson School is a co-ed learning community that challenges students to achieve excellence in mind, body and character through a rigorous college preparatory program.
Rack 'em up! The serious pool players in Boulder "cue" up at various spots around the Pearl Street Mall. The Foundry, which has a ton of tables and players of varying skill levels, comes out on top this year. Other hot spots for pool-ers include the subterranean Sundown Saloon and the Catacombs, where the dim, slightly seedy atmosphere will allow you to work on your best Paul-Newman-in-The Hustler impression. The Lazy Dog's pool tables made the cut this year as well.
PLACE TO SWIM
We may be hopelessly landlocked here in Colorado, but there are plenty of places to get wet, the most popular among them the Boulder Recreation Center's three locations in NoBo, SoBo and Ebo. (That's North Boulder, South Boulder and East Boulder for those of you who refuse to give credence to those annoying but useful little nicknames.) These pools are big, clean and often not very crowded. But if the chlorine gets on your nerves, there's an all-natural alternative—Boulder Creek. Be forewarned, though: Even in the middle of the hottest summer, it's still pretty chilly. And those rocks hurt, believe us.
PLACE TO WORKOUT
In a city that has been named on virtually every list of the fittest in the country, it only follows that Boulder boasts some of the finest recreational facilities anywhere. The Boulder Recreational Centers are three of the most impressive feathers in the cap of a town that is uncommonly committed to its health. Among the impressive array of amenities available at the East, North and South Recreational Centers are pools, jacuzzis, steam rooms, weight rooms, climbing walls, aerobics rooms, dance and yoga studios, volleyball, tennis and racquetball/handball courts and childcare. The newly remodeled South facility even has an Outdoor Frisbee Golf Course. And with fees as low at $6 per visit or $455 for an annual pass, you can stay as fit as you want when you want. However, if you're truly serious about a comprehensive resistance training program (lifting weights), there's no replacement for the variety of equipment you'll find at a good, old-fashioned gym. And the B-dub staff gives the nod again this year to Mountain's Edge Fitness Center. This is a gym for anyone, regardless of your level and goals. And for those considering a workout regimen for the first time who may be feeling a bit insecure about just where to begin, Mountain's Edge offers some of the most knowledgeable and professional personal trainers in town. And, best of all, at this gym the feeling is more like a club, with an atmosphere so friendly that you might even decide to leave your iPod at home.
The Humane Society of Boulder Valley is a fun place to visit, even with persistent smell of animals and cleaning solutions. Home to a wide array of animals, the Humane Society takes care of all our critters that are lost, found or abandoned. Although they usually have a waitlist for kittens and puppies, dropping in to adopt a new member of the family is always encouraged. And most noble of all, the Human Society makes every effort to avoid euthanizing homeless animals whenever possible. The Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) is this year's runner-up and deserves our praise for supporting Boulder County. SPAN provides shelter, support and advocacy for battered women and their children and works to end violence through education and social change. Since SPAN opened its doors in 1979, they have sheltered more than 7,000 women and children, responded to nearly 150,000 crisis calls and performed more than 8,500 educational presentations on domestic violence.
Boulder High School is well known and loved for its diversity of students and programs. Fairview High, this year's runner-up, also offers a quality education to a bunch of normal teenagers, just like Boulder High. Every year, the award for best public school is redundant. Both of Boulder's high schools teach the same kids about the same things. With a more diverse student body at Boulder High and a more rigorous academic offering of the International Baccalaureate Program at Fairview, the kids at both schools are still teenagers with raging hormones and an unquenchable desire to have their school win the annual Boulder-Fairview football game. And, just for the record, Fairview won last year. But it's no indicator of the quality of education. There will always be a rivalry between the two schools, and they will both always exist to educate the future leaders of the next generation.
With one of the best ski seasons in recent memory now behind us, Boulderites had many things to say about their favorite ski resorts. Edging out the competition is this year's reader and staff pick Vail Resort. Sure, the tickets may be expensive, but where else can you ski through the soft, white fluffy powder in one of Vail's seven back bowls? Families love runner-up Copper mountain for its first-class slopes, as well as its well-known terrain parks—for both adults and kids. Looking for some post-skiing fun? Check out Copper's tubing hill, which offers an hour of downhill thrills sure to make even the smallest hairs on your back stand tall. Eldora is a local favorite for many Boulderites. Shorter lift lines and less I-70 travel will remind you why you headed outdoors in the first place. In addition to downhill, Eldora offers miles of cross country and snowshoe trails.
Summer is a-comin', and that means that it's high time to register those kids of yours for summer camp. The YMCA offers a wide variety of programs for kids of all ages—traditional day camps and residential camps that give campers a chance to soak in the great outdoors (and in Colorado, the outdoors really is great), as well as make lifelong friends with kids from all over the county and state. For a full schedule, head to www.ymcabv.org. The Colorado Mountain Ranch, located near the historic mining town of Gold Hill, offers outdoor activities with qualified instruction emphasizing enjoyment and personal skill development. The camp, which runs in July, strives to provide opportunities for children to build skills physically, mentally and socially and to gain understanding and build relationships with self, others and nature.
Teeth are the Rodney Dangerfields of the body—they get no respect. We often forget to brush or floss, or we taint those pearly whites with cigarettes and coffee. And like the recently deceased comic master, you never really miss them until they're gone—and you're suddenly left with the smile of a Russian hockey player. But the fact is teeth are very important, vital for everything from eating food to biting fingernails, attracting a mate with a wide, bright smile to playfully tugging on a lover's lip.
Boulder Smiles can help you with the latter. Specializing in esthetic and cosmetic dentistry, the clinic—run by Dr. Mark Birnbach—will leave your teeth sparkling like an Orbit gum commercial. Regarding the former, Robert Baxt and Andrew Sewell Family Dentistry will cure your tooth-related ailments and get those incisors in tip-top shape.
In addition to his excellent dental work, this year's runner-up, Stephen Koral, is a mercury-free dentist also known for his environmental activism.
Manicures in Boulder, just like most other cities in the U.S., are not hard to come by. You know you've found the whole nine yards when your nail salon of choice is actually a "spa." This year's reader/staff pick and runner-up are true spas in the fullest sense of the word, with a variety of treatments including waxing, massages and facials. Although Essentiels Spa charges top dollar for their services, you're sure to get a manicure or pedicure that was worth every dime. For the uninitiated, pedicures begin with a foot soak and massage, while sitting in a comfortable chair with a heated neck wrap. Manicures are similarly deluxe and, of course, both treatments end with the application of the nail polish color of your choice. Finishing Touch Spa and Boulder Nails also deliver first-rate manicures and pedicures. Regardless of which spa you choose or what the service you receive, any opportunity to be pampered is a welcome one.
So you need a fix and head to the local coffee shop with your laptop, only to discover that sipping that $3 latté while surfing the Net is going to cost you an extra 10 bucks. No freaking way! Free Internet ought to go with coffee shops like chips and salsa go with Mexican restaurants. Readers and Boulder Weekly staff alike head to Caffe Sole. Not only is the coffee great and the service terrific, but the Internet is free. Sit, sip and surf to your heart's content while enjoying the amazing beauty of the Flatirons outside the window. Joe's Espresso offers free wi-fi to its customers, together with first-rate lattés and other espresso drinks.
Locally owned Om Time heads up this year's reader and staff pick for best yoga studio. Over the past three years, Joe and Shannon Schneider have expanded their Boulder studio to offer a new-and-improved roomy practice studio and store at a new Broadway location. Classes such as Anusara, Vinyasa flow and Restorative Yoga are always popular with the Om Time crowd. Those wanting to perfect their Warrior I pose should check out Om time's six-week foundation class for beginners, sure to give any yoga neophyte confidence in his or her yoga form. For more advanced practitioners, Om Time offers a variety of weekend workshops. Favorites include an upcoming May session, which includes sacred sounds and guided meditation with yoga practice. Specializing in extremely hot, but extremely healthy Bikram's Yoga is runner-up Bikram's Yoga College of India. Sure, you may need an extra water bottle or two, but your body will thank you for the workout. Honorable mention Corepower Yoga offers both hot yoga and power Vinyasa in their two-room Baseline studio. Whether you're 70 or 17, you'll enjoy Corepower's fun, upbeat practice that strives to challenge every ability level.
PLACE TO DANCE
It can't be denied: Boulder loves to shake its collective groove thang. The best dance floor in the city, as selected by readers, is the one belonging to Trilogy Lounge, where patrons can rub up against one another while listening to a thumping mix of reggae, hip-hop, R&B, Latin, techno and everything else in between. The Fox Theatre was also singled out as a fine spot for doing that wacky hippie dance, as well as bumping to the hippest touring and local rap acts on the scene. The Boulder Theater's classy vibe gives dancers a chance to trip the light fantastic. And if you prefer your dancing to be done in the great outdoors, our staff thinks Lyons' Planet Bluegrass is the place for you.
Boulder continually gets high grades among the leading cities in the country in lifestyle rankings. For example, Men's Journal magazine recently ranked us the Best Overall place to live in its annual "50 Best Places to Live" edition for the third year in a row. And, of course, the incredible natural beauty and the impressive access to it by foot, bike, skis or even kayak are often cited as the reasons our community is so universally admired. Within our mere 27.8 square miles, Boulder boasts more than 41,000 acres of open space, 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, 35 miles of bike lanes, numerous on- and off-road jogging trails, and, of course, the 16-mile-long Boulder Creek Path. Among all of the athletic opportunities in this very sporty community, Hiking was the runaway choice in this year's poll, followed by skiing. Given Bicycling Magazine's pick of Boulder as Top Biking City in its 2006 ranking, and considering the number of people that commute by bike—rain or shine—we might have predicted biking as the runner-up choice, especially considering that most skiers head out of town for that particular sport. And for those who consider dating a sport (and you know who you are), Forbes Magazine has, once again, named Boulder the Best Place for Singles (OK, with Denver as a metro area, but still). Our recommendation: Take your date hiking, skiing and biking, all in the same day. Yeah, that's right, the trifecta!
There are few things more valuable than an honest mechanic, and that's why good word-of-mouth and a Best of Boulder nod can make you breathe a whole lot easier when your Subaru starts struggling. Hoshi Motors takes home yet another BOB award this year, and though they'll tell you it sounds trite, they're tops because they're honest. And with 22 years experience servicing Hondas, Accuras and Subarus, Hoshi Motors is a breath of fresh air in the auto service world. Super Rupair takes the runner-up award, and not only because of their clever name but for their propensity for fixing Boulder's "unofficial" official car, the Subie. Blue Spruce, with more than 10 years in business, and HonAccurate, with almost 20 years of service, round out this year's best auto repair picks with an honorable mention.
In Boulder, bicycling isn't just a hobby: It's a way of life. To meet the demands of the city's passionate cyclists, there are a number of excellent bike shops. The best of the bunch, according to both readers and B-dub staff, is University Bicycles, which has been selling new and used bikes, as well as tons of biking gear, for more than 20 years. The store also employs several supremely skilled mechanics who can fix even the direst bike-related problems. On the other end of Pearl Street, Full Cycle, this year's runner-up, recently opened up a new, spacious location in the building that previously housed Penny Lane. The larger space means that there's more of everything—more bikes, more gear and more staff members available. Finally, the selection at Bicycle Village, which in addition to its Boulder location, has shops all over the Front Range, can please even the most die-hard cyclist.
The University of Colorado Federal Credit Union, a locally owned not-for-profit organization, has been providing financial services to its members since 1953. Membership costs $25 and is open to all University of Colorado and Naropa students, faculty and staff, as well as members of CU's alumni association and other groups. Members having voting rights, are able to volunteer if they choose and enjoy the same services available at a bank. With a new full-service branch in Longmont, the U of C Federal Credit Union is known for its great member service and friendliness. Runner-up Wells Fargo has been in the banking business since 1852 and is now the largest financial institution headquartered in the western United States. First Bank is Colorado's largest locally owned banking organization. It opened its doors in 1963 and now has more than 100 locations across the state.
Boulder is the most educated city in America. Is it any wonder we love to read? Whether you're looking for hard-hitting political analysis, spiritual self-help or the latest Harry Potter, Boulder Book Store has it all. Browsing the titles is almost as much fun as actually reading the books. The store also offers an array of magazine titles, along with stationary, bookmarks, pens, magnets and other book-related goodies. Known for being supportive of both new and big-name authors alike, the store hosts numerous signings each month. Come hear a new author read from his or her work, then head next door with your friends for a latté at the Bookend Café. Bookworm is runner-up again this year. With more than 300,000 titles for readers to peruse, Bookworm has a fix for any book addict. Trident Booksellers & Cafe, a Pearl Street landmark, is where the hip go to read and sip. With a range of interesting used titles as well as a café known for its cappuccino and baked goods, the Trident nurtures both mind and body.
We live in a digital world. In no category is this transformation more apparent than camera/video/photofinishing. Offering first-class service and selection of both digital and film cameras is locally owned Mike's Camera. From point-and-shoot cameras to Nikon D200s and beyond, Mike's will help you find a camera suitable for your pocketbook and lifestyle. Branching out into HDTV, Mike's offers many makes and models so that you can trade in that old Trinitron and join the 21st century. If you need to print your digital photos, but don't have the time, download your images to www.mikescamera.com and they'll be ready in no time. You can also process photos from runner-up Wolf Camera's website, www.ritzpix.com. Wolf Camera offers a wide selection of amateur and professional-grade cameras, as well as albums and frames. If you're on The Hill, honorable mention Jones Drug and Camera is your best bet for 24-hour photofinishing.
When it comes to cars, most Boulderites are practical. They want a good car (preferably foreign) that gets good gas mileage, will hold up in the winter and can take them deep into the mountains for camping or hiking adventures in the summer. That's why Boulder's top dealerships are no surprise, because they sell the cars Boulderites love to drive. Boulder Toyota-Scion has been in the business for more than 20 years, and in its current location for nearly two decades. Their punctual, friendly salespeople and timely repair and service staff earned them enough votes to take the BOB award for '06. They have a vast selection of 4-wheel drive SUVs, hybrids, trucks, compacts and of course the ultra-customizable Scion. Or, how can you go wrong with a Subaru? In Boulder, you just can't—unless you're trying to decipher which one is yours in the Whole Foods/Barnes & Noble parking lot—but we digress. With their affable, inviting staff, Flatiron's Acura Subaru Land Rover has kept Boulder rolling in sporty-cool rides for years. And how could we pick the best dealerships without an honorable mention of the particularly posh Gephardt Automotive? This is the dealership for the driver who prefers to be pampered and can easily afford said pampering.
CAR DEALER—USED CARS
Buying a car ranks right up there on the list of life's most procrastinatable (if that isn't a word, it should be) events, along with having your in-laws come to stay with you, going to the dentist and doing your taxes. And among car-buying experiences, the used-car purchase is doubly dreaded, especially given the stigma associated with the occupation "used-car salesman." All of that notwithstanding, there is a used-car dealer in Boulder who was recently overheard, while selling a 16-year-old Fairview student her first car, "Just promise me that you won't drink and drive, and that if you do drink you'll call me or your dad for a ride." Joe Morelli at Blue Spruce Auto Sales is not only the kind of guy you can trust to sell you a car that's fit for his own daughter at a fair price, but he's the kind of guy you'd like to have over for dinner or play golf with. Now how rare is that in this age of "every man for himself"? Reader pick Boulder Toyota-Scion is clearly doing something right, as well, as their name appears at the top of our reader poll in both the used and new car categories.
Party and event planners—and those of us who simply can't cook—depend upon the excellent catering services that make their home here. The most popular, according to readers and staff, is Spice of Life, a company that has been catering in Boulder for almost 20 years. Their attention to detail and commitment to excellence is legendary. Spice of Life specializes in elegant weddings, impressive corporate events and festive social events including Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, holiday parties, barbeques and rehearsal dinners. The splendidly named Who's Got Thyme Catering is another extremely versatile company that can provide you and your guests with everything from tender beef tenderloin to a platter of mouth-watering submarine sandwiches. Finally, there's the Boulder-based supermarket Wild Oats, which can provide you with very natural prepared foods in a pinch.
If flowers are the language of love, it's a language Sturtz & Copeland has been speaking fluently since 1929. This locally owned favorite is known for its lovely flowers, sending brides down the aisle, helping lovers apologize, and brightening people's lives. The store's staff is there to help whether you need a flower arrangement for a party, greenery for your office, or plants for an entire xeriscaped garden. Offering a wide range of garden accessories, pottery and fountains, the store also carries stationery and invitations for all of life's big events.
A consistent favorite with our readers, The European Flower Shop is known for its high-quality flowers, orchids, plants and unique gifts. The store's emphasis on high-style design is apparent the moment you step through the door and see the beautiful blooms artfully displayed European-style in containers on the floor rather than tucked away in a cooler.
Sonrisa, owned by New York-born floral designer Cheryl McBay Tedeschi, offers lovely arrangements, single-stems, bunches, and flowers for special events. Boulder Blooms specializes in floral design, flower arrangements and lovely hand-picked flowers.
CD stores seem to have a hard time lasting anywhere nowadays. With iPods and online music stores growing, not to mention the illegal downloading of music, CD stores are closing left and right. But who doesn't love the feeling of getting the new CD you wanted at a reasonable price and fighting with the plastic wrapper to get it into your car stereo as soon as is humanly possible? For any music need, Bart's CD Cellar is there. They also feature an entire floor of old-school vinyl and have recently opened a location right next door with used CDs and an impressive collection of posters, stickers and buttons. For those of us who are obsessed with Jim Morrison, Bart's provides the posters for the ceiling, collectable vinyl albums, and every CD of the Doors. What more could you need? Albums "On the Hill" caters to a similar group of people, but with a convenient CU location on the Hill (obviously). Here you can find a ridiculously impressive Grateful Dead collection, as well as every other band, up and coming and long since washed up alike. They also feature a variety of other music paraphernalia.
According to Connie Allen, local owner of this year's reader and staff pick, readers love Rocky Mountain Kids for its quality clothes and personable service. "We take great pride in providing great service to our customers," she says. "No one carries our quality of clothes for kids in the Boulder area." Carrying preemie-size clothes all the way to sizes 12 for boys and 16 for girls, Rocky Mountain Kids offers trendy and stylish clothing for all ages. Name anything from underwear to raincoats—Rocky Mountain Kids has got it. Runner-up Ginger & Pickles has clothes for infants through ages 12 or 13. Shoppers love Zutano T-shirts and shoes, while kids enjoy Ginger & Pickles' extensive toy collection—everything from science to board games, puzzles and wooden toys. Honorable Mention Trail Kids deserves high marks for its new and used outdoor wear, which includes winter ski jackets, ski bibs and fleeces. Parents also win at Trail Kids, as the store offers backpack and bike child carriers.
Even with "bohemian" and "grunge" styles for women, most outfits still cost a pretty penny, with today's average jeans costing upward of a hundred bucks. This is why Boulder Weekly readers recognize Rags to Riches as the best women's clothing store. At Rags you can find secondhand everything—from formal dresses to summer tank tops to designer purses and shoes. Prices are low, and you can sell your old clothes to pay for the new ones! Rags will even keep a balance for you on record from your clothing sales. The award for runner-up goes to Chelsea, a small boutique that has managed to survive the ups and downs of life on the Pearl Street Mall. At Chelsea you can get this season's Juicy Couture sweatsuit or Joe's jeans. If you can afford it, Chelsea is an awesome shopping experience. Jacque Michelle is mostly known for their quirky collection of cards and gifts, but they also have women's apparel including local designers and an array of purses and bags perfect for any wardrobe.
Art Cleaners definitely knows what Boulder needs when it comes to dry cleaning. With five locations and free pick-up and delivery service, even the laziest hippie doesn't have an excuse for the merlot stains on his or her favorite hemp outfit. Art Cleaners credits its attention to detail, hand-finishing each and every item, and best of all, it's the only GreenEarth Cleaner in Boulder, using a special silicon-based solvent that converts to sand once it's done the dirty work. Boulder Cleaners took the runner-up spot this year thanks to their excellent same-day service and two locations. John's Cleaners gets an honorable mention with five locations in Boulder County, offering tailoring and repair service. If you get your duds in by 9 a.m., you can pick them up by 4:30 p.m.—and they won't reek of patchouli anymore, either. Score!
Charming the competition away this year with its Victorian class and style is reader and staff pick Hotel Boulderado. For a real slice of Boulder's history, take a stroll through the Boulderado's lobby and enjoy the early-20th-century architectural design. The Boulderado's elegant surroundings provide a charming backdrop for wedding receptions, conferences and banquets. And if you've worked up an appetite, try Q's for fine dining or the Corner Bar for more casual fare—a popular spot for the local crowd. Using its new-world charm on visitors is runner-up Hotel St. Julien. Stunning contemporary design abounds at the Hotel St. Julien from the large, open entryway to the St. Julien pool and jacuzzi, to the local photography that graces hallways and individual rooms. For an elegant dining experience, don't miss Jill's, located in Hotel St. Julien. The food will be on your mind long after you leave, and the restaurant's large, open windows allow hours of people-watching along Walnut Street. Both visitors and locals praise the Hotel St. Julien's Sunday brunch, which offers mimosas, fresh seafood, eggs, pancakes, pastries and pizza—pure culinary heaven.
One way to judge a hair salon is by the number of clients who refuse to go anywhere else. If that's the criterion, it's no wonder The Parlour is a repeat Best of Boulder winner. Its highly trained stylists can give you a fresh, new look, whether that entails a new haircut, highlights or dyeing your hair a color not normally found in nature. The Parlour also offers a range of hair-care products, including organic options, as well as waxing.
Runner-up Salon Salon in the Village Shopping Center has been operating in Boulder since 1976. Whether you're looking for a cut and highlights, a facial, eyelash extensions or permanent makeup, Salon Salon takes good care of its clients. On Broadway Hair Studio offers hair care and will also pamper your skin, nails and spirit with a range of spa treatments from herbal wraps to cleansing treatments to waxing.
For years, McGuckin Hardware was the only game in town when it came to hardware. What a difference a year makes. Now Boulderites have numerous options, such as Liberty Hardware, Ace Hardware and the ubiquitous Home Depot. Despite the newfound competition, McGuckin remains the undisputed champ with Boulder Weekly readers. We couldn't agree more. You can imitate, but you can't replicate the size, scope and hospitality of McGuckin—and there's no way you're going to convince any dyed-in-the-wool Boulderite to take their business to a corporate hardware shop over the one-and-only McGuckin.
Home Depot, once again our runner-up, is there to help you with your home fix-'er-upper needs. And if lumber's your game, everyone knows Home Depot brings the wood.
If Greek god Dionysus had a favorite store in Boulder County, it would be Liquor Mart. Another perennial favorite, Liquor Mart carries every kind of fermentation in which both gods and mere mortals love to indulge. Its wine department carries Colorado and California wines, as well as a wide selection of wines from across Europe—Italy, France, Spain, Germany, etc. Wine experts are on hand to make sure you get the right wine for your dinner or your next bacchanal. Liquor Mart also carries local microbrews, European beer, and every kind of liquor, drink mix and drinking utensil imaginable.
Runner-up Ace Discount Liquor is known for its friendly and helpful staff. They'll answer your questions about wines, help you pick out the best microbrew and charge you an affordable price when you get to the register.
Superior Liquor offers an outstanding selection of wine, liquor, beer and cigars, all sold at discount prices. North Boulder Liquor offers fast, personalized service, together with one of the biggest selections of single-malt Scotch in the county.
Boulder is blessed with a number of grocery stores that make it extremely easy to avoid the dreaded and depressing chain stores of the world. Atop the heap is the king of all natural foods supermarkets, Whole Foods. With incredibly fresh produce, the delicious baked goods, the multitudes of vitamins and supplements, the store has been known to make grown vegetarians weep with joy. Coming in an extremely close second is the Boulder-based Wild Oats, which has several locations in the city. And Whole Foods should watch their back: When Wild Oats opens up its Twenty Ninth Street location later this year, the battle for natural foods consumers in Boulder will heat up immensely. And for a truly homegrown experience, the Boulder Cooperative Market offers organic locally grown produce and is a fine alternative to the bigger Wild Oats and Whole Foods stores.
Not too many towns can support three top-tier hydroponic stores, but Boulder is one of them. And although all three stores deserve a mention in these pages, it was Boulder Hydroponic & Organic that took home the BOB award. Two factors put it over the top: One was their wide variety of stock. Second—and more importantly—was their knowledgeable, helpful and courteous staff, which rivals any in the country. At Boulder Hydroponic & Organic, you can get started with a small active system for only $55, and their vast selection ranges up into the thousands of dollars. Way To Grow also has the goods to help you unlock your very own indoor secret garden. And enough chefs, green thumbs and wordsmiths alike voted for the Growcery Store and its too-clever name as a fantastic place to get the gear to cultivate an indoor herb or vegetable garden, earning it an honorable mention.
With locally owned businesses diminishing in Boulder, it's nice to know that all three of this year's BOB jewelry winners are owned and operated within the Republic of Boulder. Relative newbie to the jewelry scene is this year's reader and staff pick, Angie Starr. The store offers unique necklaces, bracelets and earrings for all ages. The handcrafted items are worth a peek, even for those who don't have jewelry penciled into their monthly budget. Runner-up Hurdle's Jewelry offers personable service and unique designs that have pleased customers for decades. Honorable mention Little Jewel offers a great selection of items in platinum, gold and sterling silver, including an extensive collection of wedding bands.
It's April, so that means that it's time for B-dub readers and staff to bestow Best Music Store honors on Robb's Music. You can set your clock to it. One visit to this locally owned store is all it takes to come to that conclusion. With helpful, knowledgeable staff and a diverse offering of instruments and accessories, you can find whatever you need at Robb's.
If acoustic music is your thing, then runner-up HB Woodsong's is your hookup. The Boulder mainstay offers a fine array of acoustic guitars and accouterments to meet your needs, whether you're a folk star, roots rocker or '80s balladeer.
Local food and beverage
The three winners in this category have something in common—they're all about natural living and health. Founded by locals Todd Woloson and Greg Stroh, IZZE has become a sensation. This delightful drink is made with fruit juice and sparkling water—no refined sugar, no caffeine, no fake stuff of any kind. It's the kind of fizzy, bottled drink mothers aren't afraid to give to their kids and the kind health-food nuts can drink without feeling guilty. Born in Boulder, IZZE is now available across the country and around the world in eight delectable flavors—apple, blackberry, blueberry, clementine, grapefruit, lemon, pear and pomegranate.
Independently and locally owned, Celestial Seasonings isn't just an internationally known producer of herbal teas, it's a tourist attraction. Started by Mo Siegel in 1969, Celestial Seasonings offers healthful, natural teas like Sleepytime and Red Zinger that titillate your tongue while being good for mind and body. Founded in 1977 by Steve Demos, White Wave's natural soy products can be found in grocery stores across the country.
An annual favorite on the Best of Boulder list, Urban Outfitters tops this year's best place for guys to buy hip threads. You name it, Urban Outfitters has got it, from jeans and shoes to button-down shirts and pajamas (do people still buy pajamas?). While a pair of funky Pumas or a hip, retro track jacket is always great for the wardrobe, don't miss Urban Outfitter's novelty T-shirt section. One B-dub favorite is "More Cowbell," sure to garner more than a few chuckles from any faithful Saturday Night Live viewer.
Known for its to-die-for leather coat selection is runner-up Weekends. In addition to belts, shoes and coats, shoppers can find sophisticated clothes for casual living and—surprise, surprise—weekend wear. Offering perhaps the largest selection of men's jeans is honorable mention Starr's Clothing. With brands like Royal Robbins, Columbia and Quicksilver, the store caters to a large age range, while still preserving a hip, outdoorsy style.
Peppercorn has become synonymous for high-quality accessories for your kitchen, bath and home. From professional-grade cookware and cutlery to crystal and silver to beautiful linens and toiletries, Peppercorn carries lovely items from designers all over the world to make your home more beautiful and entertaining. Shopping there is a sensory experience with something to interest everyone—including, oddly enough, the hot-sauce lover in your family. Good Use, our runner-up again this year, takes gently used furnishings, touches them up and creates one-of-a-kind furniture for your home. It's both environmentally sound and affordable.
NATURAL FOODS STORE
Healthy and delicious? That may seem like an oxymoron to many, but us Boulderites know better. We've got numerous restaurants and grocery stores that prove that nutritional doesn't have to be nasty. The people have spoken, and the best place in town to get low with good health is Whole Foods, where natural, organic, non-GMO, nutrient-rich food is the rule, not the exception.
When it comes to natural foods, local yokel and runner-up Wild Oats has been doing it for years—and they've been doing it well. Herbs and supplements? Yep. Organic fruits and vegetables? You bet. Healthy and tasty deli? Darn-tootin'. Looking to support locally grown goods, organic vegetables and not doing the "meat thing" this year? Take a stroll down the aisles of honorable mention the Boulder Coop Market.
Comp USA offers the latest in computer technology and related gadgetry for both Mac and PC. The store also carries a range of toys for grown ups—iPods, cell phones, digital cameras—together with accessories. Choose from among more than 2,000 software titles, or shop for new office furniture, printers, copiers, paper, and just about anything else you might want for your office.
Mac Shack is the local leader when it comes to used Macintosh computers. Mac Shack also carries printers and Mac and iPod accessories. The store's helpful staff perform upgrades and repairs and dispense advice for devoted Mac users. Computer Renaissance, our honorable mention, offers used and built-to-order computers and laptops, as well as upgrades and service.
Pet owners—oops, sorry, pet "guardians"—have a wealth of options when it comes to shopping for their four-legged and furry friends. Readers have singled out the Boulder Humane Society as the finest of the bunch. Their fully stocked store has the healthiest food, the funniest toys and everything else your dog, cat or potbellied pig might need. And best of all, every penny you spend there goes toward keeping the Humane Society's state-of-the-art facilities in tip-top shape. Whole Pets recently opened (near Whole Foods on Pearl Street) and wowed consumers with its wide selection and friendly staff. PC's Pantry has many freshly baked treats that will make your dog drool—even more than usual!
There's a fine line between wearing stylish frames and looking like a freakish pasty albino behind thick black eyeglasses. If you're looking for some styles that are just right for you, reader and staff pick Aspen Eyewear is the place to shop for eyeglasses. Not only does Aspen Eyewear have something for everyone, but its personable staff will help you select a pair of frames that's right for you. Runner-up Europtics offers a doctor of optometry, as well as a large selection of stylish frames at reasonable prices. And honorable mention Tom's Sportique focuses on eyeglasses for the active set. Tom will design and craft a creative eyewear solution for any activity.
REI—Recreational Equipment Inc.—captures top honors again as this year's reader and staff pick. REI carries gear for climbing, camping, backpacking and all the other outdoor sports Boulderites love so much. REI can send you on your way in safety and style, whether you're hoping to climb Everest, kayak Boulder Creek, or camp in Rocky Mountain National Park. Boulder Army Store, our runner-up, has been around as long as most of us can remember, offering a wide selection of clothing, gear and gadgetry for those who love the great outdoors. With its little climbing "museum," Neptune Mountaineering is a shrine for those who love altitude. Known internationally for its alpine and rock climbing gear, Neptune also carries climbing books and hosts lectures and slideshows by renowned climbers.
You have to be careful as you stumble down those steps leading to the subterranean Mile High Pipes & Tobacco, conveniently located on the Pearl Street Mall. But once you're in this small but well-stocked shop, you may not want to leave. They've got an unbeatable selection of stuff, including smoking paraphernalia, hemp clothing and other hemp items and loads of water pipes—for tobacco-smoking purposes only, of course. It wouldn't be Boulder without several other pipe shops, including the excellent Hill locale The Fitter, which has been a staple of the city for 33 years. It's also got cool footwear, jewelry and posters, if you're in the mood for something other than tobacco. Finally, there's Color the World, which has pipes a-plenty.
REAL ESTATE GROUP
If you're one of the lucky few who can actually afford to purchase a home here in Boulder, where real estate prices are stratospheric, then get in touch with the good people at Remax of Boulder. They can get you set up with your dream house—and get you a good deal, too. Remax is also adept at selling houses, if that's what you're looking to do. Whether you're buying or selling, the agents at the locally owned, independent Wright-Kingdom Real Estate will aid you every step of the way. And Mock Realty will make anything but a mockery of your desire to become a homeowner.
When you're out cutting freshies in the sugar-sweet pow-pow—that's skiing fresh powder for lingo-disadvantaged—you don't want to feel like an idiot for paying too much for your gear. So, when searching for skis and snowboards, Boulderites look for two things—good selection and a good price. Boulder Ski Deals is known year-after-year for having a vast selection of the top brands and the lowest prices in town. Their annual summer tent-sale is Boulder's favorite three-ring circus, minus the elephant turds. And their new slope-side ski and snowboard rental pick-up eliminates the chore of transporting your own gear and invariably tearing the upholstery in your car. And let's not forget about Christy Sports. With a great selection in stock to buy or rent, reasonable rental rates and lift tickets right in the store, it's been a Boulder institution for years. They've even diversified their summer stock, something you'll have to check out in the coming months.
Considering Boulder's active, outdoorsy contingent, this year's reader pick, Boulder Running Company, comes as no surprise. The folks at Boulder Running Company know that buying running shoes is a large investment—and a matter health and comfort. That's why they take great care and help you find a fit that's best for you, whether you're training for a 5k or a triathlon. Staff pick Pedestrian Shops offer a wide variety of stylish shoes, including plenty of Keen, Dansko and Chaco—a must-have for any self-respecting Boulderite. With two great locations and friendly prices, it's no wonder that our readers love Pedestrian Shops. For any self-respecting Sex In the City fan, runner-up Frolic offers hip and stylish heels, sandals and boots sure to put any woman in shoe ecstasy. Its downtown Pearl Street location is conveniently located and well worth the trip.
Is it just us, or is there anything more American than an electronics store these days? Circuit City, voted Boulder's Best Stereo/Electronics Store, is doing their best to keep red, white and blue Boulderites connected with a large selection of MP3 players, computers, CDs, DVDs, home-entertainment consoles and, of course, video games.
Despite the influx of big-box electronics stores in Boulder and the surrounding area, the folksy runner-up, ListenUp, has maintained its share of the market the way it always has—with quality goods and services. And don't be fooled by the bold and sexy new moniker of honorable mention Ultimate Electronics. It's last year's winner, SoundTrack, with a dolled-up name.
Affordable, friendly and fast, Discount Tire Co., Inc. is not only a locally owned and operated business, it's also America's largest independent tire company. With Colorado's unpredictable weather—80 degrees, hail and snow all in the same afternoon—good tires can mean the difference between getting to work on time or spending a day in a ditch. Whether you drive to the slopes every weekend or stay close to home, Discount Tire Co. can keep you moving.
Big O Tire Stores takes runner-up honors again this year. Known for its affordable tires, Big O also does shocks, struts, brakes, wheels and alignments. Located on Pearl Street, honorable mention Barnsley Tire Co. will set you up with new tires, do a little front-end work, replace your brakes and get you on your way.
There's nothing that's quite as satisfying as finding used treasures at bargain basement prices, whether it's that stylish vintage winter coat or that nicely weathered end table that will pull your living room together perfectly. Crazy Amy's Consignment City ought to be your first stop if you're in the market for some groovy used threads—their racks are packed with cool clothes from years past. Also peruse the goods available at Rags to Riches and Buffalo Exchange; the bellbottoms and high-heeled stiletto boots are usually plentiful. For used furniture, the reigning champ is Good Use (which recently moved to a more spacious location), where they revamp unwanted chairs, tables and bureaus into incredibly lovely furnishings.
We're not sure how many years running this is for perennial Boulder favorite Bolder Ink. What we can tell you is that it is a well-deserved honor—no small feat in a city boasting numerous high-quality shops. B-dub staff can testify first-hand to the care, cleanliness and craftsmanship of the North Boulder shop.
What better location to get some ink than in downtown Boulder next to a radical left-wing bookstore? You don't get much more Boulder than that. And you know when you get work done at runner-up Enchanted Ink that you're going to be well taken care of. Enchanted Ink is legendary in this town, and for good reason.
Another Boulder legend garnered an honorable mention in this year's competition. K&K Piercing has earned a reputation as the finest place in the city to get your body punctured with quality work and friendly service.
From a child's perspective, gifts from Grandrabbit's Toy Shoppe are easily recognizable. Razor-sharp young eyes zoom in on the perfectly wrapped gift, the signature gold sticker, and then, once it has been torn into, a perfect gift for any age. At Grandrabbit's you can find something special for anyone, any age. Refusing to carry Mattel-brand toys (such as Barbie), Grandrabbit's encourages creative play. They also have extensive stuffed-animal and book collections. This year's staff pick is Into the Wind, a toy store truly for all ages. Not only do they have a gift for anyone, their location on the Pearl Street Mall is a virtual playroom to occupy visitors with small toys and games all around the store. It's Your Move is also on the Pearl Street Mall and attracts a more adult clientele for their collection of board games and electronic toys. Play Fair Toys maintains the same policy of creative play as Grandrabbit's, with an array of toys for growing children.
Sure, Boulder is a great place to live, but we all get that wanderlust feeling from time to time. But making travel plans can certainly be a hassle. The experts at AAA Boulder can help, though, with the best deals on hotels, airfare and car rentals. This is the AAA, people: They know what they're talking about. Cain Travel is another great source of travel information and assistance, especially if you're planning on going abroad. Runners up this year are the Boulder Travel Agency, which has been serving the city for 55 years and counting, and James TravelPoints, which specializes in those tropical vacations that we all need at one time or another.
If you love cinema, you love Video Station. It's that simple. Boulder County's biggest DVD and video rental outlet, Video Station carries everything, from European art films to Hollywood blockbusters and Snow White to Jenna Loves Pain. The store is staffed by cinephiles who are walking film encyclopedias. They'll answer your questions, and no matter what they think of your taste in flicks, they won't make fun of you at the register.
You can find a Blockbuster, our runner-up, on virtually every corner. Bright and friendly, they offer new releases, old favorites and great deals on game rentals—but no Jenna Jameson.
WIRELESS/CELL PHONE STORE
Remember the "car phone"? A couple of decades ago, if you had more money than you knew what to do with, you might have had a phone in your car. Then the "car phone" became the "mobile phone." Now it's the "cell phone," and, judging by the number of homeless people who have them, it's become a higher priority than having a warm place to spend the night. So, now that pretty much everyone has one, the question becomes: Does it really matter where you get one? It matters. In Boulder, we are fortunate to have Anton and Dana Bacardi, owners of Advantage Wireless. Despite the divestiture of AT&T, the We-Don't-Care-We-Don't-Have-To philosophy has been retained by all of these mega-corporations that "compete" for your wireless business. The Bacardis and their staff know how to talk to these people, and do so with a level of happy-to-make-your-life-easier service orientation that has been all but lost within this particular industry, if not the business world, in general. Take it from Weekly readers and staff; it matters where you get your cell phone. Don't learn the hard way.
Orange is the new pink. No, wait a minute, white is the new pink. Oh, that was so five minutes ago, didn't you know that black is the new pink?
Styles change, and oftentimes the turnover happens faster than next month's auto-paycheck transfer to your bank account. Fortunately for Boulder's financially deprived students, budding artists and the hippie contingent, there are many used clothing stores to explore. Buffalo Exchange outfits guys and gals on a tight budget. Particularly popular with the college crowd, this reader and staff pick offers funky jeans, shirts, frocks and shoes at wallet-friendly prices. If you're looking for shirts, cool jeans or a funky vintage shirt for less, runner-up Crazy Amy's is long-time local favorite. With accessories like belts and jewelry, Crazy Amy's will help you assemble the hippest of outfits. And if you think that J-crew sweater or Coach bag is out of your reach, check out honorable mention Rags to Riches. Popular with the young, professional crowd and students, the store offers colorful, second-hand wear for women.
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