Though there’s no such thing as a free lunch, or so politics would have us believe, Boulder offers options that are pretty darn close. Concerned that low-cost means poor quality? Worry not, for we’ve scouted out the cheapest, most bang for your buck-est, awesome-est lunches in town. At the top of our list, you’ll find Snarf’s which boasts some of the most savory, delicious, toasted sandwiches you’ll ever encounter. There gluten-free bread is also a big hit and you’ll never know the difference. Sherpa’s, which had been locally owned and operated for over a decade, serves the most succulent and savory Nepalese dishes for miles around, and has an ambiance that will make you fall in love, eat your fill, and raise a merry glass of your favorite libation.
For you traditionalists, good-ol Americana lunch options appear on our list in abundance. Snarfs offers killer sandwiches and the creatively named Mustard’s Last Stand hits you with Chicago-style hot dogs and charbroiled chicken. For something a bit more refined, we heartily suggest Janpango-one of Boulder’s most well-known and lauded sushi restaurants or the Dushanbe Teahouse, where you’ll find options from all of the world, including Greece, Germany and Korea. In the mood for Mexican? Let us proudly present Illegal Pete’s, the Pearl Street burrito powerhouse that will satisfy any hankering for food south of the border. So, sit back, put your napkin on your lap, and get ready to eat lunch like a king or queen in Boulder-town, USA.
Located just outside Boulder in quaint Louisville, Colorado The Huckleberry is known for its fresh, delicious, and all-American food. The Border Burger is not to be missed and can be ordered with humanely raised, grass fed beef. A variety of fresh salads also make eating healthy at lunch time simple, including the traditional Greek Salad complete with humus and creamy feta. The Huckleberry also really shines, with a variety of eggs benedicts, biscuits and gravy, milkshakes, and homemade pies. Many items can be made gluten free, vegetarian, or vegan to suit your dietary preferences or needs. Tea and pastries can be purchased to take home, as well as a variety of local and handmade gifts such as jewelry, teapots, and art work that can be found in The Huckleberry lobby. Also, be sure to have a delicious house chai.
Recommended for Lunch because: Offering on of the best brunch and lunch menus in the Front Range, Huckleberry provides a quaint atmosphere, Farm-to-Table options, and the best pies around.
Hope’s expert tip: Be sure to ask for seasonal dishes that use local ingredients and don’t miss out on their Huckleberry Ding-Dongs!
Home-made chai, Dall Bahat (savory and healthy lentil soup), and Sherpa Stew with vegetables, potatoes, and dumplings are just a few of the delights you’ll find on the lunch menu at Boulder’s most authentic Tibetan restaurants-Sherpas. Owned by a true Nepalese mountain man, Sherpa Pemba spent his childhood in the Everest region and acted as a guide on more than 20 ascents over 20,000 ft. Colorado acts as his home away from home and his restaurant is an authentic homage to Nepalese cuisine, serving some of the most succulent and savory dishes for miles around. The garlic and cheese nan, Saag, and curry chicken or vegetables will nourish and entice you so that you’ll swear you could climb Everest. Be sure to ask about the daily lunch special which offers a new and unique creation daily.
Recommended for Lunch because: Sherpas offers fresh and delicious Nepalese cuisine at a very reasonable price. Their naan is to die for and their outdoor seating is enchanting.
Hope’s expert tip: You simply must try the garlic and cheese nan, along with a warm glass of their house chai.
This pub and restaurant is a living place to find some yummy pub-grub, including chicken wings, a mountain of nachos, and succulent burgers. An full-bar guarantees that you can pair your lunch to a frothy and local beer or unique cocktail. Located in the heart of No-Bo (North Boulder), The Hungry Toad is within walking distance of several local shops and the great outdoors. Stop in for a beer after hiking the Sanitas of Centennial Trail. Best known for its decadent chili burger and hearty meatloaf. The fish an chips are also worthy of your time and must be washed down with a crisp and refreshing ale from the bar.
Recommended for Lunch because: The Hungry Toad is a tucked-away eatery, perfect for grabbing a quick beer at lunch and pairing it with their pub-style menu options.
Hope’s expert tip: Be sure to grab the nachos or try spring for the meatloaf.
Set at the foothills of the beautiful Flatirons, this century-old landmark features exquisite indoor and outdoor dining (on the historic property’s wraparound porch). Starters include house-smoked salmon, gazpacho, organic beet salad, and steamed mussels. For lunch, try the hand-cut pepperoni flatbread or the helium tomato flatbread. You can also get entrees like grilled Colorado lamb, Rocky Mountain trout, venison steak, pan-seared ahi tuna, salmon, halibut, and vegetarian specialties. An excellent wine list and a great selection of microbrews highlight the beverage list. After your meal, we highly recommend burning off some calories by hiking in the park. The Royal Arch Hike and Green Mountain are scenic routes that will challenge you and ease your guilt when you return to the dining hall for dessert.
Recommended for Lunch because: The historical charm of Chautauqua Dining Hall is what will draw you in but the brunch and lunch specials are what will make you stay.
Hope’s expert tip: When the weather is fine, as to sit on the wraparound porch for a great views of the Flatirons.
Chicago-style hot dogs, German bratwurst, and home-style fries are featured at this popular diner. The Vienna Beef hot dog is an all beef wiener in a natural casing served on a steamed poppy seed bun with your choice of condiments. The menu also includes sandwich specialties made with charbroiled chicken and Italian meats, as well as tempeh burgers. Speaking of which, for you vegetarians, Mustard’s offers veggie-dogs complete with delicious pepper relish, tofu Reubens, and veggie-chili. Back to you mean eaters, the Polish burgers and fresh french fries are, forgive us, dog-gone good. For something decadent and not-so-healthy, indulge on the chili cheese fries or charbroiled Polish sausage-don’t forget the pepper relish!
Recommended for Lunch because: Mustard’s Last Stand is the only place in Boulder where you’ll find Chicago-style hot dogs along with gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Hope’s expert tip: The Chicago-style hot dogs are so good, you won’t be left standing.
The ambiance of Fate Brewing Company is that of laidback elegance and taste in more ways than one. Start your lunch off with their savory Caramelized Sweet Potatoes or the Country Fried Chicken Bites. For your main lunch course, be sure to indulge in either the Main Stay Burger or the FATE Cuban which are designed to pair perfectly with their craft beers. Speaking of beer, while there’s something for everyone, be sure to at least sample the Fate Sudice which is an American style stout. Some other lunch and dinner favorites include the Chicken ‘N’ Biscuits Smoked brisket, red eye gravy, fresh buttermilk biscuits. FATE-a-RITO Scrambled eggs, potatoes, peppers, pork green chili, cheese, sour cream, fresh salsa, choice of brisket, pork shoulder, bacon or smoked sausage.
Recommended for Lunch because: Unique microbrews in an elegant bistro setting makes Fate a classy yet affordable lunch spot.
Hope’s expert tip: “Be sure to try the Ozo Coffee IPA featuring coffee flavors from one of Boulder’s favorite coffee shops. “
Serving some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine for lunch including, their Lunch Combo-half a quesadilla and your choice of soup or salad. For something a bit more calorie packed, the Rio’s Custom nachos offer a concoction of cheese, your choice of meat, and guacamole. But what would a Mexican restaurant be without tacos? The Rio’s Tequilla Shrimp tacos are light, fresh, and filling while still packing a flavorful punch. But don’t forget the margaritas: Rio Margs (as they’re lovingly called by Boulderites) will have you singing, “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila…FLOOR!” These liquid desserts are consistently ranked #1 in the area by bloggers, beverage magazines, and locals alike. .
Recommended for Lunch because: Offering some of the best margaritas in town and killer lunch specials, The Rio is one of the liveliest and most affordable downtown options.
Hope’s expert tip: Hands down, the best margaritas in town! These babies pack a powerful punch and, as such, the limit is 3 per person. But don’t worry, after you drink your fill you can top it off with one of their delicious Tequila Shrimp tacos.
Drop by this popular restaurant for the best burritos in town. You can’t go wrong with the fajita burrito filled with chicken, cilantro-lime rice, salsa, sauteed onions and peppers. Taco options include fish, primavera, chicken, steak and vegetarian. The green chile is excellent, as are the sosapillas for dessert. This affordable option is a favorite of college students, but offers plenty of sophistication and options for the more refined palate. Have a hankerin’ for breakfast instead of lunch? Well, it just so happens that this local gem serves up some killer breakfast burritos, and quesadillas. Wash it all down with one of their house rootbeers or, for brunch, a margarita. We won’t judge.
Recommended for Lunch because: Illegal Petes is in the center of downtown Pearl Street and offers quick, fresh, Mexican cuisine perfect for a lunch with colleagues or friends.
Hope’s expert tip: Illegal Pete’s burritos are a must on your visit, as is their house rootbeers.
This cozy little hobbit-hole of an eatery looks like the nook where Frodo Baggins and Gandalf go to share their morning tea. Colorful paintings cover the wall from floor to ceiling setting a hippie-like Sistine Chapel vibe. The bar and booths are all made of carved wood and the food is every-bit as wholesome and savory as the surroundings. Their warm lentil soup is to die for and will warm you up on a cold, winter’s night. If you’re in the mood for carbs, The Yellow Submarine sandwich is vegetarian and features avocado, sprouts, and a secret sauce that will make your mouth water.
Recommended for Lunch because: Yellow Deli is a unique and cozy spot where you can munch on a lunch sub and snuggle up in a private corner for two.
Hope’s expert tip: Be sure to try their Yellow Submarine; truly one of the best sandwiches in town.
Two convenient locations allow you to choose between subs and burgers before or after the big game, following a shopping spree on Pearl Street, or after a long, strenuous hike. This is truly the sandwich place of champions and a local favorite. Ask any Boulderite to recommend the best sub in town and they’ll point you in the direction of Snarf’s, hands down. What’s more, they offer savory gluten-free bread to cater to your dietary preferences. So good, you’d never guess that it’s gluten-free. Snarf’s also offers tasty salads, cookies, soft drinks, and potato chips because no lunch is complete without a cold beverage and a sweet or salty treat.
Recommended for Lunch because: Snarf’s delicious toasted sandwiches are truly the best subs in town and their choice of gluten-free bread provides options for people with dietary restrictions.
Hope’s expert tip: Be sure to try one of their savory toasted sandwiches.