EC = East County | B = Boulder
EC – 24 Carrot: The title for Best Overall Restaurant has been a battle for the last few years between two great Erie Restaurants: 24 Carrot and Piripi. This year 24 Carrot takes the crown and Piripi comes in runner-up. Twenty years ago, who knew Erie would be the hub of exceptional dining? Runner-up: Piripi
B – Frasca: Inspired by the beauty of the Julian Alps and the warm community traditions of northern Italy, Frasca just brings it. This place has won so many James Beard awards it’s almost ridiculous. Frasca is a powerhouse in Boulder making a well-deserved national name for itself with outstanding food, quality wine, and impeccable service. Runner-up: Oak on 14th
EC – Sugarbeet: Get your reservations in order because everyone loves Longmont’s Sugarbeet. This is a top quality experience with a varied and mouth-watering menu. Start with the beet-cured salmon appetizer, move to a main course of gochujang-glazed pork ribs, and end the night with a slice of key lime pie. Don’t forget a Beetropolis cocktail to go with a most inspiring dinner.
B – SALT the Bistro: We have watched Bradford Heap start out in this county and grow to being one of the top chefs in the state. SALT proves why he continues to take the title of Readers’ Choice Best of year after year.
Cheap Eats & Pizza
B – TIE – Cosmo’s: The pizza king of Lafayette, Colorado, Cosmo’s is a mainstay for folks looking to enjoy a late night in with a pizza or calzone. We appreciate these affordable pies and the late hours are perfect for parties and study sessions that run long. Locals also swear by their signature spicy ranch dipping sauce, a midwestern classic. Runner-up: Biscuits at Mike’s
EC & B – Moxie: The bread is made with love. That’s why it is so good. From the legacy of its founder to the spirit of the team carrying that forward, Moxie has always been about the love of community and the foods we put in our bodies. Runner-up EC: Babettes | Runner-up B: Great Harvest
EC – Jeannot’s Patisserie & Bistro: Wait. Stop everything. Lafayette has a French restaurant that sources its ingredients locally and handcrafts just about everything they serve? We challenge you to even finish reading this blurb before madly storming out the door to go try this little piece of France in Colorado. Reviews are off the chain. Oh, and yes there is a patio. Runner-up: Farow
B – Gemini: Here’s a bit of Barcelona on Pearl Street. Seasonally guided menus, sustainably sourced ingredients, Spanish-inspired ambience. It sounds amazing and readers agree, awarding Gemini with the best Boulder newcomer choice. This Boulder newbie gets shockingly good reviews like this one from Yelp: “transcendent dining experience unrivaled by anything outside of the Iberian peninsula.” Wow! Runner up: Rooted Craft Kitchen
EC – Big Daddy Bagels: With Moe’s expansion into East County they give everyone a run for their money, but with 20 years under their belts serving us EC’ers, Big Daddy takes the throne again this year. Runner-up: Moe’s Broadway Bagels
B – Moe’s Broadway Bagels: Every year, every best-of in town, since the beginning of time! Everyone loves a Moe’s Broadway bagel. It must be the authenticity. This is a family-run place started by a true New Yorker who came to Boulder looking for the mountains. Runner-up: Big Daddy Bagels
EC – Georgia Boys: If you want a great bagel, find a New Yorker. But if you want the best barbecue in town, find a Georgia boy. They don’t have employees, they have an extended family and they love to offer great slow-cooked food with Southern hospitality. So get yerself over to Georgia Boys for a Tennessee sticky pig and some cauliflower wings. Runner-up: Lulu’s
B – KT’S: It’s Memphis style y’all. No, we’re not talking about Elvis and his weird peanut butter sandwiches. We’re talkin’ Memphis style barbecue at KT’s, a family run barbecue joint going on 30 years running. KT’s is slow-cooked and authentically local just like their hickory-smoked pork ribs. Runner-up: West End Tavern
EC – Santiago’s: You can get it smothered or you can get it “deluxed.” The meat is chef’s choice and you can’t go wrong with a breakfast burrito from Santiago’s. It’s authentic, made fresh, and if you like it spicy, Santiago’s can make it kick, and they have been for 23 years winning every single year we have published. Runner-up: Taco Wagon
B – Blackbelly: We are not sure what the “o.g.” really stands for, but Blackbelly’s o.g. breakfast burrito is surely the original gangster of breakfast burritos. Everyone loves a good breakfast burrito, but the best breakfast burrito in Boulder is a must before your next ride up Boulder Canyon. Runner-up: Santos
Bakery & Dessert
EC – Button Rock Bakery: Our favorite Saturday morning is a trip to Lafayette for our essential goods at Jax and then headed right next door for the truly essential goods. Button Rock Bakery delivers the divine we need in our lives to sustain this world. Runner-up: Eats & Sweets
B – Lucky’s Bakehouse: Community-inspired, freshmade, daily small batches. That’s the name of the game at Lucky’s Bakehouse. From gluten-free to sugar-filled and everything in-between, Lucky’s does not disappoint. Runner-up: Shamanes
EC – East Simpson: This is more than a coffee shop. It’s a neighborhood party! From live music, a collective atmosphere, and a funky old house, East Simpson has created a community gathering place that also happens to serve great coffee. Runner-up: MECO
B – OZO: The name is cool and the coffee is top notch. From seed to cup, Ozo brings it with the coffee game. It’s not just the quality, it’s also sustainably and ethically sourced. And for you backpackers out there, they now offer instant coffee packets for the pack! Runner-up: Laughing Goat
B – Greenbriar: Sunday brunch at the Greenbriar Inn might just be the best thing you can do on one of those perfectly clear summer mornings in Boulder. Bring a blanket and order it picnic style to enjoy by their pond or on the cabin lawn. Plus they have beignets! Runner-up: Tangerine
Breakfast & Brunch
EC & B – Tangerine: Lafayette, Longmont or Boulder, Tangerine is the quintessential perfect breakfast stop, never disappointing, always delighting. It’s why year after year, they continue to win the title of Best Breakfast and this year, Best Brunch. Breakfast EC Runner-up: Morning Glory | Breakfast B Runner-up: Lucile’s
EC – Waterloo: You know those “God Bless Johnny Cash” bumper stickers you see around here? Yeah, those come from the Waterloo, and that’s the vibe you’ll get at this awesome Old Town Louisville joint. So walk the line to Waterloo friends. And, yes, the burgers are the best in East County. Runner-up: 24 Carrot
B – The Sink: This year The Sink is celebrating their 100th year On the Hill. What would we do without them here to satisfy us with their amazing pizzas, funky atmosphere and of course, the best damn burger around. Be sure to follow them on the socials for all their 100 year festivities. Runner-up: Mountain Sun/Southern Sun
EC – Button Rock Bakery: Pies and Cakes, oh my! For the decade that Button Rock Bakery has been serving us scrumptious treats, there has never been something that didn’t meet the divine standard. Button Rock Bakery is quite possibly the most perfect place on earth—or at least in Boulder County.
B – Piece Love & Chocolate: Situated on Pearl Street, Piece Love & Chocolate blends classy chocolatiering with just a dash of Wonka-esque whimsy. Locals can’t get enough of their fancier fare like French macarons served alongside wild concoctions like beer-flavored truffles and potato chip chocolate bars. Runner-up: Boulder Baked
B – Flower Child: They don’t have avocado toast, they have a Crushed Avocado Toast. They don’t have a noodle bowl, they have a Glow Bowl. It is gluten-free but most definitely not flavor-free. With locally-sourced ingredients and made-from-scratch creations, Flower Child is the best in Boulder for vegan, vegetarian, and paleo options. Runner-up: Fresh Thymes (farewell thee)
Colorado-Based Chain & Sandwich
EC & B – Snarf’s: When we met Jimmy 25+ years ago, we thought he was crazy opening up his sandwich shop in one of the funkiest locations in Boulder. But we quickly were one of the people standing in line for his toasted heaven. Today, Jimmy reigns supreme as a home-grown favorite. He’s still doing good things for his community, too. Sandwich EC Runner-up: Eats & Sweets | Sandwich B Runner-up: Organic Sandwich Co.
EC – Pumphouse: Built in the style of a vintage fire station, the Pumphouse sports a lively ambiance and a menu as diverse as it is delicious. But the actual claim to fame is the beer. Pumphouse sports a litany of microbrews made in-house. Opened in May 1966, the Pumphouse was a pioneer in Longmont introducing the first brewpub. While its food is only surpassed by its home-brewed beers, they also offer Longmont the largest outdoor dining patio, where locals gather to take in all the sights and sounds of the city. Runner-up: Rocky Mountain Tap & Garden
B – TIE – Greenbriar: If you’re looking for a bit of elegance in your next outing, there are few who have done it better since 1967. Surrounded by fields of beautifully curated greenery, enjoy a sophisticated night out of our famous Sunday brunch on Boulder’s best patio. This repeat winner is taking home the top nod for Best Patio again this year. There is a reason this Boulder legacy has been serving us for 55 years and still remains the choice of locals. However, this year Boulder’s best patio is tied with…
B – TIE – Chautauqua: The Chautauqua has been a Colorado tradition since 1898, and for good reason. The delicious food, historical tours, and down-home ambiance calls to the days of the wild frontier. But where it really shines is the patio view from the Dining Hall. From here a delicious, rustic meal can nourish your body while the view of Colorado’s forests and mountain range nourishes your soul. Runner-up: West End Tavern
EC – Piripi: We met Hugo and Victoria at an Erie Chamber meeting years ago before they opened Piripi. They had just moved to town and told us of their plans to open a fine dining restaurant with a world-class chef at the helm. Our publisher, having lived in Erie for over 30 years, remembers the dirt roads, and had no idea what was in store. Today, Piripi is not just one of her favorite restaurants, but it is one that should be everyone’s favorites in Boulder County. Chef Hugo’s perfection he calls our meal is worth the drive no matter where you live. Lunch Runner-up: Eat at Community | Seafood Runner-up: Casian | Chef Runner-up: Kevin Kidd – 24 Carrot
B – Brasserie Ten Ten: After over two years of closed doors, Brasserie Ten Ten demonstrates that good food is worth the wait. COVID completely changed the restaurant industry, forcing owners Joe and Peg Romano to shutter their three iconic spots, Ten Ten included. Re-open now for only a few months, try the Prixe Fixe menu for a taste of French luxury. Runner-up: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
EC – Sakura: Reviews consistently praise Sakura as the top spot for quality fish, traditional sauces, and attention to detail, but still crafting the not-so-traditional rolls so many of us crave. Around since 1998, call ahead for the daily special since the freshest fish will rotate regularly here. Runner-up: Button Rock
B – Japango: Master chef Yukiji Iwasa has been preparing the sushi for this Pearl Street classic for over 20 years – that hasn’t changed – but what is new is Japango is now donating portions of proceeds from Thursday nights to go towards Rise Against Suicide, an organization helping youth mental health. More than just sushi, Japango is an institution. Runner-up: Hapa
B – Jax Fish House: Colorado may seem like one of the furthest places from the sea (both horizontally AND vertically) but that hasn’t stopped it from being home to one of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Diners can enjoy fresh oysters, grilled octopus, and a bevy of other deep-sea delectables paired with inventive cocktails like the Almond Joy Martini. Jax has enjoyed its top spot every year since the Best of the West first began, and it’s not hard to see why. Runner-up: Spruce Farm & Fish
EC – Rosalee’s: Rosalee’s Pizza prides itself on its welcoming “neighborhood” atmosphere and west-coast approach to pizza making. And we can’t get enough. Rosalee’s owes its number-one spot to its ingredients and welcoming attitude. Everything is lovingly crafted, unpretentious, and made so that the technique and ingredients truly shine. It’s everything a pizza should be. Runner-up: Cosmo’s
EC – 740 Front: As one of Colorado’s oldest taverns, 740 Front has all the turn-of-the-century class you could possibly ask for with just a dash of speakeasy grit (courtesy of a bullet hole in their bart able courtesy of a bootlegera shootout.) And to go with its wide selection of wines, beers, and craft cocktails is what might just be the best damn steak in the state. We still dream about those dry-aged cuts. Runner-up: Sugarbeet
B – Cork: “Local fresh ingredients shouldn’t be special; it should be assumed.” These are the founding tenets of Chef Jim Smailer of Boulder Cork. And his ethos is found in every item on this classy bistro’s menu, namely, its signature cut steaks. While the bistro is a bit on the pricy side, Boulder Cork made its place on the list thanks to its prime rib, with homemade jus and horseradish cream sauce. Runner-up: 316 Steakhouse
Ting’s Place: Thirty-two years ago our Publisher moved back to Colorado after being away for several years. As soon as she discovered Ting’s it became a house favorite. It still is 30 years later. Runner-up: Colorado Wok
EC – Busaba: Named after the Thai word meaning “flower,” Busaba is a rare and beautiful find in Louisville’s culinary scene. In keeping with its namesake, Busaba is a perennial classic that has served up a delicious and exotic menu in a slick, modern venue for over ten years. We personally recommend the spring rolls with a bit of spicy peanut sauce. Runner-up: Anchan Thai
B – Aloy Thai: Aloy Thai conveys the feeling of being invited to a family dinner by a close friend. The warm and friendly service and a homey atmosphere of this family-run business leave most Boulder residents with a feeling of cozy nostalgia for a place never visited. Aloy Thai’s menu is more than just an exotic meal. It’s a reminder that no matter what culture you’re from, a warm meal shared with friendly faces can make anyone feel at home. Runner-up: Busaba
EC – Pho Cafe: EC’s reigning champion of Vietnamese soups has returned! Like its titular dish, the Pho Cafe is warm and welcoming with tons of local flavor mixed in. The beef Pho, a deliciously savory and flavorful soup filled with rice noodles and thin slices of delicious beef, is a perfect pick-me-up all year ‘round. Runner-up: Viet Kitchen
B – Chez Thuy: Chez Thuy has been a Boulder institution for nearly thirty years. And the head chef, Miss Thuy herself, has been blending French and Chinese cooking techniques to amplify the classic flavors of Vietnamese home cooking. Runner-up: Boulder Pho
B – Mustard’s Last Stand: With over 40 years of experience, Mustard’s Last Stand has earned its place as a Colorado classic. No one else comes close to competing with their fully-loaded Chicago-style hot dogs and hefty Polish sausages. With a litany of toppings, fries, and plenty of beer, Mustard’s Last Stand truly is the best at the wurst. Runner-up: Dugout
EC – TeoCalli Cocina: At TeoCalli, the word of the day is authenticity. Everything on the menu can trace its lineage back to traditional Oaxacan cuisine, but with a creative twist that elevates these classic dishes to a level that can only be described as artistry wrapped in a corn tortilla. Runner-up: Jefe’s
B – T/aco: Fine dining is great and all, but sometimes you and your friends just want to relax, knock back a few drinks, and enjoy a nice, hearty meal. If you’re looking for a relaxed taqueria, T/aco is the place for you. The casual eatery has dozens of delicious, fresh-made tacos with fillings ranging from duck to Mexican-style pork belly. T/aco is even pet-friendly, providing a separate menu for your dog! Runner-up: McDevitt’s Taco Supply
EC – Morning Glory: For something light and healthy that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for wholesomeness, Morning Glory is the best place to be. But the food isn’t the only thing nourishing about this little diner. The positive, welcoming and progressive attitude of its staff is the perfect way to start your day. Bear in mind that healthy doesn’t mean vegetarian, carnivores will find plenty of deliciously meaty meals to sink their teeth into. Runner-up: Cavegirl Coffee
B – Fresh Thymes: It is great sadness that we are writing this Reader’s Favorite pick for Best Healthy Meal in Boulder, as Fresh Thymes closed their doors in December. It was not because business wasn’t thriving, it was. It came down to doing business in Boulder according to the owner. After securing the empty coffeeshop next door for expansion, two years later, Fresh Thymes had still not been able to move in to the new location due to permits being delayed by the City itself. We will miss Fresh Thymes as we were a regular as well. Runner-up: Flower Child
B – Daniel Asher of River and Woods: Established by world-class chef Daniel Asher and inspired by Colorado’s natural beauty, River and Woods brings the tastes of the great outdoors to the table. Every meal uses local ingredients and techniques inspired by camping trips and barbecues. Enjoy local cheeses and foraged berries, tuck into slow-cooked pulled pork, and cap your night off by roasting homemade marshmallows for s’mores. Runner-up: Chris Cunningham – The Sink
EC – Chocolaterie Stam: Chocolaterie Stam has been one of the country’s premium chocolatiers for over one hundred years. And it shows. While its chocolates are a touch pricey, the velvety richness of its candies makes it all worthwhile. If you really want to go all out and treat someone special (or yourself) you can’t go wrong with a Stam “Jewel Box” of chocolates. Runner-up: Robin’s Chocolates
B – Piece Love & Chocolate: Situated on Pearl Street, Piece Love & Chocolate blends classy chocolatiering with just a dash of Wonka-esque whimsy. Locals can’t get enough of their fancier fare like french macarons served alongside wild concoctions like beer-flavored truffles and potato chip chocolate bars. Runner-up: Lift Truffles
EC & B – Efrain’s: With multiple awards, Efrain’s is that familiar institution that brings familiarity and connection to the community. For over 30 years they have been serving up great Mexican in the same location. If you haven’t discovered why they have been winning all these years, maybe it’s time you should. Efrain’s Boulder is the brother of Efrain’s Lafayette. They recently moved into a new location after 20+ years in a hidden corner of Boulder, but they took their Grandma’s recipes with them. It’s why they are a Boulder favorite all these years. When you head in be sure to order one of their famous margaritas, there are more than 6 to choose from. Green Chili EC Runner-up: Santiago’s | Green Chili B Runner-up: Verde | Mexican B Runner-up: Centro Latin Kitchen | Margarita B Runner-up: Dana Faulk Query
EC – Taj Mahal: There is Indian food, there is good Indian food, and then there is great Indian food. Louisville’s Taj Mahal is in the great category. The atmosphere is delightful, the flavors are delectable, and the menu is bountiful. The Taj Mahal is second to naan. Runner-up: Flavor of India
B – Sherpas: The menu offers a bit of India, Nepal, and Tibet, but a lot of authentic Himalayan influence. This wonderful place is run by real Sherpas. Chef Jangbu Sherpa has summited Everest ten times! The atmosphere is perfection–a cozy neighborhood haunt on the edge of the Rockies with a leafy patio for your Sherpa Chai and Dhal-Baht. Runner-up: The Taj
EC – Parma Trattoria: What’s that you say? A mozzarella bar? Yes, a mozzarella bar! With cheeses imported directly from Italy. These are the things that have given Parma Trattoria a very strong showing over its ten years in Louisville. This place has become a community favorite and a known top Denver Metro Italian restaurant. Runner-up: Zucca
B – Pasta Jay’s: You know when a place looks like a set on the Sopranos, it’s damn good Italian food. In fact, it’s food fit for a king! That’s what owner Pasta Jay Elowsky says and Boulder agrees. For 30 years strong family-owned Pasta Jays has been a beloved Boulder institution. Runner-up: Carelli’s
EC – TeoCalli Cocina: At TeoCalli Cocina, corn is life. And this is authentic Mexican cooking in the heart of Lafayette. Here you will find delectable dishes like the De Birria short rib tacos and the Adobo Tuna. Polish it off with a Dulce de Calabaza dessert and a Volcan tequila. Runner-up: Old Santa Fe Grill
Christian Hee, Marketing Director at Z2 Entertainment: Christian’s favorite spots revolve around meetings. Depending on the time of day, you’ll find her either at Ozo, or Trident. Her morning go-to is Ozo, known for their down-to-earth staff and fantastic beans. If you catch her in the evening, you’ll see her at Trident Cafe, a combo bookstore and coffee shop where you’re just as likely to find writers plucking away at their keyboards. “I love getting a nice, hot pot of herbal tea and then browsing for books,” Hee shared with us.
Daniel Rodriguez, Singer-Songwriter: Where does Daniel Rodriguez, singer-songwriter and former founding member of Elephant Revival, go on a night out in Boulder? “If I’m looking for a jukebox and some pool tables, the Sundown Saloon is a great place to ‘dive’ into.” Once it’s time to grab a bite, Avanti is his preferred stop. “It’s like they parked seven food trucks inside one establishment,” he said, making us hungry.
Rosen, of Mr. Mota: Southern Sun Pub & Brewery means it’s time for wings. “They have amazing food, great beer, and they have a lot of live music!” Rosen enthusiastically shared. And for entertainment, look no further than Art of Zeb, “some of the coolest art I’ve ever seen.”
John Tayer, Boulder Chamber of Commerce: You can catch John out for a run on the Big Bluestem Open Space Trail or maybe enjoying a round at the Harlow Platts Disc Golf Course. It’s not all sport and exercise though; he also enjoys a beer at the many local brewpubs Boulder has.
Bhavna Chhabra, Site Manager for Google: “The new anemone trail is good for kids,” Chhabra said. For a meal afterwards, it’s gotta be chicken and beer at the Post Brewery. As for music and dancing? Velvet elk and then Avanti.
Giovanni Ruscitti, Managing & Founding Partner of Berg, Hill, Greenleaf and Ruscitti Law Firm: Giovanni loves a Saturday spent at the Boulder Farmer’s Market. French toast at the Village Coffee Shop, lunch at Chiri’s Momo Delight, and dinner at Il Pastaio would be his ideal meal lineup. He’s also a live music fan. “Listening to great music at venues like Macky Auditorium, Boulder Theater and BOCO Cider. I’m hitting on all time high this month taking in a half dozen shows,” he said.
EC – Erie Social Club: Who knew Erie was cool? We remember the days of the horse in the bar in the dirt road town. Not anymore! Erie is host to several amazing restaurants and now a club we can call our own. ESC is THE place to be whether it’s for yoga in the morning, bingo, or a Saturday night of dancing. The facility is fantastic and you can also rent it for your own party. Runner-up: Rocky Mountain Tap & Garden
B – Corner Bar: Enjoy drinks and live music on the bar’s patio or sample the truffle fries that thankfully remain on The Corner Bar’s new expanded menu. This stately yet comfortable spot is just a block off the Pearl Street Mall. First timers, be sure to check out the hotel lobby. Runner-up: Sundown Saloon
EC – Liquid Mechanics: A small, award-winning neighborhood craft brewery founded by three former bio/pharma tech pros, Liquid Mechanics aims to connect to the community through beer. The tasting room offers classics such as Lucid AF IPA along with specialty small batch beers. Grab some grub for your suds from the nightly food trucks or Martino’s Pizza. Runner-up: Left Hand
B – Avery: Watch Avery’s award-winning beer being brewed on its production floor before sampling five-ounce tasters or pints from a wide variety of tap offerings. The beertenders are passionate about sharing their extensive knowledge of the Avery product line. Enjoy on the dog-friendly patio or grab a six-pack or growler-to-go. Runner-up: Mountain Sun
EC – Lucile’s: Lucile’s Famous Bloody Marys rep the same “corner of Creole culture” as the breakfasts that have been served in this converted pale yellow house since 1997. Enjoy with their impressive garnish onsite or take home one of their new Bloody Mary kits! Bloody Marys are a great way to start the day at Lucile’s, or bring one of their new Bloody Mary kits to your Super Bowl party! Runner-up: Eat at Community
B – Foolish Craig’s: You can choose from the basil lemon or ghost chili-infused vodkas if you care for a twist on Craig’s Signature Bloody Mary. The quirky and relaxed atmosphere located directly on The Pearl Street Mall makes for an ideal place to people watch. Runner-up: The Buff
EC – The Post Chicken and Beer: This happy hour is small in duration (it’s literally just one hour long) but big on deals. The brined and buttermilked all-natural humanely-raised chicken is dipped in gluten-free flour before fried to golden perfection. It’s the perfect accompaniment for any of their award-winning craft brews. Probably why they won Best Happy Hour this year, too. Runner-up: William Oliver’s
B – Corner Bar: Carving out a happy hour spot at Boulder’s overall BOW bar can be a challenge as it fills up quickly after it starts at 3. Maybe it’s the $3 cup of corn chowder or $4 draft beer that’s offered until six, either way they snag their second Best of the West award of the year. It’s also convenient for pre-concert meetups before heading to Chautauqua. Runner-up: Jungle
EC – Jefe’s: Sean Gafner is the chef and owner of this incredibly popular Mexican fusion spot that purchases many ingredients from local ranchers and farmers nearby. Enjoy a margarita flight, pitcher, or just the classic cocktail made the right way – with real ingredients. No marg mix here. Runner-up: West Side Tavern
EC – Spirit Hound: These single-barrel whiskies are made from Colorado-grown ingredients such as grains from the San Luis Valley and aged a minimum of two years in charred American oak barrels being bottled. Head distiller Craig Engelhorn and his partners built much of the distillation equipment themselves to achieve the right flavor and purity. Runner-up: Abbot & Wallace
B – Vapor: Free tours at this micro-distillery end with a sampling of Vapor’s hand-made, award-winning small batch spirits. Try the Ginskey, gin aged in oak barrels to infuse color and flavor found in whisky or buy a bottle of the Love Your Neighbor Limited Edition Whiskey distilled and support Marshall Fire rebuilding efforts. Runner-up: DV8 (Deviant Spirits)
EC – Jennifer Shillington – 24 Carrot Bistro: A repeat winner from last year, Shilington honed her mixology skills at top New York City eateries before moving to Colorado to raise her family. Now she’s back behind the bar at 24 Carrot Bistro, serving up creative cocktails such as Live and Let Chai (made with bourbon and chai liqueur) or the weekly bartender’s choice. Runner-up: Brittany Bartlett – now Rocky Mountain Tap & Garden, formerly Eat! Food & Drink
B – Laureal Boston – Bitter Bar: Boston says she enjoys meeting friends old and new at the unpretentious Bitter Bar, where she aims to help customers unwind by creating cocktails with “complex flavors that delight the spirit and open the mind.” Runner-up: Matthew Jansen – Mateo
EC – County Line Wine & Spirits: With regular inventory updates, there’s always something new to try at County Line. And there’s typically plenty of opportunities to do so as County Line hosts several tasting events every week. Though smaller in size than some of its competition, the store still has a great selection and continues to offer curbside service. Runner-up: Atlas Valley Purveyors
B – Hazel’s: Known for its helpful staff, bright atmosphere and wide open aisles and of course its incredible selection of wine, beer, spirits, cigars, and specialty foods, Hazel’s is often at the top of best liquor store lists. Runner-up: North Boulder Liquor
EC – Atlas Valley: Come for the wine but beware you might also leave with cheese, gifts, or any of the other selection of local goods that might catch your fancy. The wine staff is happy to help you pick out the perfect local, domestic or import for the occasion. Runner-up: Wyatt’s Wet Goods
B – Hazel’s: From the 1940s pinup feel of their website, to the wide selection of over 15,000 products, to the prices that beat nearly everyone else, Hazel’s keeps winning awards. Consistently voted Boulder’s Best Liquor Store, they also have a diverse selection of wines, propelling them to a Best of the West victory as well. Runner-up: Boulder Wine Merchant
EC – Bookcliff Winery: This family-owned Colorado vineyard and winery offers tours and tastings at its Boulder tasting room. Bookcliff uses 100% Colorado-grown grapes from its vineyard in Palisade, which are cultivated using sustainable practices that eliminate the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Runner-up: Vinnie Fera
EC – Louisville Cyclery: Louisville Cyclery has been an integral part of the community for over four decades. The oldest bike shop in the Boulder area, they saw the impacts of the Marshall Fire firsthand and decided to do something about it – fixing up donated bikes for those affected. If you’ve ever needed your bike repaired or a new bike, chances are you came here, showing why they’ve again won Best Bike Shop.
B – University Bikes: University Bikes again claims the top of the mountain, both on the trail and in the awards categories. They’ve won every single year we have had Best of the West, and as far as we know every other Boulder Best of in town, and they are back in the top spot once again.
EC & B – Crystal Ski Shop: Crystal Ski Shop is another one of those area institutions having geared people up since 1976. Here’s the kicker: they are still locally owned. Justin Burger took the reins when the original owner retired after having worked there all through high school. So when we say locally owned, we mean it! But what makes them a favorite is the service. You know you are shopping locally because of it.
EC – Jax Outdoor Gear: Jax’s nine locations across Colorado officially became an employee-owned business as of one year ago. Tracing their roots back to the 1950s Jax not only offers sporting equipment but a full-on experience with food and places to test your gear, continuing the tradition of holding the top spot for Best of the West.
B – Neptune Mountaineering: Neptune Mountaineering holds a nostalgic place in many climbers’ hearts. Around for over 50 years, it has served as a gathering point and museum for mountaineers looking to explore more of their sport. It changed hands not too long ago, but the community spirit persists. You can also catch a lecture on climbing safety while checking out the museum collection in between buying new gear.
EC – Bicycle Man of Erie: Is it the iconic beard? The Facebook videos? Or the fact that he offers free flat tire changes and has transparent pricing up on the website? Pick the reason, they all add up to a Local Celebrity award for the Bicycle Man of Erie!
B – Zoe Rogers: Zoe Rogers’ recognition in Boulder reminds fans the importance of giving a voice to women in an industry that is predominately male. Rogers observed the lack of female comedians and determined to make a change. As a founder of Boulder Comedy, Rogers has created a space outside the busy city and an opportunity for aspiring female comedians. The community benefits, as the shows provide a wide range of comedians no matter their gender.
Fair or Festival
EC – Lafayette Music Festival: For all the years we have lived here, we never thought we would say, “Did you make it to Lafayette’s music festival?” YS was proud to sponsor the inaugural Lafayette Music Festival. Five stages and a wide range of bands to listen to. We look forward to supporting it again this year, it was definitely that good. Runner-up: Lafayette Peach Festival
B – Boulder Creek Festival: For over three decades now the Boulder Creek Fest has defined the beginning of summer. Revitalized in 1998 by dedicated citizen Chris Bailey, it has been a fixture ever since. The festival adds a fourth day this year, growing in size and popularity, again taking the top spot in the Best of the West entertainment category. Parking is always crowded; try taking the bus into the festival this year to support the hundreds of artists who will visually and musically keep you entertained. Runner-up: Boulder Comedy Festival
Live Music Venue
EC – Nissi’s: Did you catch the October 2022 cover of YS? That was the new Nissi’s we featured. After years of serving East County with live music, the pandemic shut Nissi’s down in their original location. Imagine our surprise to see them open in their new location, bigger, badder and better than ever before. Nissi’s brings a first-class venue to our backyard and is showcasing great local music. Lafayette has become the place to be. Runner-up: The Muse
B – Boulder Theater: Inside its walls resides countless nights of incredible music from some of the most prestigious names. Bands from The Pixies to Gregg Allman have played here. Since 1906, Boulder Theater has been a treasure to our community, and we are grateful the ownership thinks so, too. Thanks for giving us another year of the music that makes our lives better. Runner-up: R Gallery Wine & Bar
EC – pARTiculars: This co-op of local artists still offering free art classes for those affected by the Marshall Fire, pARTiculars is Lafayette’s top art market for not only buying a new piece but also learning how to craft them yourself. Building a community the right way, check out their featured artists of the month on their social media, or in person by stopping by the galleries yourself. Runner-up: Firehouse Art Gallery
B – BMOCA: BMOCA is celebrating 50 years of providing a space for significant art and artists from regional to international. Installations are always something to behold and a membership pass is a great way to continue to support this local icon, along with the votes for being the Best Museum. Runner-up: R Gallery Wine & Bar
EC – Coal Creek Theater Co.: Watching murder mysteries at home on Netflix is fine but Coal Creek Theater has an entire year’s worth of suspenseful plays to see during their upcoming 2023 “Killer Season”. Themed years, playwright competitions, and showcases help explain why they are the top theater this year, and have been an East County artistic fixture since 1990. Runner-up: Back Story Theater
B – Local Theater Company: Despite the name drawing generic Google search results, Local Theater is anything but. Keeping the American writing tradition alive, they are the only Colorado venue to exclusively show world premieres – every play is brand new. Offering a writing workshop to budding young artists, specializing in new American plays, and now in their 12th season, come audition for or watch an original show. They have two productions per year so plan accordingly. Runner-up: Butterfly Effect Theater Co (BETC)
B – eTown: Recognized as a “cultural contributor” when inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, eTown is founded on the simple yet oft-forgotten ideals of universal connectivity through music. The twist is that every show is accompanied by an in-depth conversation about things that matter – like politics or the environment. The solar powered hall broadcasts nationally and has hosted over 1,000 artists on their programs over the decades they have been around.
EC – Quarters: It’s Saturday night, you’re holding a glass of your favorite brew in one hand and a skee ball on the other. After its grand opening, Quarters is a new destination that adds to the night life in East County, Colorado. The growth of arcade bars brings excitement to members online to revisit an activity left in childhood. Runner-up: Tilt!
B – Press Play: Part college bar, part arcade, this is the place to come if you want to drink and play video games without any kids running around underfoot. Closed on Mondays but with events every other night of the week, come let off some steam by smashing your friend in packman then taking a shot.
EC – Longmont Museum: Over the last 30 years Boulder County has seen tremendous changes to it’s population and towns. (Which is one of the reasons we are featuring them for our cover this year.) One of our first sources to cover the History of BOCO was the expertise at Longmont Museum. From live music, to indigenous exhibits, summer camps and discovery days, we are lucky to have the tremendous community hub. We’re glad our readers think so too. Runner-up: Lafayette History Museum
B – Museum of Boulder: This year YS is featuring the People’s History of BOCO, by featuring a different town each month. The Museum of Boulder is naturally a first stop for our writer to learn about the history of Boulder. While the MOB includes a gallery to house world-class traveling exhibits, an interactive Google Garage maker space and a separate children’s museum for our youngest visitors. Currently, they are featuring Black History of Boulder, but coming up is their famous Brewing the New West, because beer is as much a part of Boulder as its history. Runner-up: University of Colorado Natural History Museum
Anderson Farms: Pumpkin patches, fire pits, and… haunted houses. Not a plot in a Halloween movie but an experience discussed by locals who visit Anderson Farms. Of course, a trip to a farm isn’t complete without a corn maze, but don’t forget a map if getting lost isn’t part of your plans. Runner-up: Miller Farm
EC – Sunflower: When you’re wilted and worn, this spa gets you back to blooming. Try their incredible HydraFacials. They are the only spa that includes treatment for the sun damage-prone V-Neck area. Staff regularly is retrained to optimize each step of their one-of-a-kind service, resulting in skin that glows after treatment.
B – St. Julien: Offering world-class treatments in the heart of Boulder, this spa is known for delivering royal treatment. With impeccable customer service from booking to departure, this is everything a luxury spa should be. Indulge in all the amenities, including a sauna, steam room, and lounge with seasonal fruit-infused water, tea, and light snacks. Be sure to try the granola!
EC – Smooth Intentions: With a client base built on referrals from happy patrons, Smooth Intentions pairs 21 years of experience with locally sourced natural products to create a haven of relaxation and self-care. The trademark 75-minute custom facials focus on keeping skin clear and healthy to help all clients leave with a confident glow.
B – Leah Nickie Aesthetics: This is a facial that gives your skin what it needs! Leah only uses cruelty and paraben-free products that feature nurturing botanical and marine elements. Products are only selected after discussing skin concerns and a skin analysis under a magnifying lamp.
EC – Bevy Salon: Haircuts are a science at Bevy Salon. As an example, they are trained on not one but two cutting and styling techniques for curls—most places only choose one—and take the time to figure out which technique will best complement their client’s curl. This dedication to staying up to date on the latest and best techniques ensures that all clients get the look they crave, whether you have curly or straight hair.
B – Salon Fifty4Thirty: This woman-owned salon is named for Boulder’s elevation and is praised for their friendly inviting hometown atmosphere. Their stylists focus on fostering self-care for all their clients while making their hair look incredibly fabulous. Lean into your hustle and feel great about yourself at this amazing salon!
EC – Woodward Barbers: First-time clients visit Woodward Barbers for a great cut at a good price. They return for the retro vibe with just the right modern twists, stylists who are experts at their craft, and a just plain cool atmosphere. With over 490 google reviews at 5/5 stars, you can’t go wrong.
B – Hennepin Barbers: When you need a shave or style with a killer view you can’t go wrong with scheduling here. Clients rave about the amazing views of the Flatirons from each chair, the adorable shop dog Ru, and love leaving with a new style that’s (almost) as impressive as the view they enjoyed while getting it.
EC – Apex Massage and Recovery Lab: Apex focuses on massage for people whose muscles need more than light pressure and relaxing music. They want to get your body back to its top performance state, no matter if you’re hurting from a marathon or a weekend of gardening. With a rugged and stylish interior, this massage is anything but generic.
B – Siam Sensations: This is the only authentic Thai-owned massage spa in Colorado. Most of the therapists were even trained in Thailand, which is why they’ve won before! Thai massage is different. Therapists dynamically move their clients’ bodies to relieve pain. They also offer reflexology treatments that find and fix circulation problems in the body. This is holistic healing at its best.
EC – Allure Nail Bar: Allure is your go-to for last-minute nail needs. They are a walk-in-friendly salon that will get your nails back to fabulous in no time. They offer manicures and pedicures – including gel polish options – and nail extensions including acrylics, silk wraps, and liquid gel nails.
B – J Lounge: J Lounge is the queen of healthy nail care! Their salon only uses two nail polish brands free of toxic ingredients like formaldehyde. Their pedicures are done without jetted tubs—the leading culprit of salon nail infections even with sanitization—and instead use beautiful porcelain basins with detoxing soaks featuring essential oils.
EC – TIE – Sunflower Spa: While Sunflower Spa won two categories this year, this is not their first year winning. In fact, they have won over a dozen times. It might be because of the luxurious treatments in a beautiful spa setting, it might be because they have superb aestheticians and doctor on staff, but it might just be because they are in fact the best way to get away when you need one.
EC – TIE – Valar Aesthetics: With his quirky sense of humor, Dr. Bauer always makes his clients feel comfortable. When he looks at you he doesn’t see a face that needs “improving” he sees your natural beauty that you want to shine just a little longer. As a business he proudly supports our LGBTQ community, while being smartly conservative with our faces.
B – Boulder Plastic Surgery: Boulder Plastic Surgery is an ally to the trans and nonbinary communities. Our looks impact how the world treats us and how we see ourselves. Dr. Rouch offers gender-affirming procedures and ensures that all of his clients’ health needs (physical, mental, and emotional) are accounted for during their journey to reach their desired outcomes.
EC – Chiropractic Center of Erie & Longmont: Our publisher has been seeing Dr. Dave since his days in Boulder (long before YS). He continually wins our Readers Choice because in her words, “the best hands in town.” But the Chiropractic Center of Erie and Longmont is about much more than adjustment, each treatment is coupled with deep tissue and nerve work, giving a full medical treatment to the situation.
B – Chiro Now: Chiro Now is the place to go when you can no longer stand that nasty crick in your neck. In 2015 Dr. Katcher returned to his home state after finishing his training at Palmer College–the first and largest training ground for chiropracty–2013. He’s worked with Olympic athletes, and is an expert at treating clients of all ages.
EC – Jasper Animal Hospital: If you read our Chocolate, Donuts and Dogs article in June 2022, you will know BOCO is losing many of their small town vets to corporate buyouts. Jasper is one of the last of the locally owned and has been our favorite because of their caring touch for 20 years.
B – Arapahoe Animal Hospital: Members of the community for over 68 years, Arapahoe Animal Hospital cares for animals of all kinds every day of the week with day and evening hours. For over five decades, they have proven their veterinary excellence by being accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association. Only 15% of vets are members!
EC – BCH Erie/Lafayette: For over 100 years BCH has been the place for healthcare in Boulder County. The Erie/Lafayette Medical center opened in 2019 to provide access to their world class care in East County. They care for people of all ages and offer everything needed to stay healthy, including an Urgent Care if you need stitches!
Medical Center & Hospital
B – BCH Boulder: BCH continues their winning streak for excellent patient care. People of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations praise BCH for caring for them as individuals and not numbers. They are able to adapt to our needs because they are a nonprofit owned by the community. Their many locations makes care efficient, effective, and easy to access. This is Boulder’s hospital. After CU Medical School moved its hospital to Denver, BCH opened as a community nonprofit hospital in 1922 and has cared for the community every day since. Recognized nationally for excellence in everything from stroke care to maternity care, you are in good hands at BCH.
EC – Good Samaritan: I’ve had many family members treated at Good Sam, and it’s a beautiful hospital. Every staff member is focused on providing the highest quality of care for all of their patients and their families. The nursing staff is Magnet Certified for excellence (less than 10% of hospitals have this distinction!).
EC – Greg Keene – Keene Smiles: Like Vets, Dentists are also getting bought up by big corporations. Thank goodness we still have Dr Keene. His down-toearth personality, exceptional staff and local vibe make his office one of the best, but his expertise is what makes it even better.
B – Rachel Barone – Gunbarrel Dental Center: Dr. Barone knows most people have anxiety about the dentist. She works hard with her team to foster an environment of compassion for her patients. Many find that they no longer fear visiting the dentist after becoming her patient!
EC – Dr. Voss – Boulder Ortho: Doctors either have good bedside personalities or they don’t. Dr Voss has the BEST bedside but as a surgeon he is pretty well-known too, often called in for flight-to-life situations.
B – Dr. Brad Brown and Dr. Sara Schuster – Strive: Dr. Brown and Dr. Schuster were fed up with insurance companies dictating how much time they had with patients. The solution? Strive – where patients pay a monthly fee instead of dealing with insurance, and all their healthcare needs are focused around them. It’s usually much cheaper, and your doctor is always only a text away!
EC – Auspicious Ink: Atmosphere is key for creating art. Since 2008 Auspicious Ink has been honored to create high quality fully custom-curated body art for the community. Their studio is always spotless and filled to the brim with positive vibes. Their goal is to connect, collaborate and care for each human who enters their shop.
B – TIE – Rising Tide: Founded in 2005 as a one-man shop, Rising Tide has evolved into a multi-function space where both tattoo art and fine art (think canvases) can be enjoyed. They host both permanent and traveling artists in their studio. You’re sure to find something that suits your skin–or walls!
B – TIE – Boulder Ink: This is the oldest tattoo parlor in Boulder and a past winner! Today they host 5 artists with over 75 years of combined experience and are specialists in the American Classic style and large-scale traditional Japanese bodysuits. They always welcome visitors to hang out and check out portfolios even if there isn’t an imminent plan to get ink.
EC – Browns Shoe Fit: Service-oriented, charming store in historic Longmont has served the region since 1946. Huge selection of shoes, generations of local shoppers have gone to Browns for everything from running/walking shoes to flip flops. Runner-up: My Savings Grace
B – Pedestrian: A perennial winner. There are two locations of this family-owned business in Boulder, including on the Pearl Street Mall. Richard Polk founded this store back in the 70s and actually started it by selling Birkenstocks out of his van. This family-owned and run charming shop has an enormous selection of name brand footwear including Birkenstock and Chaco. The company supports nonprofits and local events: truly walking the talk. Runner-up: Shoe Fly
EC – Carbon Valley Eye Care: When Dr. Berger told us he was merging his practice with a partner and they were building the largest Center in the North Metro offering eyecare specialties like no other, we thought he might be crazy. But it turns out he knew exactly what he was doing as did Dr. Koditek. Carbon Valley Eye has a great selection of frames, but it is their expertise and specialities that make them stand out. We can see why readers keep voting them the best.
B – Envision: Patients love this practice for its wide range of services and large selection of glasses. Doctor-owned with friendly, attentive service. Post-op care for procedures like cataract surgery and more common care for contact fittings and eyeglass options. Online reviews are fantastic as well, confirming why they were voted Best of the West.
EC – Anspach’s Jewelry
B – Angie Star: For a city with a rather famous reputation for expensive items, jewelry can actually come at many price points. Angie Star specializes in hand-crafted jewelry, much of it unique and custom-made… If you have gold or diamond jewelry that is collecting dust, the jewelers can apply the price of your old piece as a credit toward something new. Runner-up: Art & Soul
Fashion Boutique for Women
EC – Ivy Rose: It’s so exciting to be able to write about all the cool that has come to East County. Along with restaurants and stages we now have fashion. Ivy Rose has been affordably pairing us with the outfits that look best with their personalized shopping experience for 5 years now. It’s why they keep winning Best Fashion. Runner-up: Due South
B – Kama: While often overused as a term for fashion, Kama the store truly embodies what karma the word conjures up. Picture flowy dresses and tops, denim with embroidered flowers and beaded necklaces. Runner-up: Barbara & CO
EC – Acme Fine Goods: Harkening back to Louisville’s rugged founding days, Acme is also named after a long running coal mine in the area. Whether you yourself are a grizzled outdoorsman or simply someone looking for an aesthetic that conveys images of pioneer Colorado, this is the spot.
B – Weekends: Staff is friendly and helpful when needed, but a bit stand-offish, perfect for men who don’t want to be followed around while they browse for clothes. Don’t want to browse? Shoppers can schedule a private appointment with a stylist.
EC – Found Underground: Brightly lit, cozy shop with ample choices, particularly a large selection of jeans and bags. Consignments are selected by required appointments only and are only on the floor for a select amount of time.
B – Rags: If there is a teen or young adult (or young at heart) in your life, you’ve probably already heard about Rags. Top brands move fast. A destination for shoppers looking for a sustainable way to reuse and recycle. Rags includes top names like Chanel and Fendi. After six weeks, the entire floor is cleared of items guaranteeing a steady rotation of bags.
EC – Downtown Lafayette: The shift from a rather sleepy downtown to a truly charming district with a small-town feel over the past decade has been nothing short of remarkable. Shoppers and diners will definitely run into acquaintances here, but it’s not a “see or be seen” type of district. Very down-to-Earth.
B – Pearl Street Mall in Boulder: It’s hard to believe closing the mall to car traffic was ever controversial. Worth it. Fresh, seasonal flowers cheer up the often-crowded mall most months of the year. Pro tip: Grab a meal or a cup of coffee before heading into Peppercorn, where one can browse cookbooks, hot sauces, linens, and gifts for hours.
EC – Read Queen: Owners Barbra Huntting and Deirdre Appelhans run and operate this woman-owned business, which sells new and used books. Come for the books (a surprisingly large selection given the unassuming modest looking storefront) and stay for the tea.
B – Boulder Bookstore: Follow them on Insta, where you will find events, the staff in ugly holiday sweaters, and the massive gathering of children in front of the store at the annual Munchkin parade. Along with author signings and a wide selection of books, it’s clear why Boulder Bookstore takes the top spot.
EC – Lafayette Florist: Oh, the service. The old school way of running a plant and flower shop: Shoppers will leave with everything they were seeking, and a million things they didn’t know they needed or wanted. Local delivery is available but the store is a riot of color. Large and spacious, filled with flowers and plants and pots and everything one needs.
B – Sturtz & Copeland: So pretty that flower fans will want to get married every week just to see what their florists can create. Houseplants tend to be long-lasting (depending on how green one’s thumbs are) and very fresh.
EC – Pitter Patter in Lafayette: The very definition of “shopping small.” Goods for babies through tweens, mostly clothes. If one has a child, or wants to give a gift to a child they love, Pitter Patter offers unique and interesting choices.
B – Childish Things: Start saying to consignment items for children, most of whom grow out of their gorgeous goodies faster than parents can say “I need to start saving for college.” Also offers new items. Tons of toys featuring Melissa and Doug and used Cabbage Patch dolls that may have mom or dad headed there for themselves. From Yelp: “I absolutely LOVE this place. It is quite impressive how vast the selection is. And how well intact everything is. I always find absolute gems. And I love to consign here.”
EC – Purple Poppy: Even if the store looks small on the outside of its strip mall location, anything a gift-giver wants will be here. Kitchen towels, jewelry, soaps, and pots of jam. Amusing socks, local honey and a large selection of tea.
B – Sweet Ruckus in Boulder: Reviews from shoppers are very high, but its own social is a little lackluster — but who cares? Much more fun to browse in person anyway. Home goods and body care items are just a short set of offerings from this tidy shop in Boulder. Great, creative cards and paper goods. Very affordable.
Vitamin Cottage: Oh, what to say? This is not your grandma’s hippie grocer — though they have all those goods as well. Rebranded as Natural Grocers years ago, most people still refer to it as Vitamin Cottage. Bulk foods, organic produce, meat (yes, they went there), vitamins and supplements and anything else you can think of. Buy some wheat berries. Pick up a sandwich. Get some pet food and paper towels.
EC – Monkton Guitars: Many fond memories of jamming on guitars, trying out new styles, and discovering a hidden gem of an instrument have been formed here at Monkton Guitars. Dave Williams’ love of vintage instruments led him to create a brick-and-mortar Monkton Guitars in Broomfield after decades of successful online-only sales. Its location has helped preserve some of the classic charm of a neighborhood guitar shop, something every budding young rock star needs.
B – Woodsongs: The music industry has transformed radically over the last 50 years but Woodsongs Instruments, Boulder’s longest running music store, has endured. From the soft-rocking 70s to today, (yes the 70s were 50 years ago!) the sound of choice may have shifted but the place to try out, buy, and care for your instrument is steadfast and beloved in the community, consistently voted as our Best of the West winner, Woodsongs.
EC – Struttin Pup: Healthy food is the key to feeling well, even in animals. When your pup (or other pet) isn’t quite struttin’ their stuff, it may be time to take them to get a free wellness consultation at Struttin Pup. The hands-on and caring staff will guide you and your beloved pet back to their normal self, which is a huge reason why Boulder County loves them. Plus they only carry natural antibiotic free food.
B – PC’S Pantry: Who says a pantry full of nutritious food and fun treats is only for humans? Not PC’s Pantry, winner of multiple past Best of the West awards, with Mary Lee’s establishment again making an appearance this year. They’ve been around longer than Best of the West has, showing that compassion and quality make a huge impact for pet lovers.
EC – Igadi: Rewards programs aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, unless we’re talking discounts on bud. Igadi’s attempt to demystify the cannabis growing and producing process has helped show both the science and art that goes into crafting quality cannabis products even if the selection is limited to what they produce in-house.
B – Terrapin Care Station: If you’re planning to let your inspiration flow before seeing the Dead & Co. on their final tour, you need to stock up here. Founded in Boulder in 2009, reviews consistently mention quality concentrates as well as friendly budtenders with a great vibe. Terrapin does more than provide a high, they support the The Color of Cannabis and Entrepreneurship for All organization working on racial justice in the industry.
A Quilter’s Corner: Even after 23 years of Best of the West awards we still find room for new categories. Introducing our inaugural quilting winner: A Quilter’s Corner. Many of us picked up hobbies over the past few years and A Quilter’s Corner is a well-established place for a variety of materials, classes, and even sewing machines to get you going.
EC – Paradise Found Records: Another first for this year’s categories: Record Store. Obviously reports of vinyl’s death have been greatly exaggerated – BOCO has 5 record stores now. Paradise Found is Bart’s, rebranded, with owner Will Paradise moving the location back to Pearl Street – where Bart’s was originally first located. Owner Will personally visits the homes of people selling their records to find selections for his very popular downtown shop, which is always abuzz.
B – Absolute Vinyl: Doug Gaddy is a veritable encyclopedia of music knowledge. With over 12,000 vintage records and facts to go along with each, Absolute Vinyl is Longmont’s ultimate resource for music enthusiasts. For those of us that believe the 50s – 80s were the height of music, this is your home.
EC – Old Town Louisville: Escape the metro bustle and connect with your small town roots in Old Town Louisville. A lot of character is packed into those five blocks including onehundred- year-old historical buildings, over one hundred businesses, pubs and a museum.
B – Old Town Boulder: There’s nothing like challenging capitalism through a neighborhood dedicated to its local artists. The grassroots cultivated, non-profit NoBo Art District hosts first Friday self-guided art tours, artist exhibits in local businesses, a community art event calendar and a local studio listing webpage.
EC – Fabulous Finds Upscale Consignment Longmont: Find a new couch that will sit well with you at Fabulous Finds Upscale Consignment. For the few fashion-forward Coloradoans not rocking the lumberjack REI look, Fabulous Finds also sells upscale, consigned clothing brands including Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
B – Amazing Garage Sale Boulder: Trying to be the envy of your hipster friends? Find a stylish mid-century modern furniture piece at the Amazing Garage Sale, which is open daily. Peruse their furniture selection from home on their website.
EC – Danish Furniture Longmont: Looking to get your ex’s furniture out of your house? Danish Furniture consigns furniture from the community. Along with their selection of consigned furniture, they also sell a collection of new Stressless Brand furniture and offer design services.
B – Arhaus Boulder: With incredibly wholesome values, Arhaus furniture is made from discarded materials like old mango trees that don’t produce fruit and recycled copper. Profits benefit community organizations like Habitat for Humanity and American Forests.
EC – Lottie Lane Erie: Born out of a local realtor’s COVID passion project, Lottie Lane features modern, heirloom pieces to decorate your home that encourage enjoying time at home with people you love.
B – Boulder Furniture Arts: Run by a small group of classically trained craftspeople, Boulder Furniture Arts takes the custom approach to making furniture from drafting to assembly. It’s proud to be one of Boulder’s oldest businesses.
EC – Jax Lafayette Farm & Ranch: Jax is a yearly fan favorite with its large selection of gear designed for any Colorado adventure. The staff is friendly and helpful and can get you set up with tools for jobs as large as ranching or as little as gardening.
B – McGuckin Hardware: Feel empowered to start that home project you’ve been putting off with a trip to fan favorite McGuckin Hardware. Their excellent customer care inspires and helps customers accomplish their home project dreams along with providing miscellaneous services like lamp repair and blade sharpening.
EC – Outdoor Craftsmen: Outdoor Craftsmen brings eastern zen and western structure to your backyard inspired by a clean, modern take on formal English gardens. Whether it’s a seasonal cleanup or a backyard renovation, Outdoor Craftsmen cultivates your outdoor space dreams.
B – Ecoscape: If you dig sustainability, Ecoscape cares for the land through eco-friendly landscaping practices. Certified by Partners for a Clean Environment, Ecoscape offers both landscape services and broader stewardship projects like native revegetation and ecological forest management.
B – Goodacre Group of milehimodern: Goodacre Group of milehimodern is the area’s oldest locally owned and operated real estate company and prides itself on being the local expert on the complex Boulder housing market.
EC – Colorado Green Plumbing Longmont: Colorado Green Plumbing Longmont leaves out the sales pitch and provides knowledgeable technicians to help with plumbing needs. Colorado Green Plumbing offers a free plumbing inspection and low interest financing options.
B – Jim Needham Services: With over 30 years of experience in the Denver area, Jim Needham solves your plumbing needs quickly and without any additional service call fees and prompt, same-day service.
EC – Cornerstone Homes: With press nods from New York Times to Boulder County Home & Garden, Cornerstone Homes are third-generation builders who have been building their craft for 20 years. Healthy relationships with clients are the foundation of their work to create living spaces that reflect individual needs.
B – Melton Design Build: A rare feat in the design build world is keeping on schedule and budget with no surprises. Melton Design Build offers clear and consistent communication and a clear timeline while building high quality homes.
EC – Reinholt: With the mission of protecting people and trees alike, Reinholt is a small family business offering tree care in Boulder County with an emphasis on safety and high quality work.
Place to Play with the Kids
EC – Wow! Museum: This multi-award-winning museum can add another Best of the West to its illustrious list. The museum uses a system of exploration, experimentation, and repetition to create curious learners looking to further explore their world. The Forest of Lights exhibit encourages children, of all abilities, to play in an environment designed by local occupational therapists for sensory exploration. At a low price, Wow! Museum is a great way to help your child become an engaged member of the Lafayette community.
B – Chautauqua: Want to spend more time outside? Nature and history collide at Chautauqua. It is a one of a kind place bridging the gap between the outdoors and education. The park is a place to be active in nature and learn about native plants in the onsite gardens or the history of its historical buildings.
EC – School of Rock: Sure you can play the hell out of your instrument at home, but what about getting on stage in front of a roaring crowd? School of Rock will teach you how to be a true performer. The Front Range possesses a vivid music scene where students at School of Rock get a taste of what it’s like to be a professional musician. Shift from genre to genre to find your passion, and you may find yourself rocking Colorado’s music scene.
B – The Lesson Studio: Owner and creator, Gary Gutierrez, creates a safe environment where music truly is for everyone. From vocal training to learning the viola, The Lesson Studio has more than a few options to get your student exploring music. The studio was created with one goal in mind: sharing your love for music. The approach of personalizing lessons with applicable practice techniques is designed to ensure the success of all students, so they can share music as a self-assured, creative person.
EC – School of Rock: For a second year, School of Rock summer camps have won Yellow Scene’s “Best of the West.” It is no wonder School of Rock has been a consistent top pick for Colorado families. The school offers year round camps for musicians of all ages and abilities. Traditional camps solely focus on playing, but School of Rock incorporates confidence building to create self-assured artists on and off stage. Multiple locations mean you won’t have to drive all over town. Your time is a valued character at a reasonable price.
B – Renaissance Adventures: For the third year, parents chose Renaissance Adventures as the Best of the West summer camp for children of all ages. The camps develop skills of empathy and reasoning all while maintaining a creative, safe environment for your child to explore the benefits of experiential learning. The Adventure Quest program is built on this method. It uses exciting plots to engage its participants to navigate through difficult challenges and decisions with support.
EC – Pioneer Bilingual Lafayette: La Escuela Bilingue Pioneer es un BVSD leader in providing bilingual education for students. El mundo está cambiando. Pioneer Bilingual has a scientifically backed approach to help your student become proficient in another language. Read the reviews. Students love the atmosphere; parents love the approach, it’s why they keep winning.
EC – Dawson School: Dawson School has served our community since 1970 with a mission focused on developing creative students with extensive problem-solving skills. Students and parents alike love the small class sizes. On average, each classroom only has 15 students, and is best exemplified in the Senior Honor Ceremony where the faculty recognizes each graduating student. Faculty and educators take this time to share stories or recognize students’ accomplishments at Dawson. The connections students make with their educators are long lasting and highly valued. It is a small school with a big emphasis on community.
B – Jarrow Montessori: Jarrow Montessori has been in the community for over 50 years providing a certified American Montessori education. The Montessori approach understands that each student’s development comes at their own pace and offers tools to formulate their own concepts Jarrow consistently shows parents their dedication to giving students a well-rounded education that goes beyond the white board.
YMCA: Who hasn’t heard of the YMCA? An absolute institution, the local YMCA is known for providing the community with access to fitness and recreational activities for decades. Members of the public initially come for these services, but stay for the attentive staff, multiple membership types and a wide range of amenities, including child care. The thoughtful approach to YMCA continues to make it a top choice for those in our communities exploring fitness.
EC – Bob Burger: Bob Burger Recreation Center contains all the equipment and room of other centers but has an obtainable price point. The center maintains outdoor jacuzzis for an outdoor soak, and is minutes away from Lafayette’s finest museums, parks, and restaurants. It is a great stop for an outing with your entire family or simply to workout.
B – North Boulder Rec: North Boulder Rec Center remains easily accessible from public transportation offering all the amenities of other recreation centers. The University Memorial Center on CU Boulder’s campus is a ten minute ride to the Center’s front doors on the SKIP going Northbound. Students can easily utilize their bus pass obtained through the University for a hassle-free trip to the gym.
Ski Resort (Day Trip)
Eldora: Have a half an hour? If so, you can be in Eldora for a day of skiing. The resort contains terrain for skiers of all levels and typically hosts short wait times for tickets and lifts. The short drive makes the resort accessible from anywhere within the Denver Metropolitan area looking to become more active for many winters to come.
Ski Resort (Overnight)
Steamboat Springs: Ski Town USA, Steamboat Springs, is located nearly four hours from the city making it the perfect overnight adventure for the family. The proximity of the resort gives you access to a mountain town with shops, restaurants, and other activities. People also boast about the resort’s terrain and powder. You don’t know how to ski? No worries, the world class instructors will have you confidently making your way down the mountain sharing their love with the sport along the way.
EC – Bennetts Karate: The Bennett family has taken pride in providing martial arts training to families in Lafayette since 1996. Owner and operator Richard Bennett and his family have traveled extensively to Okinawa and Japan to learn from the masters so they can teach you the art of Uechi Ryu and Kubudo authentically. This local dojo invites anyone interested to come experience culture and tradition in a rich, local environment.
B – Tran’s Martial Arts: Hung Tran, owner of Tran’s Martial Arts, takes fitness to the next level with programs primarily offered in Krav Maga, Muay Thai, and kickboxing. The dojo welcomes people of all ages, backgrounds, and they are welcomed with respect. This is a place of community where the only objective is reaching your goals and testing your limits.
EC – Soul Tree: When forced to close due to fire damage, Soul Tree continued to serve the community by hosting sessions in the park and offering online classes. Today, Soul Tree continues to advocate for those impacted by the fires by spreading their message of love to a rebuilding community. The studio maintains a healing space for those interested in taking your passion for yoga beyond physical ability and into mental rejuvenation.
B – Little Yoga Studio: Run by femmes, Little Yoga Studio has affordable options in-person and online, so you can fit yoga into your schedule anytime. Owner Kelly Elle Kenworthy is committed to the empowerment of people through yoga, and has hired instructors with just as much passion for your growth. The studio is devoted to making its walls safe for any person willing to take an explorative journey into the practice of yoga.
EC – Rocky Mountain Pilates: Do you find fitness spaces unapproachable? Rocky Mountain Pilates provides a calm, welcoming environment to increase your confidence in the studio. The instructors foster a judgment-free zone where they accommodate movements and intensity to match your desired outcome based on your own abilities. You can focus on learning techniques of pilates and yoga at your own comfort level.
B – The Pilates Center: The Pilate Center’s founders, Amy Taylor Alpers and Rachel Taylor Siegel, have been retaining the integrity of Joseph Pilates’ revolutionary vision for health and exercise in Boulder county since the 1990s. To fulfill the Taylor Sisters’ mission to heal the world, TPC offers courses to become a certified instructor with a direct lineage to Joseph Pilates himself.
EC – Stan’s: Since 1984 Stan’s has been providing import and domestic auto and even RV repair in Loveland. Customers love the service they get from Stan and the crew, who continuously go above and beyond for their people. While Stan’s has won Best of the West, just about every year since YS began, their long commitment to community coupled with their trustworthy services has made them a local’s favorite year after year. Be sure to drive by the shop for their famous inspirational message on their sign.
B – Hoshi: Hoshi rarely advertises. Why would they when so many people share the word on this local Boulder repair shop that’s been around for 32 years? Winning Best of the West awards certainly helps, too. Honesty pays off. It’s pretty rare to find an auto shop with positive reviews but they pull it off.
EC – Catherine Brown: Catherine has been helping folks with immigration for over 20 years. She has helped countless people make Colorado their home, sometimes even pro bono for those in need. According to reviews, Catherine’s clients feel respected, valued, and supported, like their case matters and she truly wants them to be her Colorado neighbor.
B – Barre M. Sakol, P.C.: Let’s be real, few people want to consult an attorney. Usually that means something is going very wrong. Barre uses his 30 years of experience to help demystify the process and guide you through the legal world so fraught with complications. The legal process can be difficult but your lawyer shouldn’t be.
Elevations Credit Union: As a nonprofit credit union, Elevations is able to represent the values of the people they serve far more than a typical corporate bank can (or will). This shows in their incredible community contributions ranging from setting up scholarships to community events and education, like “Get Off Your Donkey”, a presentation about wellness for people with desk jobs, a benefit bicycle donation drive, and informational finance workshops in Spanish. They have also been serving Boulder County residents so long they even have customers who still have a 3-digit account!
B – Fowler Auto: Fowler Auto has grown from state to state across the South and Midwest, keeping a reputation for going above and beyond for its customers throughout its decades-long history. Even if you prefer to avoid dealership service, our readers love the service department at Fowler.
EC – Sister Carmen: Sister Carmen has been there for everyone in need since 1978 and has distributed over a million pounds of food and household items, and over a million dollars in housing assistance with transparency, respect, and an open heart for all who come to them. The thrift shop is a great way to support this beloved community treasure and get yourself something fun.
B – Community Foundation: Boulder’s Community Foundation is not just for people, but all aspects of living. They hold dear concerns for the environment, as we have seen how the environment impacts people. Over the last year, they have been working steadily with other organizations to help those impacted by the Marshall Fire. They work to build stronger communities, through health, education, and leadership programs, in addition to charitable funding.
Joe Neguse: Congressman Joe Neguse takes the BOW vote from Polis this year! His dedication to veterans, equity, conservation, climate, education, and civil rights are deeply appreciated by the community. At only 31 years old, Joe Neguse was one of the youngest cabinet members ever to serve. Not only this, but his accomplishments and achievements are a long list of impressive feats, especially for a person of his age, beginning with graduating summa cum laude from the University of Colorado- Boulder.
EC – Wira Babiak: The art of Wira Babiak’s landscapes have a special essence. She does gorgeous paintings of the Colorado prairies that capture the raw spirit of East County. She is a multimedia artist with major talent across the board and has even brought the stunning fragile beauty of Ukrainian eggs to our area communities. As a Ukrainian immigrant, she is now using her art to benefit humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
B – Adderly Art: Adderly Grant-Lord’s vibrant pinks, blues, and yellows lift the spirit and echo of love. Her soul shines through her work, encouraging you to see, find, and feel true beauty. Her pieces in the Black Futures in Art: We’re Not Just History collection is a spectacular depiction of hope and vitality. As a Carribean-born artist with a background in fashion and art, she knows how to make colors pop and create divine aesthetics.