For restaurants, the surrounding area is almost entirely chains (boooo!). There’s actually not a lot in the way of “good” and “right near by.” I mention a few below, but if you want really good food, you’ll need to hit Denver or Boulder. Your closest option for good choices is The Highlands, a neighborhood that is littered with fantastic restaurants and boutiques. Next closest is probably Boulder around Pearl Street, and then into downtown Denver (those are opposite directions, by the way).
(the immediate surrounding area)
11940 Bradburn Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031
The one local treasure. This is easily my favorite local spot. They only do breakfast and lunch, but their breakfast has quickly become my favorite for the entire Denver/Boulder area (beating out Lucille’s and Snooze). There will be a long wait on Saturday and Sunday morning, but sometimes if you get there at an “in between” time (between the early and late crowds), you can get seated relatively quickly. It’s a small place, so if you’ve got a large party, you should probably look elsewhere for brunch on the weekend.
11140 Irma Dr., Northglenn, CO 80233
This is a great locals place. It is in the middle of an industrial area, which means it’s the spot where working people hang out after work. I found out about it from restaurant staff (from other places) who go there after hours. The food is typical pub fare, but it’s good, and it’s priced decently, and the bar and atmosphere are great. I will choose this over a chain restaurant any day. Be aware, it can get kind of loud after 8p, as there is Karaoke on Thursday and Friday, and live music on Saturday and Sunday (also: live trivia on Tuesdays).
Located in the Westin Hotel
10600 Westminster Blvd
Westminster, CO 80020
Usually hotel restaurants are pretty meh, but this place is fantastic. It’s upscale Mexican (meaning more expensive), but the ambience and decor are what keep bringing me back. They have outdoor lounge seating as well as tables, and in addition to the kitchen, there is a great taco cart that they roll around the restaurant. They also have a fantastic cocktail list.
For such a small area, Boulder has an incredible array of great restaurants. Pearl Street is the central hub, and Pearl and Walnut (one street over) have the majority of good restaurants. Obviously everyone will have their opinions, but the places below are my “go to” spots.
The roof top terrace makes this place. That, and the fact that they’ve got more than 75 Bourbons on their menu. If no one can decide where we’re going, this is where we always go.
Best happy hour bar none. I’m always annoyed by a typical restaurant’s quantity-to-price ratio for tapas, but this place does it right. Just start checking options on the “sushi style” paper menu, and enjoy your afternoon into evening as the tapas keep arriving at your table.
Right across the street from The Med (and owned by the same family), I like to do happy hour here, because the regular dinner menu is a bit pricey. It’s great french bistro style fare, with a nice ambience and a great bar.
Southern Sun (and Under the Sun)
This is a local favorite and staple with fantastic burgers and other pub fare. There is also a crazy and ever-changing collection of beers on tap (mostly local). Downstairs (Under the Sun) there is a wood fired pizza oven and the fare and ambience is a bit more refined.
This place is cash only. There is a cash machine on the premises (as well as a Chase and a Wells Fargo in the same spot). The cool thing though, is that if you don’t have cash, they’ll just hand you a “karma envelope,” and you can send them a check when you get home! You gotta love Boulder. On a Friday or Saturday night, the place is also littered with semi-feral “Boulder kids” running free throughout the restaurant while their “care-free” parents ignore the fact that they are screaming and biting the other guests. It’s not a deal breaker, but be aware of what you are getting yourself into with a place that the locals call a favorite.
I imagine these guys do take out, but this is the kind of pizza place you want to actually go to. They’ve got a $25,000 meat slicer built by an Italian father and son that looks like a 1940’s Cadillac. It’s gorgeous. Ask them to see it, ’cause they love showing it off. They’ve also got a killer wine list. If you’re in the mood for Italian and want to take it up a notch, these guys also own a place called Frasca. Unfortunately, I can only go there when someone else is paying.
This is the pinnacle of upscale farm to table in Boulder. Bring your wallet.
This was the first “nice” restaurant I went when I first moved to Denver, and it will always be a favorite. It’s in an old Mechanic’s Garage, and though the food is upscale, there is still a tinge of dinge that makes it super cool. As a Denver eatery mainstay, it’s often crowded on the weekend, but it’s worth the wait.
This place has somewhat “expected” bar fare, but it’s freakin’ delicious. I love the Midcentury Modern slash Auto Garage atmosphere/theme, and their fries rock.
This place is great when you forgot to make a reservation somewhere, but you want to eat during “the rush.” There are multiple restaurants (real restaurants, but with “walk up counters”) housed in the same building, with an eating area on the main floor, and then another eating area and bar on the roof. The views of the city are amazing, and the casual atmosphere is great for small and large groups alike.
Yes, this is an entire city block of restaurants all housed in the same building. Like Avanti, there are multiple restaurants with common seating areas. Here though, a few of the restaurants have their own thing (and seating) going. The Poka Lola Social Club alone is worth the visit.