Certain dishes and cuisine were once synonymous with take-out. Pizza, Chinese food, burritos — they all meet the essential takeout criteria of being comfort foods that travel well and can be reheated while you pause your Netflix show. But, then, when the pandemic hit, prompting us to spend more time hunkered down at home, restaurateurs across Boulder got creative. They began thinking outside of the (takeout) box to find ways to help you recreate a restaurant experience — but do so at home. Restaurants in the Big Red F group, for instance, began offering take-home meals that you can easily finish in your own kitchen, and that will feed your whole family. You can also order cocktails to-go from many of your favorite local restaurants and some spots offer curbside pick-up to make the whole process seamless.
Here, 13 tasty takeout dishes to try from Boulder restaurants.
Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant: Family Fajita Pack
1101 Walnut St.
The sizzle of fajitas is part of the soundscape at the Rio. Now, you can get a family pack of fajitas (as well as other dishes) for an at-home meal. In addition to its traditional menu that can be ordered for takeout, The Rio has an order-in-bulk option with a Family Fajita Pack that comes with the option to mix and match proteins, plus all the fixings like fajita veggies, sour cream, guac, tortillas, rice, beans and pico de gallo. Oh, and yes, you can get those famous Rio margs to go, too. Or, you can get a margarita kit to make your own. Spoiler alert: They’re still not spilling the frijoles on their trademark recipe, though!
Frasca Food & Wine: Frico Caldo
1738 Pearl St.
Frico Caldo is a Frasca favorite. Since day one, this dish has been a signature menu item at Frasca, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant inspired by the Northern region of Italy. The comfort dish from the Friuli region is perfect bite, with potatoes, cheese and onions griddle until crisp and made with an herb vinaigrette. Other popular to-go dishes are gnocchi and the Torta Tenerina, which is a flourless chocolate cake served with raspberry jam and chocolate pearls.
Boychik: Shawarma Hummus Bowl
1401 Pearl St.
Launched by a pair of childhood bestfriends, Boychik is among the vendors inside Boulder’s new food hall, Avanti Food & Beverage. The Middle Eastern-inspired menu includes salads, pita wraps and plenty of dips and spreads (introduce your veggies and pita chips to the whipped feta, ASAP). Boychik’s selection of hummus bowls put a modern twist on the menu and make for a great lunch-time alternative to salads and sandwiches. Make a lunch out of the Shawarma Hummus Bowl topped with onions, sumac, pickles and a house sauce.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar: Alaskan Halibut Kit
928 Pearl St.
Seafood may not be top of mind when it comes to takeout, but Jax Fish House tweaked its menu to create a tasty to-go experience. Jax is offering fresh sustainable seafood dishes in three formats: in the dining room, for takeout, or as finish-at-home kits to prepare when you like and that includes mussels with your choice of broth (thai curry, tomato chorizo, chardonnay garlic) and Maine lobster cavatappi for two. All of the take home kits are easy to complete in your own kitchen, and come with instructions. One of the top sellers is an Alaskan halibut kit for two, which comes wrapped in parchment paper with seasonal vegetables and a side of sherry mustard potatoes. Just pop it in the oven and enjoy.
Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro: Boulder Burger
900 Walnut St.
Pass on the frozen burger patties. Instead, head to Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro inside the St. Julien Hotel, where you’ll find a veggie-forward menu starring the Boulder Burger, crafted with a house-made black bean patty that’s covered with melted white cheddar and smothered with guacamole and adobo mayo and topped with a tomato. To really get this right, order at the restaurant so you’ll have time to enjoy a cocktail while your burger is being made. We suggest The Beetnik, a vodka, ginger and citrus cocktail made with beets from a Boulder County farm, Toohey.
West End Tavern: Family Barbecue Platters
926 Pearl St.
Great for game days, West End Tavern has created to-go barbecue family meal platters that can serve two, four or six. (Order extra so you can make barbecue sammys throughout the week. West End Tavern also sells buns to go). Platters include fresh-from-the-smoker sliced brisket, St. Louis style ribs, pulled pork, bone-in chicken and hot links, plus house barbecue sauce, Carolina gold barbecue sauce, beans, coleslaw and cornbread. Macaroni and cheese topped with bread crumbs is a great add-on. Round out your order with Pearl Street Punch, a gin cocktail mixed with hibiscus syrup, fresh citrus and soda.
Pig and Tiger: Beef Noodle Soup
1401 Pearl St.
We couldn’t blame you if you start picking up to-go from Pig and Tiger a couple of times a week. Sourced from Colorado farms, Pig and Tiger’s modern Taiwanese menu has 3 for $10 Gua Baos pork belly buns made with pork belly, seasonal veggies, or sichuan hot chicken. For the winter, turn your attention to the Beef Noodle Soup, which is made with hand-cut noodles, braised beef shank, seasonal greens and pickled mustard greens.
Rye Society: Reuben (Available as a vegan sandwich, too).
1401 Pearl St.
A reuben, but make it vegan? Rye Society mastered this challenge. Rye Society has gourmet, scratch-made Jewish cuisine, giving a contemporary update to old family recipes. Custom sandwiches, matzah ball soup by the quart and pastries are all available to-go. The classic reuben comes with steamed corned beef or whole roasted portabella mushroom, Swiss cheese, kraut, dressing and sandwiched on toasted rye bread. The vegan reuben is made with house marinated tempeh and vegan cheese, kraut and a vegan dressing, also served on rye.
Centro Mexican Kitchen: Baja Board
950 Pearl St.
A common problem with takeout tacos: They become soggy by the time you get them home. Centro Mexican Kitchen came up with a savvy work around: The Baja Board, that allows you to assemble your tacos at home, with the warm tortillas packaged on the side. This taco feast includes beer-battered Pacific cod, chipotle crema, green rice, salsa plus Mexican street corn. You can choose between corn or flour tortillas, or opt for lettuce wraps.
Pizzeria Locale: Il Marco
1730 Pearl St.
Your Italian vacation may be postponed, but Pizzeria Locale’s Napoli-style pizzas will hold you over and satiate cravings in the meantime. Pizzeria Locale was the first restaurant in Colorado to employ a Stefano Ferrarra wood-fired oven. (The artisan ovens perfect authentic Neapolitan pizzas). The East Pearl Street pizzeria has classics like margarita pizzas join more gourmet creations that are topped with n’douja sausage or oyster mushrooms . One of the newcomers on the menu is the Il Marco pizza, made with a spicy pine nut pesto, provolone piccante, mortadella, grana padano (and Italian cheese) and lemon juice. If you want to try your hand at pizza-making, Pizzeria Locale also sells dough balls for $2.50 a piece.
The Kitchen: Bone Marrow
1039 Pearl St.
Take your takeout to another level and start your meal off with a gourmet appetizer. Available for takeout from The Kitchen is popular dish, Bone Marrow, which is filled with bison tartare, aioli and served with The Kitchen’s grilled bread that’s perfect for soaking up the bone marrow flavors.
Food Lab: Paella Experience
1825 Pearl St. A
Offering culinary classes in Boulder, Food Lab has a calendar of events that includes virtual and in-person cooking classes. Food Lab is now offering “Anytime Cooking Kits” that come with everything you need to make a perfect dinner at home and at your own pace. The kits come with a video to help you perfect your dish. The paella cooking kits comes with all the ingredients you’ll need, plus pairing suggestions for wine and music as well as recipes and a shopping list so you can recreate the meal in the future. For a special night at home, or if you’re looking for a unique gift, you can add the upgrade that comes with a traditional steel paella pan and other goodies, like all-natural, dry-cured chorizo and a Spanish sherry vinegar.
Efrain’s of Boulder Mexican Restaurant and Cantina: Efrain Burrito
1630 63rd St. #10
If you love Mexican food, you could point your finger to any item on Efrain’s menu and be happy with your choice. Efrain’s is a Boulder institution serving Northern Mexican dishes and the menu has a spice-level scale to help you choose the right dish for your tastebuds, ranging from the mild cheese enchiladas to the hot chile verde burrito. Trust your chef; the $13 Efrain Burrito is a large flour tortilla stuffed and smothered with the chef’s choice. “Have fun, take a chance and trust Efrain” says the menu description.