It’s the trendiest, fastest-growing part of Boulder, packed with unique shops, inspiring art and unobstructed views of the foothills. It’s also one of the up-and-coming spots for the foodie scene.
NoBo (North Boulder) used to be a fringe neighborhood in Boulder, but more recently it has earned a reputation as a restaurant destination. Here, you can find hip date-night spots, authentic ethnic menus and also casual “holes in the wall” with a ton of personality that downtown Boulder lacks.
Unfortunately, one of Boulder’s best breakfast joints, the North Boulder Cafe, a true “greasy spoon,” closed down. But there are still plenty of places to fill up on Uptown Broadway and the neighboring side streets.
Here are our seven favorite restaurants in North Boulder.
1. The North End at 4580
4580 N. Broadway
This is the best spot for a casual but sophisticated date in NoBo. The North End (look for the large sign that reads “4580”) is a fresh American bistro with an impressive wine list. The North End recently underwent renovations that expanded its bar seating.
The executive chef here, Jeffrey Barbour, used to cook at the Flagstaff House, which is indisputably one of Boulder’s top restaurants, if not its best. Barbour lends 4580 major foodie cred.
Tip: In warmer weather, request a table outside on the patio. In winter, there’s no bad seat. The restaurant’s oversized windows on three sides open up to the mountains.
Try this: The Cajun pork belly cassoulet, blackened pork served over black-eyed peas, andouille sausage, smoked ham and veggies; the Maine lobster mac and cheese, with shallots, topped with bread crumbs; or the golden jumbo scallops on a butternut squash puree.
2. Mandala Infusion
4479 N. Broadway
Go here for authentic Tibetan food in a community-centric atmosphere. In true Tibetan style, and creating a totally unique experience in Boulder, Mandala Infusion is filled with low-sitting “sangha” (community) tables and carpets, a Tibetan prayer wheel (handmade in TIbet) and an herb garden on site. Art is also important here.
Vegetarians will be happy to see plenty of menu items for them. All menu items are fresh and health-conscious.
Tip: The restaurant is an obvious choice for lunch (there’s a solid buffet) but it also serves brunch and holds special events, like a monthly full-moon “Terraluna” event. It features live music, dancing, and both live and interactive art.
Mandala Infusion is “very unique,” chef Takla Armour says. “There is nothing like this on the planet as a Tibetan bistro, food/culture of Tibet, fresh, all made in the house, healthy.”
Try this: The house-made chili sauce and kombucha on draft. Go here for happy hour, where you can find elixirs and healthy, naturally infused cocktails (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
As for menu items, the bone broth thukpa, a rice noodle soup, is gluten-free and packed with veggies. The brick chicken, a half chicken served with roasted beets, bok choy and potato wedges, is your best bet if you’re hungry and craving something substantial yet healthy.
3. La Choza
4457 N. Broadway
Go here for authentic Mexican food that won’t break the bank (not even the piggy bank). La Choza is nothing fancy; we’d call it a dive, except the food is incredible. It’s casual and quick but has some of the area’s best tacos, fajitas and burritos.
The restaurant was started by a Mexican immigrant, so the flavors are for real. It’s all about food here. No fluff, no fancy atmosphere.
La Choza is a local fave with a cult following so big that it’s gearing up to open another location on University Hill. It’s rare to find a place this casual and unpretentious in Boulder that’s not fast food and does not sacrifice quality or flavor.
Tip: La Choza labels itself American-Mexican, so you can also find American classics, like burgers and fries. But why? Not when there’s a steak burrito.
Try this: Four carnitas tacos for seven bucks.
4. Dagabi Cucina
3970 N. Broadway Unit 101
Go here for comfort food and a fun family night out, Spanish style. We love Dagabi’s pizzas and fresh, modernized Spanish classics, especially the paella. Dagabi also serves tapas, charcuterie and cheese and wine, making it another great option for a date night.
Tip: Avoiding gluten? Dagabi has plenty of gluten-free items. All of the paellas are gluten-free. Plus steak and seafood stew and salads.
Try this: You gotta try a paella dish here. The signature spin is a blend of Calasparra saffron rice, green peas, roasted red pepper and artichoke.
5. Wapos Mexican Cantina
4929 N. Broadway
More authentic Mexican deliciousness. Like La Choza, Wapos is super relaxed and all about the food. You might drive by and blow it off as a hole in the wall (and it’d be easy to miss it, as it’s located right at the farthest northern edge of Boulder, right before the mountain highway), but stop and give the food a taste. Go here for a chill and indulgent night out.
Tip: On a nice evening, enjoy a margarita on the covered outdoor patio.
Try this: In addition to all of your Mexi faves, from classic burritos to enchiladas, there’s the glorious Pregnant Burrito: a green-chile-smothered, cheese-slathered burrito stuffed with a cheese enchilada or relleno.
6. Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar
1200 Yarmouth Ave.
Go here for the cheese. Mmm, cheese. Bacco is a unique offering, not only in Boulder but in the entire country; it’s one of the few U.S. restaurants with a mozzarella bar. Bacco offers a full mozzarella menu, where you can experience the cheese accented with the likes of smoked salmon, avocado, red onions and arugula, or pesto, roasted pepper and Parma prosciutto (to name a few of the options).
Bacco is hip yet relaxed, authentic yet modern. The heart of the restaurant is chef Marco Monnanni, born in Rome; his career in cooking started at age 14 in Italy, where he learned how to make fresh pasta and Italian dishes by hand.
Tip: The Monday night pizza happy hour is popular. As you’d expect from a mozzarella specialist, the pizzas here are arguably the best in Boulder.
Try this: Duh. The mozzarella. All of the mozzarella.
7. Proto’s Pizza
4670 N. Broadway
Go here for pizza. East Coast-style pizza, made with a thin, charred crust. Proto’s has a few different locations in Colorado.
Chef Pam Proto is the star at Proto’s. She started the restaurant after moving to Colorado; she missed New England’s pizza, so she decided to bring it here. The pies are made in authentic Italian ovens. Although the food is casual, the atmosphere is a bit elevated. Expect real linens and a great wine list, making Proto’s fitting for families or lovers.
Since opening in the late ‘90s, Proto’s has earned a long list of awards, including being named a Top Neighborhood Restaurant by BonAppetit. The Daily Camera, Westword, 5280 Magazine, the Longmont Times-Call, Denver Post and Boulder Weekly have all crowned Proto’s with the “best pizza” award.
Tip: There’s also a Proto’s in Longmont, northeast of Boulder.
Try this: There are plenty of innovative ingredient combos, but when at Proto’s, you have to try the namesake pizza: the Proto Pie is served with mozzarella, fresh basil, Italian sausage and tomato sauce.