It’s not that we don’t love Boulder County’s thriving live music scene. It seems every brewery, bar and even many restaurants feature musicians at least a few days a week. And that can create a fun party atmosphere, as well as introduce you to some great, new music.
But sometimes, just sometimes, you just don’t want to have to shout over a banjo battle. Sometimes, you don’t want to be serenaded by a ukulele.
Some nights call for a quiet, private table, a glass of wine or a cocktail and a quality conversation.
We asked our readers to share their favorite spots in Boulder County to go for an intimate date with drinks. Here’s where the locals go, in no particular order:
1. The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl St., Boulder
This downtown restaurant can fill up, but it doesn’t tend to get too rowdy; you wouldn’t expect much boot-stomping in a restaurant filled with sparkling chandeliers.
It has an impressive wine list, too, including French, Italian, outliers and even a rose’ list. Bonus: The Kitchen is running an All Day Rose’ special all summer long, where you can try rose’ selections from around the world paired with gulf shrimp hushpuppies, garlic fries, crispy fish lettuce tacos and more. Upstairs (the location and also that’s the name) is The Kitchen’s special cocktail lounge. Snag a seat by the fireplace to add some romance.
2. Por Wine House, 701 Main St., Louisville
Venture beyond Boulder for this rustic but chic destination that specializes in wine. In warm weather, enjoy your glass on the patio. Por is located in the heart of downtown, yet it feels like its own island of serenity inside. Some say it has a European vibe. It does have live music Friday through Sunday nights, so come on another day of the week if you prefer less excitement.
One fun fact about Por: It offers wine on tap, so you can enjoy a selection of 14 different, rotating wines by the glass.
3. Brasserie Ten Ten, 1011 Walnut St., Boulder
One of Boulder’s favorite downtown French restaurants is also known for its wine and is a popular date destination. In that, it can get pretty full (the restaurant has been described as “vibrant” but cozy). Locals recommend avoiding happy hour, when it tends to be busiest; show up for a later dinner and you can usually enjoy a quiet, sophisticated dinner.
4. Bookcliff Vineyard, 1501 Lee Hill Drive, Unit 17, B
If you want a wine-centric date with some activity, head straight to the local source. The Bookcliff Vineyard has a tasting room where you can try various wines and also take a tour. It’s open Thursday-Saturday from 1 to 6 p.m. (so no late-night raging here).
5. Pizzeria Basta, 3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder
This place is a bit of a hidden gem (it can be hard to find), but that makes it all the more special for people in the known. It’s no ordinary pizza shop; you can also enjoy the likes of oysters, kampachi crudo and salumi with your beverages. The food menu is dwarfed by the impressive cocktail and wine list. As for ambiance, in warmer weather, Basta has the cutest little patio with tables that aren’t too crammed in. While Basta is known for its family-style options, you can just as easily share a smaller table.
6. 2020 Food + Wine Bar, 2020 Ionosphere St., Longmont
Some people say there is nowhere quiet to go out in Boulder and that you need to head east for the real deal. A reader favorite is 2020, in the quirky and colorful Longmont neighborhood, Prospect. Find boutique wine here to enjoy on a flower-filled patio or inside; booths do make up a good amount of seating but because tables have some breathing space between them, you don’t feel like you’re sharing a seat with your neighbor. It’s sophisticated but still comfortable.
7. Martinis Bistro, 530 Terry St., Longmont
Here’s another win for Longmont, especially if you want cocktails. Martinis Bistro is a historic house converted into a sexy but homey bar. Request a private table in one of the nooks or corners, or get a table on the large patio. It closes at 9 p.m.
8. Dagabi Cuchina, 3970 Broadway, Unit 101, Boulder
Dagabi is billed as a Spanish “hideaway,” and it’s that word that lures us in when we’re looking for a night of wine, tapas, charcuterie, Spanish food and maybe even a wood-fired pizza from the oven. Dagabi calls itself “Boulder’s best-kept secret.” What that means for you is a great wine and cocktails list without massive crowds
9. Black Cat, 1964 13th St., Boulder
For a special night out, head to elegant Black Cat, and make sure you request one of the private booths in the very back of the restaurant. The rest of the tables can feel a little less private, especially the ones against the wall that are pretty close together. But there’s a perfect table in the back tucked into a deep nook, so you’ll feel like you’re the only people in the world. Black Cat’s wine pairings are among Boulder’s best.
10. Carelli’s, 645 30th St., Boulder
This old-school Italian restaurant in South Boulder has an impressive patio with a 360-degree fireplace and a soft, high-backed banquette.
In fact, this patio was awarded “Best Design” by the American Institute of Architects. There is nowhere more spectacular to enjoy wine and traditional or contemporary food from northern and southern Italy. The indoor space at Carelli’s is also sexy and spacious.
11. License No. 1, 2115 13th St., Boulder
For a sultry, dim, moody night out, head to License No. 1, a speakeasy-style bar in the basement of the historic Hotel Boulderado. Order a fine cocktail or wine and find a table in a private nook. There are tons of twists and corners and rooms down here and plenty of different furniture set-ups to choose between. But you’ll want to go here on a Monday through Wednesday for a chiller vibe; there’s live music or a DJ Thursday through Saturday nights, and Sunday is “industry night.”
In the same building, The Corner Bar upstairs has a lovely patio, but it is right on some busy streets, which can be loud. Happy hour tends to be lively (3-6 p.m. daily), so plan around that.