Best chicken strips in town, and also ever: Dark Horse Bar and Grill. I don’t know what they do to the outside of them, the skin, the batter, but it’s perfect.
Best fish and chips in town, and, I’m pretty sure, also ever: Backcountry Pizza. The fish here is somehow very heavy and dense. There’s only two of them per order, I think. But it’s enough.
Best burger: not in Boulder, I don’t think, but in Denver, at Alamo Draft House. Their Green Chile burger is amazing, and, unlike nearly everywhere else I go, Alamo will cook it all the way through, even get it a little black.
Best salad buffet: Jason’s Deli. Only bad thing is that the Jason’s in Boulder has recently started doing mostly lunchtime hours, like the one on 16th Street Mall in Denver.
Best Indian food: Tibet’s Restaurant and Bar. Their tofu aloo is the end and the beginning, as far as I’m concerned.
Best Mexican food: hard call, but I think I land on 3 Margaritas. They remember to not put onions in their shrimp fajitas, which is very important to me.
Best pizza: Proto’s Pizza, in Gunbarrel. It’s super-thin, hardly any cheese or sauce, and not floppy, which is just how I like my pizza (caveat: I rarely, rarely, rarely ever eat pizza).
Best all-around place, with a menu as thick as a Cerebus phonebook: BJ’s. I ate there for the first time in California, at the very first meeting with my wonderful agent, also named BJ. It’s like a Chili’s, but way bigger. And, talking Chili’s-type places:
Best salmon: Applebee’s. But you have to go out to Broomfield for it. Completely worth it. Their salmon is tender and flaky both at the same time, and it’s not junked up with sauces and creams poured all over it. Just straight goodness. My dream is to someday come upon salmon like that on a buffet.
Best beer: no clue. I don’t drink the stuff.
Best coffee: that coffee which is far, far away from me. This is where Jay Leno and me completely agree (where we also agree: how many cars a person needs to be happy).
Anyway, no, Boulder—all of Colorado, really—doesn’t have a Whataburger, a Furr’s. But you can get by on Burger King, and there’s a Furr’s just down the road a ways, in Santa Fe. Also, if fancy eating’s your thing, then Boulder’s your place. Half the places you go, they’re square-plate places, where the portions are about two bites deep. For me, when I’m feeling fancy, I’ll sometimes opt for Pei Wei instead of Panda Express. Pei Wei somehow manages to cut their chicken (for chicken fried rice, no little rolly-green onion things please) “with” the grain. It makes each bite feel so elegant. But, really, the place I eat the absolute most at is Chipotle. Every interview I do, I try so hard to stage it at Chipotle, since coffee shops and bars aren’t my thing (the scent of coffee leaves me half-ill), but sometimes I compromise, end up at Illegal Pete’s. Which is a happening, cool place. But the only thing I can eat there, I’ve found, is the fish tacos, so long as I order them with only corn tortillas and fish, no sauce, no goop, nothing extra. Reason: I think Pete’s uses onions somewhere in their process. For everything. And onions are killer for me.
And, I guess, talking desserts: for pie, it’s Village Inn up in Longmont. They do coconut pie right. For ice cream, which I really can’t eat (I think there’s dairy somewhere in ice cream), I’d say Kilwin’s on Pearl Street. For reasons I can’t figure out, their toasted coconut ice cream, if I eat just a small, small amount, doesn’t leave me hurting. And I can eat as many waffle cones as I want, so long as they’re not dipped (chocolate’s as killer for me as dairy).
Anyway, now I’m hungry. Also, now I have a link I can give people, when they ask where I want to eat. Still? I know I’m going to end up at a lot of fancypants places. However? Burger King is right in the middle of town, is nearly always between wherever I’ve been and wherever I’m going. So often, after a fake meal at a square-plate place, there I am in the drive-thru, with full knowledge that happiness is a Whopper, that the perfect antidote to fancy food, it’s chicken fries.