Only the best stand the test of time. And KT’s BBQ has proven that Coloradans continue to have a voracious appetite for down-home barbecue done right. “We strive for exceptional quality and true Southern hospitality,” says Tricia Jamison, who founded the restaurant with her husband Kirk. The couple was so committed to the concept that they lived out of their car with two big dogs for a month while kicking off KT’s. And, honestly, there’s a story behind almost everything at this eatery. The famous June Bowl? Well, four ounces of meat and two sides to be exact, was born after friends came in and tried to order “that thing June gets.” It’s no wonder that when asked why KT’s has won for 14 years, Tricia answers, “Our customers are loyal and they love us!” 2660 Broadway, Boulder, 303.442.3717; 7464 Arapahoe Road, Boulder, 303.786.7608, ktsbbq.com.
Runner Up: Georgia Boys, 250 3rd Ave., Longmont, 720.999.4099, georgiaboys.com.
To think you could be noshing right where former President Obama once sat eating the P.O.T.U.S. pizza — or Anthony Bourdain, who devoured the Texas Onion Straw burger while in town. Or even Robert Redford, who mopped the floors here as a janitor. Boulder’s oldest bar and restaurant, The Sink has been in this town’s consciousness since before 1940, the year its name was officially changed from Summer’s Sunken Gardens to what locals called it: The Sink, for its sunken water fountain right in the dining room. The original European-style restaurant morphed into a college hangout on “The Hill,” best known for its “ugly crust” pizza. But today people increasingly come for the burgers. They’re seven ounces of Colorado grass-fed beef — juicy ground chuck with all kinds of fun fixings and Creole-spiced fries or coleslaw on the side. 1165 13th St., Boulder, 303.444.7465, thesink.com.
Runner Up: Fat Shack, 1110 13th St., Boulder, 303.442.2610, fatshack.com.
Peace, Love & Chocolate
A toothsome mix of traditional confections and decadent inventions — that’s what makes Peace, Love & Chocolate so special. The sweet shop, owned by Greg and Sarah Amorese, is always experimenting, bouncing ideas off of six full-time pastry chefs. Residents always come back for the best-selling salted caramel truffle tort cake. Think dark chocolate cake with chocolate butter cream and salted caramel mousse inside. It’s like death by chocolate. But there’s new stuff, too, like mind-blowing frozen mousse sandwiched between Italian pizzelles made in six wild flavors from basil-lemon to vanilla bean grapefruit. Want to learn how to make this stuff yourself? Sign up for a Peace, Love & Chocolate class. The French macaroon session is a must. 805 Pearl St., Boulder, 303.449.4804, pieceloveandchocolate.com.
Runner Up: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, 1300 Pearl St., Boulder, 303.444.8455, rmcf.com.
Best Ice Cream AND Best Dessert
Glacier Homemade Ice Cream & Gelato
Geez, Glacier. Way to take home all the wins with your perfectly churned homemade ice cream, diabolical desserts and totally original kids-only zone. With BoCo Gold wins each of its 17 years in business, Glacier is still thriving due to one thing: innovation. Founder Mark Mallen is committed to constant improvement, whether it’s in the form of new dairy-free vegan and Paleo-friendly almond/coconut “creams,” homemade gluten-free brownies and cookies, loads of toppings that tots love, or even by-the-pint CBD-infused ice cream. “We carry 60 to 70 flavors in each store at a time,” Mallen says. “We also fresh-squeeze all of our citrus flavors like lemon gelato and key lime pie.” In fact, more than 1,000 flavors have been created to date, with new ones rolling out every week. 4760 Baseline Road, Boulder, 303.499.4760; 3133 28th St., Boulder, 303.440.6542, glaciericecream.com.
Runner Up for Best Ice Cream: Sweet Cow, 2628 Broadway St., Boulder, 303.447.3269; 669 S. Broadway St., Boulder, 303.494.4269, sweetcowicecream.com.
Runner Up for Best Dessert: Sweet Cow, 2628 Broadway St., Boulder, 303.447.3269; 669 S. Broadway St., Boulder, 303.494.4269, sweetcowicecream.com.
Neapolitan-style pizza is a nod to how Italy really eats its rustic crust. And in Boulder no place is doing that more authentically than Pizzeria Locale. Owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca fame are sourcing the best ingredients they can get their hands on. And it’s paying off in customer loyalty to this perfect pizza for modern times. Picture flavor combinations like the popular Mais — corn, prosciutto cotto and creme fraiche — made by exacting chefs who have mastered firing crusty rounds in the famous Ferrara oven. Couple that with a “phenomenal wine list highlighting the great regions of Italy and warm hospitality,” says Erin Pommer, director of events for the restaurant group, and it’s like an Italian opera. It may just bring you to tears. 1730 Pearl St., Boulder, 303.442.3003, localeboulder.com.
Runner Up: Cosmo’s Pizza, 3117 28th St.; 659 30th St.; 1325 Broadway, 303.447.3278, cosmospizza.com.
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar
Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar has been recognized in the Boulder County Gold Awards for 21 years. Jax’s director of operations, Adam Reed, says it’s an honor for the restaurant to be recognized for its commitment to sourcing fresh, sustainable seafood and cooking it well. Jax was the first restaurant in Colorado to partner with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the restaurant is also a James Beard Foundation Smart Catch leader. “Since 1994 we had the desire to bring great fish and oysters to Boulder,” says Reed. “We’ve always tried to maintain a standard of great food and service without chasing down fads or trends.” Be on the lookout for events and promotions at Jax in celebration of National Seafood Month in October. 928 Pearl St., Boulder, 303.444.1811, jaxfishhouse.com.
Runner Up: Wild Standard, 1043 Pearl St., Boulder, 720.638.4800, wildstandard.com.
T/aco defines itself as “an urban taqueria,” pulling on a variety of influences to dish up creative and delicious tacos on handmade tortillas. Their menu features all the classic Mexican street tacos you crave, like carnitas, barbacoa and pork belly, as well as more adventurous “North of the Border” tacos like the Mango Caesar and PBLTB (Pork Belly, Lettuce, Tomato and Bacon). The full bar at T/aco mixes up at least 10 types of margaritas every day and also has a nice selection of draft beer, cans and bottles. The tacos at T/aco are all less than $5 each to begin with, but you can get even better deals during happy hour, which happens every day from 2 to 6 p.m. and all day on Sunday. 1175 Walnut St., Boulder, 303.443.9468, tacocolorado.com.
Runner Up: Bartaco, 1048 Pearl St., #101, Boulder, 719.249.8226, bartaco.com.
In its 34th year of business, Sushi Zanmai is one of the oldest restaurants in Boulder. General Manager Elliot Trout says that consistency is the key to Sushi Zanmai’s success. “We are blending both Japanese and American cultures in one location,” he says. “From our lively atmosphere to our diverse staff, we try to make our customers’ experience inviting to all cultures.” This is the 20th year that Sushi Zanmai has appeared in the Boulder County Gold Awards. “For most Boulderites, we are the first sushi restaurant that people have ever been to,” says Trout. “Because of that, we have built a loyal customer base.” Sushi Zanmai offers 10 percent off for EcoPass holders, Google employees, Z2Entertainment employees and the military. Also, if any customers mention this article, they will receive a 10 percent discount. 1221 Spruce St., Boulder, 303.440.0733, sushizanmai.com.
Runner Up: Japango, 1136 Pearl St., Boulder, 303.938.0330, boulderjapango.com.