I’m always pleased when national media shine the spotlight on Colorado’s food scene — even more so when Boulder is singled out. But I was startled when Thrillist.com selected Boulder as for its roundup of “The 7 Most Underrated American Food Cities in 2015.”
Underrated? Boulder’s highly regarded, even nationally known restaurants are written about all the time, and Boulder boasts one of the best farmers’ markets in the land and has been the wellspring for natural and organic food companies starting with Celestial Seasonings to whichever food or beverage startup will launch next weekend.
Thrillist.com tasked Cindy Sutter, the Boulder Daily Camera food editor, with writing about the Boulder food scene. She focused on the restaurant aspect, understandably including “the usual suspects.” Here’s what she wrote:
“When people think of America’s culinary capitals they usually look to the coasts: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans all regularly top the lists of the best American food cities. But hiding in the ‘flyover states’ and in ‘harbors-that-not-many-people-live-in’ is a cache of culinary talent that’s just as worthy of sinking your teeth into.
“We’ve already touched on seven of these underdog cities, but our country’s cupboards are hiding so much more deliciousness and so many cities’ scenes have exploded in the past year, so we thought it worthwhile to give props to seven more gastronomically obsessed towns. And to show just what makes each great, we tapped a local writer to share what makes that food scene unique. Here are seven cities you’ll immediately want to visit.”
About Boulder: “Boulder residents would likely be surprised to find their town on an underrated food city list. And it’s not only because Bon Appétit magazine picked Boulder as America’s Foodiest Town in 2010. Take a walk down Pearl Street in downtown Boulder, and you’ll see what the magazine folks saw.
“Start at Frasca Food and Wine, where co-owners Lachlan Mackinnon Patterson and Bobby Stuckey have two James Beard Awards. Stuckey is one of 118 Master Sommeliers worldwide, as are six other Boulder residents. Not bad for a town with a population of 100,000 and change. Head west (toward the mountains) and make another stop at OAK at fourteenth, where local meats, vegetables, and even luscious Colorado peaches take a turn in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven.
“Veer a block or so off Pearl to find the Black Cat, whose chef-owner, Eric Skokan, raises the restaurant’s vegetables (including heirloom dent corn for GMO-free polenta), as well as ducks, pigs, and beef cattle on his farm on county-owned land preserved for agricultural uses. This year, Skokan released a cookbook, ‘Farm Fork Food’, that he edited on his smartphone from the seat of his tractor. Or try The Kitchen, which has nourished relationships with local organic farmers since it opened in 2004; its nonprofit Kitchen Community builds school gardens, placing more than a 100 in Chicago, where it also recently opened a restaurant to positive reviews. You also might want to try Salt, where the food is local, seasonal, and GMO-free.
“Food, health, and sustainable agriculture have a long, intertwining history in Boulder. The bustling Boulder County Farmers’ Market, also near Pearl Street, got its start in 1987. The town that popularized herbal tea and tofu also had a strong hand in craft beer, with Boulder County boasting 40 breweries and counting. After you’ve taken in the scene, do what Boulderites do: eat and run (or hike or bike). There are trails just a few steps away from those amazing restaurants.
“And if that’s not enough for you, go east a couple of miles and find ‘Top Chef’ winner Hosea Rosenberg’s Blackbelly, which received well-deserved national attention when it opened last year.” – Cindy Sutter, Daily Camera food editor.
Rounding out the “most underrated list” are Baltimore; Birmingham, Ala.; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Maine and Providence, R.I.