International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
In Boulder, Colorado, happy hour is more than just an hour – it is a way of life, with food and drink deals that often last all day. Add to that stunning views of the Flatiron Mountains, a wealth of hiking trails, more than 300 days of sunshine each year, proximity to some of the world’s best ski resorts, and a culinary and brewing scene that is good enough to regularly entice neighbours from Denver, and there is plenty in Boulder to raise a glass to.
Forget the typical 4-to-6pm happy hour specials on beer and house wine. From breakfast to bed time, Boulder establishments offer incredible deals on high-quality cuisine, locally brewed beer and top-shelf liquor. Of course, you need to know where to go:
Boozy breakfast: 11 am
Sometimes you wake up in a strange city and all you want is a Bloody Mary or mimosa. Welcome to The Buff, home of the all-day, $0.99 adult breakfast beverage. Starting the day here is always a good idea, but starting it with Saddlebags -- pancakes stuffed with bacon, sausage or ham and topped with two eggs -- is an even better one. For something (a little) less likely to give you a heart attack, you cannot go wrong with the skillets, eggs Benedict or huevos rancheros.
Drink of the gods: 1 pm
Beer enthusiasts in Colorado were sipping locally brewed pints well before the term “craft beer” arrived in the American lexicon. But long before beer even existed, mead was the drink of choice. Head to Redstone Meadery for free tastings of “honey wine”, starting at noon every day except Sunday. Their modern version of this ancient drink is sweeter than the bitter swill that might come to mind. The Meadery offers free tours and there is live music on Saturdays.
Turning Japanese: 2:30 pm
Boulder has surprisingly good sushi for a small city located nowhere near a coast, and both Boulder locations of the Colorado micro-chain Hapa Sushi Grill and Sake Bar serve some of the best fish in town. From 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm and 10pm to midnight, the Pearl street location offers two rolls for $7. Diners can choose from a selection of 10 beginner rolls, including California and salmon avocado. Sides like edamame and ginger pork gyozas are just under $3. Hapa Beer -- a rice beer brewed exclusively for Hapa by Denver’s Great Divide Brewery -- is also $3, and large flasks of sake or fruit-infused sake cocktails, with names like G-spot and Threesome, are $3.50 The Hill location runs similar happy hour specials from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm and 9 pm to close.
European interlude: 3:30 pm
The Mediterranean Restaurant remains true to its name in both food and atmosphere. This large, vibrant spot has a beautiful garden, colourful decor and a menu with Italian, Spanish, French and Greek influences. The Med, as locals call it, might not have the cheapest happy hour drinks in town -- from 3 pm to 6:30 pm, draft beers cost $3.50 and select drinks are $4 -- but its list of nearly 30 tapas starting at $2 can satisfy even the pickiest eater with the tightest wallet. We recommend the bistecca (hanger steak with salsa verde and goat cheese), dátiles (bacon-wrapped dates and garlic sauce) and baked feta with tomato, artichoke and olives. The wood-fired margarita pizza is also rather impressive.
The Med’s French sister restaurant, Brasserie Ten Ten, offers a slightly quieter, more upscale experience, with the same spectacular menu of affordable small plates ($2 to $6). Frites with truffle aioli, gourmet crepes and sliders, and steamed mussels are all delicious, but we recommend the bone marrow with fleur de sel and port-poached shallots, and the filet mignon tartare with quail egg toast.
Fresh from the farm: 5 pm
The Kitchen exemplifies Boulder’s farm-to-table movement, with a fierce focus on local meat and produce, and a simply prepared, seasonal menu. Large, long tables and shared plates encourage a community dining experience. Its community hour (3 pm to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday) offers discounted samples from the normally pricey menu. Beer flights (small pours of several brews) are $3, while wine and cocktail flights are $5. Nibbles range from $4 to $8, and plates from $7 to $13. The slow-roasted long farm pork, burrata and anchovy toast, mac ‘n’ cheese and crispy pig’s ears are all delicious. The sticky toffee pudding is the perfect ending to a late afternoon snack.