BOULDER — As Boulder transforms and reinvents itself, it can be hard to keep up with the changes — and that’s certainly true of the restaurant scene here.
We keep hearing about iconic Boulder institutions that have either closed down or totally transformed; that place you used to stop at on your way home from Rocky Mountain National Park might not be there any longer. But when we get lucky, those places are totally repurposed as new, exciting options to grab a bite.
Here are three such spaces that opened within the past couple of months:
This food truck park and beer garden has been packed since it opened in July. Named after Marion Arthur Rayback, who died in 2014, and sitting on the site of his beloved community plumbing company, the Rayback Collective fills a niche which Boulderites didn’t even realize they’d been missing — a space that feels like Boulder’s backyard. There is a 30-tap bar, event area and stage, expansive indoor lounging, and a huge outdoor patio with yard games, picnic tables and a view of the Flatirons. Kids and pets are welcome. Up to seven food trucks at a time line up along this outside area according to a rotating schedule; expect to pay roughly $8-12 per person for a meal. 2775 Valmont Road, Boulder; open 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; 720-507-8838, https://therayback.com
River and Woods
For years, John’s Restaurant was one of the only fine-dining options in Boulder. After four decades, Chef John retired, and the famed century-old miner’s cabin on the east end of downtown Pearl Street is under new management as River and Woods. Chef Daniel Asher (who Denverites know from Root Down, Linger and Ophelia’s) and Josh Dinar (co-owner of T/ACO, a co-founder of Boulder’s Restaurant Week and publisher of DiningOut Magazine) have created an atmosphere that is just as cozy as before, but with an outdoor backyard seating area in what used to be weeds and rubble, an outdoor grill and converted Airstream trailer-bar (tented and heated in the winter). The unique crowdsourced menu pays tribute to Chef John’s famous gnocchi verde, but the rest of the dishes were selected from the best family heirloom comfort-food recipes they could find, including Oysters Hickenlooper, Woodlands Montreal duck wings and a lamb and oat meatloaf. 2328 Pearl Street, Boulder; happy hour 4-6 p.m., dinner from 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, brunch Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., closed Mondays. 303-993-6301, http://riverandwoodsboulder.com
As my smoked chicken nachos appetizer arrive at my table in Boulder’s newest outdoor dining patio, I’m still getting over the fact that I’m sitting in what used to be the parking lot of the Boulder Daily Camera. That building was demolished last year to make way for the new, massive (for Boulder) structure at 1048 Pearl St. Eureka!, the first ground-level restaurant to open in the space, offers Angus chuck burgers from Open Prairie and creative options like a Fresno Fig Burger, a patty slathered with fig marmalade, goat cheese, bacon, arugula and a spicy porter mustard. They’re doing brunch on weekends, slinging $5 bloodies and mimosas to wash down huevos with turkey chili, or a Creole Benedict with fried green tomato, Virginia ham and mustard hollandaise. 1048 Pearl St., Boulder; 11 a.m.-11 p.m., 11 a.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday, brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 720-259-3636, www.eurekaboulder.com
IF YOU GO: Grab a copy of Moon Denver, Boulder & Colorado Springs by Mindy Sink. The newly updated guidebook includes “entire chapters dedicated to the up and coming hip towns of Boulder and Colorado Springs” in addition to all the vital nuts and bolts of visiting Denver.