We asked the chefs of three of Boulder’s most notable restaurants where their favorite food treasures can be found. From date night venues to local hot spots and more, get ready for some tantalizing recommendations from our very own local experts.
The “Blissful Sisters” of Shine, Jennifer, Jessica, and Jill Emich
Owners of Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place, Shine Brewing Co., and Shine Potions, and authors of the bestselling cookbook Eat Drink Shine, the “Blissful Sisters” of Shine, Jennifer, Jessica, and Jill Emich, are always up for delicious local dishes with a side of an enticing conversation.
What’s your favorite local date night spot?
Sister Jill: We unanimously agree our favorite date night spot is Amu by the owner of Sushi Zanmai. They do country-style Japanese cuisine. It’s fresh, unique, and all small plates, making it perfect for sharing and experimenting, leading to fun food conversations. They make a great saki-tini too!
Do you have a go-to dish to order there?
Chef Jessica: Their sake-marinated black cod literally melts in your mouth. The lotus root stuffed with crab with sea salt for dipping is another favorite, and we always go for the daily specials.
How about your favorite local hot spot?
Sister Jill: Bramble and Hare is fun because they make fabulous cocktails and their kitchen is open late for us restaurant folk. They use beautiful ingredients from owners Eric and Jill Skokan’s farm. There’s always an eclectic bunch hanging around, and it’s an intimate setting, so a great place to strike up conversations.
Do you have favorite items to order here too?
Sister Jill: I love to go in the winter and drink some bourbon with their mac and cheese and whatever pork they have from Eric’s farm.
Chef Jessica: I’m a fan of the deviled eggs and seasonal produce offerings, as well as anything involving tequila!
Any other joints you would like to mention?
Sister Jennifer: I really enjoy Pizzeria Locale and their gluten free pizza crust alongside some red wine. It’s usually bustling, and you always see people you know.
Chef Justin Goerich of Zolo Southwest Grill
Always on the lookout for unique, fresh seasonal ingredients, Chef Justin of Zolo Southwest Grill gravitates towards local restaurants where he can enjoy the company of his favorite dinner dates, his family.
It’s date night. Where do you love to go with your wife?
Chef Justin: Anyone who knows me knows, first and foremost, I’m a family man. Living in the mountains, I often choose to be at home cooking dinner for my wife and little boy. However, when date night is possible, I usually take my wife to Jax Fish House.
Do you have a favorite dish to order there?
Chef Justin: We generally start with a dozen Kumamoto or Shigoku oysters. Jax has always been on point with fresh fish and seafood, not only with quality, but they really nail flavor profiles as well.
Do you have other favorite local hot spots?
Chef Justin: When we go out as a family, we go to West End Tavern. We love the burnt ends, and you can never have enough W.E.T. Frisbees, which the kid’s meals are served on every time!
Bradford Heap, Owner and Culinary Director for Wild Standard, Salt, and Colterra Food and Wine
For Bradford Heap, owner and culinary director for Wild Standard, Salt, and Colterra Food and Wine, a great dining experience is about both the flavor and quality of the food as well as how it came to be on your plate.
What do you love about the Boulder food scene?
Bradford: Boulder’s culture has constantly been progressive and embraced restaurants that make a statement around sourcing, the providence of food, and supporting local farmers and ranchers. That’s very important for all of us, and I feel thankful to be supported by the Boulder community in my efforts to make these goals a reality.
What are two of your top favorite date night spots to eat at around town?
Bradford: Whenever I have time for a date night, I always like to go to Blackbelly or Black Cat. I like the way they both source their food, and their philosophies align with mine. At Blackbelly specifically, they’re doing an incredible job with their meat program.
Do you have a favorite time of year to go to these restaurants?
Bradford: I like to dine at either of these restaurants during any season. They’re like my children, and I love them all! Each one comes with amazing ingredients and preparations of food that are wonderful and suiting. Listening to seasonality brings me so much excitement.