Many students in Boulder know about the happy hour deals at The Med and the delicious, inexpensive burgers at Mountain Sun, but few know that there are other great food opportunities around town at bargain prices.
Named America’s Foodiest Town 2010 by Bon Appétit magazine, Boulder is bursting with innovative restaurants, creative food companies and a great farmers’ market, according to Bon Appétit’s October issue.
For students on a budget, it might be hard to enjoy all Boulder has to offer, but maybe not as expensive as one might think.
Bryce Clark, marketing and public relations director for Big Red F Restaurant Group, said a lot of restaurants offer opportunities for students to be foodies on a budget.
“There are so many great chances to eat,” Clark said. “From happy hour to lunch to special events, if you pay attention, you can get some amazing meals on a tight budget.”
Students are much more likely to visit the Big Red F restaurants on deal nights, Clark said.
The Big Red F Restaurant Group’s Boulder lineup includes Zolo Southwestern Grill, West End Tavern, Happy, Jax Fish House and Centro in Boulder.
Happy is an Asian-inspired comfort food restaurant that turns into The Bitter Bar at night. Both of these spots offer some great discounts like The Bitter Bar’s cocktail socials for around $15 and $35 cocktail classes.
Jax Fish House in Boulder is an award winning restaurant and has won the Best Seafood Restaurant in the Denver/Boulder area, according to its website. Jax was also home to Top Chef Winner Hosea Rosenberg, who now serves as a guest chef.
If a student were to venture into Jax one night, Clark said there are certain things that shouldn’t be missed.
“They should find out what oyster is at its peak or what the chef has cooked up that day with the amazing produce he has gotten from the farmers market,” he said.
Jax’s daily happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. includes $1 oysters and other small bites and drinks with a maximum price of $5.
Clark said the other Big Red F restaurants also offer price-fixed dinners, and beer and wine dinners where students can sample food and drinks at a reduced price.
Like Jax, Frasca Food and Wine is another award-winning restaurant in Boulder. Owner and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in the Southwest in 2008.
Cristin Napier, director of private events at Frasca Food and Wine, said there isn’t one particular demographic they serve.
“As far as food or age or income or anything like that, we don’t have a specific target group,” Napier said.
Napier said Frasca sees the most student diners when parents are in town.
“They don’t want to pay for it on their own, so they ask their parents to,” she said.
When students do dine without their parents’ bank account, Napier said it’s much more exciting for the restaurant.
“It’s a real treat for us because it shows their dedication to really wanting to commit to and learn about food,” she said.
For students looking to splurge, Monday might be the best night to do so. Frasca offers only one menu on Mondays, a four-course tasting menu for $45 dollar per person, Napier said.
If the prices are still a bit too steep for most students, come November they’ll have more opportunities. Frasca is opening two more restaurants: A pizzeria to be called Pizzeria Locale and grab-and-go style Caffé.
“It’s not going to be a Frasca on the cheap,” Napier said. “It’ll be totally different, but it will offer people the ability to enjoy the food at a lower cost.”
Napier said Caffé might be especially appealing to students.
“The café is going to be food out of the Frasca kitchen,” she said. “We’ll do grab ‘n’ go sandwiches. As far as the students go, if students live in this area, they can grab a sandwich and head up to campus.”
Frasca is currently under construction and will be reopening in late October. The two new restaurants will open in mid to late November, Napier said.
For those still wary of spending their money on food, Clark said the cost of eating out could be a worthy investment.
“Food is an amazing thing to share with friends and family,” Clark said. “There is such an amazing story behind food, from its beginnings when the farmer spends time growing and nurturing it to picking it and sharing it with its customers. Then it’s the chef’s time to add their creativity and love. And then they share it with us.”
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Emily Zarka at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org.