Thinking about attending Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder? Be prepared to fall in love with this beautiful college town northwest of Denver, Colorado.
With just over 100,000 residents, this eclectic, outdoorsy city has plenty to do and plenty to eat for the culinary school student! Students can explore the vibrant restaurant scene, trek the nearby mountains, and shop at charming local boutiques.
Here are just a few of the fun things that culinary students enjoy in their social life in Boulder.
Eating and Drinking in Boulder
Boulder boasts some of the best dining in Colorado — an important consideration for culinary students!
Even during the coronavirus pandemic, there are options. Many restaurants have outdoor patios to take advantage of the mild spring, summer, and early fall weather. And some also offer limited indoor reservations. Plus, there’s always takeout and delivery!
The farm-to-table movement is robust in Boulder, with many restaurants highlighting Colorado farms and artisans on their menus. James Beard-winning restaurant Frasca Food and Wine, for example, serves North Italian fare featuring local producers like Buckner Family Farm and Hirakata Farms.
The Kitchen is a farm-to-table restaurant with a focus on sustainability. Ingredients come from local farmers, often within driving distance of their Boulder location. The menu has global influences, from Mexican ceviche to Italian burrata to Chinese fried rice.
Just west of Boulder, a short drive up the Flagstaff Mountain, you’ll find Flagstaff House. At an elevation of 6,000 feet, this fine dining restaurant atop a wine cellar looks out over the whole city. The menu is by former Chopped champion Chris Royster, and features Wagyu beef, diver scallops, and foie gras.
For something a bit more accessible in both location and price, try homemade noodles, dim sum, and other Chinese street food from Zoe Ma Ma on Pearl Street. This little shop is regularly listed among the best restaurants in Boulder.
“Boulder’s fabulous. I moved here from the East Coast, and the reason I moved to Colorado was to move to Boulder. It’s a healthy lifestyle. So to have a culinary school centered in Boulder is definitely my torch. I’ll stand on that soapbox all day long. It’s the foodiest city.”
Kelly Bailey, Former Boulder Chef Instructor
Fans of the art of charcuterie have to visit Blackbelly Market, led by Chef/Owner Hosea Rosenberg of Top Chef fame. Part butcher shop and part restaurant, Blackbelly sells fresh and cured meats to take home, plus food and cocktails to enjoy on their large outdoor patio. Try dry aged confit duck leg or koji cured pork loin.
Colorado is also a beer lover’s paradise. Famous breweries like Avery, Oskar Blues, and Upslope have local taprooms where you can sample their suds. Most taprooms in Boulder are open during the pandemic with social distancing and mask precautions in place.
Get out of the kitchen and enjoy some fresh air! Boulder is at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, so there are plenty of outdoor activities to partake in. Hiking, biking, and climbing are common pursuits both in the city and in the surrounding hills and mountains.
Mount Sanitas is a popular hiking spot with three different options, from easy to medium. The trailhead is on the west side of town, less than a 15-minute drive from Escoffier’s Boulder campus.
In Chautauqua Park, you can hike the Flatiron Loop Trail. The Flatirons are a series of five iconic slab-like peaks just west of the city. This scenic 2.1 mile hike has plenty of spots for photo ops.
A bit further outside of town, visit Eldorado Canyon State Park for hiking, biking, fishing, rock climbing, and snowshoeing in winter. There are over 1,000 technical climbing routes for the rock climbing enthusiast, but there’s also plenty of hiking for those of us who prefer to keep our feet on the ground.
Hiking paths can be a bit narrow here, so make sure to bring your mask for encounters with other hikers!
“The Boulder area is very unique. It’s a very special city in terms that it works with the school’s theme of farm-to-table.”
Ola Johnson, Boulder Culinary Arts graduate
Snow bums can spend a day at Eldora Mountain skiing or snowboarding. With 680 acres of ski slopes, there are runs for both novice and experienced skiers.
Another major attraction is the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater. This world-class outdoor concert venue is tucked right into the side of the mountains for a one-of-a-kind live music experience. Concerts are currently being held with limited seating and mask requirements.
Culture & Shopping
Culinary school students have interests outside of cooking, and Boulder offers plenty of ways to explore them.
For shopping and people watching, visit the Pearl Street Mall. The Mall is a charming outdoor shopping strip with boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and street artists. With historic buildings and brick sidewalks, it’s perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee and going for a stroll. Face coverings are required when you pop into the shops or outside where social distancing isn’t possible!
American car lovers have to visit the Shelby American Collection to see their extensive collection of race memorabilia and classic cars. And live music buffs can take in concerts and comedy at the historic Boulder Theater downtown. This venue has been hosting music and film since it was first opened back in 1906.
Boulder is also home to several museums. The Fiske Planetarium and University of Colorado Boulder Museum of Natural History are closed (as of this writing) due to COVID-19, but will hopefully reopen soon! The Boulder Modern Art Museum is accepting visitors, and features rotating exhibits of paintings, photographs, lithographs, sculpture, and more.
Boulder is a beautiful town — small enough to feel intimate but large enough to keep you entertained during your culinary school career and beyond. But if you need a change of scenery, bustling Denver is just a 30-minute drive away.
Remember when visiting any attractions in Boulder to keep a 6-foot distance and wear your mask. Also check with the venue before your visit to see if they have additional rules. The most important thing is to stay safe!
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