The West's best food towns

Whose food scene reigns supreme? Check out the winners of our 4 regional food town smackdowns

Boulder vs. Denver food fight

Two Rocky Mountain titans duke it out for the title of best food city

Rocky Mountain smackdown
Photo by Annabelle Breakey; written by Elisa Bosley

Rocky Mountain smackdown

Argument for Boulder: Since we tend to draw the spotlight, Denver likes to claim us as its suburb. Back off, big brother. This town of 97,000 is setting Colorado’s food pace on a carbon-fiber-framed bike. The most acclaimed restaurant in Colorado, Frasca Food and Wine, is in Boulder, and organic foods have been here since the ’60s. In no other town do chefs so vociferously champion their friend-farmers—and even become farmers themselves. At one of the nation’s all-time-great and truly local farmers’ markets, the peaches are better than Georgia’s, the lambs are raised on Rocky Ford cantaloupes, and corn is still warm from the field. Just ask Denver chefs: They shop here for their menus.

Argument for Denver: While Boulder is driving the food equivalent of a Mini Cooper, we’re attracting chef transplants from New York and L.A. to feed our 600,000 eaters. Awesome about your organic kale and fruity wines, but Denver is where you get international flavors. Locals here are a little too busy to bike downtown for a wheatgrass smoothie (we actually have day jobs), but great food is devoured into the wee hours. You can only dream of the pork-shoulder udon bowls we’re eating long after you’re fast asleep.

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