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Lafayette’s reputation as a sleepy suburb of Boulder and Denver is fading as quickly as a mountain sunset reflection in the town’s beloved Waneka Lake. The city, with a population of 30,000, has cemented its own identity among the neighboring “L towns” (Louisville, Longmont, and Lyons) with a smartly developed downtown along Public Road, Lafayette’s main street. Selecting a greatest hits list of places to dine is becoming an increasingly difficult task, with formidable contenders in every corner of the community. Here, 14 spots you shouldn’t miss in this growing culinary scene.
Up a steep hill on the east edge of town is Acreage by Stem Ciders, a high point in both the topographic and culinary landscapes of Lafayette. Here, diners can enjoy panoramic mountain views from the light-filled main dining room, the outdoor deck beside a firepit, the gravel-paved cider garden, or the Back Forty, a drinks-only area that includes a playground, yard games, and Adirondack chairs. (Yes, it’s perfect for little ones who don’t tolerate long periods at the dinner table.) You’ll be hard-pressed to find a seared salmon cooked to as buttery perfection as the one on the menu, alongside other comforts such as duck confit poutine, Bavarian pretzels, and patatas bravas. Also to crave: carefully constructed entrées, including cornish game hen with polenta cakes, bison burger, and braised short rib that pair perfectly with a Stem cider (or a cider slushie) on tap. 1380 Horizon Ave., Lafayette
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You know the weekend is in full swing when a happy cacophony of cheers and clinking glasses spills from the patio of Teocalli as friends gather around salt-rimmed margaritas and palomas. In fact, the place bustles seven nights a week, having in just three years cemented itself as a resounding town favorite. Locals know that anyone who claims to serve a better carne asada taco is issuing fighting words and that only fools skip the salsa trio, which comes with your choice of five original sauces. (All are exceptional, but be sure to include the macha, a picante tomato-and-peanut paste sweetened with dates.) For dessert, the warm churros (100 percent gluten-free, as is the entire menu) are obligatory. 103 N. Public Rd., Unit C, Lafayette
Jeannot’s opening in early 2022 was so anticipated that the restaurant sold out of pastries before noon for its first several days. Such is the draw of Julien Jeannot, who grew up in the Provence region of France and studied pastry making at Michelin-starred restaurant Château de la Chèvre D’Or before making a circuitous route to the Boulder area in 2018. His pedigree is evident in the shop’s golden-crusted croissants, silky gateaux that are almost too pretty to eat, and gleaming fruit tarts. But before you dive into the sweets (a challenge, we know) try a traditional French breakfast or lunch dish, like a croque monsieur, Lyonnaise salad, or oven-roasted chicken sandwich. The traditional French fare, in a small but open and airy space, offers a tasty retreat du jour in Colorado. 2770 Arapahoe Rd., Ste. 124, Lafayette
“It’s like a choose-your-own adventure,” says chef Casey Taylor of Westbound & Down, a popular Idaho Springs brewpub that expanded to Lafayette in December 2021 and Denver this past summer. He’s talking about the fact that each of the eight pizzas on the menu come in a classic round shape or a Detroit-style rectangular variety encrusted in savory frico (a crispy cheese edge). Taylor sources grains for the pizza dough from restaurateur Kelly Whitaker’s Dry Storage, a Boulder artisan mill down the road, adds beer to the dough at the pre-fermentation stage, and proofs it for over 12 hours. Served with the brewery’s Italian Pilsner—which head brewer Jake Gardner rightly identifies as “the perfect palate cleanser” between cheesy bites—the combination is one that makes W&D an elevated option for pizza-and-beer nights. 2755 Dagny Way, Ste. 101, Lafayette
If you haven’t been to Community lately, it’s time to return. The former Moscow Mule–centric drink menu has been replaced by Lafayette’s finest craft cocktail program, from the Not So Basic Bee (a Sichuan-peppercorn-tinged take on a Bee’s Knees) to the Sage Against the Machine (bourbon studded with sage-pear syrup and cider). And while the Brussels sprouts doused in Calabrian chile sauce will always be a crowd favorite, you’ll want to explore the constantly evolving (and seasonally influenced) menu of sticky rice farro, wild boar pappardelle, or Skuna Bay salmon over a sunchoke purée. Enjoy your selection by the roaring firepit out front, under the pergola-covered back patio, or inside the cozy dining room. Each environment is a warm welcome fitting of the restaurant’s name. 206 S. Public Road, Lafayette
In a spot that’s been a revolving door for a few years, Casian Seafood has anchored down at the end of Public Road with a James Beard semifinalist nomination under its belt and a menu that melds traditional Hmong flavors with Cajun seafood dishes. Order a shareable seafood boil (choose from shrimp, mussels, crayfish, clams, veggies, or a medley), and opt for it to be cooked in the spicy Casian or ginger lemongrass garlic butter sauce. Aromas waft from the blue-and-white tureen as soon as you lift the lid, and nothing tops dipping a hunk of soft white bread into the shimmering broth at the bottom of the bowl. 211 N. Public Road, St. 110, Lafayette
What makes a memorable brunch? Fresh breezes, mimosas, and favorite pancake and egg dishes you don’t want to stop eating. Morning Glory Cafe checks all the boxes, starting with a heavenly back patio that’s shaded by a beautiful redwood pergola and overlooks a quiet, rolling park dotted with pines and aspen trees. Stacks of moist-yet-fluffy pancakes, omelets (try the Lafayette, studded with cotija cheese and green chiles), and original breakfast dishes like the latkes and eggs topped with mango-peach salsa fly out of the kitchen lickety-split. And if none of that tempts you, something off the extensive menu, from salads to delicate fish entrées, surely will. 1377 Forest Park Circle, Ste. 101, Lafayette
The original location of the now-famous Front Range chicken-and-beer joint is one of the most popular spots in Lafayette—though with a large dining room and back courtyard, any line to get in moves quickly. Devotees of the brewpub’s crispy, gluten-free fried chicken say it rivals fried chicken joints in the deep South, especially when dipped in the hot honey chile dipping sauce. Guy Fieri visited the Longmont location in February for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and admired chef Brett Smith’s unique pressure-cooking method, which gives the chicken extra crunch. Balance out the fried offerings with a nutritious and satisfying Yoga Pants salad: a bowl of quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes, and sunflower and sesame seeds. Or just go all in with sides of thick-cut fries, green chile mac and cheese, or mashed potatoes and gravy. 105 W. Emma St., Lafayette
It’s as much the giant smile from Raj Gautam, the son of Tandoori Kitchen’s proprietors, as it is the masterfully spiced Indian curries, kabobs, daals, and naans that keeps fans of the eatery coming back for more. Here, in an unsuspecting strip-mall spot next to the massive Flatirons Community Church, you’ll find traditional favorites like saag, korma, and vindaloo done just right, plus less common fare worth trying: baigan bharta, tandoori-roasted eggplant in a ginger and garlic sauce; thukpa, a Himalayan brothy noodle bowl; and the vegan chettinad, a South Indian specialty cooked with coconut milk and curry leaves. 199 W. South Boulder Road, Lafayette
Frequently, the long wooden tables at William Oliver’s fill to capacity, and guests are hard-pressed to find empty stools at the wooden bar that spans the back wall. Dining at this small pub feels a bit like visiting an Irish film set—until you learn that the taps and bar shelves are stocked with Colorado beers and spirits alongside whiskeys from around the world. The pork-centric gastropub menu includes comforts like the Pint of Bacon (a literal pint glass of thick-cut bacon strips), the Pig and Pickle platter (a board piled with bacon, pork belly, cheeses, pickled eggs, and veggies), and the Bossy Pig (mac and cheese smothered with pulled pork, green chile, and bacon crumbles). A couple tips: Plant-based diners should look for some hearty, well-prepared jackfruit options, and the rooftop upstairs, with its ample seating and an up-above-it-all sense of peace and quiet, is one of the best in town. 201 N. Public Road, St. 1C, Lafayette
Button Rock Bakery’s glass cases are piled high with cookies, cupcakes, and pastries (including a large gluten-free selection), but locals pop in for the routinely the fresh sushi and savory sandwiches.
Next door is Nok’s Donuts, where the fluffy rings are made fresh daily and dipped in mango, coffee, and traditional glazes.
In a building no bigger than a large shed, but with a few seats inside and picnic tables outside, Tip Top Savory Pies churns out hot New Zealand–style pies, traditionally hand-size and filled with meats and gravies. Their varieties are stuffed with mouthwatering combos—think: green chili, egg, and cheese; cauliflower tikka masala; or steak and cheese—that are perfectly portable.
Nearby is Chocolaterie Stam, a crown jewel of Public Road, with its tin, Victorian-style ceiling tiles, grand piano in the front window, and trays of handmade chocolate truffles, confections, and gelato served in footed metal sherbet dishes.