Literary City Guide | Boulder, CO
Tour Guide: Analiese Brown
Having long envisioned a life out West, Analiese awakes each morning grateful for the mountains, open spaces, and big blue skies that define life in Colorado. In her role as the Recruiting & Community Manager for a local tech company, she has found her tribe in Boulder’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, a band of like-minded innovators who inspire her daily. She can usually be found reading, cooking, hiking, trail running, drinking coffee, perusing the farmers’ market, writing for her blog, and spending time with her husband and their dachshund Basil (named for a favorite herb).
Relationship to Boulder: Two-year resident
Writer you'd like to invite to dinner: Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, Torch, and Tiny Beautiful Things.
Chef you'd like to prepare the meal: Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal
Writing soundtrack: Johnny Cash, The Civil Wars, The National
Pen or Pencil: Pen
Coffee or Tea: Coffee, lots
Paperback or Hardback: These days, digital. Without my Kindle, my house would literally by overrun by books. Cookbooks are the exception; there are stacks of them on my bookshelves, my kitchen counter, and my bedside table.
Trident Booksellers & Cafe. This cozy bookstore with an adjoined coffee shop has been a Boulder fixture for more than thirty years, and offers a robust selection of used and collectible books. Grab an iced Americano from the cafe, and get lost in the stacks.
Boulder Book Store. As Boulder’s largest independent bookstore, this sprawling literary haven spans 20,000 sq. feet and three stories with ample corner hideaways that encourage long and leisurely hours of browsing the 100,000 titles that line the shelves.
Innisfree Poetry Bookstore & Cafe. With a name inspired by a passage from a William Butler Yeats poem and the largest selection of poetry books in Colorado, this cozy hideaway serves inspiration--and locally roasted coffee--to poetry lovers of all persuasions.
Boulder Public Library. Widely acknowledged for its exquisite architecture and ideal setting overlooking Boulder Creek, this library serves as a community gathering place.
University of Colorado at Boulder Library - Special Collections. The Special Collections at CU-Boulder are home to rare books, artwork, and other materials available for both academic research and public patronage. A rotating schedule of exhibits highlights the collection’s strongest genres as well as recent acquisitions.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
The Creative Writing Reading Series at CU-Boulder. The series brings “a wide array of established and emerging authors--fiction, poetry, and everything in between--to CU Boulder to read and talk about their work.” Events are free and open to the public.
“So, You’re a Poet,” weekly open poetry reading at The Laughing Goat (see coffee houses below). These Monday night readings are organized by Tom Peters, owner of the beat book shop (yes, all lower-case) located next door to The Laughing Goat. With no entry fee, these readings make for a perfect weeknight diversion.
Boulder Book Store events. The famed downtown bookstore hosts a wide array of author readings, signings, workshops, and other events. Check the online calendar; there are at least several events happening every week!
The Book Arts League. This organization, headquartered in a preserved historic farm building, has dedicated itself to serving as a “community resource for the traditional and contemporary arts and crafts of the book.” The League offers a series of classes on book arts, as well as open house events during which visitors can view its antique letterpress collection.
Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Founded in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, the school is part of Boulder’s Buddhist-inspired Naropa University and offers undergraduate, graduate, and summer creative writing programs, as well as readings and panel discussions open to the general public.
“As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, "Pass here and go on, you're on the road to heaven.”
-Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Boxcar Coffee Roasters. This airy perch on Pearl Street is the perfect spot to grab an expertly prepared cup of coffee (made from beans roasted on-site) and while away the afternoon with your laptop or a good book. If you’re feeling peckish, enjoy a plate of salumi and pecorino from Cured, the cheese and charcuterie shop which shares Boxcar’s space.
The Laughing Goat. This elegant and eclectic coffee shop is also a musical and literary hub, featuring weekly readings, monthly art shows, and nightly performances. In addition to its menu of fair trade coffee beverages, The Laughing Goat offers wine and beer with a daily happy hour from 4-8pm. It’s the ideal destination for coffee with an old friend, a casual date night, or some solo time with your Moleskine.
OZO Coffee. Located on Boulder’s famed Pearl Street, this place is a bustling gathering place for the downtown crowd, always filled with a mix of entrepreneurs, triathletes, and bohemian types, who co-exist peaceably in the crowded space. Get there early in the morning, snag a coffee of the day, and enjoy the fantastic people-watching as half of Boulder’s population traipses in for their morning cup.
A PROPER MEAL
OAK at Fourteenth. With its upscale, yet rustic decor and menu inspired by Colorado’s seasons, this restaurant is the quintessential Boulder destination. The food revolves around the restaurant’s oak-fired oven and grill and features an abundance of local and sustainably sourced vegetables, meats, seafood, and house-made pasta. Sip a signature OAK martini (Deaths Door Gin, Lillet Rose, grapefruit bitters), sit back, and enjoy one of the best meals of your life.
Bramble & Hare. Epitomizing the Boulder community’s farm-to-table ethos, this spot serves exquisitely prepared dishes composed of ingredients harvested daily from the owners’ organic 130-acre farm located just outside the city. The setting is lively and intimate, and there is often live piano on the weekends.
Amu. Some of the most authentic and impeccably prepared Japanese food can be found in this tiny jewel box of a restaurant and sake bar. Don’t let the humble menu descriptions fool you; this is real izakaya fare elevated to a high art, with nary a spicy tuna roll to be found. Go ahead and order that second bottle of sake; the bar staff will keep whatever you don’t finish on-hand for your next visit.
Pizzeria Locale. Rooted in the Neopolitan tradition, this pizzeria is serious about its pies, with offerings such as the Funghi (mozzarella, pecorino, fontina, porcini, roasted white mushroom, garlic, and shallot), the and, of course, the classic Margherita (tomato sauce, mozzarella, and fresh basil), with gluten-free crust options available. Finish your meal with an espresso and your choice of gelati, then stroll down Pearl Street, wandering in and out of the shops as the sun sets over the mountains.
Spruce Confections. This no-frills bakery and coffee shop is a signature Boulder institution, serving up a solid selection of pastries, sweets, coffee, and teas. The sunny outdoor patio is a popular meeting spot for Boulder’s thriving startup community; nibble on a buttery chocolate almond croissant and eavesdrop on the tech entrepreneurs at the next table over as they plot their next venture.
Piece, Love, & Chocolate. For the avowed chocolate aficionado, this little shop--located in downtown Boulder’s historic West End district--just might be heaven on earth. Peruse the cases filled with hand-crafted truffles, cakes, pastries, and other decadent delights or ask a “cocoa consultant” for a recommendation. Buy a Dark Salted Liquid Caramel truffle (or two), and park yourself on a bench at nearby Settler’s Park to enjoy your sweets in the sunshine.
The Bitter Bar. For creatively inspired post-dinner digestifs, there’s this place, which has quickly become Boulder’s hot spot, and with good reason. Dedicated to the craft of the artisan cocktail, this eclectic bar features a seasonally inspired menu of libations such as the Harvest Moon (bourbon, allspice dram, honey, and lemon juice) and the Cowboy (rye whiskey, cayenne maple, orange bitters, lemon juice, and averna). Feeling adventurous? Ask the mixologists behind the bar to surprise you with a custom creation. Top it all off with a scoop of their ice cream; the flavors change daily.