The Red Lion Inn

Milton Berle once joked that what might seem to be applause at any graduation is really the sound of thousands of checkbooks closing. It’s less important to determine from whom Uncle Milty stole this one as it is to take its central conceit to heart in determining instead where to take your folks for your very special CU graduation dinner.

1 Flagstaff House

1138 Flagstaff Rd.

The Flagstaff House “offers breathtaking views of Boulder and the mountain wildlife all around.” They’re also known as the most expensive — and thus best — place to eat in town with reservations that are harder to come by than a degree from CU’s journalism school in 2012. So call early, call often and make sure Mom and Dad wear their finest jewelry just in case the bill is more than they might expect.

Info: flagstaffhouse.com, 303-442-4640

2 Dark Horse

2922 Baseline Rd.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have a Boulder staple that might keep Mom and Dad’s generosity focused on that trip to Europe instead of on the bill for dinner. Dark Horse does not take reservations, won’t seem too pretentious for your less-discerning parents, serves nationally recognized burgers and has a killer happy hour.

Info: darkhorsebar.com, 303-442-8162

3 Boulder Chophouse

921 Walnut St.

Folks, I’ve been to all parts of Texas, and I’m here to tell you there simply is no better steak than what they’re serving up at the Boulder Chophouse & Tavern. For a surprisingly decent price, you get some world-class beef, a delicious plate of cornbread, a refreshingly crisp salad and sides that are as complementary as the steak is savory.

Info: boulderchophouse.com, 303-443-1188

4 Rueben’s Burger Bistro

1800 Broadway

Rueben’s Burger Bistro has got to be one of the best sit-down burger spots in the state. With fantastic drink deals throughout the evening, signature mouthwatering fries and burgers served on a pretzel bun that you can’t find anywhere else, you’ll be set for the evening, right in the nexus of the downtown area.

Info: ruebensburgerbistro.com, 303-443-5000

5 Red Lion

38470 Boulder Canyon

You may have noticed I’ve cleverly omitted the many veggie-friendly places in town. Well, this piece is about food, not philosophy, so shut it and go get all the rattlesnake, boar, snail, buffalo and beef you can muster at the Red Lion Restaurant nestled into a quaint, fairy tale corner of our beautiful Boulder Canyon.

Info: redlionrestaurant.com, 303-442-9368

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