Rumor has it there are no assigned positions at the Mountain Sun or Southern Sun; the staff simply rotates through Front of the House and Back of the House duties and works together to get burgers and beers into the hands of hordes of Boulderites.
Laid-back is a misnomer. The staff acts like they own the place, or at least rent the place, and they’ve got the house that inexplicably always has a keg (or a vat of homebrewed ale) and a party happening with various roommates’ friends and acquaintances cycling through as they please, whether the tenants are there or not. That’s the charm, and that’s why Mountain Sun, on Pearl, and the Southern Sun, on Table Mesa, are a pair of Boulder’s favorite spots to drink and eat.
Since the restaurants are a front for a microbrewery, the focus here is undoubtedly on beer. The tap lineup consists of about 15 solid (and cheap) ales brewed in-house and a couple of guest taps featuring interesting concoctions from other brewers. The last time I drank at the Mountain Sun, for instance, they were featuring Russian River’s Supplication, a sour beer from a star California beer maker that’s difficult to find period, let alone on tap. Patrons stressed out by the wealth of options have an out: a 6-beer sampler—for under $10.
Food at both spots is a version of standard bar fare, an eclectic mix of mountain restaurant favorites. Burgers are a given, and the restaurants do them well; accoutrements available include bacon, jalapenos, and grilled onions. This is Boulder, though, where for every meat-eater there exists a foaming-at-the-mouth vegetarian, so the usual suspects, including veggie sandwiches, tempeh, and hummus, have their place on the list as well. And I, for one, am a fan of the black bean chili, available in addition to a soup du jour.
Like every good party-house owner, the Mountain Sun and Southern Sun keep a constant rotation of planned events, like live music and Stout Month, to give friends incentive to keep dropping by. With the town’s 20- and 30-somethings already putting in regular appearances, this final detail in the restaurants’ perfect mix ensures that whether the start of a night or a final destination, both quintessential Boulder spots remain in heavy rotation in the social calendar.
The Mountain Sun
1535 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
The Southern Sun
627 South Broadway
Boulder, CO 80305