Boulder’s Best Deli Food

What is the best grocery store deli department in Boulder? We wondered this too and did an experiment to provide you with an answer.


At a recent Eat Drink Boulder get together, our clan of foodies agreed to turn the casual meeting into a potluck taste test. We all brought three items from the prepared food section of a grocery store, loaded up our plates, and got to work on an evening of eating, judging and reviewing. The stores represented were Whole Foods, Ideal Market, King Soopers, Safeway, Caspian Deli, Lucky’s and Alfalfas.

The experiment went something like this. We covered up the labels of the to-go containers for each dish and assigned them each numbers in order to make the taste test blind. We then, in between bites, wrote down a score from one to ten for each dish depending on how much we liked it. We tried not to talk about the food too much so as not to peer pressure anyone into, for instance, hating the Orzo (it really was just that bad). After the party, a few of us peeled off the numbers to see which dishes were from which delis and averaged up the scores.


Here are the results per deli:


Ideal Market:    7.2

King Soopers:   6.9

Safeway:           6.6

Alfalfa’s:           6.4

Lucky’s:            6.1

Caspian Deli:    5.1

Whole Foods:   4.6

The Top Ranking Dishes:


Ideal Market: Curried Turkey Salad:   7.98

Safeway: Southwestern Bean Salad:   7.85

Alfalfa’s: Curried Turkey Salad:          7.7


The Worst Rated Dishes:

Whole Foods: Orzo Salad with Arugula:  3.2

Whole Foods: Lima Beans and Tomatoes: 3.7

Caspian Deli: Tabouli: 4.6


On the one hand, we tried hard to make this as fair as possible. We blind tasted, had each person select three dishes they thought would taste good, and had a fairly large group of 10 tasters – all EDB foodies. On the other, we realize this is not scientific. Each deli’s overall score is highly dependent on the three dishes chosen by the EDB writer who visited that store. That might explain why Ideal Market was our top deli and its owner, Whole Foods, ranked last.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note the wide diversity of scores in the dishes themselves. There is no getting around the reality that Whole Foods produced the two lowest-rated dishes in the entire test.


If you’re figuring out what to get for lunch today, we recommend the Curried Turkey Salad from Ideal Market!