Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- Where to eat in the Colorado Mountains
We took a trip to Colorado last year part of which was spent in Denver as reported HERE. But the real reason for our roadtrip out west was to go hang out somewhere in the mountains of Colorado. My wife had never been and it had been years since my last trip. We ended up getting an AirBNB in Silverthorne which is about an 1.5 west of Denver. We chose it based on the quality of the spot as we filtered it out so that we had a rental with a wooden fireplace. Highly recommended if you're planning a trip out to the mountains at any point but especially in the beginning of October when Fall was just hitting the area. We loved how it was jacket weather see your breath cool in the early morning and then short sleeves and sunny in the afternoon. The Silverthorne area is located in a good location as far as getting around and seeing different towns and doing different hikes. This was the first trip in forever where food wasn't the focus. We did a few trails a day using the AllTrails app. I've always loved the outdoors but never been big on hiking though this trip may have changed that.
Sights from hikes in Colorado
I guess if there's anywhere where one can warm up to the trails it's Colorado and it's massive playground of outdoor activities. Aside from hiking somewhere near our rental each morning we also tried to take one both in the afternoon and then around sundown too. Some days we didn't make it to the third hike due to the first two being decent stretches of uphill movement. But the harder the trail the more spectacular views. We went as high as moderate as the expert hikes in Colorado are truly for the specialists. We had a chance to stroll through a handful of towns that were within daytrip distance of Silverthorne. That town itself is pretty corporate in that there's a ton of businesses there including an outlet mall but it's also close to some other nice towns such as Dillon and Frisco. If given the option on a future trip I'd stay in one of those over Silverthorne but this was a pretty last minute trip and we got a nice spot so no complaints. One of the highlights was an afternoon stroll through the mining town of Georgetown. I've always been fascinated with these due to HBO's Deadwood.
Sights from Georgetown, CO
Another highlight was the drive from Silverthorne to Fairplay (another old mountain town). The drive along Route 9 was one of the prettiest I've ever taken. Other towns we got to check out included the Disney-like campus of Vail and the much hipper Edwards Colorado next door. The latter of which seems to to be an area that more younger people (skiers, chefs etc) are moving to instead of Vail. We did some hikes in Breckenridge but never ended up eating anywhere over there. The food wasn't abundant on this trip in terms of spots I wanted to check out. There's no doubt that the dining scene in this part of the Colorado mountains is lacking. That said I can lead you to some pretty good places.
Sights from Fairplay and Alma (home to the highest weed shop in the world...literally)
Sunshine Cafe (Silverthorne, CO)
This little hidden diner was to my gathering one of the best food stops in town. When you think about how Colorado is a big outdoors state it makes sense there’s great breakfast spots abound. Fuel is needed whether hiking, skiing, or biking. Lots to love about this locals favorite in a Silverthorne strip mall. Pan fried ruby red trout with eggs and hash browns and the ‘Ski Tech’ special served with two sausage patties, hash browns topped with melted cheese and green chili sauce with an egg on top. Both of which were made great. You can’t get a more classic Colorado breakfast session than that.
Breakfast at Sunshine Cafe
Cafe Profusion (Silverthorne, CO)
Speaking of hidden gems Cafe Profusion sits on the 2nd floor of a business complex and was only doing takeout on our visit. That's fine bc 1) there's no restaurant good enough to risk catching covid in and 2) they do Asian type fusion food so it takes out really well. It's also a gluten free restaurant but the menu is interesting enough compared to most of the generic spots out there. Run by an older couple inspired by their travels or something to the likes. I got the 'Pot Roast Penang' which the menu describes as beef brisket braised Malaysian Spices, vegetables and a side of Basmati rice. Not bad at all. Really good actually. The tender pot roast took to the Malaysian inspired sauce really well. Maybe not authentic but they tell you that in the restaurants name. Also surprising was a top notch hot and sour soup. One of the best I've versions I've tried actually. It was a bit of a letdown that they wouldn't be open the rest of the days we were in town bc we would've gone back. One minor complaint would be the size of it compared to the price but you expect pay a mountain type tourist tax up here.
Pot Roast Penang + Hot & Soup at Cafe Profusion
The Blü Cow (Vail, CO)
Vail is like Disney World’s Epcot in the mountains. Not for me. That said the Swiss Hot Dogs found at The Blü Cow are quite the treat. Two pork and veal brats are griddled and placed between a French baguette and dressed with arugula, brown mustard, curry spice, and chopped onions with parsley. These have been served in the area in one form or the other since the 1960’s. In a town with a ton of overpriced and average food this old school bar from another era was a really nice surprise.
The Swiss Dog at The Blü Cow
Alpenrose (Vail, CO)
The wife didn't want hot dogs so we stopped for some "local food" while in Vail too. I use the quotes bc again it felt like we could be eating in the Switzerland wing of Epcot Center. Though we were seated outside so having the mountains as a back drop gave us that ski town feel. Alpenrose is one of a couple Swiss chalet type dining spots in town. The other was closed bc the staff that usually works there couldn't get visas to come from Switzerland. We tried two of the more common Swiss offerings in an order of fondue and also a Bavarian pork schnitzel with spaetzle and cream sauce. I liked the latter (not a big fondue guy) but we paid about 50% more than I would've liked. I'm not cheap but $36 for a smaller sized schnitzel was a bit much but like I said earlier in this post there's a mountain tax.
Swiss Lunch at Alpenrose
Drunken Goat (Edwards, CO)
Like I was saying earlier the town of Edwards (20 min west of Vail) seems to be turning into a playground for the younger crowds as Vail is really an old money type place. The restaurants and grocers and butchers over here seem to be similar to that of other up and coming hip cities and towns. Places like the Drunken Goat where they have drinks, charcuterie, cheese and more.
Happy Hour at The Drunken Goat
The Craftsman (Edwards, CO)
Here's another hip spot where the crowd was much younger than anywhere in Vail. The menu was also much more tempting with it's chef driven sandwiches and local craft brews and cocktails. The 'Green Chile Philly' seemed like a no-brainer for me and I was very happy with my decision. They used a really good roll with real shaved ribeye, chopped green chiles, and fromage américain.
Green Chile Philly at The Craftsman
KB's Kakery & Dorothy's Tamales (Fairplay, CO)
I read about this little duo of a shop selling cakes and tamales while researching places to eat in the area. Locally grown chiles are life in the Southwest so I made sure to try my tamales smothered in sauce. Both the green chile and the red chile were quite tasty making it hard to pick a side.
Tamales at Dorothy's Tamales
Salado (Fairplay, CO)
We took a ride down the incredibly scenic State Highway 9 south through Breckinridge and into Fairplay which sits at an elevation of 9,953 feet. It’s a small town with some big charm. But my main reason for visiting was for a meal at Salado which boasts an “eclectic Southwestern” menu and has a terrific patio outside along the towns sleepy main strip. The Navajo Taco is one of the more sad stories as far as a dishes history goes. But at the same time it’s a part of the Native culture and found in the Southwest pretty regularly. This one was made with ground beef, pinto beans, green chiles, roasted corn, sour cream, cotija, tomatoes on classic Indian Fry Bread. Served with a cup of smoky green chili. Tempura Fried Cactus with sweet onion prickly pear sauce for both of us as an app and Blue Corn Encrusted Ruby Red Trout with saffron rice for her. Cool spot in the middle of nowhere.
Dinner at Salado
See ya next time @chibbqking