Best Places to Eat in Colorado
The secret is out: From edgy food trucks to artisan food halls, casual farmstead BBQs to farm-to-table feasts, and craft microbrews to seed-to-sip distilleries, Colorado’s food scene has exploded onto the scene in recent years, and keeps getting better.
1925 Airport Rd, Breckenridge, CO 80424, USA
Located well north of the hustle and bustle of downtown Breckenridge, the distillery and restaurant sit along Airport Road (though the airport has since closed). It’s worth the effort to get up here for a visit, be it for the free tour and tasting, the exclusive after-hours distillery tour, or for dinner. Two-time James Beard Award–winning chef David Burke focuses on small plates, bold flavors, and locally sourced ingredients (and his dry-aged steaks are legendary). The craft cocktails are imaginative and tasty—there’s probably something to be said for the fresh mountain water used in the distilling process. Also, keep an eye out for the special events.
1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202, USA
Even if you don’t have a train to catch, you’ll want to make time to explore all of the dining options at Denver’s Union Station. This Beaux-Arts landmark, completed in 1914, underwent a complete renovation in 2014, and now it not only serves as a modern transit hub, but houses a hotel, shops, and nearly a dozen restaurants and bars as well. Eateries include fresh seafood, oysters, and a granita bar at Stoic & Genuine; seasonally inspired comfort food at the sit-down eatery within Mercantile Dining & Provision; and locally sourced casual fare at Next Door. Pick up breakfast at Snooze, get caffeinated at Pigtrain Coffee Co., and for lunch or a quick dinner, stop by the Acme Delicatessen (and don’t forget Milkbox Ice Creamery for frozen indulgence afterward). For evening visits—postprandial or otherwise—head up to the Cooper Lounge on the mezzanine level for cocktails looking out into the station’s Great Hall.
1539 17th St, Denver, CO 80202, USA
Eating fresh seafood in an inland city like Denver is certainly a unique experience, but don’t let the distance from the ocean be a concern. Jax’s mission is to bring the coasts to the coastless, and it does so with aplomb. For the eco-minded, the restaurant is deeply mindful about acquiring ingredients from sustainable sources; it’s the first eatery in Colorado to be certified by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch program. Jax encourages customers to be smart about their own fish purchases and recommends that patrons use the Seafood Watch app. You’d better believe, after taking that kind of care to bring the ocean to the mountains, Jax prepares everything to perfection. There are two locations in Denver to choose from—as well as two other Colorado outposts, one each in Boulder and Fort Collins.
445 S 112th St, Lafayette, CO 80026, USA
Out in the open space between Boulder and Longmont along the banks of Coal Creek, Three Leaf Farm has a lot going on. Not only do the owners run a number of incredible restaurants, such as the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and Chautauqua Dining Hall, but they also host their own farm-to-table dinners on the very property that supplies their restaurants with fresh, locally grown food. Each hosted dinner brings in one of the chefs from a different area restaurant, where they have the freedom to imagine and prepare delicious dishes, inspired by what’s available at the farm.
225 S Pine St unit f, Telluride, CO 81435, USA
The owners of Sidework hit on the idea for their cozy little eatery after listening to locals grumble about how hard it was to find a low-key place to have a drink and casual bite during the summer and winter tourist seasons. They already owned the brewpub around the corner, so they turned the adjacent space—which they used for “sidework” like filling water pitches and rolling silverware into napkins—into the spot everyone was craving. Today the narrow, intimate bar serves self-described “American-American comfort food,” which includes small plates like blue claw crab soup, fig flatbreads, and charcuterie boards, and larger dishes such as olive-oil-poached branzino and beef short ribs in red wine reduction. For the perfect start to your night, drop by during the daily happy hour for discounts on select wine, beer, cocktails, and mini filet mignon sliders.
926 South Main Street, Buena Vista, CO 81211, USA
Eddyline opened in 2009 in the new neighborhood of South Main, Buena Vista, with the goal of brewing beers for any number of outdoor activities. Located right on the banks of the Arkansas River, it was certainly influenced by paddle sports and river life. The offerings were simple at first—wood-fired pizzas and grilled food. Now there’s a full menu of tasty dishes to accompany year-round and seasonal beers. For a deeper beer experience (and more great food), visit the Eddyline Taproom in old town Buena Vista.
1518 Washington Ave, Golden, CO 80401, USA
There’s a strong connection between the Rocky Mountains and the Himalayas, with climbers going back and forth, so it should be no surprise that Nepalese food has made its way to Colorado. Opened, run, and operated by members of the Sherpa people, the Sherpa House in Golden is the way to experience traditional Nepalese food without having to buy a ticket to Nepal. From the staple dal bhat (lentils and rice) to more exotic dishes and flavors, you can delve into the cuisine gently or just go for it. If you want to try it all, be sure to arrive hungry, order the sampler platter (or all-you-can-eat lunch buffet), and let the flavors of the Himalayas amaze you.
302 E Hopkins Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
Tucked on the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Monarch Street, White House Tavern occupies one of Aspen’s oldest buildings, a small Carpenter Gothic–style white house that was built in 1883. The offerings here don’t change from when the restaurant opens for lunch at 11 a.m. to when the sky darkens and the cocktails start flowing into the night. The menu is made up mostly of hearty salads (Thai steak and noodle, kale with rotisserie chicken) and tasty sandwiches, including an incredibly crispy chicken sandwich and a flavorful, perfectly cooked prime rib au jus piled high on a homemade roll. The cocktail list is short and tends toward the classics—negroni, margarita, martini—but the wine list is surprisingly ambitious.
15 West Thomas Place
Beaver Creek’s credo is “Not exactly roughing it,” and Beano’s Cabin—tucked up on the ski hill itself—is a fun way to do dinner in any season. In the winter, you can arrive at the restaurant courtesy of an open-air sleigh; in summertime, you can take an hour-long horseback ride, a tractor pull, or a 10-minute shuttle van. Once on-site, adults enjoy a five-course menu, and kids under 13 have the option of a simpler three course-meal, featuring Rocky Mountain classics like roasted venison and Colorado lamb. As expected, being up on the ski hill makes for a beautiful view no matter the time of year, although the fall is particularly stunning. (Reservations required.)
1515 Main St, Longmont, CO 80501, USA
Oftentimes the trick with food trucks is finding them. There are a number of them in Boulder, and they can often be found at the Rayback Collective food-truck park. But if there’s a standout among them, it’s Farm and Smoke, owned and operated by brothers Matt and Alex Wallace —and it’s worth seeking out. While their menu is known to change from time to time, the constant is the mouthwatering smoked meats in dishes like the Smokehouse Slider and smoked chicken wings. And to balance out all the meat options, they also provide delicious salads and a mean jalapeño mac-and-cheese.
926 Pearl St, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
Continue west beyond Boulder’s iconic Pearl Street walking mall, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by incredible restaurants. New to the block is Bartaco, a fun, hip South American–inspired eatery that always seems to be hopping; while there might be a wait for a table, keep an eye on the first-come, first-served bar seating. Choose from unique taco flavors like glazed pork belly with arbol chili sauce or tamarind-glazed duck, and sides like a spicy cucumber salad or fresh pineapple with lime—and make sure to save room for the fresh, hot churros. The Kitchen, self-described as an American bistro, is one of the fancier, albeit relaxed, eateries, offering brunch, lunch, and dinner that have been sourced as much as possible from local farmers. For delicious pub food, jump into the classic West End Tavern. Burgers, beers, ribs, BBQ, and more make this a place to satisfy everybody.
Steamboat Springs, CO 80487, USA
Despite being northern Colorado, Steamboat Springs offers belly-filling home-style southern cooking at the Low Country Kitchen right on Lincoln Avenue. Dig into the classics (without the greasy coating), like fried okra and buttermilk fried chicken, or go for the jambalaya or hush puppies. For south of the border–style grub, pop into Salt & Lime and head for the rooftop seating. Start with some loaded nachos then choose from a range of classic tacos and burritos; finish off with fresh churros. The menu changes frequently, with new and exciting dishes becoming available.
1957 Jessup Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80525, USA
The name kind of says it all. The 19th-century farmhouse, renovated and turned into a restaurant, still holds rustic charms, complete with exposed brick pillars, a squeaky staircase, and a southwest-facing front porch that catches the afternoon light. Some of the homestyle cuisine, like the hardy Breakfast Burrito and the decadent Pork Belly Benny are prepared with ingredients sourced from the farm itself, and served in cast iron pans. The extended property, called Jessup Farm Artisan Village, has modern shops, a craft brewing operation, and a cozy coffee shop. The Farmhouse is open for brunch, lunch, and dinner, and is closed on Mondays.
328 E Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
On the ground floor of Aspen’s historic Wheeler Opera House, the Public House dishes up Colorado-inspired comfort food. Large windows open to allow the summer breeze in but can shut out the winter chill without blocking the snow and mountain views. Menu standouts include the charred Caesar salad, the rosemary and parmesan fries, and you can always take a risk on whatever taco is featured on the list of daily specials. If the weather’s nice, opt for a seat at a sidewalk table (for views of the local canines and that famous Aspen fountain). Otherwise, dine inside either at a booth, at long community tables, or at the bar where conversation centers on where to find good powder on Ajax Mountain or the best hiking trails.
359 Linden St, Fort Collins, CO 80524, USA
In addition to the great food and fun ambience of their restaurant-bakery, Ginger and Baker offers intimate cooking classes in the kitchen of your dreams (marble-slab counters, bright crockery on open shelves, exposed brick walls). The classes cover topics from hard skills like how to handle and use knives to romantic date-night meals for couples to learn to cook together. Other classes focus on international cuisines, desserts, and seasonal specials like making gingerbread houses. The lively instructor-chefs share lots of useful tips to make cooking and baking more fun. The classes move quickly and, because participants are often encouraged to work together, the class is great way to meet other cooking enthusiasts.
300 Carriage Way, Snowmass Village, CO 81615, USA
The Artisan, inside the Stonebridge Inn, serves modern American cuisine, using locally sourced ingredients in a refined and relaxed setting. Sound pretty much the norm? The Artisan is blessed with a charming setting: There’s a lovely stone fireplace in the main dining room and then, up some steps, bar seating and tables in a solarium with mountain views. Outside the solarium, deck seating means dinner with fresh-air mountain views. Set the tone for a great meal by ordering the grilled artichoke heart appetizer, garnished with a truffle aioli and lemon zest. The recommended entree: a New York strip steak, topped with a bourbon, peach, and cherry salsa, and served with cashew rice and scallions.
725 E 2nd Ave, Durango, CO 81301, USA
Durango’s Cyprus Café is committed to growing much of their own produce in the gardens and greenhouse of nearby Dance Ranch, and by sourcing natural meats and sustainable seafood. Recommended favorites from the creative Mediterranean-inspired menu include the stuffed poblano pepper appetizer, as well as a warm duck salad with orange segments, green olives, and manchego cheese. The setting, in a renovated Victorian house, means seating inside and out: tables in the dining room and at outdoor tables on a patio and under a breezeway. The restaurant has received two Best in Durango awards: Best Patio Dining and Best Health Food.