Colorado’s got the goods when it comes to succulent fruits, fresh produce and hearty local game, not to mention the creative masterminds behind exquisitely crafted bites that travelers and locals can’t get enough of.
Check out these 10 Colorado must-eats and let us know if you uncover other super-local bites that you think we’ve left off the list at [email protected].
1. Bingo and Mesa burgers at Bingo Burger in Pueblo
Anytime you eat in Pueblo, you’re likely to detect the famous Pueblo chile in your dish, and the Bingo Burger is no exception with flavorful chiles blended right in with the beef. But it’s got tough competition with the Mesa burger, which is made with juicy Colorado lamb, goat cheese and delicious fig-fennel jam.
2. Palisade peach Caprese salad at 626 on Rood in Grand Junction
Palisade is peach country, and you’ll find seasonal fare all over the region utilizing this tender fruit. For a truly explosive dish, ask about dishes like the peach Caprese salad at 626 on Rood. The peaches are decorated with a (get ready for this) mint-basil and smoked-paprika-reposado tequila (aged in a wooden barrel) sauce and fresh basil. It’s a must-taste twist on the typical Caprese salad for sure!
3. Boulder Tea Company Teahouse Chai at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse
The hand-carved Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse (gifted from Boulder's sister city — Tajikistan) offers an artisan-style chai both at its traditional teahouse and in to-go bottles. Using malty black tea along with ground spices and organic sugar, this served-warm and seasoned drink is the perfect pick-me-up libation for weary travelers.
4. Fruition Farms Cheese at Mercantile dining & provision
A multi-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef Southwest” award, celebrated chef Alex Seidel’s restaurants are crown jewels in Colorado’s farm-to-table movement. Mercantile dining & provision in Union Station is Seidel’s latest addition to the Denver dining scene (the award-winning Fruition is the first), and he showcases a bounty of ingredients from his own Larkspur farm — Fruition Farms — in his dishes. While the eatery's offerings change regularly, the Fruition Farms SheepSkyr Cheesecake made with their Icelandic-style, yogurt-inspired cheese is a mouthwatering must if it's on the menu.
5. Hwy. 50 melons
Some of the best memories from family road trips include impromptu pit stops at small fruit stands. While traversing Colorado’s eastern plains near Rocky Ford, keep your eye out for melon stands along Hwy. 50, which pepper the highway starting in La Junta and heading west to Pueblo. The juicy sweetness from the cantaloupe and honeydews along this swath of countryside provides a refreshing respite indicative of the area’s agriculture.
6. Elk at Pine Creek Cookhouse in Aspen
Coloradans have relied on game as a means of sustenance for centuries, but Pine Creek Cookhouse gives a seemingly rustic protein an upscale twist. Tender elk chops pair delightfully with country-style mashed potatoes and a wild mushroom sauce. Meanwhile, the flavors of elk bratwurst shine when coupled with Peppadew pepper salsa and Dijon sauce. If you need a gamey starter to round out your meal, try the buffalo momos (Nepalese dumplings) with spicy roasted tomato sauce and ponzu.
7. Blackberry truffle at Mouse’s Chocolates in Ouray
We won’t tell if you eat more than one of these toothsome delights. The blackberry truffle, high in antioxidants, is encrusted with white, milk or dark Callebaut Belgian chocolate, famous for its premium cocoa beans, hint of vanilla and smooth texture.
8. Colorado stream trout at San Luis Valley Brewing Company in Alamosa
Nothing says Wild West like a good ol’ serving of Colorado river trout. Pair this buttery, oven-roasted fish with a San Luis craft brew like the crisp and hoppy Grand River IPA, inspired by the fresh stream of the Rio Grande — one locale where Colorado’s favorite fish is found. Read 12 Colorado Beer and Food Pairings >>
9. Meat and Cheese Plate at the Windsor Hotel Dining Room in Del Norte
Charcuterie boards have become commonplace on many restaurant menus, but The Dining Room’s version puts a distinctly local focus on its offering. This historic hotel’s fine-dining outlet showcases a selection of meats and cheeses predominantly sourced from purveyors in the area, including Gosar Sausage in Monte Vista. Among the plate’s accompaniments are whole-grain mustard, cornichons and honeycomb made by Haefeli’s Honey Farms, located in Monte Vista and with a retail shop down the street from the Windsor.