Colorado’s Western Slope is a sacred playground for mountain bikers. When the sun sets and it’s time to replenish and trade tales of the trails, they head to Hot Tomato Cafe in Fruita for several slices of Granny’s Pesto Pizza, which co-owner Anne Keller explains is “basically addictive.”
This level of demand ensures Hot Tomato always keeps the pie in the rotation. Zesty basil and garlic, tangy parmesan, fresh mozzarella, roma or heirloom tomatoes, crumbly feta cheese and handmade crust dusted with secret spices combine to create the object of pizza-hounds’ dreams. When in season, the Hot Tomato folks strive to source their ingredients from local farms, including basil and organic tomatoes.
Once the pesto pilgrimage has been completed, diners can focus on choosing one of eight New Belgium beers on tap that include a few from the Fort Collins-based brewer’s hard-to-find, small-batch, experimental Lips of Faith series.
Then it’s time for these riders, visitors to nearby Colorado National Monument and Colorado wine country, and other restaurant regulars to take in the cafe’s welcoming atmosphere — and find out why many consider this the best place to hang in Fruita. A lounge-inducing patio, summer concerts in the back alley, friendly employees with extensive trail tips, semi-spontaneous discounts posted on Facebook (“Ride your bike down tonight and get 10% off!”) and a bartender known for baby-hugging make for a fun meal you’re sure to return for again and again.
Photo: Courtesy of Hot Tomato Cafe.