Warm days and cool nights in the Centennial State give way to some of the juiciest fruit and most flavorful vegetables you can get your hands on.
As a result, restaurants across the state have access to these produce powerhouses and use them to delicious effect. Check out the following crops and where to get the freshest dishes using them.
Grown: Olathe, mid-July to mid-October
Colorado sweet corn has practically become synonymous with this tiny town near the San Juan Mountains, and we certainly won’t argue with its rightful reputation.
On Your Plate: At the new-American eatery Sweet Basil in Vail, there is almost always a spectacular sweet corn dish on the menu. Past delights have included the grilled-corn chowder with blue crab and bacon and a melt-in-your-mouth sweet-corn risotto.
Grown: Paonia, mid-June to mid-July
Typically the first fruit ripe for picking in the North Fork Valley, these little gems are even celebrated with their own Paonia Cherry Days festival each July.
On Your Plate: A culinary venture from Denver-based Stem Ciders, Acreage in Lafayette knows its way around fruit. Chef Eric Lee utilizes cherries and Stem’s bourbon-barrel-aged Banjo cider in an unusual take on a classic baked French dessert called clafoutis.
Grown: Palisade, August to mid-September
World-famous Palisade peaches make mouths salivate when they hit the farm stores and roadside stands around the Western Slope in late summer.
Grown: Pueblo, August to mid-October
With hot and dry growing conditions in southeast Colorado, the Pueblo chile is the pride of the region, yielding flavorful yet mostly moderately spicy peppers.
On Your Plate: Consistently taking gold in several Best of Pueblo award categories, it’s no wonder that Cactus Flower’s chile rellenos make an impression.
Grown: Rocky Ford, August to mid-October
The cantaloupe and watermelon grown on the Eastern Plains have set the bar high when it comes to the sweet flavor of these melons.
On Your Plate: Made with compressed melons, heirloom tomatoes, sesame brittle and basil and doused in a white balsamic vinaigrette with a hint of lime, the heirloom tomatoes and melon salad at The Kitchen in Boulder is a perfectly balanced taste of summer.
Colorado’s agricultural prowess dates back to the indigenous people who cultivated the land. The following places and programs are aimed at keeping those traditions alive.
Sacred Earth at Denver Botanic Gardens | Denver
This garden includes heirloom crops and demonstrates traditional cultivation methods.
The only American Indian-owned restaurant in metro Denver is known for its fluffy Navajo fry bread.
Take part in an authentic living-history immersion. Participants live in a teepee village near the historic Santa Fe Trail for a four-day program that includes communally prepared meals of traditional foods from various tribes.
This collaboration between Crown Canyon Archaeological Center and traditional Pueblo farmers teaches farming techniques, food preparation and more.
Find cooking classes and occasional events that blend ingredients from Latin America with those of American Indian tribes.