Essential E’s of Colorado
Colorado is now in its hay day. Colorado is a paradise.
She has gorgeous weather, stunning views, and *ahem* lush greenery.
Colorado is becoming a place for craft, fine goods made from scratch sourced locally, all without the pretention that usually comes with that idea.
Gone are the days whenever all Colorado was known for was rocky mountain oysters (if you don’t know what those are, I suggest you look it up at your own discretion.) Chefs, artists, and writers are moving there and its not just for the legalization of certain recreational vices. Colorado is a hidden gem with diverse cultures that spread throughout the state rather than the metropolitan hubs. Yes, nature is still there, but now there’s so much more to do, see and thankfully more to eat.
Colorado is in a culinary renaissance. Colorado used to be overlooked and even hated by the national food media but is now coming into vogue as more and more chefs flock to the state to open new restaurants. While its local specialty dishes are less iconic and beloved than its other southwest neighbors, it has embraced that and created a new identity of a melting pot of classic Americana, Latin American classics and Asian pan flare that take advantage of its lush, bountiful surroundings. The state is on the rise in the culinary world, expect to eat well in just about any town in the state.
Worth a Trip
If there’s one dish, Colorado should be famous for its green chile. Yes, we know New Mexico dominates the green chili, but Colorado still has some great green chiles. Other than that Colorado has some iconic restaurants and some exciting new spots with dishes we think you should know about.
Let’s talk about the green chilis first. The Pueblo Chili is Colorado’s famous chili recently growing in popularity after whole foods started selling it over New Mexico’s famous Hatch Chile, an act that sparked beef between the two governors. The beef sparked a rivalry that flooded the internet with memes and although the jokes were mostly at the expense of Colorado and its beloved chile, it got people interested in the food as they had to try it to make up their own minds as to who has the best chile and today it is a hotly debated topic. In Colorado, you can get green chile dishes in just about every eatery, but our favorite way to consume them is smothering a burrito, and few do it as well as El Taco De Mexico. The iconic taqueria lacks the shine of some of its bohemian competitors. It still draws crowds for the right reasons, the food.
There are a lot of reasons you should take a drive to Boulder if you get the chance and so many amazing restaurants in the hippie town, but the Dushanbe Teahouse is the only one that’s a city landmark. A gift to the city from Tajikistan the building was shipped and assembled piece by piece and the end result was a gorgeous teahouse that offers outstanding Middle Eastern food from brunch to dinner and even an afternoon tea.
Speaking of Landmarks this restaurant is so old it hosted the likes of presidents Eisenhower, FDR, and even Teddy Roosevelt. Buckhorn Exchange is a 126-year-old institution that still serves up a classic American cuisine, meat. You can dine on some classic American cuisine while being watched by about 30 taxidermized animal heads.
Bang for Your Buck
Eating good in Colorado doesn’t mean you have to shell out for an aged steak or a tasting menu, in fact, some of the best bites in the state go for under $10!
Denver’s food is underrated. When you think of barbeque, the Rocky Mountains probably don’t come to mind but after trying the brisket sandwich at Owlbear, you just might. Karl Fallenius worked under Aaron Franklin who runs the world-famous Franklins Barbeque in Austin, Texas and in 2015 opened a food truck in Denver. Today he owns Owlbear which serves outstanding $6 brisket sandwiches and more.
This next one is an eat that could probably only happen in Denver. “Biker Jim” Pittenger is a repo man turned sausage czar who started cooking his strange and amazing hotdogs out of a steel cart in a mall and today slings his dogs at two brick and mortar Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, a food truck that travels the nation and even inside its neighbor Coors Field. The dogs go for $6-$7.50 and range from classics like beef to exotic specialties like rattlesnake and pheasant, a flavor combination you never thought you’d need in your life.
Comal Heritage Food Incubator is a non-profit restaurant that teaches immigrant and refugee women how to run a restaurant. Depending on the day of the week, you’ll find a different cuisine on the menu all fresh organic and authentic dishes from all over the world. You can eat here for a great cause for around $10!
If you find yourself in one of the many small mountain towns, the best cheap eats come from the eateries that cater to the adventurous outdoor crowd. Try looking around skiing or hiking spots for good food and since its Colorado. It’ll more than likely be fresh and local. Our favorite of these ski lift bite is Taco Beast, a mutant of a taco truck and a tank. This monster can be found at the top of Christie Peak in Steamboat Springs most days and serves Mexican street classics with Colorado flair all for under $6. Try the Elk Chorizo taco with Carrot Habanero if you love spice.
Late Night Bites
If you work odd hours or are just looking for some good food to nurture you after a night of debauchery these are the places in Colorado you should seek out.
Cherry Cricket Ballpark is a go-to for late light burgers and just great bar food. It’s open till 2:30 am on weekdays, and 3 am on weekends. Try also the original Cherry Creek location.
Jerusalem Restaurant in south Denver is a late night/ early morning staple depending on your schedule. You can grab Israeli and Middle Eastern combo platters and pastries until 5 am daily.
More than likely you’ve heard of Voodoo Donut, the Oregon staple who made donuts cool opened a few spots in Denver. This 24hr spot always serves up Instagram worthy donuts we suggest starting with a Voodoo Doll or a Maple Blazer Blunt.
From hidden bars to doing yoga on a mountain, Colorado is far from boring and has something for everybody. We broke it down by the nature of each activity.
Kick Back & Relax
If you have a free day to cool down from a rough week here are some places where you can get some well-deserved RnR. Colorado is one of the United States’ first tourist attractions, so it’s home of the countries oldest and best resorts. One of these iconic institutions is the Broadmoor, the hotel resort that’s over 100-years-old. It houses one of the country’s best spas that tailor to your individual needs. They even offer a wine down treatment that includes a Chardonnay sugar scrub and a wine oil massage.
Vail is already a destination town for healthy travelers, and the Four Seasons Vail is one of the many reasons why. It has outdoor pools and hot tubs with stunning views of the mountains and a spa patio with heated floors that keep you warm even in the winter months.
The other way to be lazy in the healthiest state in the nation is something Colorado is very proud of…beer. Colorado has the second-most breweries in the nation, six breweries for every 100,000 citizens. And most of these are scattered across tiny mountain towns that make for a great way to tour the beauty of the state. Outer Range Brewing Co. is a place that embodies the Colorado idea of adventure, “Something hidden. Go and find it.”
Taking a trip to Steamboat Springs usually means resorts and skiing, but their beer deserves your attention. Butcherknife Brewing Co. is an award-winning brewery north of Steamboat Springs that is a beautiful place to relax.
Yoga is not a lazy activity; however, it is an extremely relaxing practice. One of the best places in the state to practice yoga is at “Yoga on the Rocks,” an event where you get to practice yoga at the world-famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Join the Fans
Colorado has become a sports state since its teams found success in the 90s, and today, they are bigger than ever. Going to a Broncos game is no joke, the tailgating is world-class, and you have to be pretty dedicated to party outdoors in a Colorado fall/winter.
The other Colorado pastime is baseball. The Colorado Rockies are a beloved team with a beautiful ballpark and some great ballpark food. You can go experience the whole show for $4 in the famous Rockpile seats!
Colorado is now a party state and draws tourists from all over because if it, but they have been secretly a party state since the prohibition days. The Cruise Room inside the Oxford Hotel in Denver opened the day after prohibition ended and has been selling cocktails ever since. The lounge was created to look like the one on the Queen Mary and really feels like it hasn’t been changed since.
If you’re looking for a real speakeasy, secret bars created in the prohibition era, Williams & Graham is one of the best in the world. To find it you’ll need to find a certain bookstore and navigate to a secret door disguised as a bookshelf filled with booze themed books. Inside you’ll find an array of classic cocktails, wine, and beer.
For a modern fashionable place to get a drink and great small plates look for “There…” There… is a bar in Telluride, and now Denver, that serves some creative cocktails and outstanding tapas fusion. You get to sit in a gorgeous modern lounge and snack on popcorn for free while you drink, which beats bar nuts in our opinion.
Drinks are only half the party; you need good music. The Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a world-famous venue carved into a mountain. It draws some of the best and biggest acts in the world who claim it to have some of the best acoustics in the world. Music fans consider this venue a bucket list spot, and many make the trip to see their favorite bands in this specific venue.
Most of Colorado looks almost like it did 100 years ago, this is because most of Colorado is untouched by man. The Colorado parks department has created a world-class system for wonderers to enjoy the land and still maintain its beauty. The cities have institutions as old as the state itself and host some parties so good people come from all over.
Colorado is the healthiest state for a reason, nature. People here want to go outside, and from Devil’s Peak to the Garden of the Gods, it really is a nature lovers paradise.
One of the most daring and thrilling things a layman can do in Colorado is white water rafting, and no place is better than the Colorado River. You can find services all down the river for different levels of experience.
The Garden of the Gods is a collection of rock formations deserving of its name for its beauty. Its also home to some of the best hiking trails in the world. The inner loop is a perfect leisurely hike for beginners and experts alike. We suggest timing it to catch the sunset/sunrise.
Owl Creek Pass, a scenic drive through the Uncompahgre National Forest, is one of Colorado’s most picturesque roads and does not require a 4-wheel drive vehicle. The road takes you around a lake and up onto the pass, through aspen forests that look straight out of a computer screensaver.
Colorado in the winter can be rough. You may want to get out of the house and explore, but you’re not particularly trying to BE outside. Museums are the best way to get your culture fix without freezing over.
The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver is an institution bringing some of the best local artists as well as exhibits from across the nation. They offer a “broke membership” for less than $2 a month that gets you access to their openings and parties and have 1 cent admission day every first Saturday. They also have a great rooftop bar with a nice view of the city.
The Aspen Art Museum is an iconic institution that has hosted shows from legendary artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. Today it still is a significant force in the international contemporary art scene all without its own collection.
Party Like a Local
Colorado festivals are a growing idea, much like most good things in the state. Colorado is home to one of the most respected film festivals, one of the most anticipated new music festivals and a festival with a giant fire-spitting octopus.
Coachella and Bonnaroo brought back the music festival in the United States now every major city has a major music festival. The team behind Bonnaroo has created a new festival in Colorado called the Grandoozy Music Festival. It had its first festival last year and was so successful that they took a year-long hiatus to ensure the next one is as good as the last.
Telluride is home to the next two festivals with very different vibes. The Telluride Fire Festival was inspired by Burning Man but swapped the desert for the winter wonderland of Telluride in December. The festival is non-profit and features many free activities for the entire family. If you’re worried about the cold, the giant fire octopus will definitely keep you warm.
The other Telluride festival switches the fire for the lights of the cinema. The Telluride Film festival brings the biggest names of Hollywood to the small mountain town every year for 45 years. Its one of the few film festivals in the country that both cinephiles, fans and the industry anticipate coming and mingling with the other side.
Colorado is maybe the most consistent in overall quality of life, beauty, and culture more than any other state. In nearly every town there are great spots to eat, a gorgeous trail to stroll down and so many things to do. It’s a state with a deep history but still embraces fresh faces and new ideas. No matter your niche its probably the place to be.
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