“Gold!” went the cry in 1858, when a party of prospectors struck the shiny stuff at what is now Denver’s Confluence Park. Today that triumphant shout is a good way to describe Colorado’s burgeoning food scene. The days of snickering about Rocky Mountain oysters are over. Venture beyond Denver and explore these five must-visit food towns.
There’s a reason why Episode 11 of Top Chef was filmed in Telluride in 2019. The tiny mountain town is big on foodie-friendliness. From Alpino Vino, the highest elevation restaurant in North America, to Wood Ear Whiskey Lounge & Noodle Bar, a Texas-style ramen joint, Telluride’s food scene is as varied as the San Juan Mountains.
Featuring over 21 wineries and tasting rooms, the Western Slope is Colorado’s answer to Napa Valley. Grand Junction is at the heart of the Fruit and Vine Byway, and while Reislings might be the city’s most famous export, it’s also home to some fabulous farm-to-table restaurants. Bin 707 Foodbar offers a seasonally fresh menu of locally sourced dishes, while forward-thinking, modern American fare can be found at 626 on Rood.
Voted the “Foodiest Town in North America” by Bon Appetit, Boulder’s culinary culture doesn’t disappoint. Pearl Street alone is worth a trip to Boulder. But the eco-conscious town is more than its most famous dining destination. What makes Boulder “the bellwether of a changing food culture” (yes, those are Bon Appetit’s words) are its first-rate chefs, scenic farm trails and farmers’ markets, breweries and wineries, and the award-winning restaurants devoted to quality, innovation, and local flavor.
Golden is an up-and-coming food destination, an emerging hotspot that’s got more buzz than a can of Coors (Golden is home to the Coors Brewery). More than a dozen new restaurants opened in Golden in 2019, and Tributary Food Hall and Drinkery, which also opened its doors last year, has already found a place in the elite pantheon of Colorado’s trendy food halls.
Colorado vs. New Mexico: Which state has the best green chile? The Pueblo green chile, which is named after the southeastern Colorado town, is hotter, meatier and more pungent than New Mexico’s Hatch chile, and it triggers an equally burning devotion among lovers of spicy food. Pueblo is famous for the Slopper (a hamburger smothered in green chile stew), countless weekend chili cook-offs, and the annual Chile & Frijoles Festival.