No matter when you plan to visit Aspen, Colorado — winter, spring, summer or fall — plan to spend some time and money on dining. You won’t regret it.
Before we visited this winter, I had no idea Aspen was such a foodie town, and I’m not kidding when I suggest that you should go there and eat all the things. Seriously, forget about the diet and don’t cry over carbs, just eat everything and be happy.
While nothing in Aspen is cheap, the bar is set high for good food in this resort town, and it’s nearly impossible to have a bad meal here.
Of course, when at Meat & Cheese, a restaurant and farm shop, you must order the Meat & Cheese board, which serves two, and follow it up with one of the restaurant’s creative entrees such as coffee chocolate rubbed short ribs or the rotisserie chicken (the best I’ve ever had).
Dining here is a true foodie experience. We relied heavily on the staff for information about what we were eating and Parker, the manager on duty, knew the menu inside and out, including the fantastic craft beer selection.
For a quick pick-me-up, drop into Aspen Overeasy for a freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice concoction. I met up here with my friend Jillian Livingston of AspenRealLife.com. I ordered the Super Sunrise which had pineapple, strawberry, orange, and grape, and Jillian went with the Avocado Dreamboat, a coconut water infused green drink filled with good-for-you stuff.
If you’re looking for a swanky après ski destination in Aspen, but don’t want to break the bank, check out BB’s bar. BB’s restaurant serves up delicious items like antelope steak ($42), and the bar keeps the creative spin going, but has more affordable bites.
I highly recommend the pork belly steamed buns ($16). Great for sharing, add a side of kale and Brussel sprouts and you’ve got a high-end meal for a reasonable price. In addition to après ski, the bar at BB’s is a fun Aspen late night destination.
Bloody Marys are a big deal in Aspen. I saw them on every menu in town, and if you google “best Bloody Mary in Aspen, Colorado” a ton of lists come up, but the place that makes every list is the St. Regis. In fact, their Bloody Mary is so popular that they have a free Bloody Mary tasting every day at 11:15 a.m., which just so happened to be when I stumbled in.
The Regis Hotel in New York, is said to be the birthplace of the Bloody Mary. Originally called “The Red Snapper,” it was invented by a bartender working there in the early 1920s.
At the St. Regis in Aspen, you can sample this hotel’s unique recipe, the “Downhill Snapper,” and order from their Bloody Mary menu that includes versions from their hotels around the world.
I ordered the “Downhill Snapper,” which is made with Woody Creek Vodka and muddled dill and basil. It was well-worth the $18 price tag, although, at that price, I didn’t order more than one.
My last Aspen dining tip is Home Team BBQ. If all this gourmet fare has you longing for down home grub, this brand new Aspen restaurant is the place to go, especially for those who love Carolina style barbecue.
Located in the Inn at Aspen, at the base of Buttermilk, this is a family-friendly dining option. Everything here was quite tasty, although the southern style mac ‘n’ cheese was my favorite. On a tip from a server, I added a little Home Team Death Relish to my mac ‘n’ cheese, a habanero salsa — and my life was complete.
Thank you to the Aspen Chamber for hosting us on this trip and to the various restaurants that invited us to dine with them while we were in town. We can’t wait to dine in Aspen again!
Ryan and I hadn’t been out in the big city since the fall, so when we read that the Colorado Symphony was playing Beethoven, we decided it was time for a Denver date night.
We used to frequent the Colorado Symphony quite often. In fact, for several years we bought concert packages to the CSO, giving us an excuse for a Denver date night every month. The Colorado Symphony has all sorts of subscription packages available, making it easy to pick and choose the number of symphonies you want to attend and which shows.
We started our Denver date night at TAG Restaurant on Larimer Street, an eight minute walk from Boettcher Concert Hall. This restaurant has been on my radar for awhile now and this was the perfect opportunity to give it a try.
The food scene in downtown Denver has come a long way since we lived in the Mile High City in the early 2000s.
Chef Troy Guard, who opened TAG in 2009, is a big part of the city’s culinary expansion. He has opened a number of restaurants since, and there are still more in the works. Guard’s restaurants elevate food, while still making it approachable, and I think this is why he’s so well-loved by Denver foodies. Continue reading
Considering a holiday getaway this month? Fort Collins is an excellent Colorado Christmas town. Downtown sparkles with thousands of lights and from Old Town Square to Oak Street Plaza Park, the atmosphere is merry.
This past weekend, we did one-night getaway in Fort Collins to experience the city’s holiday offerings. Before exploring the festive scene we checked into the Fernweh Inn & Hostel on Mulberry, just blocks from the excitement of downtown Fort Collins.
Some people, including my husband, Ryan, have an aversion to any place with hostel in the name. The word makes him worried that he’s going to have to share a bathroom or wash dishes to earn his keep.
Fernweh is a modern-day, American hostel which offers private rooms as well as bunk rooms. Our private room, “The Loft,” was a virtual suite because the space occupied the entire upstairs of this historic, Victorian home. There was a full bathroom in the room complete with large, soaking bathtub and multiple beds, making it perfect for a family or friends. Continue reading
My Facebook wall has been full of tropical vacation photos for several weeks. I even have a friend on a private yacht in the Caribbean. If this is the case for you too, it’s rather depressing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to be on a yacht in the Caribbean?
If you’ve got cabin fever, I’ve got a solution and no, it’s not robbing a bank. It’s called a mini-vacation, and while I’m not promising that this outing will be as exciting as snorkeling in Grand Cayman or zip lining in Costa Rica, it will brighten your day.
1. Take a Walking Tour
Not every town has a guided walking tour, but you’d be surprised at how many towns have a printed version of a walking tour. They are usually available at your local visitor center, museum or at the chamber of commerce.
I once took a walking tour of Fort Collins, a town with which I am very familiar. It was a night walking tour, but it wasn’t about ghosts, but rather the town’s history. Despite having walked Fort Collins’ streets many times (even at night), during the tour I felt like I was in a brand new town. Continue reading
I’ll be the first to admit that I used this title as click bait. I knew that those of you with favorite taco shops around Colorado were going to click the link, and if you didn’t see your favorite taco listed you would school me on taco greatness.
Here’s the thing. “Best of” lists about food are crap and I can say that because I’ve written one in the past. Everyone has a different set of taste buds, not to mention we are influenced by things ambiance and the people we were dining with.
With that being said, I shall reveal three of the most memorable tacos I’ve eaten in Colorado. I’m sure I’ve had other delicious tacos, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind, and whether that makes them the “best” or not, I refuse to be the judge. Continue reading
We all know the number one reason to visit Black Hawk, Colorado is to gamble, but did you know that Ameristar Casino Resort offers several additional experiences?
When the Ameristar Casino Resort was first built I thought, “Now this place really looks like Vegas.” It’s not brand new anymore, but still retains that modern look of new Vegas. From the faux sky ceiling to the large, modern guest rooms, Ameristar is the top-notch hotel in Black Hawk.
This past week I finally got to experience a stay at this resort casino and it didn’t disappoint.
The Ara Spa at Ameristar Black Hawk
In the past year or so I’ve had the great pleasure of being pampered at some really fantastic Colorado spas and Ameristar’s Ara Spa rivals the best of them. It has a contemporary Colorado ambiance, and the interior design incorporates a calming combination of wood, stone and water. Continue reading
Last Saturday we went on the Delicious Downtown tour in Colorado Springs with Rocky Mountain Food Tours. My first piece of advice for anyone participating in this tour is to wear stretchy pants. Seriously, you will thank me.
Our tour started at The Antlers Hotel, a mid-modern goliath in downtown. We had a full tour of 14 hungry people. About half the group was from the Springs area and the other half from the Denver metro area.
There’s some walking involved on the tour, but I was grateful for the time between stops to let a little bit of the food in my stomach digest. Plus, Colorado Springs is a sunny city, so it’s likely that you’ll be soaking up some Vitamin D while you walk.
Our tour started with a visit to the Caribbean and ended by going down the Rabbit Hole. True story.
I’m not going to give away all the wonderful experience you’ll have on this Colorado Springs food tour, but I will tell you some of my highlights. Continue reading
As you know, Ryan and I did a lot of traveling this winter and every trip has a special place in our hearts. Grand Junction, however, has a special place in our stomachs. If you are a fan of eating and drinking, you’ll want to get out a pen and paper and take notes on this post.
We’d driven by Grand Junction and Palisade a number of times over the years, but had never stopped, so we had no idea what we’d been missing.
So without further ado, here’s a two-day Grand Junction/Palisade itinerary, influenced greatly by our March trip.
Before heading out to Grand Junction, call and make dinner reservations at Bin 707 Foodbar. Arrive Grand Junction and check into your hotel. We stayed at The Clarion. It’s a simple, freeway hotel, but they provide a free shuttle to downtown and there’s a nice little bar at the attached restaurant, Pantuso’s Ristorante.
Utilize free shuttle ride to downtown. If you are a little early, browse Art on the Corner and do a little shopping. We were impressed without how busy downtown Grand Junction gets on a Friday night – every restaurant was packed and the sidewalks were bustling with people.
Bin 707 Foodbar is a little slice of culinary heaven in the heart of Grand Junction. They serve up locally sourced food in a contemporary, yet comfortable environment. Engage your knowledgeable server to learn about the menu.
We started with an assembly of charcuterie and artisan cheese. Charcuterie is the craft of salting, curing and smoking meat. There was a rich pate made in-house with fresh herbs, prosciutto cut so thin you could see through it and headcheese made by the Chef of Bin 707. All the cheeses were from Colorado including the Ashley from MouCo Cheese Company in Fort Collins, a personal favorite.
We didn’t stop with the cheese and meat plate. We ordered up fried oysters served with aioli sauce, roasted beet salad (a customer favorite) and grilled cheese flatbread with arugula salad. I felt like I was on an episode of Top Chef and I gave everything top scores.
We paired our food with local wine and ended our meal with two unique deserts. I’m not a big desert person, but my beet ice cream was sweet and earthy at the same time, an amazing combination. Ryan ordered the Momofuku Crack pie, and they might actually spike it with an illegal substance because it’s that freakin’ good.
We got up early, had the free breakfast buffet at The Clarion and then headed to Powderhorn Resort for a morning of skiing. The resort is about 45 minutes from Grand Junction. However, if you’re making this trip during the spring or summer, head to the Colorado National Monument to some morning hiking and bighorn sheep hunting. Hunt with your camera, of course. I wrote about our experience at the Colorado National Monument in a previous post here.
After burning some calories, it’s time to start eating and drinking again. Grab a quick lunch at Pablo’s Pizza in downtown Grand Junction and now it’s time for wine.
Start with Two Rivers Winery & Chateau in Grand Junction; the Syrah and Cab were my favorite here. Afterwards, make the 20 minute drive to Palisade where you can hit multiple wineries within walking or biking distance of one another. We started at Grande River Winery, one of the original wineries on the Western Slope. Just next door is Talon Winery and St. Kathryn Cellars. Talon has traditional wines while St. Kathryn’s stirs things up a bit by offering fruity wines. They even have a lavender wine. Just down the road, we visited Plum Creek Winery where I enjoyed nearly every taster on their list.
We heard wonderful things about Colterris, but were unable to visit them on this trip. I did have one of their reds at Bin 707, and it was a well-rounded, memorable wine.
Before leaving Palisade, be sure to visit Peach Street Distillery. The cliffs of the mesa glowed pink as we pulled into the parking lot just before sunset. It was warm enough to sit on the patio, but every seat was taken, so we sat inside, sipping on sweet, fresh drinks and listening to classical guitar. It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful afternoon.
Note: If you plan to spend the afternoon drinking in Palisade on Day Two, please make someone in your group the designated driver!
For dinner we ate Irish fare at Naggy McGee’s Irish Pub in downtown Grand Junction. This is a popular place, so be prepared for a wait. On a two-day itinerary, beer drinkers may prefer dinner at Kannah Creek Brewing Company. I had a yummy sandwich there on our visit to Grand Junction. Popular with college students, the patio fills up quickly on a nice day.
So there you have it. A two-day itinerary to Grand Junction, and I promise it will not disappoint. Book you trip around one of the Western Slope’s many spring and summer festivals, like the Palisade International Honeybee Festival on April 12-13, or the Art & Jazz Fest in downtown Grand Junction on May 10-12, 2013. For the scoop on other festivals, go to VisitGrandJunction.com.
We genuinely fell in love with the Western Slope during this trip. The landscape + people + food + wine is a winning combination and we can’t wait to visit again.
This trip sponsored by Visit Grand Junction.
I’ve been writing for the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor for 7 years, so I’ve had a long relationship with the town of Berthoud, Colorado. I’ve known about the Berthoud Inn, the only local bed and breakfast, but had never had the opportunity to stay there until I started helping out the owner, Mark Chaffee, with the Inn’s Facebook page.
Berthoud is a charming town, and a visit there is a bit like going back in time. It’s a town where everyone still comes out to high school football games and the Homecoming Parade is one of the biggest events of the year.
The Berthoud Inn & Events is located on a huge lot of land, just east of downtown. Built in 1888, the house is magnificent. In 1904, a local newspaper said of the home, “It has always been considered one of the most beautiful in the vicinity.” And more than 100 years later, it still is.
Berthoud is situated between Longmont and Loveland, about 45 minutes north of Denver and just 35 miles from Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. The Inn is within walking distance of everything the small town has to offer including restaurants, several day spas and a bit of shopping.
There’s also a brewery and that’s why we were there on a Wednesday. We were planning to defend our title as champions at Trivia Night at City Star Brewing.
We arrived at the Inn around 5:30 p.m. and a tour reveals seven themed rooms suited for a variety of guests. The Egyptian Room, in the basement, is probably the most interesting. It includes a tub the size of a small swimming pool, and some Egyptian costumes for those who may want to play a dress up.
The Inn also has a gigantic backyard that includes two stages and is home to the two tallest trees in Berthoud. Appropriate since the town’s nickname is “The Garden Spot.” Small weddings are welcome here, and the space is pretty, even in the winter. I can easily visualize sitting on the wrap around patio during the summer with a glass of wine at my elbow and a book in my hands.
After the tour we set out for City Star on foot, with a brief stop at the Brick Oven to order pizza. City Star lets visitors bring in food, and some places in downtown Berthoud will deliver your food directly to the brewery.
Trivia night has become popular and the brewery was packed. No problem for our team; we soundly beat everyone anyway. It probably helped that we had a team of nine very smart, very good looking people.
Breakfast at the Inn was a smorgasbord of culinary delights. Chaffee has owned the Berthoud Inn for 12 years, but before that he was the owner of multiple restaurants in Denver. There’s little doubt in my mind that his abilities as a chef is what truly sets the Berthoud Inn apart.
Our breakfast started with coffee and fruit in cream, and from there it just got better and better. Chaffee says he takes breakfast and “elevates it.” You may dine on strata with shrimp or poached salmon with a tropical fruit medley. He always serves eggs alongside, but your main dish may be more gourmet than you were expecting. It’s not unusual to have pork medallions with a savory sauce as your breakfast entrÃ©e – and be warned that portion sizes may have you skipping lunch.
Our breakfast concluded with cinnamon rolls served with a side of ice cream, so perhaps not surprisingly the dining experiences at the Berthoud Inn is what is most often referenced in their reviews on Trip Advisor.
The Berthoud Inn offers seven rooms in the main house, but also has a fully equipped, two bedroom apartment available for families, extended stay guests, business travelers, or those traveling with their canine companion. Since we were staying in the main house, we left our dog at Happy Tails Dog Ranch. Just five minutes from the Inn, I highly recommend Happy Tails. We’ve been utilizing their dog boarding services for a number of years. Learn more here.
To those of you who may have hesitations about staying at a bed and breakfast, please read my post, Dispelling Myths about Staying at a Bed & Breakfast. Bed and breakfasts are one of my favorite lodging options when I travel, and I think you’ll love it too if you give it a try.
Please note: I am assisting the Berthoud Inn with their new Facebook page. Therefore, I received a free stay to experience firsthand everything the Inn has to offer.
We arrived in Grand Lake on a snowy Friday. The area had received three straight days of heavy snow, which made our first stop at On the Trail Rentals, even more fantastic. I previously wrote about this experience.
We were booked at the Western Riviera Lakeside Lodging & Events, soon to be world famous because on March 25, they will be featured on the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible. Much to my delight, because I’m a fan, the crew of Hotel Impossible was filming on the weekend we were in town.
We were staying in The Tree House, a huge two bedroom apartment overlooking the lake and just a short distance from the Western Riveria’s lake front property. It has a full kitchen, a living room and dining area with a fireplace. The master suite features a walk in closet the size of my first apartment, and the bathroom has Jack & Jill sinks.
We thoroughly enjoy the purple and pink sunrises from our big front window each morning, and we had a front row seat to the fireworks show on Saturday night. I was in town covering Grand Lake Winter Carnival, one of the best little winter festivals I’ve attended in Colorado.
Scheduled for a guided snowshoe trek in Rocky Mountain National Park, we got up early on Saturday. The Fat Cat had been recommended to us by the bartender at The Lariat. They serve a $12 breakfast buffet on the weekend and the selection included Scotch eggs, a personal favorite. A table heavy laden with desserts caught our eye. It looked like something right off the pages of Bon Appetit Magazine.
My husband, Ryan, is a big fan of desserts. Big. He looked at me, eyes full of excitement and asked, “Do you think that’s part of the buffet?”
It was. The Fat Cat will now always hold a special place in my Ryan’s heart, and mine too. We ended up there twice during our stay. We met and chatted with Sally, the owner, and felt like we’d discovered a home away from home. That’s how I feel about Grand Lake in general – it is genuinely comfortable.
At 9 a.m. we arrived at the Kawuneeche Visitors Center for our ranger led snow shoe outing with Ranger Barb. This was one of the best mornings ever, in part because Barb’s husband cut the trail for us. The scenery was breathtaking and it felt like we were snowshoers in a postcard. Barb is a gifted guide and amusing storyteller. Ranger led hikes at RMNP are free, but you must make reservations by calling 970-586-1223.
After our hike we sped back to Grand Lake to enjoy Winter Carnival activities. During winter carnival the businesses along Grand Avenue sponsor snow sculptures and this year’s theme was Alice in Winterland, resulting in especially whimsical creations.
The bed races are the Carnival’s most famous event. Eager festival goers were already lining the streets when we arrived and I noticed right way that Grand Lake is probably one of the most dog friendly towns in a state full of dog friendly towns.
The bed races lived up to the hype. It was a seriously entertaining event and since Hotel Impossible was in town they entered a team complete with their own camera crew caught here in our video of the races.
After the events were complete we made a quick trip out to Grand Lake Brewing which had moved out of town since our first visit. Their taster trays are huge and the staff is really nice. Back in town, we walked from The Tree House to Pancho & Lefty’s, another one of our favorite places in Grand Lake. It’s a super fun place that I mentioned in previous posts here on HeidiTown.
After a rather impressive fireworks show that we watched from our porch, we dined on delicious handmade pizza at the Grand Lake Bowling Alley.
The next morning, after filling up at The Fat Cat once more, we headed out to the picturesque Grand Lake Nordic Center for a morning of cross country skiing. The club house is beautiful and with 35 kilometers of groomed trails, you could easily spend a day here.
Sadly, we couldn’t. We had to head back home, but we’ll miss Grand Lake, and can’t wait to go back.
Author’s Note: Don’t miss the historic Daven Haven Lodge while you’re in town. It’s been open since the 1930s, and has had just three owners over the years. For a delicious steak, or all you can eat shrimp on Friday nights, make a reservation at the Daven Haven.
See more photos from this trip on Instagram at @TheMayorofHeidiTown.
HOTEL IMPOSSIBLE featuring the Western Riviera airs Monday, March 25 on the Travel Channel.