When you think of Leadville, images of snow covered peaks and spectacular Colorado nature probably come to mind, and that would be accurate. However, there are some great dining finds in this little town. From tacos to steak and even vegan, Leadville has got it.
We tend to eat and drink our way through HeidiTown trips, and this was no exception. We’d come to Leadville to celebrate my favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know that this was once the most Irish town west of St. Louis and east of San Francisco? It’s true.
So, it’s only right that on this dog-friendly trip our first stop was at Leadville’s only Irish pub, Katie O’Rourke’s Irish Pub at Ski Cooper. It’s the most elevated Irish pub in North America at 10,500 feet above sea level.
We enjoy bellying up to the little bar. This is one of the friendliest ski areas in Colorado and you’re sure to make a friend or two. We always do! With live music on St. Patrick’s Day and corned beef & cabbage, it was a good start to our Leadville visit.
That evening, our plan was to visit the Silver Dollar Saloon for another American-Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage but the Lion’s Club fundraiser was packed so we moved on.
We found ourselves at Quincy’s Tavern, a Colorado tradition that for us goes back twenty years. We’ve been to their locations around the state but their flagship store in Leadville was our first experience. Open since 1997, they have had a lot of practice cooking amazing steak. There are two kinds, filet mignon on Sunday through Thursday and prime rib on Friday and Saturday. There is one vegetarian option of lasagna.
The price has gone up since the beginning (I think it was $6) but if you are coming from Colorado’s Front Range, it’s a screaming deal. Get a six ounce filet mignon meal, including salad, baked potato and yummy bread for just $13.95. He’d had a few beers, but Ryan declared it to be the best meal he’d eaten in ages.
That was on March 17, a Thursday. On Friday, we breakfasted at Silver Llama Market & Eatery. Not only was Ryan’s breakfast the prettiest I’d ever seen, the food here is tasty. Order at the bar, and the food comes to your table.
It’s part coffee shop, part restaurant, part community hub. With colorful art on the walls, a sunshine filled loft, and live painting happening on some nights during dinner, Silver Llama has that homey feel that comes with good food and good friends.
It’s hard to walk past the pastry case at Silver Llama. It’s beautiful and they make all their sweet treats in house starting in the wee hours of the morning. Open at 5 a.m. it makes a good stop before doing any of those activities available in Lake County like hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, etc.
For lunch, we hit up Tacos La Mina. I wrote all about it at TacosandPho.com. These are legit tacos and in the summer there is a million view from the patio. I will be back.
Tacos at Two Miles High: La Minas Tacos in Leadville, Colorado, TacosandPho.com
For a drink we stopped in at Before & After. Across the street from Treeline Kitchen, a restaurant we know and love, it’s their second location in town. Sometimes folks have a drink there while waiting for a table at Treeline, and Before & After has gained popularity among locals for their well-priced drinks and small food menu.
We had the avocado pesto with crackers and it was lick-the-plate good. Seriously, I threatened to lick the plate clean, but I didn’t because that would have embarrassed Ryan. Paired with mezcal honeycomb drink for Ryan and a martini with blue cheese stuffed olives for me, this is our new favorite drinkery in Leadville.
We ended up at Golden Burro Cafe for dinner. It’s changed significantly since I last visited and I barely recognized the inside. For one thing, its bright and swinging doors no longer point the way to the Brass Ass. In fact, there is no door. Just a well-lit bar area where we’d snagged a table to watch some live music on St. Patrick’s Day.
The food is plant-based, and I won’t lie, Ryan was a bit concerned. However, vegan food has come a long way since my hippy mother was making cashew cheese in the 1980s. Yes, that cheese tasted as bad as it sounds.
The al pastor tacos here have a good rep, but since I’d had real meat al pastor tacos earlier in the day, I didn’t want to make a straight up comparison. So, I chickened out (hehe) and got a slopper which is a Beyond burger with fries all smothered in delicious green chile. Ryan opted for the “chicken” burger with fries.
Let’s just say that we were pleasantly surprised. First, plates come loaded up here! Believe me, arrive hungry. And, I was most surprised by the cheese. My meal had two types, and I was convinced they’d used real cheese. But no, it is made from coconut. That’s right, coconut. I sincerely thought it was actual cheese.
So, the conclusion is, don’t be scared of plant-based food. It’s not what you think! It wasn’t even what I thought, and I come from a vegetarian and sometimes vegan background. Obviously, I fell off that wagon, but there are hundreds of thousands of people who believe this way of eating makes them feel better, and I have no doubt that it does. Plus, Leadville has lots of activities for which feeling good is necessary (like long foot races and rough mountain bike races).
We also ate at Tennessee Pass Cookhouse, an experience that deserves its own post, and so that shall be posted in the near future.
In the meantime, I hope this helps you eat well on your next visit to Leadville. We were certainly content, and full. Really, really full.
Thank you to Visit Leadville for hosting us on this visit.