Food plays such a big role in our lives. Not only does it keep us alive, but it also plays a huge part when it comes to making memories. For instance, many of my travel memories are food-related.
Ryan and I reminisce about food experiences all the time. For me, it’s the main thing I remember from a trip, and I think that’s true of many of you too.
I’m going to share some of those memories here starting with Luigi’s in Colorado Springs. A couple of these memories involve Italian food for several reasons. We love historical places, and there are several, like Luigi’s, with deep roots in an area. Ryan’s dad, who attended the Air Force Academy, used to go to Luigi’s in the sixties (it opened in 1958).
We’ve eaten at Luigi’s twice, once in the tiny football paraphrenia-covered bar, and once in the dining room at a red and white checker-covered table. The ceiling and walls are thick with more than 1200 Chianti bottles, and the place has a warm and comfy feeling. If you’d like to experience a little piece of Colorado history, this is the place to go.
Another meal that stands out for quality and quantity was our experience at Meat & Cheese in Aspen, Colorado. We dined here a number of years ago, but it’s still a highlight of my travels.
They serve a lot of Colorado-grown foods including a cheese spread that is truly fantastic. They also have creative cocktails. We were also impressed, at the time with our server’s vast knowledge of the menu. Know that this restaurant will set you back a few pennies, but it will be worth the Aspen-size splurge.
Back to Italian restaurants, we go to Pueblo for food period. A mixture of ethnicities has made for a winning food scene. In addition to an incredible farmers market scene, everywhere, including Italian restaurants, have green chile on the menu, and that’s my kind of town.
We’ve been to La Tronica’s several times. The first time, we went with our friends, Mechelle and Caleb. We had rented an Airbnb and were doing the trek for farmers’ markets and roasted green chiles.
The meal of spaghetti, bread, lasagne, and loads of red wine, was eaten with a side of rousing discussion about mob movies. Several years later, we took Ryan’s parents, who were also in Pueblo with us on a farmers market adventure to procure roasted green chiles and other foodstuff.
A distant memory that will stick with me are the fish tacos at Kip’s Cantina in Pagosa Springs. For years, I wasn’t a fan of fish tacos, but these changed my mind. Plus, Kip’s Cantina, serving up fresh homemade food since 1996, is just plain Colorado-cool. We’ve been there many times, and along with Riff Raff Brewing, are musts when in Pagosa Springs.
Another faraway memory is visiting Bin 707 Foodbar in 2013, in Grand Junction. It had recently opened and was serving farm-to-table (something that was, at the time, relatively new to the Colorado food scene). This is probably the place that put farm-to-table food on the map in Colorado.
This is the first, and maybe the only time I had headcheese and readers, I like it. We also had a beet salad. Can you believe I can remember my meal from 2013? I can. Beets were not a thing back then but that dish prompted me to seek out beet salads. Prepared properly, they can be delicious.
We’ve had several memorable meals in Grand Junction. One that always comes to the top of my mind was at The Winery Restaurant. The venue is a little old school, and the waiter was terrific making the entire experience that much better. This demonstrates how much power restaurant staff has over one’s opinion of a place. Also, the mushrooms in butter sauce is an appetizer we will remember forever. Another appetizer that is seared in our memory was the escargot at La Tour Restaurant in Vail.
I have a few memories from restaurants in Denver that no longer exist, which is a shame, but it happens. The pandemic played a big role in the demise of many, however, there is one that has been on the corner of Tejon St. and W. 38th Avenue in Denver for generations: Gaetano’s Italian Restaurant.
We did not discover this on a HeidiTown trip. Ryan went through a period of interest in the mafia and discovered that Denver was home to the Smaldone crime family. They once owned this restaurant and the restaurant’s Facebook page does not play down the mob connection.
Ryan, who as you know, tends to really get into subjects, that’s how we ended up on the Dust Bowl Road Trip, had to go to Gaetono’s. We’ve been taking friends and family ever since. Not only do they have excellent Italian food and delightful servers and bartenders, but it feels like a joint where deals have been made and men have been made. It’s a place where Denver’s past is alive and well, and we are big fans.
Turns out, Ryan learned his parents used to go on dates there when he was little. They’d leave him and his sister with their grandparents and enjoy wine and a meal at Gaetano’s. Now that’s amore.
I’m sure I have many other food memories from road trips, but these came immediately to mind. Do you have a food travel memory? Share it here!