Downtown Durango, Colorado: The New, The Old, The Historic

I’ve always had a soft spot for Durango. As I wrote in my recent post about our April visit, this was a return to the town after five years. It was good to be back.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (18)

Since I was there for HeidiTown Consulting at IN THE GAME, a conference by Downtown Colorado, Inc., I was busy hosting luncheons and presenting, but I still wanted to touch on some highlights downtown.

We stayed at the dog-friendly Strater Hotel. We’d stayed here before, and even if you’re a tiny-weeny bit of a history buff, it’s a must. Opened in 1887, it has offered opera, fine dining, and a home away from home for celebrities like Louis L’Amour, who is said to have always asked for Room 222, above the Diamond Belle Saloon. He enjoyed the noisy hustle and bustle below him as he wrote. Both the saloon and room are still there. Today, the hotel often hosts conferences, like the one I was speaking at on this trip.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (20)

To read the entire history of Strater Hotel, visit here. We’ve always enjoyed this grand hotel of the Colorado Southwest. There is shockingly good coffee in the small hotel parlor. We’d stop here on the way back to our room each morning after our early walk around downtown Durango with our dog, Fritzi.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (3)
They provide a dog blanket for the bed, but I always bring one. Be a good dog owner and bring your own dog blanket (and a lint roller) when you travel!

Passing through the luxurious lobby, and the double doors, we’d enter a quiet, chilly world.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (14)

Walking the sidewalks of Durango, before the world woke up, around Victorian neighborhoods, one could almost hear the clop, clop, clop of bygone days. History seems very, very close in Durango.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (13)

While we had previously stayed at Stater Hotel, this trip had new-to-us experiences. For one thing, this was the first Durango visit for Fritzi! Every day, while I was at my conference, Ryan did a little work and explored. One place he visited daily is a unique record store a few doors down from Strater Hotel. Toast Records & Bakes sells new and used vinyl alongside tasty baked goods. On each visit, Ryan happily treated himself to a homemade pop tart. Of course, he bought a “Talking Heads” record too.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (9)

He always manages to find a record store when we travel, but with the addition of goods baked fresh daily, this might be his favorite. My favorite record store is in Pueblo because there’s a bar attached.

As darkness began to fall on our last night in town, we walked a few blocks downhill from the hotel to Akami Poke & Ramen. The restaurant is small and cozy with some outside seating. Oddly, I remember going here in 2013, when it was a different restaurant.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (11)

I had spicy kimchi ramen ($18) and Ryan ordered miso ramen ($18). We slurped our way through steaming bowls of noodles and meat. Portions were big and they didn’t skimp on the meat. I’d return in a heartbeat.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (12)

The next morning we stopped at Hermosa Cafe, just catty corner from the hotel. I ordered a green chile bacon cheddar quiche with hash browns serving as the crust. It was a meal I could eat every day and be perfectly happy (and 600 pounds).

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (21)

At the conference, I participated in a Dine Around Session at Lola’s Place. I had the torte, a Mexican sandwich that was outrageously delicious. Everything that came out of that little kitchen looked terrific.

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (4)
Lola’s Place
Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (5)
Lola’s Place

The next day, I hosted a Dine Around Session at Gazpacho Restaurant, a Mexican eatery in Durango since 1991, and there’s good reason for its longevity. As most people know, I am a green chile fiend, and the pork green chile here is probably the best I’ve had in recent memory. Sadly, because I was hosting this event, I took zero photographs.

We have such lovely memories of this Durango trip and many others. Most involve beer and food. For example, the bleu cheese burger paired with their Prescribed Burn at Steamworks Brewing is a must-try. We learned this years ago on a trip to the brewery, so this time, we bought a six-pack of Prescribed Burn at Steamworks, and have already barbecued bleu cheese burgers at home!

Downtown Durango, Colorado The New, The Old, The Historic. HeidiTown (7)
Animas Brewing Company

El Moro Tavern & Spirits, Durango Diner, Oscars Cafe, Phillippe French Bistro & Bakery, and Animas Brewing are more downtown spots with good memories. Not downtown, but always a must-visit for us, is Ska Brewing, which I wrote about here.

I realize Durango is often referred to as an outdoor Mecca. And it is that, but when it comes to food and beer, that’s what gets us to town, and it should motivate you too. Downtown Durango is yummy!

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