Colorado makes no pretension about its cuisine. This is ranch and mountain country, and the food is game meats and potato fare. But they do it well, and any town worth its salt also provides a solid range of affordable international restaurants to work with. Colorado is also the craft brewing capital of America, so expect a sweet little microbrewery in nearly every town. Nightlife is all about throwing back a cold one and listening to live music, even in the capital Denver. Coloradans like to keep the scene cool and mellow, just like their mighty Rocky Mountains.
Bars and Pubbing in Colorado
Denver is certainly the entertainment capital of Colorado, especially in its nicely restored historic LoDo district. This lively compact area of downtown has sports bars, famous microbreweries like Wynkoop (1634 18th Street, Denver) and even some old-style western saloons for your square dancing fix. But don’t discredit the mountaineers, LoDo is trendy and dress to impress. The working class hangs out along Broadway and East Colfax, where age-old establishments like My Brother’s Bar (2376 15th Street, Denver) are just steps from hot music venues like the Paramount Theater (1621 Glenarm Place, Denver). One of the most iconic (albeit not for the food) restaurants in Colorado is the bubblegum pink building of Casa Bonita (6715 W. Colfax Avenue, Lakewood), memorialized on an episode of South Park for their quirky cliff divers and other attractions
Boulder is another buzzing town thanks to its huge university scene. Pedestrianized Pearl Street has great spots like Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery (1535 Pearl Street, Boulder) or the Walrus (1911 11th Street, Boulder), where the beloved free peanuts can be thrown right on the floor. Or venture up to The Hill where students swill beer and eat pizza at The Sink (1165 13th Street, Boulder) which has even been frequented by President Obama. In summer try and catch an outdoor concert at the sublimely scenic Chautauqua Auditorium or famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Colorado’s ski towns are also famous for their hard partying and funky bars. In Aspen you can rub elbows with celebrities at the historic J Bar (330 E Main Street, Aspen) or party hard at Syzygy (520 E Hyman Ave, Aspen) until around 2:00 a.m. when most Colorado bars shut down. Telluride, Crested Butte, Steamboat Springs and Durango all have great casual mountain town bar scenes where a brew can be picked up at nearly any establishment.
Dining and Cuisine in Colorado
When you are in Denver, Boulder, Aspen, Telluride or Durango there are plenty of options when it comes time to dine. Aspen is one of the state’s most expensive places for everything, but you can get reasonably priced meals at Main Street Bakery (201 E Main Street, Aspen) or go all out for some five-star cuisine at Piñons (105 S Mill Street, Aspen). Aspen definitely has the top tier category well covered.
Denver naturally has the best range of restaurants in Colorado, from cheap tasty Mexican joints to famous (and pricey) steak houses like the Buckhorn Exchange (1000 Osage Street, Denver). The trendiest neighborhoods for eating out are in Cherry Creek and downtown’s LoDo district. American Contemporary dominates the style of cuisine and a number of up and coming chefs have won accolades for their fusion dishes. The wait for a table at Fruition (1313 E 6th Ave, Denver) or the Larimer Square institution Rioja (1431 Larimer Square, Denver) can be weeks.
Another style of cuisine that hits the mark in Colorado is Mexican. There’s a sizable Latino population in the state and most locals love a good plate of green chile. Every town has at least one or two cheap and authentic Mexican restaurants, especially Denver. Make the effort to seek out El Tejado (2651 S Broadway, Denver) or Las Delicias (439 E 19th Street, Denver).