203 W. First St., Salida, cafe-dawn.com
If ever in doubt that Salida is a mountain biker mecca, visit the long bike rack in front of Cafe Dawn, which is jammed like a Walmart parking lot — I love it. I almost feel out of place not in my clip-ins and toting a helmet. But A for atmosphere, no doubt, with warm woods inside, bright natural light and friendly people.
I order strawberry-raspberry oatmeal from a blackboard, thinking it would be house-made, but an instant cup from Denver's Love Grown Foods shows up instead. Sad face, as I'm not out backpacking, but at least it's made with quality ingredients. A ginger-green tea muffin that we're told is made nearby hits nicely on the tannic tea side but lacks the root bite, and is dry. Best for flavor is an iced Bhakti Chai with coconut milk, thanks to that Boulder/Longmont-based company's excellence (ah, there's the ginger). Only grievance is a bounty of big ice squares that makes the 16-ounce size seem more like half that. More chai please. — Matthew Schniper
Brown Dog Coffee Company
713 S. Hwy. 24, Buena Vista; 105 F St., Salida, browndogcoffee.com
I'm reading the "about" page on Brown Dog's website, and it all sounds great, though it's nothing at all like my breakfast visit in Salida. If "absolute best customer service" is nearly closing out the order, smile-less and oblivious that one of the two customers in front of you hasn't picked a drink, and then failing to guide us to a condiment area where we could have grabbed salsa packets to enliven our largely lackluster chorizo and veggie breakfast burritos, then alright. (I later spotted it on the way out.)
And if the "BEST product" is a cappuccino minus a velvety texture, with no nuance, just burnt flavors as deep as the town's river is raging, then OK. There appears to be more focus on cutesy merch with the Brown Dog logo than the food and drink. Seventeen years in the business should mean experience, excellence and expertise, not resting on a bland brand. But hey, dig the decor and thanks for the WiFi. — Matthew Schniper
Eddyline Brewing Company
102 Linderman Ave.; 926 S. Main St., Buena Vista; eddylinebrewing.com
You're likely familiar with Eddyline from its 16-ounce cans in liquor stores. But if hitting BV (see our cover package here), venture past the brewery site (just off Highway 24 as you enter town) and visit Eddyline Restaurant on South Main. It's a scenic spot by the river in a swanky development dotted with vacation rentals — something I call treacle architecture for its cute but faux-feeling vibe.
We stop for a beer sampler paddle, receiving the house pilsner, pale ale, IPA, amber, black lager, Irish and red styles. On the whole, they're approachable and easy drinking, perfectly pizza-friendly (you don't have to eat it to get that), and mostly on-point for their respective styles. But only the pale ale and IPA would lure me back. There's a monotone through-line in the flavors — perhaps a too-similar grain bill or yeast — outside the big differences, such as the overt roastiness of the black lager and light crispness of the pilsner. — Matthew Schniper
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