One of the best things about trips into the mountains is the culinary adventure inherent in making pit stops. Whether it's a kick-ass donut, strong coffee or a hoity-toity delicacy, often it sticks in your memory longer than the runs down the mountain, or whatever your activity.
Below, we present five places we've found (or friends have directed us to) in our travels near and a little farther. Check 'em out if you're able, and feel free to write firstname.lastname@example.org with any of your favorite places.
The Raven Hill Mining Company
612A Sixth St., Georgetown
I spent my second night in Colorado at the Alpine Hideaway, a suffocatingly quaint bed and breakfast in the mountain hamlet of Georgetown. I remember having breakfast there because everything was heart-shaped: the waffles, the orange slices, the butter pads. (Shudder.)
Dinner the evening prior, however, I remember simply because it was awesome. Now, The Raven Hill Mining Company does bill itself as Georgetown's most romantic restaurant, but fear not; behind the huge windows that overlook Sixth Street, plenty of animal heads look out from the walls, and the wait staff gives off a super-friendly vibe. It's Georgetown, after all; the down-to-earth locals aren't going to look askance at a foursome with hat heads or sunburned noses.
If you're feeling like blowing it out, you can order the buffalo prime rib, but you'll do just as well with the buffalo burrito, or pasta special. You can enjoy the full bar, too and you probably won't even care that the cherry in your drink is shaped, well, like a cherry. KW
Beau Jo's Colorado Style Pizza
1517 Miner St., Idaho Springs
So, despite all wisdom to the contrary, you find yourself parked on Interstate 70 on a Sunday evening. Maybe you had a fine day riding at Loveland or Winter Park, but now your legs are aching, your eyelids are heavy and the unending line of brake lights stretching into the darkness has you thinking warmly about the joys of your living-room sofa, now guarded by miles of Denver residents scrunched up in their cars.
Then you reach Idaho Springs, home of the original Beau Jo's Colorado Style Pizza, and your worries start to fall away.
The restaurant radiates warmth and comfort mixed with a certain mountain-town charm. If you haven't eaten for a week, consider trying the "challenge," a 12- to 14-pound pizza that will come with prize money if you and your dining companion can polish it off in a one-hour sitting.
If you're looking for a more relaxing experience, order any of the restaurant's mountain pies, then sit back and savor the thick-crusted goodness while the poor drivers outside trickle back home. AL
The Hungry Bear
111 E. Midland Ave., Woodland Park
Don't be put off by the waiting list, or crowd outside the door at The Hungry Bear. This local's favorite weekend breakfast spot turns tables fast.
You'll see hunters, hikers, bikers, hippies, skiers and riders, old-timers and tourists. What you won't see, once seated, is the bottom of your coffee cup. The kitchen staff is short-order extraordinaire. Like your eggs over-easy? The yolks will be runny enough for dunking your toast. The breakfast burrito is the size of your head, but you'll do fine with crepes, pancakes or oatmeal.
Carnivores note: the Bear has the best bacon in the world, and you get four strips with your eggs. Spend $20 and you get to spin the wheel of fortune on your way out. You'll be rewarded with a coupon for your next visit or a candy bar for the road. KC
Costello Street Coffee House
2679 W. Hwy. 24, Florissant
Here's the deal about the Costello Street Coffee House: You plan on using it as a pit stop on the way to the mountains; a quick stop for a bagel and a macchiato. It's right on Highway 24, and if you're lucky, you can be in and out in a matter of minutes.
But then you walk into the place, a lovingly restored home built in the 1880s. You sit for just a moment in one of the overstuffed wing chairs while you wait for your coffee order, and before you know it, you've kind of lost your urgency. First tracks at Breckenridge? Who really cares? Did you see that coconut layer cake in the glass case?
If you can tear yourself away after a visit here, this is the perfect spot to stop on the way to the slopes. It opens at 6 a.m. daily, and features a full coffee menu and classic breakfast fare (plus a lunch menu with hot and cold sandwiches). DA
320 Main St., Frisco
OK, so I haven't actually been to this place yet, but I really want to go soon. My friends Wes and Eileen, a charming local foodie couple on whom I used to wait back in my server days, say the food is "terrific and quite creative," adding that "the small plates, intended to be shared, make for lively conversation."
Samplings' Web site reveals a gorgeous, recycled wood and metal interior; a magazine, newspaper and Wi-Fi library next to a huge copper fireplace and leather seats; chef's tables ($65 with wine/$55 without); wine flights (and an extensive list) to be paired with the aforementioned small, seasonal appetizer plates ($8-$15) and absurdly rich-sounding desserts ($7-$10).
If you make it to Samplings before I do, you suck wait, I'm sorry. I meant to say, "Drop me a line to confirm Wes and Eileen's review." MS
Compiled by Deb Acord, Kathy Conarro, Anthony Lane, Matthew Schniper and Kirk Woundy.