One empty stomach. One full tank of gas. Eight restaurants worth the drive. plus: 24 other reasons to take your appetite on the road.
ROUND-TRIP FROM DENVER: 314 MILES
330 Seventh St., Glenwood Springs; 970-230-9234, thepullmangws.com
The Pullman chef-owner Mark Fischer hasn’t let being named one of Esquire’s 2011 Best New Restaurants affect his vision: “We want to keep this restaurant approachable,” says the mastermind behind Glenwood Springs’ most popular eatery. “But we don’t want to compromise our approach to cooking.” Mission accomplished. The burnished, dressed-down spot might look like a tavern, but what comes out of the kitchen is white-tablecloth worthy: roasted bone marrow with red onion jam, slow-roasted curried lamb shoulder, vegetable cianfotta (an elegant Southern Italian stew), and crispy, truffled pork rinds. If the Pullman’s waitlist is too long, head 13 miles down the road to Town, the farmers’ market–inspired restaurant Fischer just opened in Carbondale. —Lindsey R. McKissick
Sit: The front window puts you in prime position to ogle the small-town goings-on.
Eat: The pierogi with truffle potatoes, caramelized onions, and scallion crème fraîche (a menu staple since the restaurant opened in 2011)
Know: Perched across the street from the Glenwood Springs train station, the Pullman derives its name from the railroad and the Pullman Lunchroom, which occupied the building in the 1920s.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Stay We love Hotel Colorado for its outside-the-room amenities: an evening cocktail in the flower-filled courtyard, the old-school lobby (complete with a grand piano), and the breakfast sandwiches to-go. The rooms? Just keep in mind the hotel was built in 1893. Hotel Colorado, 526 Pine St., Glenwood Springs; 970-945-6511, hotelcolorado.com
Hike Peak baggers get a twofer on the 12,953-foot Mt. Sopris’ twin summits. Drive south on Highway 82 toward Carbondale. Take CO 133 to Prince Creek Road. Follow Prince Creek Road for eight miles to Dinkle Lake. This roughly 12-mile trek is an all-day outing. Mt. Sopris, White River National Forest
Refuel Pork, bison, chicken, lamb, and veggie burgers share equal billing on the menu at Grind.Extra: Look for the joint at the annual Denver Burger Battle on August 8. Grind, 720 Grand Ave., Glenwood Springs; 970-230-9258, grindglenwood.com
ROUND-TRIP FROM DENVER: 284 MILES
311 H St., Salida; 719-539-5292, ploughboyinc.com
A visit to the three-year-old Ploughboy market and deli will expand your definition of eating locally. The Salida-based smorgasbord features Colorado products such as ground yak (yes, really), jalapeño pasta, and seasonal veggies, like Purple Mountain organic garlic, and works to keep tourists’ dollars in the region to feed their nearby (and often struggling) producers. Sample freshly baked almond-cranberry bread or Colorado-bean hummus while you deliberate over the deli’s selection of fresh sandwiches and daily soups. A tomato and asparagus frittata or the egg salad and rosemary sandwich? Answer: Both. You’re bound to get peckish on the drive home. —NG
Sit: Skip the tables and get your order to go; the raging Arkansas River is just three blocks away.
Eat: The High Rockies Cubano panino with locally sourced summer sausage, Swiss cheese, butter pickles, and Molicious Mustard
Know: Ploughboy operates on a delightfully old-fashioned billing system: cash or check only. If you forget (or only carry credit cards) the store will email you an IOU.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
Stay Situated just eight miles from town, the Mountain Goat Lodge bed-and-breakfast boasts 19 bucolic acres for strolling, a hot tub for soaking, and sumptuous blueberry-stuffed French toast for fueling up. (The lodge’s name comes from the 21 resident goats.) Mountain Goat Lodge, 9582 U.S. Highway 285 N., Salida; 719-539-7173, mountaingoatlodge.com
Sip With a massive patio overlooking a kayak playground on the Arkansas, River’s Edge coffeeshop and bar is worth hitting up. Twice. Go early for a traditional egg breakfast (we’re big fans of the potato hash), and stop by later in the afternoon for a happy-hour pint of Elevation Beer Co.’s 8 Second Kölsch, brewed in nearby Poncha Springs. Rivers Edge, 300 W. Sackett Ave., Salida; 719-207-4267, facebook.com/salidariversedge
Explore Our favorite spot to pick up the Rainbow Trail (there are several trailheads near Salida) lies just off U.S. Highway 285, about five miles south of Poncha Springs. Head east on the trail for a switchbacking jaunt through shady pines. The payoff: breathtaking views of the Collegiates.
Rainbow Trail, San Isabel National Forest