Check out the fall colors—and remain fueled in the process.
The drive from Denver into the mountains on a sunny fall day is, in itself, spectacular. But leaving the city isn’t just a chance to escape into the gold and green wilderness, it’s an opportunity to discover dining locales that have yet to make it onto your GPS.
Smokin’ Yards is an unexpected find in Idaho Springs. Using oak to flavor its meat, the Yards’ pulled pork and brisket have cultlike followings. Call ahead and find out the day’s offerings.
Order this: Brisket sandwich served with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, spicy coleslaw, and fried dill pickles.
Exit 241, Smokin’ Yards BBQ
2736 Colorado Blvd., Idaho Springs, 303-567-9273
For those dedicated to sourcing local and organic products (or for those with specific dietary needs such as vegan or gluten-free), there’s Alpine Market & Deli. The organic food store doubles as a raw juice bar and deli that serves all-natural meats. Leaf peepers can dine on sandwiches and soups outside where the fall sun warms the patio throughout the day.
Order this: Brant’s super protein bar made with chocolate, peanut butter, sesame and sunflower seeds, and coconut. Add a Harvest Spice juice of apples, carrots, ginger, and a hint of lemon.
Exit 201, Alpine Market & Deli
301 W. Main St. Frisco, 970-668-5535, alpinemarketfrisco.com 
Featuring gourmet panini and small plates to share, Eat! Drink! also serves 30 wines by the glass (all of which are under $10). For a portable midday treat, assemble a cheese basket from more than 200 artisanal selections.
Order This: Peppadew peppers stuffed with Valdeón blue cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, then warmed
in a panini press and finished with honey and Marcona almonds.
Exit 163, Eat! Drink!
56 Edwards Village Blvd., #104, Edwards, 970-926-1393, eatdrinkinc.com 
The secret to Grind’s signature burger? The custom blend of locally raised, grass-fed beef that comes from Crystal River Meats, located just up-valley from the restaurant. Cuts of brisket, short rib, and chuck are ground into patties on the premises. This is a burger joint for the food obsessed, and it’s worth a trip in any season.
Order This: The Daily Grind, a changing chef-inspired creation, ground from beef, chicken, lamb, fish, pork, buffalo, or veggies.
Exit 116, Grind
208 Seventh St., Glenwood Springs, 970-230-9258, grindglenwood.com