Crested Butte’s wildflower-doused trails steadily draw hikers and mountain bikers all summer. But it’s the groovy come-as-you-are vibe found along colorful Elk Avenue that has us staying the night. Hungry visitors will find a seven-block spread of sushi, fancy cocktails, brilliant pizza, and farm-to-fork small plates. When it’s time to replenish, here’s where to go, what to order, and the specials locals covet.
Note: All of the restaurants (or bars with food service) below are open for dine-in service at limited capacity; call or check each establishment’s website for more information. Please follow all safety guidelines.
Head upstairs at this B Corp-certified, female-owned distillery and watch as hand-built copper stills from Portugal pump molasses and pure Louisiana cane sugar into high-octane gold. Owner Karen Hoskin’s light Platino rum is aged for one year in American white oak barrels and has been known to covert anti-rummers with its hint of Colorado honey and notes of cream soda and cardamom. The majority of Hoskin’s staff are women, including Philippines-born executive chef Rose Reyes, whose seasonal menus lean heavily on veganized street food and playful bowls. Try the spicy jackfruit tacos ($14) wrapped in thin jicama shells for a satisfying I-can’t-believe-it’s-vegan treat. Distillery tours are limited to six people and available on a first-come, first-serve basis; learn more here. 212 Elk Ave., 970-799-3206
Lil’s popular happy hour menu is on hold right now, but their revamped dinner menu still features the freshest sashimi and sushi rolls in the valley. Long sake and wine lists and cocktail options including punchy prickly pear margaritas pair wonderfully with mouth-melting fish that’s flown in six days a week. House specials include ponzu-laced yellowtail and jalapeño poke ($22) and dynamo shrimp ($12) with smartly balanced spicy mayo and sweet soy. 321 Elk Ave., 970-349-5457
Duck into this old miner’s cabin for a dimly lit 21-and-up scene. Insanely creative house-infused liquid reveries await among dusky wood walls and the constant low jangle of a hardworking martini shaker. Plunge New York strip tidbits into velvety bleu cheese fondue ($15) and indulge in the rum-based Thai One On ($13) with layers of coconut, basil, lime, and fizz. Tip: Visit between 4 and 6 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday for $3 off martinis. 309 3rd St., 970-349-6338
Hipster den Bonez serves up a potent happy hour (daily from 3 to 5 p.m.) with $5 house margaritas and two-for-one tequila shots, best enjoyed on the new creekside patio the team has installed in the back of the restaurant. Put some elbow grease into the DIY stone mortar and pestle guacamole ($13) and pair the goodness with a notoriously strong habanero-pineapple Scorpion Margarita ($10). 130 Elk Ave., 970-349-5118
If you’ve been to Crested Butte even once, you’ve probably heard of the Stash. The famous pizza pub has earned its stripes with unheard of topping mash-ups and a lively Tibetan design scheme. Look under “Faves” on the menu for the Notorious F.I.G.: The winner of the World Champion Pizza Challenge is perfectly constructed with mozzarella, bleu, and asiago cheeses, shaved prosciutto, dried black mission figs, and a truffle oil drizzle ($21 for 12 inch). Don’t miss what’s flowing from the Colorado-dedicated taps, the crisp salad bar, and Crested Butte’s top-ranked grilled chicken wings. 303 Elk Ave., 970-349-6245
Regional farmers dominate the uplifting menu at this golden clean-eating abode. The first seating each night starts at 6 p.m.; opt for a patio seat to dine under twinkling cafe lights and towering trees. Begin your feel-good dine-in with the carrot ginger bisque ($12) and move on to the kale Caesar salad with lemon-almond emulsion ($12), and Kauai sweet prawns in garlic white wine broth ($21). Stay for the white chocolate bread pudding ($12) and a sipper of Barros 10 Year Tawny ($8). Reservations are highly recommended; 214 Elk Ave., 970-417-7767