Sometimes we get a hankering for simpler times—when the soft-serve options were just vanilla or chocolate, and a juicy steak came with a cold plate salad and a humble butter-slabbed baked potato. Loveland answers that time-machine itch with a host of restaurants dedicated to the classics.

This summer, when you head to Loveland for a One Sweet Summer community concert or stop into a throwback-themed escape room at Time Escape Loveland, seek out these Sweetheart City throwbacks for time-honored treats, drinks, and experiences.

Dairy Delite

Hot dog at Dairy Delite in Loveland
A Chicago dog at Dairy Delite. Photo courtesy of Dairy Delite

Pat and Mike Embke opened Dairy Delite in 1978. Today, three devoted generations keep the legendary eatery running like a well-oiled machine. The drive-in is celebrating 46 years as a community cornerstone, drawing loyal locals with original family recipes for its malts and burgers. Pull up to the red-shingled brick building for friendly carhop service and step back in time. Do like the regulars do and make a budget-friendly meal out of Chicago-style Vienna hot dogs, onion rings, and mint-fudge-Oreo grasshopper shakes. Or go purist with a chocolate-vanilla twist cone. 3080 W. Eisenhower Blvd., Loveland

The Black Steer

Saunter past iconic Colorado Western paintings and slide into a worn leather booth at the Black Steer to order the signature pepper steak at Loveland’s longest standing restaurant. Chefs wrap house-aged choice filets in black pepper 48 hours before they sizzle on the seasoned 58-year-old grill for that flame-kissed steak house flavor. Not much has changed at the 1966 staple and locals like it that way. Linger after your steak and potato for a slice of homemade peanut butter pie. 436 N. Lincoln Ave., Loveland

Tom Davis Saloon

Tom Davis Saloon
The mechanical bull at Tom Davis Saloon. Photo courtesy of Tom Davis Saloon

Loveland’s first honky-tonk is bringing new sounds to town with unpretentious old-school ethos. When Chrissy French, owner of downtown’s Cactus Grille and Wicked Tequila Room, designed a hangout for the hardworking people of Loveland, she focused on providing cold beer, tasty cocktails, and a roomy dance floor. Bring your party pants for line dancing, karaoke, and mechanical bull rodeo nights and sip on a Slushy Rodgers, an adult play on the Roy Rogers made with Jack Daniel’s, grenadine, and Coke slushy. 450 N. Cleveland Ave., Loveland

The Flipside

Challenge the kids to Twilight Zone pinball, Pac-Man, or Skee-Ball at this family-friendly pub-meets-arcade concept. Sip on creamy, frothy nitro espresso martinis, lesser-known craft brews, or a new spin on a Tom Collins incorporating sweet quince fruit. This birthday party haven hosts everyone from second graders to 80-year-olds. Ask about All-You-Can-Play nights where guests enjoy unlimited gaming for $15. 140 E. Fourth St., Loveland

Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

cookout at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch
A cookout at Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch. Photo courtesy of Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch

Just outside of Loveland on the way to Estes Park, this 3,200-acre dude ranch retreat hub has been perfecting family hospitality since 1946. From May to October, guided “Chow Down” trail rides include horseback adventures across Green Ridge meadows capped with a classic ranch breakfast or home-cooked steak dinner. If you visit towards the end of the year, holiday traditions feature an old-fashioned Thanksgiving feast and, in mid-December, old western hoedown and Christmas hors d’oeuvres, festive beverages, and carols by the Loveland Choral Society. 2939 N. Co Rd. 31D, Loveland

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.