When Bistro C.V. opened in August 2007, it jolted new energy into Steamboat’s culinary scene. Instead of the steak-and-potato fare long favored by local eateries, C.V. offers grilled romaine salad with Parmesan custard; a Wagyu beef and foie gras burger; and fresh gnocchi with ramps, hand-harvested mushrooms, and Spanish cheeses—all executed so skillfully they make even jaded foodies gush hyperbolic.

“It’s the best food I’ve eaten since I moved to Colorado,” one Boulderite reported. A British couple touring the West claimed, “It’s the best meal we’ve had in the United States.” This all seems like exaggerated praise, until you sample the house-made pâté. Then you realize the bistro isn’t just a cut above Steamboat’s standards—it challenges anything you’ll find in Denver, or even San Francisco or New York.

Chef-owners Kevin Caparrelli and Brian Vaughn honed their craft at American and Italian culinary schools, respectively, before returning to Steamboat (where they’d ski-bummed) to open Bistro C.V. The menu emphasizes organic and local goods whenever possible, often from the country’s top purveyors. It buys from the same duck supplier as the renowned French Laundry, and its seafood comes from an exclusive Maine dealer that speeds fish from the water to the bistro’s plates in less than 24 hours.

The flavors are cosmopolitan, but the ambience is mountain contemporary, with denim-clad servers and a relaxed vibe. “At first, some locals stayed away, thinking we were that pretentious white-tablecloth restaurant,” says Vaughn. “Once they have our food and see we’re not all caviar and truffles, they’ve really embraced it,” he says.

345 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Springs, 970-879-4197, www.bistrocv.com