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From the golden aspen trees currently lining Kebler Pass to the soon-to-be-blanketed-in-snow ski slopes, Crested Butte is a year-round slice of heaven for outdoor enthusiasts in the state of Colorado. And while the recreational opportunities alone draw plenty of visitors to this small mountain town, the laid-back vibe, aprés lifestyle, and vibrant, worldly dining scene don’t hurt, either. CB’s downtown hub is filled with bustling, inviting establishments that will satisfy a variety of cravings. Here are our top 10 picks for eating like a local.
Why the locals love it: Healthy and flavor-packed dishes in cozy environs
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Located in a historic house at the beginning of Elk Avenue, Crested Butte’s main drag, is Ginger Cafe, a small restaurant brimming with hungry patrons who can’t get enough of the deliciously spicy Indian and Thai cuisine. Whether you opt for a heaping plate of traditional Indian-style chicken curry or the creamy lamb korma (made with Colorado lamb), visit once and you’ll want to return—again and again. 425 Elk Ave., 970-349-7291
Why the locals love it: Made-each-day mini donuts topped with decadent treats like fruity pebbles and cotton candy
Niky’s Mini Donuts is one of the busiest eateries in town. Kids and adults love the huge selection of fun-size mini donuts that come in a variety of tasty flavors such as maple bacon, s’mores, and cinnamon roll. Donuts are sold in two-packs, four-packs, six-packs and 12-packs, and you’ll also find coffee and soft serve ice cream on Niky’s menu. 327 Elk Avenue, 970-363-6688
Why the locals love it: A huge selection of craft beer and tasty pies
While “the Brick” is known for its relaxed vibe and filling, medium-crusted pizzas, it’s recognized throughout the state of Colorado for its massive craft beer selection. It serves 30 brews on tap, and craft beer fans will find some of the most popular options from across the state of Colorado and the rest of the country. Bonus: Enjoy special releases of limited and rare beers that this drinking institution keeps in its impressive beer cellar. 223 Elk Avenue, 970-349-5044
The Sunflower Deli
Why the locals love it: Farm-to-table dishes that highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients
The Sunflower Deli boasts an inviting, communal atmosphere, which is why the busy joint stays pretty full of hungry diners for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The cuisine at this small downtown dining establishment is thoughtful and artistic, with an ever-changing menu that includes options such as duck fat potatoes and perfectly cooked locally raised beef. 214 Elk Avenue, 970-349-6866
Why the locals love it: Refreshing cocktails, great outdoor seating, and tasty small plates
It might be surprising to find a killer Old Fashioned at a distillery that produces only rum, but Montanya Distillers delivers. With an arsenal of easy-drinking alcoholic beverages, it’s a good thing that Montanya also serves a variety of flavorful small plates, like a charcuterie plate with fried pork belly, and a soul-warming pho that hits the spot on chilly mountain evenings. 212 Elk Avenue, 970-799-3206
Why the locals love it: Late night shenanigans and excellent burgers
Named after one of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s ski runs, the Last Steep Bar & Grill doubles is a fun, family-friendly restaurant and one of the most popular late-night watering holes in town. The menu at this local joint is all over the place, with favorite dishes running the gamut from internationally-inspired fare like a jerk chicken quesadilla to hearty homestyle dishes like a 10-ounce sirloin steak and black bean casserole. It’s the juicy burgers, however, that keep people coming back for more. 208 Elk Ave, 970-349-7007
Why the locals love it: Great atmosphere and a long happy hour that runs from noon to 6 p.m. every day throughout the summer, and from 4 to 6 p.m. in the winter
Whether you’re looking to grab a margarita and a snack at the spacious bar or post up with the entire family for a nice meal, Bonez is a great pick. The tequila bar and grill features classic Mexican dishes with a modern twist. Fajita plates, filling enchiladas, and tacos on tacos on tacos—you’ll find them at Bonez. Balance out those spicy dishes with one of the restaurant’s many margaritas offerings—like a ruby-red Beet Margarita—which, despite being made with one of the least-appreciated vegetables out there, is absolutely delicious. 130 Elk Avenue, 970-349-5118
Why the locals love it: An exceptional menu that changes with the season
With only two seating times per day (6 and 8:30 p.m.), it can be difficult to score a table at Soupçon—but it’s worth the effort. You’ll find mouthwatering dishes featuring Colorado-grown ingredients, like the slow braised beef short rib served with garlic and truffle and bacon mashed potatoes, at this French-American bistro. Regardless of what the menu holds for the evening, you can bet it’ll be one of best meals in town. 127 Elk Avenue, 970-349-5448
Why the locals love it: The enveloping smell of simmering, garlicky tomato sauces—and the dishes created with them
What better way to carb up for a day exploring Crested Butte’s trails then a delicious Italian meal from a family-owned restaurant? With Marchitelli’s hearty menu of authentic Italian dishes like eggplant Parmesan, veal Marsala, and traditional lasagna—along with some not-so-authentic Italian dishes, like elk scaloppine—it’s long been a CB favorite. 411 3rd Street, 970-349-7401
Why the locals love it: Handcrafted cocktails and martinis that are $4 off during happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday
Housed in a former miners cabin, the Dogwood makes a cozy place to start—or end—your evening. The bar’s unique cocktails, like the Romeo Y Julieta made with tobacco, hibiscus, and mint, taste that much better in the authentic setting. To go with the lengthy list of cocktails, the Dogwood also offers a small selection of fun snacks, like salty bourbon caramel corn, a soft pretzel served with beer cheese and stone ground mustard, and house-pickled veggies. 309 3rd Street, 970-349-6338