Before its last mine shut down in 1978, Erie was among the country’s largest coal producers. Today, the sprawling town, which straddles Boulder and Weld counties, is a booming suburb with a population that’s nearly doubled in the past decade. Annual traditions like the hot air balloon festival and the historic Erie Biscuit Day celebration—a nod to the gravy-laden sendoff the town once gave its miners at the end of their summer break—draw locals and out-of-towners alike.

Despite all this growth, Erie’s dining scene has managed to retain its small-town charm. Instead of chain restaurants, you’ll find locally owned eateries clustered in the historic downtown and surrounding strip malls, so there’s no need to travel to Boulder or Denver for a good meal.

From a popular taco and ramen restaurant to a pizza and hard cider joint, here are eight spots to add to your Erie bucket list.

Piripi

The pulpo at Piripi. Photo courtesy of Piripi

After running restaurants throughout the Caribbean and Europe, husband-and-wife duo Hugo and Victoria Meyer debuted Piripi in 2020, bringing a globally inspired menu to downtown Erie. Signature tapas include the Iberian meat and cheese platter and the pulpo piripi: Spanish octopus with smoked paprika, Maldon salt, red harissa, and a Meyer lemon spread. Originally from Argentina, chef Hugo takes special pride in his steaks, evident in the blue-cheese-crusted filet mignon wrapped in crispy Iberico ham. He also hosts a “paella day” on the first Monday of every month, pairing vegetarian, seafood, and meat paellas with Spanish wines and gin and tonics while live flamenco music plays. Soak in the surrounding winterscapes in comfort with the restaurant’s heated mountain-facing patio. 615 Briggs St., Ste. C, Erie

24 Carrot Bistro

It’s easy to become a regular at 24 Carrot Bistro, a New American farm-to-table spot with a seasonally rotating food and drink menu. Expect dishes like crispy duck confit with goat cheese polenta and figs, or a succulent brick chicken with garlicky chard and bacon-braised white beans. The craft cocktail program uses housemade bitters, liqueurs, and syrups. One of the most popular drinks is the Han Shot First (a Star Wars: A New Hope reference) that’s made with gin, lemon, prosecco, and a lavender tincture. Naturally, save room for the homemade carrot cake for dessert. 578 Briggs St., Erie

Birdhouse

Green curry ramen at Birdhouse. Photo courtesy of Birdhouse

What do tacos and ramen have in common? They’re both comfort foods, says Scott Kiba, owner of downtown Erie’s Birdhouse. Here, crispy pork cheek carnitas and five-cheese queso share the menu with fried chicken karaage with yuzu aioli and tonkotsu ramen with broth that’s simmered for 48 hours. Birdhouse was erected around a 75-foot cottonwood tree, and while birds won’t be flying into your food, you can’t miss them bedecking the eatery’s murals painted by Alexandra Panburg of Babe Walls. The concept has done so well in Erie that a second location is planned for Arvada. 526 Briggs St., Erie

Lucile’s

A tell-tale sign you’re in a foodie town: weekend brunch lines are a mile long. Colorado staple Lucile’s Creole Café added a location in Erie last May, commanding such lines for Louisiana-style offerings like café au lait and powdered-sugar-dusted beignets. Those looking for a heartier breakfast can go for pain perdu—French toast served with buttery praline syrup—or poached eggs New Orleans, plated with fried eggplant slices, hollandaise, and a creole sauce. In proper brunch fashion, Lucile’s also has a concise lunch menu with gumbo, andouille po’boys, and red beans and rice. 544 Briggs St., Erie

Echo Brewing Company

Pair brick-oven-fired pizzas with tasty beers at Echo Brewing Company, which took over a former downtown fire station in 2014. You can gather indoors or al fresco in the fire-pit-bedecked biergarten. The beer list changes seasonally, but taps span juicy IPAs to Irish red ales, as well as creative brews like the Bumblebee barrel-aged blackberry Belgian wit, aged in Chardonnay barrels with blackberry purée. 600 Briggs St., Erie

The Old Mine

The Alpine Spring pizza at the Old Mine. Photo courtesy of the Old Mine

When the Old Mine originally opened in 2013 inside an old mercantile building, it was a barbecue joint and cidery. But with meat prices on the rise, the restaurant pivoted in mid-2021 to focus on gourmet pizzas to pair with its house-crafted ciders, which include core favorites like Colorado Sunshine brewed with citra hops and seasonal releases like pineapple mango or vanilla bourbon. Popular pies include the barbecue chicken Old Miner and the white-sauce-laden Alpine Spring, but to keep things fresh, the staff dreams up a clever “pizza outside of the box” every month. Not forgetting its roots, the restaurant also serves its smoked wings as an appetizer. 500 Briggs St., Erie

Injoy Restaurant

Even though it’s located on Erie’s outskirts, Injoy still puts elevated comfort foods on the map. The menu is loaded with dishes like broccoli beer cheese soup, roasted tomato goat cheese dip, and beef stroganoff topped with herbed sour cream. The neighborhood restaurant also has a fantastic happy hour (4 to 6 p.m. daily) with snacks like crispy artichokes, sliders with cheddar and haystack onions, honey whipped goat cheese, and jalapeño poppers, all under $10. 3120 Village Vista Dr., Erie

Beltran’s Grill

Beltran’s Grill technically belongs to Broomfield, but just 0.1 miles away from Erie’s border, it’s still a draw for local tacos, tortas, and margaritas. The Mexican restaurant puts its own twists on the classics. Think: fiery jalapeño-laden artichoke dip, tender tequila-marinated fajitas, , mezcal mules shaken from the large collection of agave spirits and garnished with ginger candy, and an Oaxacan old fashioned made with reposado tequila. Pop in for happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. daily) for $5 green chile queso and $7 spicy pineapple margs. 16818 Sheridan Pkwy., Broomfield