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With its pioneering craft breweries, walkable downtown, charming boutique hotels, vibrant energy from students at Colorado State University, easy-to-access hiking trails, and bike-friendly streets, Fort Collins is the perfect place to plan a weekend getaway. While you’re in town, be sure to visit Fort Collins’ favorites like Social, Odell, Ginger and Baker, New Belgium, the Silver Grill Cafe, and the Emporium, but also save room for these 11 new places to eat and drink.
Extra Arts & Drafts
If you always looked forward to arts and crafts time as a kid, now you can partake in a slightly more grown-up version at Extra Arts & Drafts, an interactive bar that opened in February 2021. Part bar, part art studio, Extra Arts & Drafts provides patrons with all the materials and instructions they need to complete a DIY project while sipping beer, wine, cider, or a nonalcoholic beverage. Projects typically take one to two hours to complete and range from making leather wallets to customizing cheese boards with wood-burning tools.
“It’s a comfortable place where you can try something new and learn a new skill,” says Jeff White, who co-owns the business with his wife, Amy. “Making art with your hands has so many personal benefits, such as reducing stress and boosting your creativity, so Extra Arts & Drafts is as much a sanctuary for self-care and socializing as it is a crafts workshop.” 115 E. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins; 970-893-2985
The next time you visit a northern Colorado restaurant, you may find yourself dining privately inside an adorable, tiny house-esque trailer. Meet the Nook, an 80-square-foot, portable room that creates extra outdoor dining space for partnering local eateries, where it parks for select days. Past participating restaurants have included the Farmhouse at Jessup Farm and Mobb Mountain Distillers. It’s one of the many innovations that arose from the coronavirus pandemic, when owners got creative with igloos, huts, tents, and other clever apparatuses to abide by restaurant capacity limits and make patrons feel safe and comfortable.
As the pandemic drags on, the Nook remains a bright spot among restaurant-goers. “The interior has a booth that seats six adults, so it’s been popular with everyone from girls’ nights to college students to families with young kids,” says Seth Pearson, who launched the Nook in February 2021 with Sean Hudgens. Various locations (find the latest by following the business on Instagram); 970-219-2087
Little on Mountain
Little on Mountain, aka Little, is nestled among the historic homes and tall trees of Fort Collins’ Old Town West neighborhood. The restaurant is long, narrow, and, as the name suggests, small, but that intimacy is part of the appeal. Because it has a centralized open kitchen, diners feel like they’re part of the action, says Dan Smalheiser, who co-owns the eatery with Brent Jackson. The pair opened Little in December 2019, just a few months before the pandemic reached Colorado.
Like many restaurants, Smalheiser and Jackson were forced to pivot: They built a large heated patio and erected canvas huts with rotating themes like Morocco, outer space, and fungi forests. These days, Little serves up brunch and supper, with seasonal menu items that highlight local ingredients from purveyors like Jodar Farms and Hazel Dell Mushrooms. 1046 W. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins; firstname.lastname@example.org
Duff’s Old Town Sausage Cart
When Garrett Overlee and Josh Olson lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, the duo put their heads together to brainstorm their next steps. “We decided that Fort Collins needed a hot dog cart,” says Overlee. And so, in September 2021, they launched Duff’s Old Town Sausage Cart, a roving food stand that serves up an array of hot dogs and sausages. It’s named in honor of Overlee’s Olde English Bulldog, Duff, who loves taking walks in Old Town “and hot dogs, for that matter,” Overlee says.
On the rotating menu, you may find offerings like: a mac-and-cheese-stuffed frankfurter, served with mac-and-cheese sauce; a vegan dog made from pea protein, wheat gluten, and smoked seasonings; a wild boar brat with apricot, cranberry, and maple; and the Fratelli, an Italian sausage topped with onion, bell pepper, marinara, and oregano. The cart operates from April through November and, weather-permitting, is open for lunch, late-night eats, and after Colorado State University home football games. Various locations (find the latest by following the business on Instagram); email@example.com
Stodgy Brewing Company
For more than 30 years, the quirky property at 1802 Laporte Avenue in Fort Collins served as a well-known fireplace repair and retail shop. Then, the site sat on the real estate market for 10 years. In 2019, Tyler Olpin and Natalie Yoder decided it was the perfect location for their new brewery, Stodgy Brewing Company. They diligently renovated the property—reclaiming and repurposing as much wood, slate, soapstone, and other materials as they could before opening in September 2020.
The result is a one-of-a-kind brewery and taproom with a large outdoor patio and yard space. Stodgy’s name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the fact that beer can be heavy and carb-y, but also acknowledges that the tasting room is unpretentious and open to all. Beers here range from a light table saison to a bold rye whiskey barrel-aged imperial stout, with lots of styles in between. 1802 Laporte Ave.; 970-232-9702
Ciao Vino Wine Bar
It’s not every day that a restaurant closes for nearly two decades, then reopens again. But Ciao Vino Wine Bar has made a triumphant return to Old Town after closing nearly 18 years ago. After first opening the wine bar with other owners in 2000, chef Antonio Race decided to focus on other ventures and, in 2004, Ciao Vino closed. In September 2021, Race reopened the traditional Italian wine bar, which offers more than 120 wines, small plates, cold cuts and cheeses, and salads. 255 Linden St.; 970-484-3717
Old Town welcomed a family-owned French bakery and bistro with the opening of Philippe on South College Avenue in early February. Chef-owner Philippe Boutinet grew up on a cognac vineyard in Cognac, France, and began apprenticing as a chef when he was just 13. He moved to the U.S. and worked under renowned chefs like Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington. Now, he’s bringing his passion for French cuisine to Northern Colorado, with classic dishes like quiche lorraine, croque monsieur (or madame), onion soup, boeuf bourguignon, and duck confit on the menu. Philippe serves brunch, lunch, dinner, and pastries in a casual atmosphere. 133 S College Ave.; 970-631-8482
More New Fort Collins Spots to Check Out
- Kujira Ramen, which opened in February 2021 and serves up ramen, pork buns, and other Japanese and Chinese fare
- Josh & John’s, a Colorado Springs ice cream chain that opened in Fort Collins’ Jessup Farm Artisan Village in June 2020
- Ace Cafe, the new pandemic-born patio and lobby bar of the Armstrong Hotel
- Locust Cider & Brewing Co., a Washington-based cidery that also has locations in Lakewood’s Belmar neighborhood and Fort Worth, Texas (the Boulder location closed in September 2021)