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There’s something quintessentially Colorado about discovering a little-known townie bar with a killer burger, perfectly fried Rocky Mountain oysters, and a rockin’ Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry that draws folks from two tiny towns away.
Local ranchers have been calling the Parshall Inn, or P.I., a great place to be on the edge of nowhere since 1950. The roadside roost sits in Parshall (population 38) on the lonesome ribbon of Highway 40 near Hot Sulphur Springs between Granby and Kremmling, attracting rugged regulars and curious passersby with its divey tavern eats, live summertime music, billiards, and shuffleboard.
Whip into the dirt lot past the hopeful sign declaring “Willie Nelson eats at the P.I. for free,” and wedge into a spot next to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife trucks and dusty farm pickups. The swivel barstools and wood-plank flooring are well worn, and there’s likely a regular sucking down mid-day bottles of Budweiser as Wynonna Judd plays overhead. Like any rural pub worth its reputation in jukebox quarters, the entire bar will twist around at the sound of the door to see if they know you. Smile and slide in—they’re a friendly bunch at the P.I.
Take in the Western kitsch and penny-lined resin bar top while the waitress cracks a can of Coke or pours one of four Colorado brews on tap. The branded pine walls, mounted rainbow trout, and lasso decor add to the homey atmosphere where time slows down enough to justify an afternoon spent playing Big Buck Hunter. If you’re with your pup, he can walk through to the side patio where the local pooches hang.
The menu is varied with no-frills comfort food such as fried zucchini spears ($7) and bean and cheese burritos ($8) smothered in pork green chile. First-timers must try the flagship P.I. burger ($10) comprised of juicy, never-frozen beef topped with creamy, herby Boursin cheese, grilled sliced jalapeño, and thick pepper-speckled bacon. The bun is buttered and lightly grilled, and the burger is served in a simple red-paper-lined basket with sliced pickle and white onion. Opt for the salted hand-sliced, home-fried chips or pay a little extra for the hand-cut fries ($2) on the side.
Second on the essentials list is the Rueben ($12), with its tender, slow-cooked house corn beef, melted Swiss, Thousand Island dressing, and tangy sauerkraut on grilled rye. The menu says it all: “The Rueben: If you haven’t heard, ask someone.”
On your way to a Hot Sulphur Springs soak or after Grand County fly fishing and leaf peeping, pop by the P.I. for some real-deal high-country pub charm. If you’re lucky, it will be prime rib night, and Parshall locals will swap fishing tales with you over a game of horseshoes out back.
146 First Ave., Parshall