In March, residents voted to make Keystone Colorado’s newest town, breaking away from Summit County governance after nearly 30 years of public efforts to incorporate. But even before the change, Keystone had its own community—and culinary—heartbeat, proving that it’s much more than just a day and night skier’s playground and summer mountain festival destination. Here’s where to grab a taste of the highway hamlet’s flavor.

Haywood Cafe

Nooked into a shopping strip along Highway 6 right before the ski resort, old-school diner vibes remain strong at upbeat Haywood Cafe. Fuel up on brunch favorites that include a hearty sausage-gravy-smothered country fried steak and eggs ($16) with cheesy grits and toast or the Haywood’s spin on Swiss baked eggs ($14.50) constructed with French bread smeared with garlic cream cheese, smoked bacon, two poached eggs, and melted Swiss cheese. Cherry pick from half a dozen benedicts—try the barbecue pulled pork ($15) or housemade crab cake ($16) iterations, both swimming in rich hollandaise and served with crispy seasoned home fries. Settle in and sip a famous bacon bloody mary while soaking up the comforting cafe din and freshly brewed coffee banter. 23110 Hwy. 6, Keystone

Snake River Saloon & Steakhouse

Steak with mushrooms, onion rings, potato, at Keystone restaurant Snake River Saloon.
A steak at Snake River Saloon & Steakhouse. Photo courtesy of Snake River Saloon & Steakhouse

When you’re craving a nostalgic, no-frills, high-country haunt—whether that hankering is for burgers and beers or ribeye and cabernet—the Snake will check the box. Established in 1975, the wood-paneled legend fuses a multi-level cozy après pub scene with a linen tablecloth steakhouse situation. Tuck away for a comforting course-by-course dinner beginning with sherry wine and garlic escargot ($18) and the Colorado T-bone ($46) capped with sizzling buttery mushrooms and golden fried onion rings and plated with honey wheat bread and a good old-fashioned baked potato. Mosey upstairs afterward to spin around the dance floor to local funk or bluegrass beats.
23074 Hwy. 6, Keystone

Keystone Ranch

A plate of bone marrow with assorted dining behind it.
The Wagyu bone marrow at Keystone Ranch. Photo courtesy of Keystone Ranch

Colorado frontier fare meets fine dining at this rustically elegant 1930s Keystone homestead. Now anchoring the Keystone Ranch Golf Course, the historic log home is known for its seasonal menus and wild game specialties. Dip into the shareables section for Wagyu bone marrow brûlée ($17) with bacon-shallot marmalade and grilled bread or the fork-and-knife Caesar ($15) tossed in grilled lemon-garlic dressing. Go full-fledged carnivore with the butcher block offerings of ribeyes, lamb chops, and Japanese A5 Wagyu striploin served with barrel-aged shoyu, fresh horseradish, and flaky salt ($90). Linger over your memorable mountain feast under the floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and towering taxidermy. Vegetarians fill up on truffle Gruyère mac and cheese ($16), charred broccolini with crispy garlic ($12), and a miso roasted cauliflower steak served with quinoa arugula salad ($32). The restaurant seats guests Thursdays through Saturdays, 5 to 10 p.m. (make a reservation). 1437 County Road 150, Keystone

Kickapoo Tavern

A burger with fries on a plate.
The River Run cheeseburger at Kickapoo Tavern. Photo courtesy of Kickapoo Tavern

Head to the heart of River Run Village for lunch at the base of Keystone Mountain. Kickapoo is the prime post-up spot for swapping trail stories and sharing après shotskis (you know, when your group lines up to tip back a row of shot glasses attached to a retired ski) or grubbing on the roomy deck. Lively tavern energy invites you to share a few dishes and stay for a bit to enjoy margaritas zinged up with blood orange purée ($14). Nachos ($18) are a top house pick, plied with queso and shredded melted cheddar and perked up with pickled jalapeños and pico de gallo. Larger longings appreciate the River Run cheeseburger ($20) with jalapeño Jack cheese, bacon, guacamole, and crispy tortilla strips on a grilled brioche bun. Can’t get a seat at Kickapoo? Try its sister restaurant Zuma just down the block. 129 River Run Road, Keystone

Steep Brewing & Coffee Company

A coffee and breakfast burrito.
A latte and breakfast burrito at Steep Brewing & Coffee Company. Photo courtesy of Steep Brewing & Coffee Company

Coffee, beer, breakfast, or post-hike snacks, Steep Brewing has the bases covered with two locations. Visit the brewery and taproom in River Run Village, only steps from the Keystone gondola, or the original outpost in Gateway Mountain along Highway 6. Grab bagels and housemade shmears ($7), pecan sticky buns ($7) shipped up the hill from Styria Bakery, and hearty three-egg, meat, cheese, and pork green chile burritos ($15), then jet to the trailhead to start your day. Order from the artisan coffee menu made with fresh beans roasted in house. The nitro cold brew ($5.50) is perfection with a rich, creamy foam head. After a day exploring the surrounding hills, return for rotating taps of hard-kicking micros like the 9.5 percent ABV Quads of Steel Belgian quadrupel named after Jean-Claude Van Damme. 195 River Run Road, Keystone

Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake
Lisa Blake is a freelance writer and children's book author living in Breckenridge. When she's not writing about food and mountain adventures, she can be found on the river with her son, pug and husband.