When you need to escape the city buzz, gain a little elevation, and trek among thick pines, Evergreen delivers. Community restaurateurs keep the dining scene amped with breakfast bakeries, seafood shacks, canyon barbecue pits, and creekside patios. Go for the fresh mountain air, stay for the food.

Evergreen Bread & Cocktail Lounge

Arrive at this community hub early for the puffiest fresh-oven picks. The second-story shopping plaza outpost is a stylish espresso bar bakery concept serving all-day breakfast and lunch. Welcome the coffeehouse hum and watch the San Francisco sourdough boules and dusted bear claws beckon from the open-format kitchen. Breakfast bests include the alpine egg sandwich ($8.50)—opt for the ham and goat cheese with pepper jam wrapped in the flakiest buttery croissant there ever was—and the towering biscuit with a chive fried egg and bacon green chile gravy ($10.50). 1260 Bergen Pkwy., Suite C-220, Evergreen, 303-862-7993

Evergreen Bread Lounge. Photo by Lisa Blake

Creekside Cellars Winery and Café

If there was ever a reason to wile away a sunny Colorado afternoon, it’s the deck and the wine list at Creekside Cellars. Reserve a table for lunch (it opens at 11 a.m. and fills up fast) on the forested deck overlooking the creek. Begin with the antipasto ($25) and nibble on an Instagram-worthy board of imported cheeses, olives, meats, and marinated seasonal vegetables flanked by grilled bread, tapas, and spreads. Make your way through the wine list via glass, flight, or bottle. Red drinkers will appreciate the 2017 Cab Franc ($14), while the top-selling 2017 Viognier ($9) gratifies with whispers of honeydew and apricot. 28036 CO-74, Evergreen, 303-674-5460

Nori seared ahi tuna tacos at Murphy’s Mountain Grill. Photo by Lisa Blake

Murphy’s Mountain Grill

This modernized Old West chalet exceeds its family bar and grill expectations with on-point hand-muddled cocktails that look and taste like they were poured in a swank Denver speakeasy. Pair imaginative drinks like the Tropical Depression ($9) made with reposado tequila, fresh lime, chipotle piña infusion, and chiles with a coveted pup-friendly creekside seat. The Colorado farm-raised elk burgers are to die for, but we like to order a spread of colorful apps to share. Try the nori seared ahi sashimi wonton tacos ($12) and the citrus grilled chicken plantain nachos with passion fruit serrano chile sour cream ($11). 27906 Hwy. 74, Evergreen, 720-524-8621

Switchback Smokehouse

Point your wheels east and wind along Bear Creek, edging canyon walls that eventually open up and spit you out in Morrison. Sniff out the timeworn smokers puffing outside of aptly named Switchback Smokehouse and sidle up to the stout cabin’s outside ordering stand. Reach beyond the traditional with house-cured and smoked duck breast ($11) or Montreal-style smoked brisket ($9) sided with root beer barbecue and tangy Catamount gold sauces. Take your brown bag to a picnic table and join the bikers (motor and pedal) enjoying craft brews by the water. Feeling adventurous? Wrangle your hands around the Devil’s Elbow ($14)—the signature dish is stacked with a quarter pound of pulled pork, Tivoli beer-battered fried pickles, and coleslaw on a brioche bun. 26220 CO-74, Evergreen, 303-200-0878

The Devil’s Elbow at Switchback Smokehouse. Photo courtesy of Switchback Smokehouse

Bait Shack Tavern

When nothing but salted, fried seafood and ice cold beer will do, this friendly neighborhood hang has your back. Catch the game on TV and laugh with locals over no-fuss baskets and buckets of oysters, crab legs, Cajun crawfish, and much more. Navigate the shore-inspired menu and don’t miss the popular Bait Shack catfish bites ($11.95) dipped in spicy tarter and the hush puppies with homemade honey butter ($4.95). Yes, it’s indulgent and mostly fried, but it’s delicious. And Evergreen Lake is just down the street, so you can walk off all those fried treats afterward. 28275 CO-74, Evergreen, 303-670-0574

Cactus Jack’s Saloon & Grill

Evergreen’s beloved outdoor stage draws music and food lovers, bikers and families, regulars, and passerby’s to coexist on Cactus Jack’s 2,000-square-foot riverside deck. The Creekside Music Series runs Memorial Day through Labor Day and presents free local and visiting bluegrass, jam, and rock acts. A playful menu incudes famous wings, cheese curds, and an extensive, show-stealing burger list named for Widespread Panic songs. Colorado beef from Anderson Farms sits on brioche buns from Aspen Baking Company in creations such as the Ain’t Life Grand burger built with A-1 Sauce, bleu cheese, and grilled onions and mushrooms ($12). 4651 Hwy. 73, Evergreen, 303-674-1564

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.