If you haven’t yet been, it’s time to put these three Colorado restaurants on your 2021 bucket list. The editors of Esquire magazine last week published “100 restaurants America can’t afford to lose,” a tribute to timeless dining spots across the country that would be a sure shame — for reasons cultural, personal, gastronomic — to watch close during the pandemic.
Colorado’s three mentions on the map are good ones, too. In Telluride, Alpino Vino is a mountain-top destination accessible only by skiing during the day or snow-coaching in for dinner. The setting is a stone and log cabin, previously a private retreat built on a historic mining claim.
With room for 30 or so diners around the fireplace or underneath sheepskin throws out on the deck, it’s got ambiance to spare. From the Esquire editors: “That Alpino Vino serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever experience is just the proverbial cherry on top.”
If you go: Take Gold Hill Express (Lift 14), and turn left off the lift to ski down See Forever and grab a spot on the deck for lunch. Or make a reservation for dinner, and ride Alpino Vino’s snow coach from the top of the gondola.
Frasca Food & Wine is probably the most obvious choice for a national list. The Boulder spot serving hyper-focused food (and wine) from the Friuli region of Northern Italy has graced so many “best ofs” at this point, including a nomination for James Beard Foundation Outstanding Restaurant as recently as 2020, that the inclusion here seems almost required. But time and time again, critics are wowed.
From the editors: “Don’t let the white truffles and caviar scare you off. Frasca may look exclusive if you’re peeking in the window, but inside it’s a house party. Wine guru and manager Bobby Stuckey is a captain of hospitality in the truest, most soulful sense: He makes everyone feel welcome and loved.”
If you go: Frasca is currently offering a “yurt village” (pictured above) for the winter season, with a tasting menu starting at $170 per person. To reserve a yurt, at least one person in your party must be an American Express cardholder.
Finally, The Silver Grill Café in Fort Collins is a welcomed addition, with big accolades from the Esquire editors. This 88-year-old northern Colorado institution serves the best breakfast in America, according to Esquire food and drinks editor Jeff Gordinier. What a title. The humble diner dates back to 1933 and still retains that feel (think cinnamon rolls in the bakery display and vinyl stools at the counter).
As for its food: “Everyone talks about the cinnamon rolls but I would board a plane right now for the potatoes, which are crisp and fluffy at the same time, as if hash browns and home fries had finally gotten over their bickering and made a baby,” writes Gordinier.
If you go: The Silver Grill is currently offering takeout, delivery and curbside pickup only, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily.
For the full “100 restaurants” article, check out esquire.com, and if you have another restaurant that you know Colorado can’t afford to lose, go ahead and drop us a line or leave it in the comments.
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