Crested Butte — Dining
Crested Butte is blessed with more excellent, affordable restaurants than any other resort in the West. You can dine on gourmet French cuisine in an intimate setting or chow down on platters of family-style fried chicken and steaks. We’ll start with dining at the mountain and then move down into town.
The WoodStone Grille (970-349-8030; $$$; above) at The Grand Lodge Crested Butte serves contemporary cuisine for breakfast and dinner. For a quick lunch, WoodStone Deli ($) is good for soup, pizza and specialty sandwiches.
For a full-service lunch, you’ll find first-rate Italian fare from soups to desserts at Rustica Ristorante (970-349-2274; $–$$) in the midmountain Paradise Warming House. On warm days, sit out on the deck which has limited seating for restaurant patrons but provides spectacular views of the mountain. Rustica also has the earliest happy hour, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. But remember, you have to ski down the rest of the way afterwards. For a special evening, make reservations for Dinner @ 10,000 Feet (970-349-2211; below right). A snowcat pulls you in an open sleigh up the mountain for a four-course dinner at Rustica. You can choose from prime beef, seafood and poultry entrees. There’s a full bar and handpicked wine list to accompany your meal.
If you’re looking for an on-mountain gourmet lunch experience, you’ll be delighted by the creative culinary practices at the Ice Bar and Restaurant (970-349-2275; $$–$$$). As you bite into delicate seafood and out-of-the-ordinary meat dishes, remember that this was all shipped up the mountain and prepared in a cozy cabin, making it all the more awe-inspiring. It’s true that “sexy ice babes” serve specialty martinis and by-the-glass fine wines at the deckside bar sculpted from ice. Make reservations for Last Tracks Dinners here through Guest Services (970-349-2211).
The hopping slopeside Butte 66 Roadhouse BBQ (970-349-2999; $–$$) showcases everything from auto grills to sporting gear and whacky signs. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The lunch menu features appetizers, salads and unique sandwiches. For dinner, of course choose from the extensive barbecue menu. Atmospheres ($) is another good lunch stop.
Camp 4 Coffee ($) is the locals’ favorite hangout and serves the “Best Coffee in Town” with tasty breakfast items, from pastries to breakfast burritos. Find it in the mountain village or at the top of Painter Boy Lift, where it also sells lunch items.
Another option: Make reservations for a First Tracks Breakfast (970-349-2378), where you’ll meet at 8:15 a.m. at the Red Lady Express lift for first tracks on the mountain and an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
The Timberline Restaurant (201 Elk Ave., 970-349-9831; $$$) mixes a trendy bar downstairs with Mediterranean decor upstairs. Chef Tim Egelhoff combines seasonal products to create a Cafe French Cuisine, whose roots are classic French with a pinch of California and a dash of the Rockies. The menu changes often. The early bird menu, served nightly from 5:30 to 6 p.m., offers a $15 three-course meal. Open Mon-Sun from 5:30–10 p.m.
Soupçon Restaurant (970-349-5448; $$$) is hidden in the alley behind Kochevar’s Bar. This log cabin started at half its current size in 1916 as a private residence to the Kochevars. Soupçon dates back more than a quarter of a century. This place is as romantic as it gets. The chef-owner changes his menu at least weekly based on availability of local ingredients. Reserve two to three days ahead for one of two seatings, 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Harry’s Fine Dining (970-349-9699; $$–$$$), near the four-way stop at 435 Sixth St., $$–$$$), prepares a four-course menu each night as well as a limited a la carte menu. Each evening there will normally be two meat and two seafood entrees. The wine list has some surprisingly affordable bottles. Make reservations—the place is tiny, but filled with atmosphere and one not to miss.
Le Bosquet (Majestic Plaza at Sixth and Bellview, 970-349-5808; $$$–$$$$; left) serves signature dishes including Colorado roast rack of lamb, hazelnut chicken, and portabella Wellington. This is possibly Crested Butte’s finest for formal French cuisine. The early bird menu, served nightly from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., offers a $20 three-course meal. There’s also a bistro menu at its bar.
Calypso and Crested Butte Brewery (970-349-5026; $$–$$$) features tropical fusion cuisine with dishes such as Lemon Grass Skewered, Pomegranate Molasses Lamb or Jerk Spiced shrimp. Award-winning beers are brewed in-house from the White Buffalo Peace Ale to the full-bodied Rodeo Stout. Brewery tours 2-5 p.m. daily during happy hour.
The Wooden Nickel (970-349-6350; $$-$$$$) serves the best steaks in town.
The chef-owned Bacchanale (970-349-5257; $$-$$$) creates delightful Northern Italian dishes of veal, salmon and homemade pastas. Desserts are fabulous, especially the homemade tiramisu, and are meant to be enjoyed with a specialty espresso drink. The antique bar, wrought-iron railings, photography and prints on the walls contribute to a comfortable, classy experience. Locals say this it the place with the biggest bang for the dollar.
Lobar (970-349-0480; $$) is like nothing you’d expect to find in Crested Butte, yet for some reason, it fits perfectly. Hidden away in a cellar, this urban sushi and tapas lounge is ultra-chic but also laid-back, with hidden areas of cushy seating and a long bar that serves as a gathering point. Food is exquisitely prepared, so don’t be surprised if you can’t stop ordering more plates.
For hard-to-beat group and family dining, head to The Slogar (970-349-5765; $$). It used to be the first bar the miners hit when returning from the mines and is decorated in old bordello decor. Slogar’s offers a skillet-fried chicken dinner with mashed potatoes, biscuits, creamed corn, ice cream and even some other extras for a flat price. It also offers a family-style steak dinner. Reservations are recommended.
For other substantial meals, head down Elk Avenue to Donita’s Cantina (970-349-6674; $$), where the margaritas are giant and strong and Mexican food comes in heaping portions. Be early or be ready to wait. No reservations. For a quick meal, try The Last Steep (970-349-7007; $–$$), very popular with locals and known for everything from sandwiches to “BBQ Rib Night.”
Pitas in Paradise (970-349-0897; $) is reminiscent of a sandwich shop, only it serves blues on the radio and Greek specialties such as gyros, falafel, wraps and baklava. It has a full coffee bar, wine and beer in addition to your standard drink options. Even after you add a side, you’re still coming in under $10, and with huge portions, you won’t leave hungry.
Ginger Cafe (970-349-7291;$$) is a tiny place just off Elk is an Asian dining experience from Thai cooking to Curries with lots of vegetarian options.
Crave (970-349-0570;$$) is Crested Butte’s Cajun spot run by a young couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, so they know something about Cajun cooking.
Gas Cafe (970-349-9656; $) on the way out of town towards Mt. Crested Butte serves a mean burger.
There’s no doubt that the best hearty, traditional breakfast is found at the Paradise Cafe (970-349-6233; $).Try the Eggs Paradise or the Potatoes Paradise. McGill’s (970-349-5240;$) on Elk also serves primo breakfasts. Sunshine Deli slathers their Huevos ranchero with very spicy red chili sauce — test it before pouring it on. Teocalis also had excellent huevos rancheros. The best coffee is served at Camp 4, tucked in a tiny cabin just on 4th Street just off Elk Avenue across from the museum.
Dining Legend: $$$$–Entrees $30+; $$$–$20–$30; $$–$10–$20; $–less than $10