the Colorado Food Scene

Exploring the Colorado Food Scene: Local Produce and Best Restaurants

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Today, we’re talking about one of my favorite topics: the Colorado food scene. As a personal chef, I enjoy trying new foods and exploring the best restaurants in Colorado and markets around the state!

I also love finding the best produce and ingredients that are unique to the square state.

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What’s in season in Colorado and when?

The growing season in Colorado is pretty short, from mid-May to until the end of September. With such a short growing season, the state is known less for produce or crops, and more for our meat — especially game meats!

Let’s dive into some of our favorite Colorado-native foods!

The Palisade peach

The Palisade peach really is delicious. It’s bigger and juicier than a Georgia peach, and comes from Palisade, CO (near Grand Junction).

Try a Palisade peach for yourself at the Palisade Peach Festival, which is held every year in mid-August.

Pueblo green chilis

The Pueblo green chilis are similar to a hatch green chili which is from New Mexico. But they are a bit bigger, hotter, and meatier than the hatch chili and have lots of flavor.

Locals love the Pueblo green chili sauce on everything from burritos to omelets!

Harvest season for Pueblo green chilis is very short only ripening in August, September and October. When in Colorado, you may find vendors roasting these chilis in large drums outdoors in the late summer!

Head down to Pueblo to catch the Pueblo Chili Fest and try one!

What kind of produce grows in Colorado?

What other kinds of produce grow in Colorado? Melons!

Honeydew and cantaloupe melons require warm temperatures and lots of lots of sun. With 300 days of sunshine per year in Colorado, it’s no wonder they do so well!

They are delicious and refreshingly juicy for the hot summer months.

Can food give you nostalgia?

Asr a native Coloradoan, I have strong memories of eating fresh, juicy Honeydew and Cantaloupe melons throughout the summer in my childhood.

The Rocky Ford Cantaloupe is a regional variation and a local favorite. Check out more about Colorado’s own Rocky Ford Cantaloupe and the growing season.

What unique foods are found on Colorado menus?

The square state is known for its game meats! While they may be a bit unusual (to say the least!), there are lots of unique game meats you can try while dining in Colorado.

Some not-so-ordinary game meats include:

  • Elk
  • Duck
  • Boar
  • Antelope
  • Beaver
  • Bear
  • Yak
  • Moose

Colorado is a state of rivers and lakes, not oceans, so you’ll often find local mountain and rainbow trout on the menu for your seafood option.

Beside your wild-caught options, Colorado raises much of the nation’s bison and lamb!

Fun fact: Colorado is right up there with New Zealand as one of the largest producers of lamb in the world!

Even if you’ve never visited Colorado, you may have heard of something called “Rocky Mountain Oysters.” What are they exactly?

They go by many names, from cowboy caviar and Montana tendergroins, to dusted nuts or swinging beef 🤣 but the fact is: they are bull testicles.

However, you may have a hard time finding any Rocky Mountain Oysters available on a menu! If you do see one, give it a try if you dare.

Two popular must-try Colorado dishes

When dining in Colorado, here are some dishes you MUST try!

1. The Denver omelette

The Denver omelette originated from Colorado is can be found on almost any menu — even outside Colorado. It comes with peppers, onions, ham and cheese, though a true Coloradoan would have them with Pueblo green chili sauce!

They are truly delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

2. Green chili smothered burrito

We also love the southwest influence on otherwise well-known foods that’s available here in the state. Because of this, you’ll be likely to see a green chili smothered burrito on menus as well. They’re one-of-a-kind and so yummy!

The Best Restaurants in Colorado

Colorado, and the Front Range cities both have a very strong food culture. In fact, Colorado is home to several celebrity chefs, including some Top Chef contestants and winners!

Tour Top Chef Restaurants

Check out Four by Brother Luck in Colorado Springs (you might even see Brother!) The concept is very unique. The menu is built around the four sources of food: the huntsman, the fisherman, the farmer, and the gatherer. It’s got great atmosphere, and features lots of great seasonal selections.

Blackbelly and Santo by Hosea Rosenberg in Boulder. Hosea won his season of Top Chef. He is from New Mexico originally, so his restaurants feature a strong Southwest influence.

Like authentic pizza? Try Bar Dough by Carrie Baird in Denver. This Italian restaurant creates authentic Italian foods, and makes one killer slice of pizza.

Best food in Colorado

Iconic Colorado eats

Fans of the show South Park may have heard mention of a restaurant called Casa Bonita. It’s more than just a TV reference, it’s a real restaurant!

To get in on this iconic piece of Colorado “culture,” grab your food and sit down among the many caves, waterfalls, and running gorillas served up at Casa Bonita!

This giant pink restaurant will not offer the gourmet experience you’ll find elsewhere in Colorado. However, it’s a great place to bring the kids and get in on one of Colorado’s most popular cultural icons!

Carlo’s Bistro is an award-winning restaurant in Colorado Springs. At Carlo’s, you’ll find classic and very fancy cuisine. It’s a dressy place and a bit expensive, but it is an excellent choice for a special occasion!

You can’t go wrong when you dine anywhere in The Broadmoor. The Broadmoor is a beautiful historic hotel in Colorado Springs. No matter where you eat within the Broadmoor, you’re sure to find a delicious and high-quality meal.

Fun fact: The U.S. Open was once hosted at the golf course at the Broadmoor!

Best dessert in Breckenridge

The carrot cake at Hearthstone in Breckenridge is incredible! The restaurant is a beautiful Victorian home-turned-restaurant, and has an elegant vibe. You’ll definitely need a reservation.

When you’re finished skiing at Breckenridge, this is a wonderful place for a romantic evening with your loved ones.

Best places to eat in colorado

Best Sushi and Fish in Colorado

Rubio’s Coastal Grill is an accessible and delicious Colorado chain has locations in Denver and Boulder. We first found Rubio’s inside the FlatIron Crossing mall! You’ll find some amazing Baja cuisine at Rubio’s Coastal Cuisine.

GB Fish and Chips was named best fish and chips in Denver. Our favorite location is in Denver, across from Sloan Lake. While you might guess that the GB stands for Great Britain, this authentic British chippy is actually called Get Battered Fish and Chips.

Bamboo Sushi is a Portland, Oregon transplant restaurant that brings more than just sustainable seafood — they also bring some of the. best. sushi around (even if you’ve had great sushi in other states!).

If you are feeling adventurous, tell the waiter your budget, and the chef will prepare you a variety of delicious options to try. While it has a bit of a hipster vibe, you truly can’t beat the quality.

This is why Bamboo Sushi is on our list of must-try restaurants!

Best Brunch Restaurants

Denver Biscuit Co. offers some giant homemade biscuits to satisfy your brunch cravings! Eat your biscuit as a sandwich, with chicken, even as French toast!

The enormous cinnamon rolls are fit to share, so bring a friend (or three!). Find them in Denver and now in Colorado Springs!

Fans of brunch will enjoy Snooze Eatery. With locations in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs (as well as some locations outside of Colorado!), you’ll find classic brunchy options on the menu.

This place is very popular, especially on weekends, so make a reservation and be prepared to wait. You’ll be glad you did!

Best Ice Cream in Colorado

Sweet Cow Ice Cream has some of the best ice cream in Colorado! With a rotating menu and incredible flavor options, like Cap’n Crunch and Lucky Charms cereal, you can try a new flavor nearly every week.

Fans of Trader Joe’s Butter Cookies will love the Joe’s Cookies flavor — it’s Carrie’s favorite! Or try the Lebowski — a white Russian flavored ice cream.

Best Burger in Colorado

Formerly known as Larkburger, Lark Spot is fresh, juicy, never frozen burgers you just can’t miss. Get your burger cooked to your taste, or be adventurous and try a tuna burger!

Best restaurants in colorado

Don’t miss the Denver BBQ Festival

The second annual Denver BBQ Festival is scheduled for Father’s Day weekend! Entry is free, with barbeque and beer available for purchase, as well as a VIP Pit Pass for $100 per adult.

This festival boasts that more than 18,000 pounds of meat will be served at this super fun event at Mile High Stadium!

What are the best restaurants in Colorado?

Get out there and find out! Whether you’re new to Colorado, just visiting, or have been around for a while, you’ll never run out of new tastes to try in Colorado.

You never know where you’ll find your favorite restaurant in Colorado!