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A sunset farm dinner in Fort Collins, Colorado
Richard Haro
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  • States:
    Colorado

Amidst its well-known ski slopes and picturesque hiking trails, Colorado is home to a thriving food scene.

The locals’ love of the outdoors is transferred from mountain peak to plate, with many restaurants doing what they can to use high-quality, locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Colorado’s culinary world is becoming more diverse by the day, with internationally influenced eateries and craft alcohol producers around every corner. Add popular food festivals and a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for a gastronomic gem of a state.

Ties to the Land

Colorado's distinctive blend of terrains and climates has created ideal landscapes for fresh flavors and distinctly Colorado foods. From succulent Rocky Ford melons to juicy Palisade peaches, and from flavorful Pueblo green chilis to Olathe Sweet corn, Colorado farmers cultivate a plethora of local delicacies. Moreover, there’s a strong commitment across the state to use high-quality, locally sourced, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Establishments like Bin 707 in Grand Junction serve dishes that highlight the bounty of Colorado's land, building menus around fresh ingredients from local farms and producers. Their dishes are just as delicious as they are sustainable – dig into juicy burgers dressed with green chili sauce and savor sweet corn ice cream for dessert. In Boulder, Basta combines the state’s ethos of responsible dining with a commitment to high-quality cuisines. This Italian eatery is helmed by James Beard Award-nominated chef Kelly Whitaker, who has dedicated his career to promoting sustainable food experiences in his home state of Colorado.

Enjoying burgers and brews at Base Camp Bar & Grill in Snowmass

Enjoying burgers and brews at Base Camp Bar & Grill in Snowmass
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Jeremy Swanson Photography

Cultural Influences

Experience the best Colorado’s diverse chefs and creatives have to offer at internationally inspired eateries across the state. State capital Denver's food scene reflects its rich tapestry of cultures: Try recipes from Native American traditions at Tocabe, An American Indian Eatery, then sample contemporary takes on Sichuan Chinese staples at Hop Alley. Hearth-cooked, omakase-style Latin dishes with hyper-locally sourced ingredients shine at Brutø, modern French cuisine is on the menu at Noisette, and flavors of Israel take center stage at Safta.

Beyond Denver, more cultural culinary gems can be found all across the state. Colorado Springs offers Ethiopian cuisine with a Mediterranean touch at Uchenna, while Glenwood Springs is home to Nepal Restaurant, which serves up Indian and Nepalese dishes. You’ll find fresh twists on Mexican classics at Esperanza’s Tequila Restaurant in Telluride, while Steamboat Springs’ Sumatera is a go-to spot for Indonesian and Thai flavors. You’ll even find plenty of spots to savor the flavors of the USA, like on a “Chow Down” ride at Sylvan Dale Ranch in Loveland, where you'll ride horseback to a scenic location to enjoy a classic cowboy dinner.

Al fresco dining at FIRE Restaurant & Lounge in Denver

Al fresco dining at FIRE Restaurant & Lounge in Denver
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Visit Denver

Michelin-Starred Marvels

Boasting nods from the prestigious Michelin Guide, these award-winning establishments represent the cutting edge of Colorado cuisine. In Denver, restaurants like Beckon offer contemporary, produce-focused dining experiences. Guests can reserve seats at the chef's table or dine on the patio. Similarly, The Wolf’s Tailor offers an internationally inspired menu with a zero-waste, sustainable focus in a private tent. In Boulder, Frasca Food and Wine delights patrons with Northeast Italian food using Colorado ingredients, while Aspen’s Bosq focuses on contemporary cuisine sourced from foraged, fermented and farm fresh components.

The chic dining room of Michelin-starred eatery Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder

The chic dining room of Michelin-starred eatery Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder
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Jeremy Swanson Photography

The Liquid Arts

Colorado’s craft libation scene has exploded in recent years, producing a wealth of creatively brewed beers, wines and spirits. With more than 400 craft breweries and taprooms across the state, beer enthusiasts are spoiled for choice. In Fort Collins – commonly referred to as Colorado’s Beer Capital – New Belgium crafts the perennially-popular Fat Tire Ale, while Riff Raff Brewery in Pagosa Springs prides itself on its “Earth Powered Beer,” which is made with a unique geothermal energy-powered brewing system. Elsewhere in the state, WeldWerks Brewing Co. in Greeley has garnered plenty of accolades from the World Beer Cup Awards. If you prefer wine or spirits, you’re also in luck: Visitors can tour dozens of craft distilleries and explore over 100 wineries in the state’s two American Viticultural Areas. Sip and savor at Colterris Winery in Palisade; linger over small-batch, zero-waste spirits at Marble Distilling in Carbondale; and enjoy craft rums at Montanya Rum Cocktail Bar & Tasting Room in Crested Butte – a female-founded distillery that uses snowmelt water from the Rocky Mountains.

Touring and tasting at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau in Grand Junction

Touring and tasting at Two Rivers Winery and Chateau in Grand Junction
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Colorado Tourism Office
More information

Food Festivals

Celebrate Colorado’s local cuisines in communities across the state. From the Palisade Peach Festival in August to the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles Festival in September where chilis are the stars of the show with chili roasting, salsa making, and even a jalapeno eating contest, there's no shortage of culinary delights to savor. In September, wine enthusiasts can flock to the Colorado Mountain Winefest in Grand Junction, the largest and oldest wine festival in the state, while beer aficionados can revel in the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, featuring public tastings and a brewer competition.

A beautiful day for beer tasting on the patio at Denver Beer Company

A beautiful day for beer tasting on the patio at Denver Beer Company
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Evan Semon

Getting There

Fly into Colorado’s largest airport Denver International Airport (DIA), or hop abord a connecting flight to one of nine regional airports throughout the state. Rent a car or take advantage of convenient public transportation options. Bustang’s intercity bus lines connect most of the state’s major metropolitan areas, while Amtrak provides train service to many Colorado locations aboard the Southwest Chief and California Zephyr routes.