Fill your tummy, slack your thirst at the best Breckenridge, Colorado restaurants and bars.
Perhaps the altitude had something to do with it, but I came home lighter after eating at some of the best restaurants in Breckenridge, Colorado. It wasn’t for trying! There are so many tempting places to eat from casual to a bit more formal around town. With delicious wines, fun bars, the country’s highest distillery, and truly talented mixologists, I assumed that my caloric intake hit new heights and nothing would fit the same when I returned home. Nope.
While I was a guest of Go Breck, as usual all opinions are my own.
You may think, ‘Of course you lost weight, look at all the exercise you got in Breckenridge.” But you’d be wrong. I did a bit of hiking but spent an early fall week exploring the city. I didn’t partake in most of the adventure options (this earlier post lists many. )
There may be an explanation to my weight loss in this Scientific American article. It discusses the phenomenon of losing weight at higher altitudes:
Weight loss can also occur at high altitudes in the absence of exercise. In a preliminary study, a group of obese, mainly sedentary males who spent a week at a moderately high altitude were able to lose weight without exercise. Although the participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted, they consumed nearly 730 calories less than they typically did at a normal altitude. They also had significantly increased levels of leptin, the protein hormone that plays a role in appetite control and metabolism.
I ate and drank with the best of them but in retrospect noticed that I leaned towards smaller portions, small plates, and appetizers instead of entrees.
If you’re planning a trip to the mountain city, indulge but share. When traveling with kids, don’t be alarmed if they eat less. Ask your waiters for ‘to go’ containers and snack on leftovers later. Your waist might shrink a bit, but your wallet will ‘lose’ less as you enjoy dining and drinking through Breckenridge, Colorado.
Here’s a short list of the best restaurants in Breckenridge, both established and new. I’ve included a few drinking spots for happy hours, after dinner drinks or charcuterie if your appetite is seriously flagging.
This mountain-styled delight is hidden from the street. Cabin Juice flows through the warm, second floor interior of the membership hotel, Gravity Haus. When you walk in, allow a few minutes to savor the lobby decor before running upstairs to be seated.
The menu is packed with carnivore specials (Rack of Elk anyone?) as well as lighter fare. My creamy Avalanche Snow Pea Risotto was offset well with crunchy greens. There’s even a Family Sized Rotisserie Platter and Kids Menu.
Blue River Bistro
I was seriously hungry after shuttling up to Breckenridge from Denver. After dropping my bags at our Airbnb, I scouted for a special lunch and the Blue River Bistro served it perfectly. The restaurant is a short walk from the Gondola and shuttle drop off. It has a slim patio and long, graceful interior washed with light. I indulged in a shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich which was satisfying from the first buttery bite. The bread alone was art. Juicy fried pickles added surprisingly succulent notes. It was hard to decide what to order and although the menu is a bit pricey, I’d gladly return.
Cheese Shop of Breck
One lunchtime picnic starred sandwiches from the Cheese Shop of Breck. Often it’s tricky to juggle dietary and taste differences but the Cheese Shop’s attention to requests is admirable. My sub was filled with fresh ingredients and protein, both important for hiking fortitude.
Take the gondola up the mountain to Peak 8, and cross the bright plaza. With people milling through and several places to eat and drink you’ll have to steadfastly look for this gem. Glance up and across to the far side and notice a long patio. That’s the star at Robbie’s Tavern. Inside is perfectly comfortable for casual dining. Outside the views are amazing. Grab a beer, sandwiches, a salad, and enjoy the extraordinary air.
Higgles Handcrafted Ice Cream
Tucked above Main Street, this small shop does a brisk business. The Higgles flavors rotate each season with small batch explorations. Started by Anna Higgins, the shop remains committed to a sustainable environmental philosophy and uses local ingredients as much as possible. Flavors include honey with lavender, banana bread, and there’s even a squirrel ice cream. (It’s full of nuts and served with a warning not to eat outside near wildlife.) I have to admit my bacon-maple-bourbon small cup was a perfect way to cap off a big lunch.
Mimi and Pin
If anyone had told me that Churros are made with healthy vegetable oils I might have been tempted to try them sooner. Sadly, my donut days have been disappointing and that’s why the Spanish Churros at Mimi and Pin were a revelation. Fried with sunflower and olive oil at a very high temperature keeps the crispy crust from absorbing unnecessary oil. Still not convinced? Add a cup of hot chocolate for dippy. There are many variations to choose from along with tempting coffees. The small shop is near the gondola entry in town. Bring a cup along for the ride!
Breakfast or Lunch at Semplice Café
You can spot the sidewalk space of Semplice from the locals milling in front of the window. The menu is filled with vegan, vegetarian as well as carnivore options. The made-to-order smoothies and aromatic mugs of coffee make it a go to spot. Grab a few and wake up to the day while watching the world walk by. Locally run and woman owned. Also open for lunch.
Pizza Perfection at Tin Plate
This historic mining cabin has been turned into an upscale pizza restaurant and the high-altitude, sourdough crusts are perfection. If only the walls could talk! They’d be filled with excited whispers from 1887. You’d learn about ‘Tom’s Baby,’ Colorado’s largest gold nugget, which was cleaned and weighed in the gold assayers cabin- turned restaurant. Grab dessert at Dynamite Cookie, attached to Tin Plate and also owned by James Harris, then stroll over to the park to study the sculpture of Tom swaddling his nugget.
Two of the best Breckenridge Colorado restaurants and bars
I hopped on the complimentary shuttle before discovering that our destination is the highest distillery in the world. There’s a small store at the Breckenridge Distillery entrance, then the lofty space opens into an inviting dining room. James Beard award-winning Chef David Burke received Best Chef in New York twice before moving to Breckenridge. At this location, he integrates distillery spirits into his dishes and dessert menu, which changes daily. Pro Tip: Reserve a spot on the Distillery Tour and be prepared for amazement. The tasting flights are stellar. The smoked Cosmo a show-stopper. Sip slowly to better enjoy the tour.
Luckily for those of us looking for the best Breckenridge restaurant sand bars, Chef Matt Vawter is back. Built out inside a Victorian home, the Rootstalk space is creative and simple, the better to enjoy each presentation. These joys stem from a finely honed team. Vawter spent years honing his craft and winning accolades in Denver, most notably Mercantile Dining and Provision in the Denver Train Terminal, before returning to Summit County. The name, Rootstalk, is a passing reference to Vawter’s homecoming as well as the carefully sourced ingredients. I can’t recommend the cocktails enough – strong and expertly balanced concoctions by Rootstalk’s wise mixologists.
While I was a guest of Go Breck all opinions are my own. Bon appetit!