KRISTIN TICE STUDEMAN
Telluride might be known for its famous landowners—Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren among them—but this majestic ski town tucked away in a box canyon in southwestern Colorado still maintains its Old West charm. Once a mining town, and where Butch Cassidy started his bank-robbing career back in the 1890s, modern-day Telluride remains the unfussy, more casual ski-town sibling of places like Aspen or Vail. Don’t let the lack of fur coats and big-name chefs fool you—Telluride has world-class dining and lodging to match the outstanding ski terrain at Telluride Ski Resort.
There are Telluride establishments that should definitely be on your list, like Madeline Hotel and Residences (a favorite for its ski-in/ski-out access and après scene), Allred’s gourmet restaurant at the top of the gondola, and the 104-year-old Sheridan Opera House, where some of the entertainment world’s biggest names have passed through over the years. But if you are looking for some of the more under-the-radar spots, either because they are hidden in the mountains or are newer establishments, here are a few local watering holes that shouldn’t be missed on your next trip to Telluride.
Where to eat and drink
Tacos del Gnar
Tacos del Gnar might be one of the newest dining spots in town, but news of their mouthwateringly delicious tacos has spread quickly in Telluride. The casual spot is perfect for grabbing a quick bite after a morning spent shredding the gnar. Here you’ll find some of the most unique tacos one could dream up, like the Avo taco with tempura-fried avocado slices on a flour tortilla topped with shredded cabbage and a zippy sauce. This place is so good, you seriously might want to plan a second stop here before you leave town.
New Sheridan Historic Bar
The historic New Sheridan Hotel and its accompanying dining spots—the Chop House and its Historic Bar—are iconic watering holes in Telluride. The restaurant is one of Telluride’s finest, and the Historic Bar—which dates from 1895, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike for its lively atmosphere, games (pool and foosball), and nightly drink specials. But what many visitors don’t know is that the bar also has a limited but very tasty menu of its own. Think elk chili, French fries with truffle oil and Parmesan, French dip sandwiches (arguably the best in town), and more.
Friends With Bennys Food Cart
If you are in need of a quick breakfast in town, head straight to Friends With Bennys (located at the gondola plaza on the Telluride side) for the eggs Benedict sandwiches (they do vegetarian Benedicts and have several options for meat lovers) or the loaded breakfast sandwich, a homemade English muffin topped with a fried egg, prosciutto, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, arugula, and red onion. Locals consider it to be the best in the area. Insider tip: You can call or text your order to 970-708-0054 (include your order and your cross streets), and they will either deliver to you or pick a meeting spot nearby.
The Grilled Cheese Cart
Even the most dedicated grilled cheese enthusiast will not be disappointed by the sandwiches at the Grilled Cheese Cart in the Mountain Village Core. It has traditional grilled cheeses, and if you are more of an experimental grilled-cheese eater, go for the grilled Brie and apricot sandwich.
Between the Covers Bookstore
You might think it’s just a cute bookstore, but nestled in the back is High Alpine Coffee Bar, which brews locally roasted coffee beans from Tomboy Coffee Roasters. Find a cozy corner and enjoy your coffee with a good book.
You certainly won’t just stumble upon this place. Alpino Vino, a five-course Italian restaurant in a European-style chalet at 11,966 feet, is only accessible at night via a gondola ride followed by a 20-minute snowcat ride up the mountain. During the day, you can get to it by taking the Gold Hill Express, Lift 14. Ski down “See Forever” and you’ll see it. Chef Nico Peccedi, who hails from the Italian Alps, will wow you with his braised-duck ravioli, cauliflower soup with amaretti crumbles and truffle oil, and his signature tiramisu (his grandma’s recipe). As for the wine, opt for the premium wine pairing (all Italian wines) expertly curated by wine director Andrew Shaffner. Note: Guests must be at least 21 years old to eat at the restaurant at night. Call ahead to reserve your spots.
Head to this tiny local hangout on Pacific Avenue for après-ski drinks and Asian-inspired tapas. There are many inventive cocktails on the menu, but it’s the jam drinks that locals come here for. (Yes, jam!) Just pick a jam—Maine blueberry, red pepper jelly, or pumpkin—and then pick your spirit—vodka, gin, rum, tequila, or rye. The red-pepper jelly and tequila combo is a good bet. As for eats, share the extra crispy brussel sprouts (you’ll find it hard to put your fork down with these), potatoes bravas (both good options for vegans), and the ramen, available with pork tenderloin, prawn tempura, duck breast, King crab, or veggies, plus a soft egg.
Where to ski
Plunge Lift (Lift 9)
Plunge Lift is a local’s favorite that gives you access to some of the mountains’ best advanced terrain, like Log Pile and Bushwacker, along with sweeping views of town.
Where to stay
If you are looking for somewhere to stay that’s truly off the beaten path, look no farther than Tempter House. Situated at 12,200 feet up and adjacent to Gold Hill, which is famous for its expert ski terrain, Tempter House is one of the highest elevation homes in North America. The Anne Eckley–designed house has sweeping views of the mountain, ski-in/ski-out access, an attendant for turn-down service, steam showers, a hot tub, a credit for dinner for two at Allred’s or Alpino Vino (two of the mountain’s best fine dining options), and a private chef available (for an additional cost). The Winter Overnight for Two package is $7,500 per night. Note: People book Tempter House around six months in advance, so make sure to plan ahead on this one. It’s not likely you will get a last-minute reservation.
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