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Denver and Manitou Springs areas

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A friend and I are heading on a spontaneous trip to Colorado in a week, and we'll be staying in both Denver and Manitou springs for 3-4 days each. I'm looking for recommendations of places to eat around those areas. Definitely interested in any fine dining scenes, and also quite partial to very regional or exquisitely Coloradan things, but above all quality food is tops. Money is really not an issue, as long as we can grab a dinner for under 150 a person, with maybe one exception to that.

So, what's on the top of the game in the Denver area? We'll be spending most of our time in Morrison at the Monolith festival in red rock, but are planning on heading to the city for dinners and maybe a lunch or two. We'll have a car, and driving a reasonable distance, say up to 30 mins, is fine with us. Farther if it's worth it as well. Like I said, mainly looking for anything really outstanding, fine dining, unique, or just plain good.

We'll also be in Manitou Springs for a few days. I don't expect exactly fine dining there, so just looking for anything really good and worth our time. Colorado Springs looks close enough to drive, so anything there is game as well. Once more, just focusing on good food, and possibly really local interesting places.

I'm a mostly LA and SB hound from California, never been to Colorado(never been to a non-coastal state at all), so I have no idea what I'm heading for. My friend grew up in Manitou, but doesn't really remember much, except for some donut place on a mountain. We'll both eat just about anything, no joke, as long as it's good. Oh, and great wine is also appreciated, as well as decent cocktails or anything else in that realm.

Any rec's for anything else non-food is appreciated as well, but really I just want to know where to eat. Show me how delicious your city can be Denverites and Manitouians. Thanks a lot.

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  1. Lots of Denver threads on this board. Among the most commonly mentioned or fine diing are Fruition, various Kevin Taylor restaurants, Osterio Marco, Mizuna, Rioja, Panzano. For regional, The Fort, which happens to be in Morrison (not downtown, but close) is tops. Search around those threads and you'll find more -- and more details.

    Manitou Springs' the best restaurants are The Cliff House Dining Room and the Craftwood Inn. In nearby Colorado Springs, the Penrose Room and Summit, both at the Broadmoor, rank among the city's finest dining. The Broadmoor also does a kock-out Sunday brunch. Also interesting is the Black Bear's Fireside Dining Room; it's in Green Mountain Falls (go west on US 24, just a few miles from Manitou).

    2 Replies
    1. re: ClaireWalter

      The Blue Vervain in Manitou Springs is very good. Make reservations, only about 10 tables.

      1. re: ClaireWalter

        I second Osteria Marco and Rioja; you should also check out Beatrice & Woodsley, a stunning place serving relatively courageous small plates.

      2. From Morrison it's an easy and pretty trip to The little Bear Saloon in Evergreen. Good live music and a local institution.

        1. In Morrison, we like Cafe Prague located at 209 Bear Creek Ave. Over on the other side of the mountain, on I-70 is a Colorado institution, El Rancho. Really pretty mountain views and a nice sunset.

          Note: While the days will still be warm at this time of year, temperatures in the foothills will be brisk. Dress in layers and drink plenty of water to combat altitude sickness.

          www.cafepraguerestaurant.com
          www.historicelrancho.com

          1. Thanks for the recommendations everyone. I did some more searching on the boards, and have a pretty good idea of what we're going for.

            At this point we're planning to visit either Black Hat Cattle Co. or Opus restaurant on friday, have reservations for Minzuna and Fruition for saturday and sunday, and reservations on wednesday and thursday for the Craftwood Inn and Cliff House. All of these seem to get good reviews and have piqued our interest.

            We have decided to do one night in Boulder as well, so if anything could be recommended that would be appreciated. I had heard good things about Black Cat, but wouldn't mind more input. This would be on monday.

            Also, for tuesday, we're still deciding between the Broadmoor and something else, as the Penrose rooms seems to require jackets and my dining partner loathes evening dresses. Any additional ideas would be nice. (Blue Vervain said booked)

            Thanks a lot.

            ETA: What exactly is the dress code like in most places? I'm tainted by LA where business casual can apparently mean jeans and a t-shirt. Nice slacks and a polo? Formal shirt but no jacket/tie? Or do I need my whole white tie getup? Thanks.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Shortsord

              Coloradans are also VERY casual. What you describe for LA would seems right for Colo too. The places most likely to find any kind of dress code (no jeans, no shorts, jacket for men, probably no tie requirement) would be the Penrose Room at The Broadmoor and the Palace Arms at the Brown Palace. But if any of these places appeal to you, why not ask when you are making reservations? Or, since both are in hotels, call the concierge and ask.

              Black Cat is terrific!

              Enjoy your visit.

              1. re: Shortsord

                Opus is a place I keep meaning to get to myself. Do report back!