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SE Utah/SW Colorado

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Three adults will be on a 16 day road trip thru SE Utah and SW Colorado from 9/23 to 10/8/09 with stops in Torrey, Hanksville, Bullfrog, Monticello, Moab, Provo/Orem, Sundance and Salt Lake City, UT and Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Silverton, Ouray and Telluride, CO. We need recommendations for dinners. Has anyone dined at the Metate Room at Mesa Verde or the Chef's Table in Orem?

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  1. You'll find a number of threads for Durango and Telluride, so check those out. Also, I imagine that DebinNM will weigh in with current recommendations.

    I've eaten at the Metate Room in MVNP -- but a long time ago. Without my recollections being particularly relevant to the present menu or chef, you can figure that in national parks, where concessionaires have a monopoly, the food is what it is -- sometimes good, sometimes less so, but you go for the ambiance and not the cuisine. The Metate Room has great views.

    Mancos - There is/was a pretty good restaurant/art gallery called Boheme, but I don't know whether it's still around. I also don't know about dinner, but for breakfast and lunch, I like the Absolute Bakery. Sundance, owned by Robert Redford, is an enchanting resort with charming cottages and good, fresh food in the Tree Room -- natural and organic before most other restaurants thought of it. I would hope that Moab, Ouray and Silverton will still be fully open through early October. A number of restaurants, shops and galleries in those towns close for the winter.

    1. For the Metate Room at Mesa Verde {written on 6/4/09}
      It is the time of year that many folks head this way for a spectacular visit to Mesa Verde National Park. It is a great park, where you can see the way the ancestral puebloans lived over 1000 years ago.

      We live in the area and go to MVNP often. We usually pack a lunch and picnic. This past weekend, we were there all day and decided to have dinner at the park. We had dinner at the Metate Room.

      We have lived here for almost 4 years and had always heard that the food was really good, but somehow we just never got around to trying it. the chef from last year actually bought one of our local restaurants this year, so it is a new chef.

      The room is lovely, with Native American theme, as one would expect. They do not take reservations, but this early in season, a table by the window was easy to get. The views are nice, looking over the mesa tops, not the bests views by far - those are elsewhere in the park.

      Service was pleasant, though our server forgot to tell us about 1 of the evening specials [we heard another server tell the table next to us about the specials].

      We started with a spicy shrimp cocktail with a prickly pear jam. It was nicely presented in a martini glass. The jam was sweet with a bit of heat, nice overall. It was $12 for what turned out to be 4 shrimp.

      We got a basket of bread with a black bean hummus spread. The spread was good, but seemed to be missing something - cumin? The bread was good, foccaicia and some pita shaped bread.

      We each got a nice dinner salad that had crispy tortilla strips on it with a bit of corn and red beans. It was clear they were trying to maintain a tie to the Puebloan culture.

      DH had a stuffed poblano chile [similar to chile rellenos] with polenta and red chile sauce. It was one big chile, that was battered and deep fried. It was tasty. $18

      I had a turkey napoleon; slices of heirloom tomatoes, red peppers, and turkey medallions with a cherry sauce. The sauce was excellent, the turkey, which was crusted, had no taste at all, veggies were good. $22

      We did not have dessert, they brought a tray over with 4 different items on it. Nothing looked particularly appealing [visually] and not worth the calories, despite us hiking all day.

      Overall, I think the food just missed the mark; it all seemed to need just a bit more spice, zip, flavor, I don't know, it just didn't do it.

      Ironically, when we got home, there was a feature story in local paper about the restaurant and the new chef.

      http://cortezjournal.com/main.asp?Sec...

      There are 3 options for dinner if you stay at park [camping or at Far View Lodge near the Visitors Center]. The Far View Cafe and Spruce Tree are casual; The Metate Room is much more upscale.

      http://www.visitmesaverde.com/dining.cfm

      You can also dine in Cortez, which is a 10 minute drive from the entrance of MVNP [plus 35 minutes from Visitor Center to entrance of MVNP].

      Deb

      2 Replies
      1. re: DebitNM

        Deb,
        Where is last year's chef from the Metate Room? What's the name of the restaurant and where is it located? Have you dined there? Thanks for all your infor

        1. re: weimmom

          I think he is now at Nero's in Cortez, that is what I remember hearing around town. We haven't eaten at Nero's since he came on board.

          According to Nero's site: Chef Richard Gurd is now at the helm, I am pretty sure this is the former chef at Metate Room.

          Deb

      2. For Dolores, Cortez and Mancos:

        Here's pretty much what's avaiable in Cortez, nothing really great, but good, solid food for the most part.
        Cortez Restaurants

        Blondie's Pub & Grub, 45 E Main, Typical pub food, wannabe biker bar
        (970)565-4015, www.blondiespubandgrub.net
        Main Street Brewery, 21 E Main, good food and better beer! (970)564-9112
        Spruce Tree Coffeehouse, 318 E Main, good spot for light lunch and bagels, excellent coffee (970) 565-6789, www.sprucetreecoffeehouse.com
        The Silver Bean, 410 W Main, espresso and coffee etc in an old airstream trailer,
        (970) 946-4404
        Far View Lodge The Metate Dining Room, inside Mesa Verde NP
        See detailed review here: http://www.fodors.com/community/unite...
        HongKong Chinese 332 W. Main , only IF you have to, (970)5648423
        Joey's Steak & Chop House 1430 E. Main, solid food.
        970-565-5363, www.joeyssteakandchophouse.com
        Koko’s Pub 2121 E. Main, next to Holiday Inn Express, standard diner like food. (970) 565-6000‎
        Let it Grow Garden Market – 90 Mildred [just across from Visitor’s Center] nice place for light lunch or coffee, (970) 565-3099
        Lotsa Pasta / That'za Pizza just out of town, heading south on 491 – name says it all, ok food and pizza (970)564-9131, www.lotsapastathatzapizza.com
        Mama Ree's Italian Family Restaurant, 17 N Harrison (across from City Market) Italian food, better than Lotsa Pasta , no pizza (970)564-9229, www.mamarees.com,
        Nero's, 303 W. Main Street, almost foodie worthy Italian (97 0)565-7366, www.subee.com/neros/home.html
        Pippo’s Diner 100 W Main St, home cooking in a tiny, diner like space Navajo Tacos are best thing on menu (970) 565-6039‎
        Shiloh Steakhouse, Main Street Cortez, CO 81321
        (970)565-6560
        TEQUILA'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT good Mexican [not New Mexican] food at reasonable prices 1740 E. Main Street (970)565-6868

        Dolores Restaurants
        Very limited:
        Dolores River Brewery – great wood fired pizza and beer to match 100 S. 4th St Dolores (970)882- HOPPS
        Ponderosa Restaurant diner like food, 108 S 8th St, Dolores, CO‎ - (970) 882-7910‎

        Mancos Restaurants
        Not much to chose from:
        Absolute Bakery and Café , decent breakfast and lunch 110 S Main, Mancos, CO‎ - (970) 533-1200‎
        Hamburger Haven, something from the 50’s, decent burgers and shakes, onion rings and fries 108 Grand Ave, Mancos, CO‎ - (970) 533-7919‎
        Millwood Junction , only place that serves dinner 101 Railroad Ave, Mancos, CO‎ - (970) 533-7338‎

        {Claire - Boheme is not in business in Mancos.
        }Deb

        2 Replies
        1. re: DebitNM

          I can't believe that you left out the Hollywood Bar in Dolores, although I haven't been there since my archaeology days back in the early '80s. It's probably been gentrified but back then, I remember being in several great near-fights over beer and other important issues.

          I know that they serve food but due to the previous reference to beer, I don't remember much.

          1. re: PitLab

            Hollywood is probably just as you left it, it is in no way "gentrified." Quite the opposite!

        2. We had a lovely dinner at Cosmo's in Durango a couple of weeks back. I give it a thumbs up for food, service and ambience.

          For Durango:
          Durango Restaurants:

          BART'S NEW YORK DELI traditional NY eats a bit out of the way, but worth it 939 Hwy. 3, 247-1144.
          CHRISTINA'S GRILL & BAR American food, just west of town 21382 Hwy. 160 W., 382-3844.
          COSMOPOLITAN $$$$ a branch of the Telluride restaurant, foodie worthy, 919 Main Ave., 259-2898.
          CYPRUS CAFÉ Mediterranean, local, seasonal, sustainable food 725 E. Second Ave., 385-6884
          DURANGO DOUGHWORKS for breakfast, lunch & good coffee, northern end of town 2411 Main Ave., 247-1610.
          EAST BY SOUTHWEST $$$ fusion, southwest meets asian 160 E. College Dr., 247-5533.
          GAZPACHO for the closest thing to New Mexican you are going to find here 431 E. Second Ave., 259-9494
          GUIDO'S FAVORITE FOODS Authentic Italian trattoria.,[our favorite Italian, closest to NY Italian other than my house] excellent take –out, gelato, groceries too 1201 Main Ave., 259-5028.
          THE HAMILTON CHOP HOUSE $$$$another foodie worthy place with gorgeous views, north of town, heading towards ski area Glacier Club at Tamarron, 40290 Hwy. 550, 259-6636.
          THE KENNEBEC Café, west of town, on the way to Mesa Verde NP- our favorite place to eat; Mediterranean and American Hwy 160 west, Hesperus,.
          MAMA'S BOY ITALIAN RISTORANTE decent Italian and Pizza, northern end of town, reasonable prices 2659 Main Ave247-0060; 32225
          MUTU'S ITALIAN KITCHEN$$$ Very good Italian 701 E. Second Ave., 375-2701.
          NATURE'S OASIS for shopping and take out [local version of Whole Foods] 300 S. Camino del Rio, 247-1988.
          ORE HOUSE steaks, very good $$$ 147 E. College Dr
          SEASONS ROTISSERIE & GRILL modern American , pretty space, outdoor dining 764 Main Ave., 382-9790.
          SERIOUS TEXAS BAR-B-Q 2 locations at each end of town, pretty decent BBQ 3535 N. Main Ave., 247-2240; 650B S. Camino del Rio, 259-9507.
          SKA BREWING good beer and small menu of Mexican food, great fish tacos Bodo Park location 225 Girard, in BODO industrial area off 550.
          STEAMWORKS BREWING CO excellent beer and good brewery food, crab boil is fun. 801 E. Second Ave., 259-9200.
          TEQUILA'S MEXICAN RESTAURANT good Mexican [not New Mexican] food at reasonable prices 948 Main Ave., 259-7655.

          Deb

          6 Replies
          1. re: DebitNM

            Good Durango list. One quibble, albeit a small one: as somewhat of a beer snob, I'd have to say that if any Durango brewery deserved the description "excellent beer", if it is definitely Ska Brewing and certainly is not Steamworks. Steamworks has gotten better than when they first opened many years ago (the beer then was all over the map), but it's not as good as Ska.

            1. re: LurkerDan

              I am not the beer person, hubby is the one. He really likes their brews, especially their Engineer with Nitrous. I also had a really nice beer there a couple of weeks ago, but being the non-beer person, I don't remember the name, but it was nice.
              Deb

            2. re: DebitNM

              I basically agree with Debit NM's reviews. However, after hearing several negative reviews of Bart's New York Deli, I finally made it by. With so many great Durango restaurants, tough to make time, especially to try something with so many bad reviews. Have to agree with everyone else. Nothing there, to my palate, that compares, much less rivals, anything in Durango, much less NYC.

              I have to agree with the positive review of Cosmo's, also of Hamilton Chop House, for the views, beef, and especially seafood.

              Must respectfully disagree about the Ore House, which I deem only mediocre beef dishes, and Mutu's, which is mediocre Italian, at best.

              1. re: grantham

                I wouldn't call Bart's a "great Durango restaurant," but last time we were there to pick up sandwiches for the road, they used Bread's wonderful bread and filled it well.

                Re Hounds who "either preface or end their comments with .....'I haven't eaten there, but I've heard that it's good!'", I plead guilty because I occasionally do this, especially when I've heard positive feedback from people whose tastes I trust.

              2. re: DebitNM

                We were in Durango for a short weekend, but in that time found a gem to add to Durango food listings - Jean-Pierre, a french-style bakery/restaurant in the downtown area. The baked goods we tried were incredible and we even bought some extra chocolate chip cookies for the rest of our trip!

                1. re: intrigued

                  Glad JP worked for you; I find them to be only so so for meals, and the pastries are ok and expensive.

              3. I can provide information only for Moab. As near as I can tell, there aren't any restaurants that could compete against the best found in big cities, but that doesn't mean you can't eat well. The Desert Inn is often mentioned as one of the better places in town. Here's a summary of what I wrote at the time:

                "The Desert Inn is part of an old ranch house; a stained glass panel above the front door says 1896. There are two small dining rooms, holding around 40 people, plus a patio. The room I was in had honey colored wood plank floors, large windows, white wainscoting and mint green walls above. Music played softly in the background. Service was very friendly and warm. It was also efficient.

                The menu is small but ambitious, offering complex creations of fish and game, as well as the more usual meats and fowl. Exact choices vary, but you may find rabbit, buffalo, deer, elk and antelope listed. I can recommend an appetizer of homemade rabbit sausage with breaded goat cheese over roasted fennel, saffron and Frangelico (the sauce is heavenly). The entree of antelope medallions and corn pancakes was good enough, but less interesting than it sounds.

                I like that the menu offers game. I like that the chef is ambitious. I like the atmosphere. I like the food well enough. Given that it's located in the food wilderness, it definitely deserves consideration for a special meal.

                Cost for one appetizer and one entree: $52 plus tip."

                =======

                I also ate at the Moab Brewery. It's something of a local institution, and tends to be crowded. It's a large, noisy space, with little in the way of decoration. You're here to talk and drink, not appreciate the artwork. The menu offers typical bar food - lots of greasy appetizers, hamburgers, Tex-Mex and the like - but makes an extra effort and also offers soups, vegetarian items, and slightly more interesting variations on bar food. The food isn't bad, but it also isn't gourmet. It's food you eat while you're having fun with friends. Cost for a huge platter of sausages, baked potato, vegetables and salad, plus a large glass of home made root beer: $18 plus tip.

                1. Moab:

                  We liked Pasta Jay's, more on here, including some to stay away from!

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/612322

                  Deb

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DebitNM

                    Sorry to disagree but I think that Pasta Jays's is an abomination!

                    1. re: PitLab

                      The original Pasta Jay's is in Boulder, and we don't go there. It serves what I think of as "Western-style southern Italian food" -- that is, pasta drowning in sauce (usually red), ladeled into an ovenproof dish, topped with cheese and baked. Most people raised in part of the country like it that way. We immigrants don't. FWIW, Pasta Jay's is owned by Jay Elowsky who hails from Michigan. If it matters, the Boulder and Moab menus are different from one another. I don't know about the recipes. .

                      1. re: PitLab

                        Pasta Jay's isn't foodie meal, but it was edible. Compared to the other places we ate at, it was the best. Moab isn't a chow town but then you aren't going there for the food.

                    2. We recently finished a roadtrip through southern Utah, and I posted two long topics on it:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641342
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/641344

                      The short list of recommendations for where our trips overlap: in Moab, we dined at both the Desert Inn and the Center Cafe; both were very good - and similarly priced - but for food, we preferred the Center Cafe. In Torrey, don't miss the Diablo Cafe, which was outstanding. In Salt Lake City, if you like Mexican food, be sure to eat the the Red Iguana, one of the best Mexican meals we've ever had. Lots of crowds (45 minute wait on a Tuesday night at 6:00), but well worth it. Ask for a mole sampler before you order.

                      We also stopped for a shake at Stan's Burger Shak (sic) in Hanksville; very popular, and the burgers looked good, but we only had time to pick up an excellent chocolate shake and get back on the road.