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Looking for good eats in Estes Park Area

nolawino May 14, 2011 11:26 AM

My husband and I are traveling to Estes Park in late June. From what I understand there aren't a lot of good restaurants in the area. We are planning on stocking up on groceries in Boulder on our way to our cabin but would like to go out to dinner one night. We are fine driving about a half hour but hate go further than that ( want to enjoy some good wine)

Any ideas would be great. I've checked the boards for restaurants in Boulder but are there any other restaurants within driving distance to Estes Park. I'd also like to try to find some elk to grill while we are there. Does anyone know of a good butcher or meat market between Denver and Estes Park.

Thanks in advance for the help.


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  1. c
    ClaireWalter May 18, 2011 11:23 AM

    Stay off Elk Avenue (the main drag). Best fine dining is (or at least last year way) the dining room in the Mary's Lake Lodge. Excellent food, good wine list, good service. They also have a pub with more casual food . For more casual (and closer-to-town) dinner, try the Rock Inn. Right down the street is the Dunraven Inn, which has a rep for good Italian food, but I've never eaten there.

    Mary's Lake Lodge
    2625 Marys Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517

    Dunraven Inn
    2470 State Highway 66, Estes Park, CO 80517

    1. MinkeyMonkey May 18, 2011 06:20 PM

      It could be worth a trip to Nederland to the Black Forest restaurant. They serve elk and are pretty yummy. We don't like their bread as it seems to be packaged, sliced bread. But, we really like everything else!

      Black Forest Restaurant
      24 Big Springs Dr, Nederland, CO 80466

      1. b
        bens May 19, 2011 10:54 PM

        Mac Gregor ranch, off of macgregor ave, behind the stanley hotel. You can google a map. They sell great beef out of the little office. they also sometimes have amazing chicken eggs.
        The beef is frozen. Thaw it in the fridge and enjoy some great steaks and burgers! Also, about halfway between lyons and estes is a colorado winery. You will see a little bridge with signs on your left. the wine tastings are fun (though the wine can be unremarkable), but they sell amazing smoked trout. Oskar Blues in lyons is also worth stopping in at for a beer on the way into the park.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bens
          ClaireWalter May 19, 2011 11:42 PM

          The smoked trout at "the winery"(at Trout Haven Resort. if we're thinking about the same place) actually comes from Villa Tatra, also between Lyons & Estes Park. They also do wonderful smoked salmon and have a nice eastern European restauant.

          Herb's Meats in Broomfield. Also, there's a Whole Foods in Superior and 3 in Boulder (1 called Ideal Market, its traditional name before it became part of Whole Foods) and a recently reborn Alfalfa's Market. All have very good meat depts, but I don't know whether they carry elk.

          Villa Tatra
          729 Pinewood Dr, Lyons, CO 80540

        2. m
          monopod May 20, 2011 09:39 AM

          I don't know if this is what you have in mind for a dinner out, but Smokin' Daves is pretty good BBQ. Otherwise, I'd second the recommendation of the Rock Inn Tavern, especially if you can go on a night where they're having music (mostly local bluegrass).

          Rock Inn
          318 E Commercial Ave, Anaconda, MT 59711

          1 Reply
          1. re: monopod
            grinnell Jan 27, 2012 02:30 PM

            I'm originally from KC so my opinion of smokin daves may be biased but i was unimpressed. sat at the bar service was poor they forgot an order of fries

          2. n
            nolawino May 22, 2011 07:42 AM

            Thanks everyone for the advice. Also does anyone know of Farmers Markets in the area. I've found one in Boulder that I'll probably use on Saturday, but if there is one in Estes Park that would be way more convenient. Thanks again for the advice.

            1 Reply
            1. re: nolawino
              ClaireWalter May 22, 2011 03:16 PM

              The Boulder County Farmers Market (http://www.boulderfarmers.org/, Saturdays, 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and a smaller one Wednesday afternoons, I believe 4 to 7 p..m) is arguably the best in the state. Excellent local produce, artisanal cheeses, breads, prepared foods -- and a dynamite food court w/ live entertainment. There is also a Saturday farmers market in Lyons, right down the canyon from Estes Park and therefore closer than Boulder (http://lyonsoutdoormarket.com/). I've never been to it. There also appears to be a thursday farmers' market in Estes Park, but I know nothing about it (http://www.americantowns.com/co/estes...). Ask at the visitors' center at the junction of US 36 and US 34 as you come into town.

            2. r
              rovingfoodie May 22, 2011 08:26 AM

              My husband and I have had some terrific meals at the Cascades Restaurant at the Stanley Hotel - we tend to especially enjoy the wild game options they offer. The service and ambiance are perfect for a nice dinner, and the hotel itself is a fascinating place to explore. We also enjoyed our dinner at Mary's Lake Lodge - though we chose the more casual tavern area (which featured live music the night we went) vs. the chalet room, which I understand is a bit more formal.

              Mary's Lake Lodge
              2625 Marys Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517

              1. n
                notfatfrank Jun 7, 2011 12:21 PM

                I agree with the Mary's Lake Lodge rec. Also check out Twin Owls (evenings only) on MacGregor Ave, Sweet Basilico isn't too bad. Nicky's out on Fall River is excellent as well. As someone else said Smokin Dave's is good, they also now have a location in Lyons.

                Mary's Lake Lodge
                2625 Marys Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517

                Sweet Basilico Cafe
                430 Prospect Village Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517

                Fall River Cafe
                3250 Highway 20, Ashton, ID 83420

                1. f
                  foodiemidwife Jun 7, 2011 05:03 PM

                  Dunraven Inn is great classic ital-american, do not eat at the Estes Park Brewery - after a long day of hiking last September my husband and I were on beer number two and nearly delirious before we got a glass of water and frozen (yes together) cheese sticks, when we tried to return them the waitress actually stuck her finger in them to see if we were telling the truth and then returned with them 12 minutes later (yes the same ones in clumped freezer formation!). fried appetizers are a sucker eating bet I realize but it was really surreal!

                  Dunraven Inn
                  2470 State Highway 66, Estes Park, CO 80517

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodiemidwife
                    hans Jun 28, 2011 02:47 PM

                    Just be sure it's the Dunraven Inn out towards the Y camp and not Dunraven Downtown. Two similar named, both Italian, one's worth it and the other's not even close. Head towards the original out of downtown.

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