Recommend the food scene in your town!
We are planning on renting a home out west for two months this summer but we are having a hard time picking a town. Biking and hiking are important to us but so is food so I am turning to you for help. Please recommend your mountain town with good restaurants and, more importantly, great locally-sourced meat and good specialty stores! We are focussing on Colorado (steamboat? Durango?) but we are open to anything!
Although it is not strictly speaking a "mountain town" like Vail, Aspen, Durango, etc., Boulder is without question the "foodiest" town in the state and the region. Boulder lies at the mouth of Boulder Canyon, a 3000' deep gorge into the Rockies, 35 miles and 100 years NW of Denver, 30 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park, etc., etc., etc. It has more restaurants per capital than any other city in the nation, and is dedicated to "locavore" eating with fresh ingredients of every kind readily available. Try the Farmers' Market for do-it-yourself treats, Frasca Food & Wine for world-class Italian, Snooze for breakfast, Brasserie 1010 for down-home French, The Med for cuisine of the middle east and for seafood, and on and on. The city is cosmopolitan with the only university in the world with 5 (count them - 5) Noble Prize winners on its faculty, the National Center for Standards and Technology (formerly the Bureau of Standards) and many other national laboratories (NOAA, UCAR, NCAR, etc.). If you wear a tie someone will probably cut it off somewhere; if you wear real fur you may get splashed with paint; if your dog is off-leash but not under excellent (and tested if questioned) voice command you will get a ticket; but if you want incredibly beautiful sites, food to remember forever, unusual choices (try 5 different Nepalese restaurants!), fun, world-class rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, and about anything else you might want you must try Boulder. "Outside" and "Backpacker" magazines have both noted that every garage in Boulder is filled to overflowing with about every outdoor toy known to man, but the difference is that in Boulder "they get used!"
. . . I forgot to mention since you like biking, Boulder is the most bike-centered town in Colorado if not in the country, too. You can rent them on almost every major street corner, take bike touring trips every day if you want, there are several hundred miles of trail within and immediately adjacent to the city and several thousand available by connector. There are major bike shops that rent machines as well, try University Bikes at 9th and Pearl downtown if interested. If you belong to an athletic club try for reciprocity at the Colorado Athletic Club - Boulder at 29th Street. If you want a cycling coach ask for Paul Lugar, he's incredible, and the Club also has regular bike riding tours and programs as well as professional training and testing equipment for improving your skills.
Thanks, Keninboulder! It sounds amazing and, foodie-wise, exactly what I'm looking for. Was hoping for a little more rural, though. Maybe I can find a place within striking distance of Boulder so we can get into town in 15-30 minutes or so, but still be more rural. Any ideas, since it sounds like you know it well?
If you would tell us what kind of biking you are looking to do, mountain, road, path or downhill and what kind of hiking, bagging 14 teeners, multiday, flat or technical it would help. The same is true for food, are you going to cook a lot, go out most nights, want to spend big bucks or do a local thing, that would also help.
I can't think of many places where you probably would want to spend time that would try to "sell" you on the idea of visiting for 2 months.
Thanks, Blueox. My husband is an avid road biker and we would be doing day hikes with our three kids, all of whom are under 10. We eat out probably three times a week, but when we cook in, we eat a lot of fresh vegetables and I cook from a lot of different cuisines, mostly asian and some indian. We are trying to see what it would be like to "live" somewhere with an idea towards buying at a future date. A CSA would be great, and also places to get fresh meat and fish that are several cuts above a Safeway. Would love any suggestions.
If you like the mountains, look west from Boulder towards Nederland, Lyons, even Estes Park, Wondervu (west Golden). I used to live in Nederland, small quiet community, on 10 acres and we could make it to Boulder Farmers Market (the best) in 20 minutes give or take and to Lodo (downtown Denver) in 40 minutes. Tons of biking, off road and mountain trails as well as parks and lakes.
The towns that come to mind that meet your requirements are Edwards, Carbondale, Steamboat, Crested Butte, Ouray and Salida. These are all above 7000 feet which means the are fairly cool in the summer. Don't look just in the towns but checkout place close by. The towns close to ski areas have plenty of short term housing available in the summer and lot's of off-season specials at their restaurants.
I think this is my first post but I feel obliged to pipe in! I've noticed that Colorado isn't the most active area on Chowhound, so you may have a hard time getting your answers here.
I'm currently spending a month in Salida and after day 5 I really enjoy it. Small town feel, with limited culinary options, but it attracts an interesting crowd that has a very rural feel with a blend of skiers, artists, and outdoorsy retirees, and has a decent amount of tourism without feeling touristy. That's relevant cause it explains a little about why the food options are a bit more expanded than you'd expect from the small, middle of nowhere spot.
I came on here to post about Ploughboy, Inc: a specialty year-round farmer's market of sorts. Daily baked bread to die for, locally sourced products including dairy, meat & seasonal produce. Oh, they sell their own flours too. They also have a deli that I haven't tried yet but smells wonderful. I wasn't expecting to find a place like this in such a small town, but I'd be impressed even in Denver by their store. It's small but I just love their approach. http://www.ploughboyinc.com/
I noticed that there's a natural foods store in town as well, but I haven't been in yet.
I've also tried 2 decent pizza places:
Moonlight Pizza was good and they deliver in town.)
Amicas Pizza and Microbrewery had a great wood-fired crust that I really enjoyed and a fun-looking beer selection (didn't get a chance to try any
Another highlight was The Fritz, recommended to me by someone in town. Overall more ambitious of a menu than I think you would find in your average ski town and some items are absolutely wonderful. Had a great braised pork, good burger and mac and cheese. They had far more exciting tapas listed as well but we were apparently in a comfort food mood. We had one dud item, (the only one not recommended to us by the waiter), so they may be more hit and miss, but the waiter was very cool about not charging us for it so props for service too!
Haven't seen much ethnic variety: a spot called Little Cambodia and a questionable-looking Chinese place are the most notable exceptions.
I've heard a lot of people say great things about Crested Butte, so I second BlueOx in checking that out. I don't know anything about the rest except Steamboat, which I stayed a night at while driving through. Definitely will have what you're looking for food wise but felt pretty touristy to me. Might not be the case if you get off the main strip (I was only there 1 night), and then you still have access to all the food options.
Note that some of the areas near Boulder, such as Lyons, took a serious beating by the flooding this fall - I have no idea if or how that might affect staying there this summer.
Good luck! If you're interested I can update at the end of the month when my trip here is over. :)
Oh bugger I just realized it is now January 2014! I hope you had a good summer and hopefully this post helps out someone else!
We just relocated to Boulder this summer (husband lived here late 80's-late 90's) and as an outsider still looking in I can say you may be happy with Lyons or even some of the mt towns like Nederland and Ward which is a smaller version of Ned. Lyons is not looking good from the aftermath of the flood however, by summer time perhaps they will get it together. The thing I love about this area is the availability to just shop at the farm if you miss the farmers market which is on Wed afternoons or Sat mornings. The last time I shopped directly from a farm without a fuss was in Tokyo in the 70's! You can just drive to Muson Farms then go directly to Cure Farm which is across the street. There are other farm stands all over the county which are all less than 30 min away. I have a friend up in Breckenridge and she loves it there, however, bc it is a smaller tourist town she finds it limiting compared to living in or near Boulder.
I also find most of the nicer restaurants in Boulder "affordable" for what they provide. I say that i quotes bc to some it's not affordable so that term can be limited. Where we lived before in LA $50-$80 per person for farm to table type of food if you can get a reservation at Hatfields or Rustic Canyon. It was always such a chore. Another thing we discovered is also thing called Happy Hour in Boulder. This is not reserved for cheap drinks either in most of the restaurants. from 3-6pm many restaurants provide a limited happy hour menu which can really save a lot. My husband is very surprised at all these new things in Boulder as this is not the town he knew but things change. Good luck!!