San Antonio Express: How to satisfy that appetite
By Michael Hiller
Spring comes late to Telluride and doesn't last long. By mid-May, the hillsides will pop in firecracker waves of wildflowers as vibrant as a box of crayons. Skiers and snowboarders are packing up now, soon to be replaced by hikers, bikers, climbers and kayakers. The one thing everybody has in common? They all have to eat. Here's where you'll find some of the most exciting food on the mountain and in the valley.
With the amazing view, it's a wonder that there's any cooking going on at all at Allred's. The open kitchen looks across the dining room and, beyond that, onto aspens and pines.
Allred's has no street address because it's not on a street. It's perched 10,551 feet up the mountain, at the top of the gondola. Go for the view. Go for the sunsets. Go for the local cheeses, the wild game, the cassoulet that makes even French visitors swoon. A meal here is like hanging out in the Dolomites with rich friends who just happen to have both a talented chef and a great backyard.
Info: AllredsRestaurant.com or 970-728-7474
Chef Chad Scothorn is a fanatic about details that matter — impeccably fresh fish, real wasabi root, housemade ciabatta and pastas. He produces his own burratta cheese and gnocchi, cooks sous vide and knows the thin line between fusion and confusion. So while you'll find sushi, organic beets and beef tenderloin on the menu, Scothorn never asks them to dance together. It's hard not to be wowed by Cosmo's rosy-pink lamb, his ricotta gnudi, his wild mushrooms and spinach brightened with a kick of grainy mustard sauce. But the seared scallops draped in ribbons of house-smoked duck and pomegranate syrup might be even better. A meal here feels special. Even on a Monday.
Info: CosmoTelluride.com or 970-728-1292
New Sheridan Chop House Restaurant & Bar
The New Sheridan hotel was built in 1891, so it's no surprise that its restaurant has staying power.
Erich Owen runs the kitchen of the Chop House, a misnomer if there ever was one. In addition to prime steaks, the Chop House is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means it serves everything from dreamy oatmeal to thick burgers to nut-crusted trout. All of it is outstanding.
I would hike, bike, ski or run in my pajamas for one of Owen's omelettes, especially the one with lobster, white cheddar, avocado and crème fraiche. But, then, I'm not alone: the guy sitting to my right one morning rolled in off the street in his PJs and ordered the same thing.
On my left, a college student from Atlanta grabbed a seat and asked the waitress if she could put a rush on hers. “I'm kind of in a hurry,” she said, “since I'm being fired in an hour.”
Info: NewSheridan.com or 970-728-9100
The Butcher & The Baker
You don't have to be connected, call an unlisted reservation number or put your name on a list to eat at the Butcher and Baker Café, the best bakery in Telluride. You just have to stand in line, reminding yourself you aren't really hungry enough to eat the slow-roasted short rib sandwich, the breakfast burrito stuffed with eggs, cheese, black beans, corn and sweet potatoes, and any of a dozen exceptional pastries.
On busy mornings, the crowd stretches out the door for their almond croissants, oatmeal flax seed cookies and warm breads leavened with wild yeast.
Info: ButcherAndBakerCafe.com or 970-728-2899
You will forget that Telluride is nowhere near Italy as soon as you cross the threshold of Rustico Ristorante, a stone-and-brick walled tratorria with a colorful patio, river rock fireplace and busy kitchen.
Owner Paulo Canclini is obsessed with buying the best of everything. Most of Rustico's produce is grown locally, and the grass-fed beef comes from Ralph Lauren's nearby ranch. The 1,100-bottle wine list is all-Italian with a long nod toward Sicily, where Canclini has family ties.
The menu is a mishmash of good eating not just off the toe of Italy, but up the ankle and into the leg: thin-crust pizzas, rustic breads, grilled fish, spit-roasted meats, risotti and fresh pastas. You can't go wrong with the porcini ravioli or anything that includes the house-made sausages. Canclini learned the secret sausage recipe from a Sicilian butcher.
The view from the patio may not be Sienna, but it's every bit as easy on the eyes.
Info: RusticoRistorante.com or 970-728-4046
La Cocina de Luz
You might think I'm crazy for suggesting La Cocina de Luz should be on your don't-miss list, but the only thing crazy about this perpetually busy, shabby-chic place is the food. It's crazy good.
Chef/owner Lucas Luz fell in love with Southwestern flavors years ago at the original Coyote Café, in Santa Fe. At Cocina, he's one-upped it.
I had low expectations for this bohemian restaurant on Main Street. I could do without the rotating local art, the fabric-draped ceiling that reminds me of preschool, the Marks-A-Lot menu.
Then I tasted the food. Chewy, flaky, handmade corn tortillas, fist-size enchiladas stuffed with slow-roasted pork, grilled rib-eye carne asada tacos made with pastured beef instead of skirt steak — you will not go hungry here.
The ingredients are organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free “because I don't want that stuff in my body and neither do you,” Luz said.
And if there's a better dessert in Telluride than Luz's wild raspberry pie, then it's the valley's best-kept secret.
Info: LaCocinaTelluride.com or 970-728-9355
Michael Hiller is a Dallas-based food, travel and golf writer. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeHiller and on EscapeHatchDallas.com.