In the News:
Dallas News: Dining is a peak experience in Telluride
By Story and photography by MICHAEL HILLER
Published 29 April 2011 11:47 AM
TELLURIDE, Colorado—Spring comes late to Telluride and doesn’t last long. March snows taper into April showers, then, in mid-May, the hillsides pop in firecracker waves of wildflowers every bit as vibrant as a box of Crayolas.
The skiers and snowboarders have packed up, and they’ll soon be replaced by even more hikers, bikers, climbers and kayakers.
“We locals will all tell you that we came for the winters, but we stay for the summers,” says Penelope Gleason of Paragon Outdoors, a Telluride adventure outfitter. The one thing everybody has in common? They all have to eat. Here’s where you’ll find the most exciting food on the mountain and in the valley.
Top of the Gondola, Mountain Village
The amazing thing about Allred’s is that there’s any cooking going on at all. Who can cook when the view from the open kitchen looks across the dining room and, beyond that, onto aspens and pines? Allred’s has no street address because it isn’t 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 elk gilded with apple-ginger aioli, the duck confit 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.
Contact: 970-728-7474; www.allredsrestaurant.com.
150 W. San Juan Ave.
If you haven’t been to La Marmotte in the past few years, then you haven’t been to La Marmotte. Once a staid bastion of Provençal cuisine, the cooking now skews toward an ever-changing menu with a simple, fresh sensibility. While you can still get your fix of classic coq au vin and duck confit — the husband-and-wife owners run a French bistro, after all — it’s inventive dishes such as quail with pistachios and bee pollen, and an earthy, satisfying mushroom-mint risotto that bring in the crowds now.
Contact: 970-728-6232; www.lamarmotte.com.
300 W. San Juan Ave.
Chef Chad Scothorn is a fanatic about details that matter: impeccably fresh fish, real wasabi root, housemade ciabatta and pastas. At Cosmopolitan Restaurant, Scothorn produces his own burrata cheese and gnocchi, cooks sous vide (in sealed plastic bags) 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, the ricotta gnudi, the 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.
Contact: 970-728-1292; www.cosmotelluride.com.
New Sheridan Chop House Restaurant & Bar
231 W. Colorado Ave.
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 omelets, especially the one with lobster, white cheddar, avocado and crème fraîche. But, then, I’m not alone: The guy sitting to my right one morning rolled in off the street in his pj’s and ordered the same thing. Then 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.”
Contact: 970-728-9100; www.newsheridan.com.
Honga’s Lotus Petal
135 E. Colorado Ave.
The owner of Honga’s Lotus Petal can be hard to spot, but she’s there, herding the cats. She’s the one who looks like she’s having the most fun, which isn’t easy because everyone in the cacophonous, two-tiered dining room seems to be having fun. It’s easy to see why Honga’s is the town’s toughest dinner reservation to snag. The menu romps all around the globe, tracing Honga Im Hopgood’s travels across Asia and back.
Keep your eye on Cory Muro, the 26-year-old chef who’s a whirling dervish in the kitchen. His take on the noodle dish pho will knock your socks off: tender Wagyu beef, organic veggies, a heady broth enriched with a glug of malbec wine and a spoonful of veal demi-glace. Everything that emerges from the open kitchen looks every bit as vibrant as it tastes. If the pho wasn’t so deliciously hypnotizing and the sushi so pristinely fresh, I might have surrendered before I had to loosen my belt a notch.
Contact: 970-728-5134; www.hongaslotuspetal.com.
The Butcher & Baker Café
217 E. Colorado Ave.
You don’t have to be connected, call an unlisted reservation number or put your name on a list to eat at the Butcher & Baker Café, the hottest new place 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. Owner Megan Ossola turned a private chef job into a public obsession. On busy mornings, the crowd stretches out the door for her almond croissants, oatmeal flaxseed cookies and warm breads leavened with wild yeast. Come to think of it, get the short-rib sandwich to-go; that way you’ll have room for a blueberry muffin.
Contact: 970-728-2899; www.butcherandbakercafe.com.
114 E. Colorado Ave.
You’re just going to have to forget that Telluride is nowhere near Italy. And you will, as soon as you cross the threshold of Rustico Ristorante, a stone-and-brick-walled trattoria with a colorful patio, river-rock fireplace and busy kitchen. Owner Paolo Canclini is obsessed with buying the best of everything. Most of Rustico’s produce is grown locally, the grass-fed beef comes from Ralph Lauren’s nearby ranch, and 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 made with the house-made sausages, whose secret recipe Canclini learned from a Sicilian butcher. The view from the patio may not be Siena, but it’s every bit as easy on the eyes.
Contact: 970-728-4046; www.rusticoristorante.com.
La Cocina de Luz
123 E. Colorado Ave.
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. 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 his 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 all organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free, “because I don’t want that stuff in my body, and neither do you,” Luz told me. And if there’s a better dessert in Telluride right now than Luz’s wild raspberry pie, then it’s the valley’s best-kept secret.
Contact: 970-728-9355; www.lacocinatelluride.com.
Michael Hiller is a Dallas-based food, travel and golf correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeHiller and on EscapeHatchDallas.com.
When you go
Telluride is in southwestern Colorado, with access from D/FW International Airport to Telluride Regional Airport, 15 minutes from Telluride (via US Airways) or Montrose Regional Airport, 75 miles from Telluride (via American, Continental, Delta and United).
Tourism information: 1-888-605-2578; www.visittelluride.com.