Telluride Restaurant Recommendations

Originally Posted July 2020

By the way... could these sunsets be any better??

Telluride is located in a "box canyon" meaning there's only one way in and out of the city. The photo to the left was taken in the middle of Main Street upon our evening arrival (facing East). SInce the sun sets in the west, these summer sunsets illuminate the canyon and waterfall magically. I don't know that I could ever get tired of seeing that view. If it wasn't so far away, I might consider moving here some day! I'm not saying I'm ruling it out, but it is a LONG trek to get here.

Anyway, down to business! Let's talk restaurants! My two favorite parts to trip planning are scouting out alpine lake hikes and apres hike restaurants! Now, fueling for a hike is a whole different topic (one I will write on soon - now that I think of it!), but I'll mention some brief observations I've made based on my personal experience.

In my personal opinion, nothing goes with a hike like a hamburger and fries! A close second would be pizza. Full disclosure, we have been known to each order a burger and share a pizza following a long hike! And yes, something similar happened during this trip!

Following a long-ish hike (8+) miles, I usually eat a solid apres hike refuel meal- something tasty but not too crazy. Anything over 10 miles, and I'm usually going for a burger with fries with the occasional pizza on the side, haha! Since we were on an extended hiking trip, we needed to make sure we refueled properly following each hike, AND we needed to make sure we didn't eat anything that might cause GI (gastrointestinal) discomfort for the next day. Now, interesting observation time...

I've noticed that after a hike, my body can tolerate a lot of foods that would normally upset it (mainly, greasy foods). As a strength and conditioning coach, I tend to eat pretty clean most of the time (yes, I'm a meal-prepper), but I definitely don't feel the need to hold back after a long hike! I'm still a firm believer in enjoying life and not depriving oneself of a favorite meal, especially when your body needs to replenish energy. Plus, after a long hike (and during), I CRAVE salty foods. Yes, I'm almost always slightly dehydrated, and yes, that becomes even more pronounced when hiking. That being said, I have started adding electrolyte tablets to my water bottle on hiking days. So, I'll drink some before my hike, and I'll have some saved for the actual hike. But, more on that in another post!

So, my preferences for an apres hike meal are definitely calorie-dense, salty, foods. French fries have never tasted more magical. Now, when I'm doing back-to-back hiking days, something to consider is definitely how well your stomach is going to feel for the following day. So, it's best to avoid trying anything really new during a long adventure when you want to make sure your body is ready to perform. Normally, Indian and Thai are some of our favorite dinner choices, but I've never had it in-between hikes (after a single hike, yes... but I had the next day to rest and recover). Since it's not part of my established adventure routine, I opted to avoid anything I wasn't absolutely certain my body could handle well. My advice... stick with what your body can handle! Enough about me, time for my personal recommendations!

Since my partner and I are burger and pizza experts (me - burgers, him - pizza), both of those are always the first foods I look for when adventuring someplace new!

We had our eyes on Smuggler Union Restaurant and Brewery, but there was always a long line every time we considered it AND when we tried calling to inquire about a takeout order, we kept getting a busy signal (we tried several times). Instead, we ended up going with our next choice for a burger - Steamies Burger Bar. BEST CHOICE EVER! Not only is it incredibly inexpensive, the burgers are outstanding and they have a great selection! We placed our order on the final mile of the trail and picked it up on the way back to our lodging. If you're looking for a top-notch burger, VISIT STEAMIES! It's the only burger I had there, so I can't compare it to another place in the city, but honestly, I have no problem eating all my Telluride burgers there. Definitely will return on our next visit!

For pizza, there are two phenomenal options; this will ultimately come down to preference. Our TOP choice was High Pie Pizzeria. In second place, Brown Dog Pizza.

Our new method of testing pizza is to order a Supreme Pizza at each place for consistency. High Pie definitely nailed this! The flavors just popped off the pizza, and the thin crust was perfect! Not at all greasy, just amazing flavors with a crisp crust!

To compare, High Pie is more of an artisanal pizza place, whereas Brown Dog is more of a traditional pizza place. Brown dog offers Detroit-style pizza and classic style pizzas as well.

Now, we ordered sandwiches/wraps at Brown Dog while sharing a large pizza (placed the order online and picked up about 40 minutes later). My wrap was incredible! I had an italian wrap that had a variety of meats, cheese, and fresh vegetables. This helped me to refuel while still feeling like I was making somewhat healthy choices. The pizza helped me to fulfill the salty, greasier food craving! It was a yummy supreme pizza, very classic, but the flavors didn't pop the same way they did at High Pie. We didn't try the Detroit-style pizza, since it isn't our personal preference, but that definitely seems to be what they're known for! So, if that's what you're looking for, check out Brown Dog! If you prefer more artisanal-style pizzas (and yes, they have some creative ones on the menu!), High Pie is the place for you! They both offer online ordering, which made the pickup super fast and easy. They even give you a time when it will be ready so you can maximize your trip without waiting around wondering when the food will be ready.

Now, if you're looking for something a little lighter and healthier, I would HIGHLY recommend Butcher and The Baker Cafe. We stopped in there for lunch following a shorter morning hike (since the weather was full of afternoon t-storms). I ordered a sandwich with fries (I substituted the chips) and they were wonderful! Light, non-greasy, yet filling. Normal portion sizes unlike most American restaurants. It's a super cute cafe with an indoor and outdoor seating area. It reminds me of a farm-to-table cafe. Very fresh, great ingredients and flavors. Healthy yet tasty! Also, they have a selection of sweets available if you have a sweet tooth! I'm pretty sure the cupcakes were the size of my face!

So quick recap:

Best Burger: Steamies Burger Bar

Best Pizza: High Pie Pizzeria

Best Healthy Choice: Butcher and The Baker

Stay tuned for more information on fueling for hiking (not just me talking about apres hiking burgers!). Quick S/O and KUDOS to the town and restaurants of Telluride for handling the COVID-19 situation so well. The restaurants provided excellent service and quality despite navigating a tricky situation. Main street had portions closed off to allow restaurants overflow outdoor seating. We opted to order takeout for 3/4 of our meals, but we had a great experience eating indoors at the Butcher and Baker Cafe. Wonderful adventure and excellent restaurants to choose from!

PS. Take an early evening stroll along the trail that cuts through Telluride. Beautiful way to explore the city!

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