Whet Your Alpine Appetite in Crested Butte, CO

Crested Butte, a small town (elevation 8,880 feet), is an outdoorsy town with excellent food. Photo © Laurel Kallenbach

For a tiny mountain town, Crested Butte, Colorado, has a fabulous range of dining options: from healthy fast food, to sizzling bar food, to gourmet restaurants. There’s also variety: from great ethnic food to contemporary America cuisine to Rocky Mountain specialties featuring local elk, buffalo, lamb and more.

And, I truly appreciate that so many of the restaurants (at least the ones I’ve been to) make an effort to source food from the Rocky Mountain region. That’s so important in helping us minimize the carbon footprint of food production. (Especially in a mountain resort town where almost all the food has to be brought in from somewhere else.)

Here are a few of the Crested Butte restaurants I’ve sampled:

The Secret Stash

My favorite pizza joint: Secret Stash Pizza Photo © Laurel Kallenbach

I’ve actually searched for excuses to visit this paragon of pizza two nights in a row. It’s that good! Come to dinner early to avoid the crowds, but if you do encounter lines (very common!), rest assured it’s worth the wait. Order a drink, relax and spend the time mulling over whether to try the Asher’s Pie (barbecue sauce and chipotle base, shredded cheddar cheese, Canadian bacon, grilled chicken) or the 2007 World Championship Pizza Winner, The Notorious F.I.G. (blend of mozzarella, blue and asiago cheeses; prosciutto; fresh figs; drizzle of truffle oil.)

Ginger Café

Amidst an eclectic Asian atmosphere, Ginger Café serves both Thai and Indian entrees made with local, fresh produce and meats. My Indian korma was a little on the spicy side, but it was easy to cool down with a smooth, fruity mango lassi drink. And the Thai Fried Rice is flavorful with crisp veggies.

The Last Steep sign with Mt. Crested Butte in the background. Photo: The Last Steep

The Last Steep

The beach goes high-altitude at this super-casual eatery, named after a beloved ski run on the mountain.

The Last Steep’s surfer/reggae atmosphere epitomizes Crested Butte’s laid-back vibe.

Tasty fish tacos + crisp salads + jerk chicken sandwiches = yum!

Pitas in Paradise

I adore the hummus, baba ghanoush and gyros at this place, and it has a lovely patio for outdoor dining. Though Pitas in Paradise is inexpensively priced, the restaurateurs still pay attention to fresh produce—local when possible.

Camp 4 Coffee

License plates decorate the exterior of Camp 4 Coffee. Photo: Camp 4 Coffee

A must visit!! Even if you’re staying at a B&B that serves coffee with your breakfast, you owe it to yourself to visit this funky, license-plate-decorated coffee shop sometime during the day. (There are locations both in town and in the Mt. Crested Butte village.) They’re both great spots to rub elbows with the locals and interesting visitors. And, there’s chai, cocoa and tea in case you’re coffee’ed out. (Nah…that can never happen!) Camp 4 Coffee invests 5 percent of its profits to local nonprofits, including The Crested Butte Hut System, which builds backcountry facilities such as solar composting toilets, picnic tables and benches, storm shelters, destination huts, and trail networks within Gunnison County.

Mountain Earth Whole Food Grocer

Stock up on picnic supplies at this natural foods store in downtown right across from Camp 4 Coffee. This is the place for super-healthy and organic selections.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor