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

Colorado’s Crested Butte Struts Its Fall Foliage

No wonder Colorado's state colors are blue and gold. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

Last weekend (September 23–25), Ken and I headed up to our favorite mountain area: Crested Butte, Colorado. We’ve been there for powder days in winter and wildflower fireworks in summer, but autumn had some sizzle in store for us.

I’m usually verbose on these posts, but this time I thought I’d let the photos do the talking. All I can say is that it’s worth the five-and-a-half-hour drive from Boulder to get to this Shangri-la of the Rockies.

Kebler Pass, just above Crested Butte, boasts the largest aspen grove in the state, but in most spots the aspen hadn’t yet started to change colors. There were a few breathtaking vistas on Kebler Pass,  but I think the first week of October should be insanely gorgeous there.

The Castle spires as seen from Ohio Creek Road. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

You can take Ohio Creek Road from Gunnison to Crested Butte. (You can also get to Ohio Creek Road from Kebler Pass.) One great reward is seeing the Castle Mountains from that  road.

Ken cycled along the road to Gothic, a mountain town above Crested Butte. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

View from Gothic Road. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

The road up to Gothic displayed some pretty impressive foliage. We were among the many cars that kept pulling over to the edge to snap photos.

Aspen flanking Gothic Road near Crested Butte. Photo ©Laurel Kallenbach

For tips on scenic mountain drives around Crested Butte, visit the Gunnison–Crested Butte Tourism Association.

Laurel Kallenbach, freelance leaf-peeper

P.S. Leave a comment below reporting on your favorite fall scenery.