The Inside Dish Find some great local flavors in Summit County

  • 6 Restaurants Near Breck & Keystone
  • Amazing Grace Eatery
  • Blue River Bistro
  • Snake River Saloon
  • Kickapoo Tavaern
  • Arapahoe Cafe
  • Food Hedz Cafe

Amazing Grace Natural Eatery, Breckenridge

Find it: In an old canary-yellow clapboard house situated on the corner of Lincoln and French, two blocks east of Main Street.

The crowd: From the mayor and the pastor of the Episcopal Church across the street to pro snowboarders and adrenaline junkies refueling after skinning uphill at Breck, locals cram into this small breakfast enclave with its off-kilter floorboards.

The goods: Order at the counter, then grab one of the few tables for coffee, homemade scones, and breakfast burritos. 

If your table is nearest to the old wood-burning stove, stoke it. 

The place is run by a cadre of adventurous women, a tribe that includes triathletes, ultrarunners, and backcountry skiers.

Try: The B.O.B. Basic Organic Breakfast: three scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach, and tomato; whole-wheat toast; and veggie or chicken apple sausage.

Tip: The vegan chocolate chip cookies sell out daily. 

Add one to your breakfast order and stow it in your parka pocket for the slopes.

Blue River Bistro, Breckenridge

Find it: Steps from the base of the BreckConnect gondola, on Main Street just north of Watson Avenue.

The crowd: Here, local young ski bums sip martinis alongside longtime Breck denizens in an upscale and sometimes-boisterous après-ski atmosphere.

The goods: Happy hour repeats itself seven days a week. 

(3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. till close). 

Deals include twofers on apps and martinis.

Pair hot-ticket starters like kurobuta pork sliders or cashew-crusted Brie with a Champagne Dreams martini (pomegranate liquor, OJ, and Triple Sec shaken and topped with Prosecco).

Try: Dip into the PEI Mussels (PEI for Prince Edward Island, naturally) with Applewood-smoked bacon, spicy jalapeño, and roasted tomato and pear sauce. 

The kids’ menu expands beyond grilled cheese with offerings like fettuccini Alfredo and a green salad, and “mocktails” like the After Glow, a mix of pineapple and orange juice with a splash of grenadine.

Tip: On Fridays and Saturdays, arrive early for happy hour. 

The bar can fill up by 4 p.m. Or stay past happy hour to enjoy live jazz and blues music. 

The Bistro has music on tap from 5 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday during ski season.

Snake River Saloon, Keystone

Find it: On the mountain side of U.S. Hwy 6 at the base of Keystone, .25 miles west of River Run Village.

The crowd: Wizened ski patrollers and snow-makers from both A-Basin and Keystone alight at the Snake for happy-hour chicken wings and pitchers of Bud. 

Later on Thursdays through Saturdays, local restaurant workers pack the dance floor, shimmying to rock bands.

The goods: The Snake has been a Keystone institution since 1975, with wood paneling on the walls and ceiling and a copper-top bar. 

Bartenders have long been known to spit fire at the copper paneling on the ceiling. 

Several years ago, however, the fire department finally took umbrage, and bartenders are now forced to step outside to blow their flaming shots of 151.

Try: The Filet Oscar: a bacon-wrapped filet with Alaskan king crab, topped with béarnaise sauce and finished with asparagus spears.

Tip: If you’re planning to catch a band, arrive before 8 p.m. to beat the cover charge and avoid standing in the long line out the door.

Kickapoo Tavern, Keystone

Find it:  In the heart of the River Run village area at the base of Keystone Mountain.

The crowd: With its proximity to the slopes, Kickapoo gets plenty of destination skiers and riders, but it’s also a favorite hotspot for locals, who settle in for happy hour on the expansive deck.

Kickapoo Tavern, Keystone, Colorado

The goods: The menu is populated with crowd-pleasers. 

There are from-scratch soups, homemade meatloaf, hand-cut steak, and a mountain of nachos that won’t leave you wanting. 

Sip some Kickapoo Mountain Joy Juice, a secret concoction of rum and pineapple that’s been mixed by bartender Todd Wheelock for some 20 years now. 

(Look for his Great Pyrenees, a fixture around the tavern.)

Try: The River Run Burger is a half-pound of Colorado beef (no hormones, no antibiotics) topped with crispy onion, guacamole, Applewood-smoked bacon, and jalapeño jack cheese topped with a bun from a Denver bakery.

Trivia:  Kickapoo is named after an Indian tribe from Oklahoma. 

When the restaurant opened in 1994, the tribe’s chief came to Keystone and blessed the kitchen.

Arapahoe Café, Dillon

Find it: A short walk from the shores of the Dillon reservoir.

The crowd: Old-time locals who’ve been frequenting the A Café for decades mix with the nomadic freshman class of local skiers and riders from Keystone, A-Basin, and Breckenridge. 

They come to the Café’s Pub Down Under to shoot pool, play foosball, and tuck into booths for nightly specials. 

Taco Tuesday is a favorite.

The goods: The A Café is an institution that has been named best restaurant in Dillon by the Summit Daily 10 years running. 

It also earned a “Best of Summit” nod for its bartenders, its Bloody Mary, and its award-winning BBQ. 

(“So good it’ll make your big toe wiggle,” says owner Doug Pierce).

Try: The Bacon Bloody Mary with house-infused bacon vodka comes with a plank of bacon, a stalk of celery, and a skewer with okra, pepperoncini, and olives. It’s a meal in and of itself.

Trivia: In spring of 1961, the Arapahoe Café building was moved up the hill to a new town site when the Denver Water Board flooded the old town of Dillon to build a major reservoir. 

The move explains why the floors are a tad uneven and walls are slightly out of square.

Food Hedz World Café, Frisco  

Find it: In the Safeway strip mall off Summit Boulevard (Route 9) in Frisco.

The crowd: Frisco locals and second homeowners head for this cozy, unassuming café for the from-scratch preparations and entrees that draw from organic Colorado ingredients.

The goods: Chef David Welch, who garnered Zagat’s No. 1 rating as executive chef at the Keystone Ranch three years running, now plies his trade in the open kitchen at Food Hedz, which has since been named the best restaurant in Frisco by the Summit Daily

Everything is made to order, and Welch makes his own stock for the soups and bakes his own bread daily.

Try: Grandma Welch’s warm banana bread with vanilla ice cream and homemade caramel sauce.

For the bread, Welch follows his paternal grandmother’s hand-written recipe.

Trivia: The beef in the house Rueben is slow roasted for eight hours, then topped with an heirloom recipe for sauerkraut from Welch’s maternal grandmother.

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