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2021 Editors' Choice: Best Dining in Telluride, Colo.

Telluride's dining scene is impressive—and not just excellent by ski town standards.

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With its bustling main drag, storied old buildings, and 360-degree views from wherever you happen to be standing, the town of Telluride is the heart and soul of this destination. For visitors, it’s where you’ll start to get what makes this place tick, so plan to spend some quality time downtown, even if you’re staying up at Mountain Village.  

There’s no shortage of great dining and après, and while the hopping live music scene will likely be tamped down this season thanks to the pandemic, Telluride and the resort will find a way to have fun. Current plans include extended outdoor dining, tents, and gondola cars retrofitted for private dining. In short, you can’t keep this town down. So come for the skiing, the laidback vibe, the views … and stay for the oodles of character you’ll find here, from the legendary Sheridan Opera House to the Butch Cassidy’s San Miguel Valley Bank. Oh, and don’t forget your appetite; Telluride’s dining scene is downright urban. 

Best Dining in Town

It would be an understatement to say that you won’t go hungry in Telluride. The town’s dining scene is impressive—not just excellent for a ski town, but many restaurants here serve food on par with the big cities. Here are some of our favorites. 

221 South Oak

221 South Oak, Telluride, Colo.
A cozy restaurant housed in a historic home, 221 South Oak serves contemporary American cuisine with local and sustainable ingredients. Photo: Courtesy of 221 South Oak

Former Top Chef finalist Eliza Gavin took over the kitchen of 221 South Oak back in 2000. Since then, the cozy restaurant housed inside a historic home on Oak Street has become a favorite among locals— who pull up to the intimate bar and order the daily special—and visitors alike for its contemporary American cuisine that relies heavily on local and sustainable ingredients. Everything we tasted was incredibly flavorful, but favorites include the seared Foie Gras starter and the molasses-braised bison short rib. There’s also a separate vegetarian menu that goes beyond tofu and meat substitutes.

Butcher + Baker 

Butcher + Baker, Telluride, Colo.
Stop by Butcher + Baker on Main Street for delicious pastries and breakfast foods. Photo: Keri Bascetta

On Main Street, Butcher + Baker serves up a great breakfast, with a variety of bowls, burritos, and sandwiches, plus house-baked pastries, tarts, and muffins. B+B also offers a casual lunch and dinner menu of elevated comfort food such as a fried-green-tomato burger, chicken fingers, and salads.

The New Sheridan Chop House

The New Sheridan Chop House, inside the historic hotel of the same name, is one of Telluride’s most storied restaurants. The menu is traditional steakhouse—filets, ribeyes, strips, sirloins—with hearty sides of potatoes, mac ‘n’ cheese, veggies, etc., plus seafood options including a seafood tower stacked high with jumbo shrimp, King Crab, and oysters.

The National

Best dining Telluride: The National
Get your fill of creative contemporary American cuisine at The National. Photo: Abie Livesay Photography

The National opened in late 2018 and is fairly new to the scene, but has already established itself as a new go-to in town. The cuisine is an ever-changing menu of creative contemporary American, with items ranging from a Kobe ribeye for two to delicious small plates such as roti flatbread with house-smoked salmon and a Hamachi tiradito with Asian pear kimchi.

Best On-Mountain Dining

Bon Vivant, on-mountain dining at Telluride, Colo.
Bon Vivant is a cozy outdoor umbrella bar nestled mid-mountain at the top of the Polar Queen Express.Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

Bon Vivant

For the ultimate on-mountain lunch, head to Bon Vivant. The cozy outdoor umbrella bar nestled mid-mountain at the top of the Polar Queen Express prepares Country French cuisine in view of the knife-tipped peaks of the Palmyra and Wilson ranges. Everything on the menu is delicious, but the French onion soup, topped with brûléed Gruyere, is divine. For a main course, the Cassoulet, with wild-boar sausage and duck confit, will take you straight to southwest France—except you get to ski down after lunch.  

Alpino Vino

Alpino Vino serves lunch daily plus a lovely snowcat-accessed Alpine Italian dinner service accompanied by a world-class wine list. 

Gorrono Ranch

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Soak up some sun and a margarita at Gorrono Ranch.  Photo credit: Keri Bascetta

Gorrono Ranch is the resort’s main lunchtime food court, and boasts a great ski beach scene on sunny afternoons. Try the ramen bar. 

Guiseppe’s

Stop into Guiseppe’s, at the top of Lift 9, for New Orleans inspired lunch fare such as Po’Boys and Creole Pasta.

Best Dining in Mountain Village

Telluride Mountain Village ice rink
Staying in Mountain Village? You’ll find plenty of good dining options here as well. Photo courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

Allred’s

Located at the mid-station of the Mountain Village gondola, Allred’s is a must-splurge for Contemporary American fine-dining in a window-filled space with beautiful mountain vistas. Come at dusk and request a table with a view, then start with the crispy shishito peppers and the roasted beet salad with spicy candied pecans. You can’t go wrong with any of the main courses. The carnivores among us devoured the elk striploin and the Colorado rack of lamb, while our resident pescatarian raved about the miso-glazed cod. Don’t skimp on dessert, either (sticky toffee pudding cake!).   

Siam’s Talay Grille

Siam’s Talay Grille is a cozy Thai restaurant inside the Inn at Lost Creek that serves a great Tom Yum soup and a good selection of curries. 

Black Iron Kitchen + Bar

Black Iron Kitchen + Bar inside the Madeline Hotel serves the best breakfast in Mountain Village, including fresh-squeezed juices. 

Tracks

Hit Tracks, by the main village lifts, for a jovial après scene and a casual dinner.

2021 Telluride Dining Tips

2021 covid guidelines will impact the Telluride dining scene
Like everywhere else, dining will look a little different in Telluride this season due to covid health guidelines. Photo: Istockphoto.com/andresr

The town and resort are getting creative this winter to keep visitors safely enjoying Telluride’s restaurants and bars. Limited capacity, mandatory reservations, heated tents, retrofitted gondolas, to-go boxes… This is the new language of the hospitality industry around the world, and it will be no different in Telluride this winter.

Pandemic travel will require visitors to do more advanced planning, be ready to pivot or cancel activities on the fly, and probably utilize that condo kitchen more than they might have on past vacations. For its part, the town and resort are doing what they can to offer the most robust dining and nightlife experience as possible this winter.  

Plans are rolling out at restaurants to expand outdoor seating as much as their spaces allow, parties of eight are the max allowed at one table, and individual eateries in Mountain Village are hatching plans to erect yurts, retrofit gondolas, and use clear, heated igloos to allow for outdoor(ish) private dining. 

In town, restaurants are planning creative ways to use their sidewalk space and rooftops. Bars will be hard hit, with a maximum capacity of 25 percent. Nightspots such as the Last Dollar Saloon are taking reservations in two-hour blocks and enclosing their rooftops for more space.

“We are dedicated to making sure our restaurants and bars make it through this,” says the town of Telluride’s Director of Communications Tom Watkinson, who also sits on the Town Council. “The Restaurant Association is coming to us with ideas, and as long as it’s okay with Public Works and doesn’t cause a safety violation, we’re all for it.”

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