Think of Breckenridge and you probably picture skiers racing down Peak 10 on six inches of fresh powder. But beyond the snow-covered peaks, this casual mountain town offers plenty of opportunities for foodies to fuel their Breckenridge, Colorado skiing fun. Function comes first in this relaxed town, and jeans work even for fine dining at the best Breckenridge restaurants.
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While in Breckenridge don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself with the city (hurry while they’re hot!):
5 Must Try Breckenridge Restaurants
305 N. Main Street // +1 970-453-6974
The Blue River Bistro is the perfect ending to a day on the mountain. The restaurant’s casual yet elegant setting has modern, clean lines. Live music adds to the fun and ranges from Delta blues to instrumental jazz.
The restaurant offers earth-to-table dining that supports local farmers and artisans. The menu items range from Colorado favorites like buffalo short ribs and elk carpaccio
Keema is one hearty vegetarian meal option: flavorful slow-cooked lentils with tofu, chilis, tomato, cilantro, and red curry over jasmine rice.
An artfully arranged amuse-bouche is a fun way to start the meal. The ahi tuna tartar combines cilantro, cucumber, and the perfect amount of sesame oil on a crispy fried wonton cracker. The mixture is arranged in the bowl of a spoon, with the spoon’s handle balancing on half cork set on a square white plate.
The tuna poke has avocado, wakame, and a ponzu sauce. It sits on a wonton cracker atop a bed of lettuce. The chef sprinkles black and white sesame seeds attractively over the top, then decorates the plate with squiggles of wasabi and sriracha aioli.
The Caprese starter is as flavorful as it is pretty. Four beefsteak tomato slices alternate with four fresh mozzarella slices to create a towering appetizer. Intertwined basil leaves create freshness. Basil infused olive oil and a balsamic reduction are drizzled over the stack. Buttery crisp baguette slices round out the plate.
- Some Breckenridge restaurants close during the shoulder seasons, but the Blue River Bistro remains open. I recommend reservations; however, walk-ins are welcome.
- Blue River Bistro is famous for offering the best happy hour in Breckenridge. There are two happy hours, one from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and one from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Each includes two-for-one appetizers and martinis. These specials make both happy hours a strong value.
208 N. Main St. // +1 970-453-0063
The Canteen’s rustic ambiance pairs well with its modern comfort food, making it one of the best restaurants in Breckenridge for lunch. On tap, they feature only Colorado craft beer.
The smoked salmon dip is a group favorite. It combines chopped green onion, fresh dill, house-smoked salmon, and cream cheese. The dish comes topped with house-smoked salmon, fried capers, and pickled red onion. Pita chip dippers accompany the dish.
The chipotle shrimp are made with jumbo shrimp stuffed with cheddar cheese, then wrapped in bacon and pan-fried. The dish comes topped with a chipotle cream sauce.
The Margherita flatbread combines tomatoes, garlic, and basil mozzarella. Shaved Parmesan Reggiano and a balsamic reduction decorate the top.
They have a smoker out back that produces the house-smoked salmon, as well as pulled pork and other smoked meats. The house-smoked pork butt is combined with the house-made barbeque sauce and then served on a potato bun. The sandwich comes with house-made bread and butter pickles and slaw.
109 Lincoln Avenue // +1 970-453-9948
Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon is the namesake of the Briar Rose Mine on Peak Ten. In the late 1890s, the mine provided an abundance of silver. After a long day, miners returned to their boarding house on Lincoln Street for a hearty meal. Soon the house became a favorite destination for those looking for good food and an inviting atmosphere. As the mining era faded, miners abandoned the boarding house, and it eventually burned to the ground.
But, in the early 1960s, another building, constructed on that same spot, began featuring food in the same mining-house style as the original boarding house.
The restaurant has two different areas that make the perfect setting for almost any occasion. The saloon has a mountain cabin vibe with a come-as-you-are atmosphere after a day skiing on the mountain. In the historic back-bar, you can enjoy drinks and small plates or choose from the complete menu. The formal dining room is a sophisticated environment for that white-table-cloth-worthy special occasion.
The meat-centric menu ranges from aged beef to fresh Colorado wild game. The Harris Ranch and Emerald Valley Ranch are Briar Rose’s sources for local meats. Colorado game options dishes include the Cervena elk medallions with a wild mushroom demi-glace and the Emerald Valley Ranch buffalo short ribs served on whipped Yukon Gold potatoes. Another favorite is the sautéed Rocky Mountain trout with spinach almondine.
Vegetarians have several choices despite the menu’s sharp meat focus. For example, the butternut squash soup with a truffled crème Fraiche, combined with the Boston Bibb lettuce salad and a couple of vegetable sides (perhaps the grilled asparagus with sweet balsamic reduction and Lyonnaise potatoes) will make for a filling dinner. Confirm the vegetarian dishes with your server. Some apparent vegetable sides may contain meat accents, like the Brussel sprouts with chorizo.
My favorite menu items were anything with lingonberries, that tart yet slightly sweet relative of the cranberry. I loved the Swiss Mule; a lingonberry spiced Breckenridge vodka mixed with ginger beer. Another lingonberry favorite was the lingonberry demi-glace, which I poured over my perfectly cooked six-ounce petit filet mignon. All steaks are certified USDA Choice from natural Black Angus raised on the Harris Ranch and then aged for 28 days.
100 N. Main Street #212 // +1 970-453-3838
Sporting that iconic Italian restaurant red and white checkered tablecloths, Giampietro’s Pasta and Pizzeria is the perfect place for lunch. The casual atmosphere makes it a great spot to take the kids.
While entrées include more than just pizza, their New York-style pizza is some of the best in Breckenridge. Everything from the bread to the marinara and balsamic vinaigrette is house-made.
The calzones come stuffed with an abundance of mozzarella and ricotta inside soft bread and a side of marinara. Add pizza toppings into the calzones for more variety. The plate-sized calzones make family-style sharing a budget-saving option.
The gorgonzola, stuffed olives covered in a bread crumb coating and then deep-fried, is the perfect accompaniment to an ice-cold beer. This is a new appetizer for me, and it was difficult to stop eating.
Bruschetta Pomodoro, made from fresh tomatoes, basil, and olive oil atop their toasted house-made bread is a classic Italian starter.
Pietro’s chopped salad, salami, provolone, tomato, cucumber, red onion, chickpeas on a bed of romaine lettuce with a red wine vinaigrette proved fresh and crisp.
Pro Tip: They don’t take reservations here; so, if they’re crazy busy, phone in an order for pick-up.
1925 Airport Road // +1 970-547-9759
Housed in the highest distillery in the world, this restaurant serves American food designed to complement the best of Breckenridge Distillery’s spirits. Their modern farm-to-table philosophy is dedicated to the whole animal process.
Chef David Burke received a United States patent for his unique dry-age steak process. It uses pink Himalayan salt to dry-aged steaks for up to 100 days. He’s also twice won the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in New York award.
The distillery’s creamy shrimp ceviche parfait is a beautifully layered appetizer formed in a ring with layers of shrimp, avocado, and mango. Crispy quinoa enhances the textural contrast, and the jalapeño crème Fraiche adds a hint of heat. A Gaufrette potato chip, which decorates the top, provides a salty crunch.
The “hipster” fries are a warm appetizer topped with shishito and peppadew peppers, bacon, and Parmesan cheese.
The spinach salad starts as a bed of spinach topped with unpeeled apple slices. Shaved fennel is then added for a mild licorice flavor, along with red onions and a vinaigrette.
The crispy chicken breast comes with two large ravioli filled with Parmesan, mascarpone, and ricotta cheese. A sage brown butter sauce covers the pasta.
Chef David Burke incorporates several distillery products into his recipes. The Rocky Mountain snowmelt makes the difference in these spirits. The Brussel sprouts, flavored with crispy bacon and Breckenridge maple bourbon, include apples and hazelnuts.
The distillery’s spirits continue into the dessert menu. The bourbon float, made with the Breckenridge Distillery bourbon, cherry syrup, Mexican Coke, and vanilla ice cream, combines an after-dinner drink and dessert. The chocolate mousse’s chocolate flavor is amped up using the Breckenridge Espresso Vodka.
- The final distillery tour starts at 5:30 p.m., so arrive early and take a free tour before dinner.
- The distillery’s complimentary shuttle runs every day from 11:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. That means you’ll already have a designated driver, so it’s safe for everyone to enjoy an adult beverage with their meal.
Which of these Breckenridge Restaurants do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
Amy Piper is a freelance travel writer, photographer, and blogger. A native of Michigan USA, she has traveled to 41 countries and 42 states, most recently adding New Mexico to the list. She aspires to go to Antarctica and finally visit all seven continents. She specializes in food and multi-generational travel, frequently traveling with her husband, daughter, and two granddaughters. Amy has had six-month-long expat assignments in South Korea and Argentina. She has been chased by bomb-sniffing dogs in the middle of the night in Bogotá (working late), refused boarding for a plane from Buenos Aires to Paraguay (wrong visa), and Federal Marshals once announced her seat number on a flight while looking for a murder suspect (traded seats.) It is always an adventure! She is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA), Travel Massive, TravMedia, and the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA). Follow her on Twitter @amythepiper