Food is one of my favorite subjects and a big part of my travel planning wherever I go. Apparently, I’m not alone. “Culinary tourism” is now a huge and growing segment of travel. There is Food and Travel Magazine, plus a whole slew of websites and blogs dedicated to just food and travel. If you comb through consumer restaurant reviews like I do on Trip Advisor or Yelp, it is apparent how subjective and varied diners’ tastes and expectations are. As the General Manager of Three Rivers Resort, I am frequently asked by visitors where they should eat. Here is my very subjective list of the best food in Gunnison and Crested Butte (Almont too).

Almont

Well, this is pretty simple as the resort I manage is located in Almont and has a restaurant. Additionally, there are only a couple of restaurants in this tiny “in-between” town (10 mins to Gunnison, 20 mins to Crested Butte).

Three Rivers Smokehouse:

Restaurants in Almont, CO

Three Rivers Smokehouse

This BBQ restaurant is located in the main general store of Three Rivers Resort. It is an outdoor patio restaurant (with some inside seating for inclement weather). The meats are all smoked on site with pulled pork being the most popular. My personal favorite is the brisket sandwich. It comes with au jus but you can also slather it in BBQ sauce. The burgers, salads and sandwiches are all great options as well. Don’t skip breakfast because the morning burrito is very tasty with hand-cut french fries inside! Open seasonally from late May through September.

The Almont Resort: Located right on Highway 135 in Almont as you drive between Gunnison and Crested Butte, this gem serves up some great breakfasts and for dinner they make everything tasty from steaks to bison burgers, homemade soups and Mexican fare. The bar stays open late and is a fun locals’ place with billiards and a juke box. Don’t miss the famous Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry!

Gunnison

Garlic Mike’s :

Restaurants Gunnison, CO

Garlic Mike’s fine dining

Located just north of Gunnison on the Gunnison River, this fine Italian restaurant delivers incredible steaks (Filetto Con Pepe is my fave) and classic Italian entrees. The garlic roasted prime rib is a weekend specialty not to be missed! The atmosphere is lively and locals consistently vote for it as a favorite restaurant. For some unique experiences, hang out in the summer at their River Bar or try the Float ‘n Dine package, where you float in a raft from Three Rivers Resort in Almont to Garlic Mike’s for a great dinner! They also cater on site in their seasonal event tent.

Mario’s and The Dive: Mario’s is a Gunnison classic and another favorite for locals. Their thin crust pizza is my personal favorite and they are famous for their popular “half and half” salad which includes half lettuce and half rotini pasta. In December, they opened up an addition called “The Dive” with unique dishes including poutine (fries and gravy) and ratatouille.

Blackstock Bistro: I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed here. They always deliver wonderful entrees or small dishes if you just need a satisfying snack. The cocktails are great and there are often happy hour specials. My favorite is the Prickly Pear martini. The scallops, mac ‘n cheese or mahi fish tacos are wonderful small plates/sides. The burger or petite filet (at only $24) will also not disappoint! Be sure to get a side of truffle fries. On Wednesdays, they serve only fresh sushi, a specialty of their sister restaurant, Lil’s, in Crested Butte.

The Gunnisack: For an all-around great variety of food and value, I love to go to the Gunnisack with friends. They offer something for everyone. It’s also a very family friendly restaurant, with Legos to keep the kids busy until the food comes (although you won’t wait long). Their burgers are ground in-house and are amazing. If you happen to hit a Monday night, get a $6 burger and fries! But try some specialties like a giant pot pie, fish ‘n chips or endless soup bowls on Saturday.

Crested Butte

The Secret Stash:

Pizza in Crested Butte, CO, Secret Stash

Mac Daddy Pizza at Secret Stash

Everyone wants to go here and I’ve never met anyone who was disappointed. When we have guests in town we go here too. It’s a fun, lively atmosphere with an eclectic interior. The pizza is not your run-of-the-mill pizza. Try the Mac Daddy patterned after a Big Mac complete with lettuce, pickles and a sesame seed crust or a Potato Caboose which is basically loaded French fries on a pizza crust. The salad bar is the best in the valley and if you like different cocktails, the variety will please you! Be sure to show up early because on busy nights, it’s not unusual to wait an hour. For a different take on Mexican, try their sister restaurant down the street, Bonez.

The Brick Oven Pizzeria: I know – another pizza place but I list them here in my favorites because they have many other great menu items plus the best summer patio in town. If you like beer, you’ll want to check out their array of 30 beers on tap plus others in a can or bottle.

Pitas in Paradise: So, Greek and Mediterranean food may not be for everyone but who doesn’t love a good gyro? Ideally located at the corner of 3rd and Elk, this place delivers great burgers, a soup bar, pita sandwiches, rice bowls and delicious hummus! I have to say it’s probably my “go to” place after I’m done skiing or biking. Hit their happy hour for incredible drink and appetizer deals.

Teocalli Tamale: For some reason we have a plethora of Mexican restaurants in the valley but most are mediocre. This local hangout is the exception! Order at the counter and watch them make your food. It’s fresh and incredibly tasty! Whether it’s a burrito or taco, get the “Mike’s Mexalina” shredded beef. Slow cooked to perfection, my mouth is watering right now! The tamales are good and my friends love the football sized Thai burrito. If it’s a powder day though, they may be out skiing for awhile!

Ryce Asian Bistro: For Asian fusion cuisine, this place does it right and has become extremely popular so get there early or wait for awhile! In summer, a wall of garage doors opens for a little dining al fresco. Reasonably priced for the huge portions, you will love the variety from Thai to Chinese and Japanese. Drunken noodles and lettuce wraps are my picks but I’m making my way through the menu! My other favorite Asian food restaurant is Ginger Café which has great outdoor seating in summer but otherwise the inside feels very cramped. The atmosphere at Ryce is better but you could argue that the food at Ginger has a slight edge.

Marchitelli’s Gourmet Noodle: Tucked away just off the main drag, this is one of my favorite places for special occasions. The food is high quality Italian fare and the atmosphere is cozy. It can be pricey since everything is a la carte but it’s worthwhile for a special meal. If it’s just the hubby and me, we often find a seat and good conversation at the bar.

Slogar: For years after I moved to the area, I refused to go to here and pay high dollar for fried chicken. Well, I was wrong. They have two items on the menu: fried chicken or steak. Both are amazing! The chicken is served on a platter family style as are all of the side dishes, which come standard with either meat. It’s delicious, homemade comfort food done extremely well! Wear your stretchy pants because it’s all-you-can-eat bowls of potatoes and gravy, creamed corn, coleslaw, biscuits and more! No website, so call 970-349-5765 for reservations.

A great steak in Crested Butte will cost you some money but for that special meal, you can’t go wrong with the historic Wooden Nickel or Elk Avenue Prime, which also has an affordable and wonderful bar menu.

Well, these are my picks for the best food in Gunnison, Almont and Crested Butte, Colorado. Some will agree, while others may argue against. All I can say is Happy Eating, whatever you choose!!

Jen Bickford is the General Manager at Three Rivers Resort in Almont, Colorado. Three Rivers Resort offers over 50 cabins from rustic to upscale, vacation homes, lodge rooms, a summer restaurant and a full outfitting business with rafting, fishing, kayaking and rentals.