Unbelievable burgers and grass-fed brisket are on tap at The Grind in Glenwood Springs
The drive from the mountains to Denver on a summer day is, in itself, spectacular. And even if you are dreading yet another jaunt to the Front Range, it’s a great chance to discover dining locales that may have yet to make it onto your GPS.
Glenwood Springs (Exit 116): The Grind
I time my exit from the valley so that we can gorge on one of the best burgers in the state. Now in its new and expanded location, stop in for its signature beef grind, a custom blend of locally raised, grass-fed cuts of brisket, short rib and chuck, ground on the premises. If not a meat-eater, the best (hands down) black bean veggie burger in the Rockies is the Mayan, a housemade black bean Grind, with chipotle mayo, pumpkin seed salsa, lettuce, tortilla chips, and roasted Anaheim chilis. The Grind is a burger joint for the food obsessed, worth a trip in any season.
Order This: The Daily Grind, a changing chef-inspired creation, ground from beef, chicken, lamb, tuna, pork, buffalo, or veggies. 970-230-9258
Edwards (Exit 163): Eat! Drink!
Worthy of a date night, this stop features a menu of gourmet paninis and small plates to share. Eat! Drink! serves 30 wines by the glass (all under $10). For an impromptu picnic, assemble a cheese basket from more than 200 artisan selections.
Order This: Peppadew peppers stuffed with Valdeón blue cheese, wrapped in prosciutto, then finished in a panini press and topped with honey and Marcona almonds. 970-926-1393
Frisco (Exit 201): Alpine Market & Deli
For those dedicated to local, organic products, or have specific dietary needs (vegan, gluten-free) don’t miss the Alpine Market & Deli, an organic food store, raw juice bar, and all-natural meats deli. While sometimes the wait can be long, it’s worth it, and the selection keeps me returning to this fine eatery.
Order This: Brant’s Super Protein Bar made with chocolate, peanut butter, sesame, sunflower seeds, and coconut. Add a warm Harvest Spice juice of apples, carrots, ginger, and a hint of lemon. 970-668-5535
Idaho Springs (Exit 241): Smokin’ Yards BBQ
Recommended to me by former Pullman Chef John Little, Smokin’ Yards has attained a cult-like following among frequent I-70 travelers. Using oak to evenly flavor its meat, Smokin’ Yards is an unexpected gem in Idaho Springs.
Order This: Moist brisket sandwich served with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes, spicy coleslaw, and fried dill pickles. 303-567-9273
I-70 East Honorable Mentions:
The Pullman: This restaurant is such a no-brainer I almost didn’t feel like I needed to mention it. For both adults and kids, it’s a homerun and less than two minutes off I-70. I usually go with the daily special, and the kids’ menu is the best deal in the valley – lunch, dessert, and a drink for $8. 330 7th St., 970-230-9234
Larkburger: Yes it’s a chain. But it’s a local chain and they make a great burger. Often oozing with grease, I don’t recommend eating these in the car. Shakes and fries worth the caloric splurge. Located in Edwards.
Heading West to Grand Junction on I-70:
Red Brick Barbecue: First recommended to me by Lisa Houston, publisher of Edible Aspen and a Texas native who knows her barbecue. She doesn’t fool around when it comes to BBQ, and either does Red Brick, located in Silt. Take note of hours. They are closed between lunch and dinner hours and they mean it. 970-876-1119
Bin 707 Foodbar: The most exciting restaurant to come out of Grand Junction since 1997 (when I started keeping track!). Owners are excited and devoted to a seasonal, farm-driven menu and friendly service. A must in GJ. 970-243-4543