Foodie Underground on Tour: Telluride, Colorado

ColumnFoodie Underground checks out what’s hot in Telluride, Colorado.

Welcome to a new feature of Foodie Undergound: Foodie Underground on Tour. Being a Portland resident, I’m constantly in the organic/raw/food truck bubble. But writing about home gets old quickly, and if you’re a food lover, you know that one of the best parts about getting out of town is getting to check out the local food scene.

So we are bringing you a taste of some of the food trends in the cities we visit. Don’t expect extensive guides with Top Ten lists of restaurants; we want to give you an undiscovered, underground, what-the-locals-know look into what’s happening with food in certain places, in the hopes that it fuels your own wanderlust and search for good food wherever you are.

We’re kicking off the new Foodie Underground on Tour with a special town tucked away in the San Juan Mountains: Telluride. While in Telluride for a few weeks surrounding the town’s first festival of the season, Mountainfilm, I got to take advantage of the “off season.” For non-locals, “off season” could also be interpreted as “dead time,” with tourists at a bare minimum. That time between when the ski lifts close and before a jam packed Memorial Day weekend, Telluride is sleepy.

For a small town that’s teeming with people in winter and summer, a break from the crowds is welcomed, and as a visitor that meant a quiet scene with plenty of time to explore the food options, without waiting in line and getting to know the local community in the process.

A small resort town isn’t necessarily where you’d expect to find the latest in underground food trends, but surprisingly enough, Telluride has a few culinary gems that are worth exploring, off season or not.

Start your day with a stop at the Steaming Bean, Telluride’s caffeinated hotspot – which may just be because the coffee is strong, the wifi is quick and the staff is super friendly. But there’s also a killer mate latte made with coconut milk as well as granola with acai. (And if you stick around long enough as is easy to do here – there’s a specialty cocktail list.)

After a morning of French press, you’ll need a refreshing lunch, and you don’t have to look any farther than right down the street. You wouldn’t expect to find gluten-free sandwiches and seaweed salad in cowboy country, but at The Butcher and the Baker it can be done. Small, clean and cozy, it’s the kind of neighborhood bakery you always wished you had just around the corner.

If you’re in need of a quick bite to go before you bomb up one of the local hikes, a burrito from Telluride’s only food cart, La Tapatia Taqueria, might be in order. It’s unpretentious yet just quirky enough, coming complete with a bench made out of used skis perched out front.

At the end of the day, class it up for the evening at La Marmotte, a French-inspired restaurant tucked into a rustic looking building just off the river trail. The menu changes according to what’s in season, so you can expect fresh ingredients.

Top it all off with a night at There…, a newer bar that feels like a fresh taste of trendy cosmopolitan watering holes. In fact, who knew it would take going to Telluride to discover the latest in the cocktail trend: jam drinks. There’s bartender extraordinaire – Andrew Tyler – brings some New York flair to this neighborhood bar and serves up a mean rye whiskey with pumpkin jam. And with tree trunks and vintage maps as decor, the ability to choose your own playlist on the bar’s fleet of iPads, and a menu that includes soy paper wraps, you can’t go wrong.

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s weekly column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground, discovering what’s new and different in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to the culinary avant garde.

Image: Anna Brones, The Butcher and the Baker, Anna Brones

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.