When you think of Summit County, Colorado, the first thing that comes to mind may be its world-renowned skiing and snowboarding destinations. But, this mountainous community has much more to offer than just winter sports. In recent years, Summit County’s restaurant scene has been transforming, thanks to a handful of talented chefs and restaurateurs pushing the boundaries of the traditional tourist dining experience.
One of the restaurants at the forefront of this change is Aurum Food & Wine in Breckenridge. Opened in 2018 by Phillips Armstrong, Aurum quickly became known for its upscale New American cuisine, which included dishes like king crab with brown butter dashi, green herb risotto, and a delicious burger with onion jam and Gruyère cheese.
The restaurant’s daily happy hour with warm Parker House rolls also became a popular draw. Aurum’s menu continues to evolve, offering dishes like octopus carpaccio and crispy curried cauliflower with hazelnut dukkah.
Armstrong’s restaurant group, Destination Hospitality, is expanding with The Carlin, a new inn with two restaurant concepts and luxury hotel rooms set to open in May.
Following Aurum’s success, Keystone native and former Denver chef Matt Vawter returned to Summit County to open Rootstalk in December 2020. With a farm-to-table ethos and seasonal ingredients, Rootstalk delivers finely tuned craft and flavors, serving dishes like housemade pastas and pancetta-wrapped quail.
Rootstalk has flourished and become loved by locals and tourists alike. Vawter also opened a second restaurant, Radicato, in June 2021, serving Italian-leaning dishes like crispy sunchoke salad and pancetta, chanterelle, and walnut gremolata pasta.
Restaurants like Aurum and Rootstalk are influencing the dining scene across Summit County. Chris Schmidt’s Bird Craft, a stall inside Frisco’s Outer Range Brewing Company, offers Thai-style fried chicken and Southeast Asian cuisine, which has become a countywide staple. Bluebird Market Hall, Summit County’s first food hall located in Silverthorne, celebrated its first anniversary in January, with 11 vendors serving a variety of delicious eats, from empanadas to pizza.
These innovative restaurants have catalyzed change in Summit County’s culinary scene, creating a more vibrant and dynamic dining experience. With The Carlin set to open in May and restaurants like Rootstalk and Bird Craft continuing to thrive, the future of Summit County’s dining scene looks bright. As Summit County continues to grow and evolve, it’s clear that the culinary scene will be a big part of its future.
It’s unusual for a ski community to have such a progressive and ever-evolving food scene. For foodies, Summit County is a culinary wonderland with a multitude of new establishments regularly popping up. While there’s always something new to try, we must mention some of the long-standing fine-dining restaurants that have been pillars of the luxury food scene here in Summit.
One such restaurant in Breckenridge is Hearthstone, a luxe eatery housed in a historic Victorian-era home serving creative new American cuisine. The mouthwatering menu features everything from duck confit to bison short ribs, and the extensive wine list is sure to impress even the most discerning wine connoisseur.
If you are searching for an upscale Après option with a twist, look no further than Twist! Twist restaurant offers a contemporary take on classic American dishes. The menu frequently changes to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, but you can always count on dishes like roasted lamb chops and seared sea scallops to be on the menu.
For an extraordinary dining experience in Keystone, head to Ski Tip Lodge, a charming restaurant in a historic log cabin serving a prix fixe menu that changes daily. Ski Tip Lodge offers a rustic yet cozy atmosphere and a gourmet menu showcasing the best Colorado cuisine. Highlights include the smoked trout appetizer and the hearty Colorado lamb shank.
Another great option in Keystone is the Alpenglow Stube, located at the top of North Peak and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The menu here features classic European dishes like schnitzel and spaetzle and a substantial wine list.
For Italian food lovers, Vinny’s Euro-American Restaurant offers a fusion of European and American cuisine. The menu here features dishes like wild boar ragu, lamb osso buco, and an outstanding wine list. Another great option is Bagalis, a cozy Italian spot serving homemade pasta and wood-fired pizzas. Both restaurants are conveniently located on Frisco’s Main Street.
Overall, Summit County offers a culinary scene that will impress even the most discerning food critic. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining or a casual pub meal, you’re sure to find something that satisfies your cravings without having to hop on I-70.