Colorado Country Life magazine is thrilled to announce the winners of its yearly and highly anticipated Best of Colorado awards. Last year, CCL asked readers to nominate their favorite foods across six categories: Best Green Chili, Best Brunch, Best Hamburger, Best Pie, Best BBQ, and Best Ice Cream. The awards celebrate the unique and diverse food scene in Colorado. Nominations included establishments from all four corners of the state — the Western Slope to the Eastern Plains, and from Fort Collins to the San Luis Valley.
Find their stories on the following pages and make sure to work them into your future Colorado road trip itineraries.
Readers who nominated their favorites in three or more categories were entered to win $100. The randomly selected winners are: Julie Frye, a San Isabel Electric member; Jim Gano, a Poudre Valley REA member; and Rachel Moore, a GCEA member.
BEST GREEN CHILI – Lu’s Main Street Cafe, Blanca
The signage in front of Lu’s Main Street Cafe states that the Blanca diner has the “BEST Green Chili!” According to CCL readers, it’s true. And they’re not the only ones who think so. Locals, southern Coloradans, and people who travel through the area know this, too.
Durango resident and La Plata Electric Association member Pat Berg says, “Lu’s is a small cafe in the small town of Blanca that can be easily overlooked; but it’s one of the best in our area. Really worth the stop!”
Empire Electric Association members Mike and Judy Pritzlaff from Mancos report that they would not have realized the potential of the roadside stop. When they drove through Blanca, “Lu’s parking area was busy with ranch trucks and a couple of semis,” which Judy says is always a good sign for the quality of a local place.
BEST BRUNCH – Spoons bistro & bakery, Grand Junction
Spoons bistro & bakery in Grand Junction is more than just a dining establishment; it’s a place where every meal you savor makes a meaningful difference. Spoons was originally intended to serve patients at the Ferris Hospice Care Center and has since evolved into a community eatery that offers breakfast, lunch, and brunch seven days a week, along with dinner five nights a week.
When you dine at Spoons, you’re not just treating your taste buds; you’re also contributing to a cause that touches the lives of western Colorado families in profound ways. The restaurant’s transformation into a full-service establishment means that it provides additional support to the mission of HopeWest — a nonprofit organization that provides palliative care, hospice care, the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, and grief support programs.
Through the years, Spoons has remained dedicated to using the freshest local ingredients. Chef Martin Marez crafts diverse dishes that are destined to become your favorites. The restaurant proudly sources from local producers, including Pear Blossom Farms, Homestyle Bakery, Main Street Bagel, and more, ensuring that every bite bursts with authentic Grand Valley flavor.
“The brunch menu is delicious,” regular patron Diane Watkins says. “They offer five versions of eggs Benedict that all have a different flair.” Her favorite is the crab. Diane appreciates that Spoons focuses on local items like Enstrom and Palisade peaches to incorporate into their menus.
Whether you’re enjoying a delectable meal on Spoons’ expansive patio or savoring your meal inside the comfortable bistro setting, your dining experience truly makes a difference. At Spoons, the philosophy is simple: fresh, local, from the heart.
“Check it out,” Diane says, “you will not be disappointed.”
Spoons is located at 3090 N 12th Street in Grand Junction.
970-255-7237 | spoonsbistroandbakery.com
BEST BARBECUE – Bird Dog BBQ, Colorado Springs
The Colorado Springs area is lucky to have Bird Dog BBQ — voted winner of Best Barbecue in the state by readers. Celebrating 20 years of Colorado barbecue excellence, Bird Dog BBQ prides itself on making great Oklahoma-style barbecue by using oak-smoked meat to produce a mild flavor allowing for the taste of the meat to shine through. At Bird Dog BBQ you will always be given the option when ordering to complement your food with some made-from-scratch, gluten-free barbecue sauces on the side. They have sauce options like other barbecue joints — mild, hot, and extra hot. You will also find a creative sauce concoction called “Wasabi-Q” on the menu. Using their counter-side service line format, visitors can watch and talk to the people plating the food.
Bird Dog BBQ has three locations:
- 5984 Stetson Hills Blvd #200, Colorado Springs, CO 80923
- 4153 Centennial Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80907
- 6965 Mesa Ridge Pkwy #190, Fountain, CO 80817
Purchase sauces and find the menu online at birddogbbq.com
BEST BURGER – Stumbling Moose Lodge, Pitkin
Stumbling Moose Lodge is a small, rustic, family-run mountain destination. Guests can explore Pitkin and the surrounding Gunnison National Forest to create outdoor adventures, and then come home for dinner to what was voted the best burger in Colorado by Colorado Country Life readers.
Originally from Oklahoma, the family of six who own and operate the lodge say service and simplicity are at their core. But their burgers are anything but simple. The hamburger meat is locally sourced. Juicy, flavorful, and cooked to perfection, this patty is the foundation upon which the rest of the burger is built. The two most popular burgers are the Bacon Jam Burger and the Hatch Green Chile Cheeseburger.
A fire-roasted hatch green chile is melted between two slices of cheddar cheese. The combination adds a tangy and slightly spicy kick to the burger, enhancing the overall flavor profile. The smoky flavor of the roasted chile paired with the gooey, melted cheddar cheese creates a delightful and satisfying taste experience. It’s a perfect addition for those who enjoy a bit of heat in their burgers.
“My favorite menu item is the Bacon Jam Burger,” diner Suzy Metzler says.
Described as smoky and irresistible, caramelized bacon combined with a carefully crafted mix of spices creates a sweet-savory jam that adds a depth of flavor.
But the food is only part of why Metzler loves Stumbling Moose. “It’s a great addition to our small town of Pitkin,” she says. “In the summer and early fall, live music is happening on their outdoor patio in the evenings.”
Find more information about the Stumbling Moose Lodge on Facebook at facebook.com/StumblingMooseLodge.
BEST ICE CREAM – Graff Dairy, Grand Junction
Described as “The place in town for anything ice cream related,” Grand Junction’s Graff Dairy is the go-to for quality homemade soft serve ice cream, milkshakes, malts, banana splits, ice cream sandwiches, and sundaes. Traditional flavors fill their menu, and tasty specialty flavors of the week keep people coming back for more.
People rave about the creamy and rich soft serve. Friendly staff and a charming atmosphere make locally owned and operated Graff’s Dairy CCL’s winner of the Best Ice Cream category and a Colorado favorite.
For address, hours, and more information, visit graffdairy.com.
BEST PIE – Colorado Cherry Company, Loveland, Windsor, Pinewood Springs
Colorado Cherry Company is a fourth- generation owned and operated business in the heart of the high country and the clear winner in the Best Pie category of the contest.
The original roadside pie stand in Loveland was initiated by Grandma Lehnert. A second retail location in Pinewood Springs outside of Lyons is also full of their bestselling products for sale to locals and visitors heading home from Rocky Mountain National Park.
CCL reader Anna Smith is a regular patron of Colorado Cherry Company. For her family, it’s a must-stop on the way home from their day trips to the mountains. “The memories our family makes on those visits always include cherry pie,” she says.
Known also for ciders, juices, jams, and jellies, Colorado Cherry Company makes fresh pies daily. The seventh and final ingredient in all of their pies is love.
Find products and location information at coloradocherrycompany.com.
Congrats to Grand Junction winners Graff’s Dairy and Spoons bistro & bakery for making the local news on KREX 5 News
Special thanks to Melinda Taylor, Cassi Gloe, Mollie Shepardson (Spoons), and Jake Schellenberg (Stumbling Moose) for their contributions to this story.
What categories would you like to see for next year’s Best of Colorado awards? In the past, we’ve covered food, restaurants, entertainment, sights to see, music venues, locally made products, and more. Under what category would you place your Colorado favorite?
Email your category ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.