On a recent stay in the charming Colorado mountain town of Ridgway, we discovered some big flavors. Guided by some insightful local tips, here’s where and what to eat for everything from breakfast to dinner. Don’t miss dining where a famous Western movie was filmed, and where to stay if you want to linger in this uncrowded, beautiful area for more than just one meal.
Although Ridgway isn’t often thought of as a destination, this small Colorado town has a lot to offer. This is an uncrowded corner of Colorado that has authentic, non-touristy mountain town charm. On a recent visit, with the help of a resident friend who gave me a few tips, we discovered a surprising, impressive culinary scene.
We a several delicious meals on our recent two night stay in Ridgway. From hearty breakfasts with tasty specialty pancakes, to gourmet tacos, to historical venues of John Wayne movie fame – here’s a look at the surprisingly tasty and diverse offerings of this unusual mountain town.
Grab the Only Room In Town
First, consider where to stay if you’d like to spend some time in this authentic small mountain town. It’s a breathtaking, generally less crowded area of Colorado that is well worth a visit. Ridgway is small, but an excellent home base to explore the peaks and outdoor recreation options in the area, which include Telluride and Ouray.
You can find comfortable accommodations at Chipeta Solar Resort, which offers rooms and condos that feature fireplaces and personal outdoor hot tubs. Our next thought? Where to eat – which led us to this delicious culinary tour.
Pancakes On at Kate’s Place
We checked in to Chipeta Solar Springs Resort and found out that due to the slower season, their restaurant wouldn’t be open for breakfast. Her first recommendation? Kate’s Place.
This idea was reinforced on social media, as soon as my friends saw that I was in Ridgway and started casting their restaurants votes. The recommendations were flowing in, and Kate’s Place made almost everyone’s list. When a fellow blogger mentioned, “be sure to try the lemon ricotta pancakes”… I was all in.
Kate’s Place had colorful and fun décor, with just a handful of tables. This meant a bit of a wait for an available spot, but don’t let that put you off. The food was fresh and tasty, and was served quickly. They must have a local source for pork, because the bacon was sliced thick and full of flavor. They definitely know how to make pancakes. Both of my children loved their chocolate chip pancakes.
I ordered the lemon ricotta pancakes, which included blueberries. Worth trying, and quite flavorful. But the tastiest item on our table ended up being my husband’s choice: a breakfast Monte Cristo. Personally, the description turned me off a bit. How wrong I was!
The breakfast Monte Cristo was ham, Swiss and egg on French toast, drizzled with a little maple syrup. This salty and sweet flavor combination was truly delicious.
John Wayne Was Here
In addition to its charming mountain town assets, Ridgway also has some fun Western history. The 1969 John Wayne film “True Grit” filmed here, partially in town and in the surrounding mountains. Ask any local, and they can point out the areas of Ridgway where you’ll find tidbits from the movie.
So in that sense, the True Grit Café is probably the most touristy of the restaurants that we patronized. None of the locals directed us to eat here, but we ordered what turned out to be delicious handmade burgers. On Monday nights, you can get a ¼ lb cheeseburger and fries for $6.
We were impressed by getting to sit next to the Chamber’s Grocery brick wall, seen in the first scene where John Wayne makes an appearance in True Grit. Western flick fans definitely need to swing by here.
If you’re like my family, your movie nostalgia will then prompt you to go back to your hotel room with Wi-Fi and fire up Netflix to watch True Grit…
Impressive Taco Bar the Locals Adore
Now Taco Del Gnar, on the other hand, is a true local’s scene. This is basically a taco bar, with a fairly limited menu. You can have tacos, or tacos, all served on soft shells of either corn or flour. The menu does feature several ala cart, creative, and flavorful options. Your best bet is to select the Gnar Taco Dinner combo for $9.99, which includes your choice of any two tacos, a side of home fries with queso, and kool beans.
Note they may direct you to that the Korean Short Rib, with the boast that its their most popular choice. I found that one to be greasy and not nearly as flavorful at the others we tried, so I would steer you clear of it.
The show stealers here were those scrumptious fried potatoes smothered in creamy white queso cheese, and the Mahi Mahi taco. With a sweet and crispy citrus jicama slaw on top, the sweet and crunchy combination made it the most delicious fish taco I’ve ever had.
Although they have a kids menu, it’s limited fare and no American options. My conservative daughter ended up eating chips and salsa for lunch. The chips were made in house, and you get a choice from three freshly made salsas. It was a fun and tasty experience, and worth trying out for a mid-day meal.
We Found Thai Paradise
Several Ridgway locals voted Thai Paradise their favorite restaurant, so we were excited to check it out. In visiting with the owner, they actually hail from Laos, not Thailand. We enjoyed the eclectic décor of giant seashells and gorgeous photographs of Thailand beaches.
Thai Paradise follows the same pattern as we saw in every Ridgway eating establishment we tried – cozy, and with few tables. Whether you go with pad thai or a more traditional stir fry type dish, you can select the spice level of your dish. We were warned before we arrived, hot means HOT. Start mild, and work your way up. They serve a trio of sauces and spice for you to do just that, which worked particularly well since we shared our entrees with the kids.
My pick? Chicken Nut stir fry, which was basically a variation of cashew chicken plus pineapple. I loved the addition of pineapple adding some sweet to this combination.
The One That Got Away
Last but not least, Provisions is a hot new culinary addition to town that the locals rave about. Sadly, it is the one place we didn’t get to try. We swung by on a Tuesday, the only day they are closed. A fellow visitor at our resort said it reminded her of an “upscale, Brooklyn bakery bistro” that served the best scone she’s ever had.
A peek in the window revealed an extremely Pottery Barn / Pinterest perfect type décor. I can’t wait to check it out on a future visit.
With beauty and outdoor recreation options in abundance, Ridgway is a great location to experience. Adding an excellent culinary scene to the mix makes it one of my top Colorado travel picks.