10 Local Restaurants Rich with History of the Old West
Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon
Named after the old Briar Rose Mine on Peak 10, which began operation in the late 19th century, the restaurant operated as a boarding house serving meals to tired miners. The historic back-bar gives customers a taste of Briar Rose’s Old West history, while a gourmet menu of the finest beef and wild game will please modern-day palates. 109 Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge
In the early 1900s, a gold dredge boat operated in the town of Breckenridge to mine the depths of the Blue River for gold and other minerals. Today, The Dredge Restaurant floats picturesquely on the Blue River, a replica of one of the largest and longest operating dredges in Breckenridge. The Dredge is kid friendly, with casual American “surf and turf” fare and a great selection of appetizers and bar snacks. 180 Jefferson Ave., Breckenridge
Gold Pan Saloon
The saloon is the oldest bar in Breckenridge and one of the oldest bars west of the Mississippi River. Established in 1879 to serve the local mining community, the Gold Pan offered drinks to customers arriving on horseback up until 1960 — and was the scene of the last shootout in Breckenridge in 1965. Even today you can still find an old safe similar to the kind that miners used to safely store their gold before bellying up to the big mahogany bar for a few libations. 103 North Main St., Breckenridge
In the late 19th century, cattle rancher Christian Kaiser moved from South Park to Breckenridge; he was intent on finding a “good woman” and settling down — and it seems that Breckenridge (despite its rough reputation) held more prospects than South Park. The elegant Victorian building that now houses Hearthstone Restaurant became the home of Christian and his Breckenridge wife Ida, and their family. Today, Hearthstone features a menu of beef, game and seafood, and Colorado produce in season. 130 South Ridge St., Breckenridge.
In 1880, editor Charles Hardy ran the Summit County Leader out of the building that now houses Twist Restaurant. Hardy and his wife loved to throw elaborate parties, and it is rumored that the ghost of Mrs. Hardy still haunts the building, mysteriously increasing the volume of music in the dining room from time to time, or causing objects to fly around the premises to the surprise of diners. Twist offers a spin on classic comfort food, and features a seasonal menu with local Colorado-sourced ingredients. 200 South Ridge St., Breckenridge
(For more anecdotes from Breckenridge’s colorful past, check out “Haunted Breckenridge” by Gail Westwood. Arcadia Publishing).
In the late 19th century, the town of Dillon was a stagecoach stop and trading post. 1925 saw the construction of Loveland Pass, and “A-Café,” as it came to be known, was built to serve travelers over the pass as well as enthusiasts of the relatively novel sport of downhill skiing. A-Café was moved in 1960 to avoid the rising waters created by the Lake Dillon Dam, but still boasts its distinctive pine paneling installed many years ago by its original owners. Today, it is considered a historic landmark site building in Dillon. Welcoming travelers and locals year-round for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks. 626 Lake Dillon Ave., Dillon.
Constructed in 1860, the back bar at the Blue Spruce was transported from New York to Denver, and then by wagon to the Royal Flush Saloon in Black Hawk, Colorado. Today the bar is the centerpiece of the Blue Spruce Inn, which was built in the 1940s as an inn and restaurant serving travelers on the old highway from Dillon to Breckenridge. Stop by this friendly neighborhood restaurant and bar, for steak and seafood and a glimpse of Summit County’s historic past. 20 Main Street, Frisco.
For centuries, the Arapahoe and Ute Native American tribes summered in the area that is now Keystone, fishing in the Snake River and hunting in the mountains and valleys. They shared these rugged lands with the early pioneers — primarily trappers and explorers who began to arrive in the 16th century. 1859 marked the beginning of the western Gold Rush, which lured prospectors, fortune hunters and adventurers of all stripes to many of the towns that now make up Summit County — with Keystone being one of their first stops.
Ski Tip Lodge
In the 1880s, a stagecoach stop was constructed in Keystone to service the growing number of travelers to the area. This rustic stop was later to become the Ski Tip Lodge. Ski Tip is now a cozy bed and breakfast, with a four-star restaurant that was recently named the 6th Best Restaurant in America by OpenTable. 764 Montezuma Road, Keystone.
The Keystone Ranch was established as a homestead and working ranch in the 1930s. The ranch was active at the time Loveland Pass was just being constructed to allow visitors and those seeking their fortune out West a faster and safer passage. Enjoy the rustic elegance of this historic working ranch — and a four-star dining experience in a beautiful mountain setting. 1437 County Road 150, Keystone.
The Mint dates back to 1862 (one year after Colorado became a U.S. territory), and was a well-frequented watering hole for thirsty miners. By 1882 it was known as a popular bar, club room and bordello. Over the years, the Mint survived several fires, welcomed some of the first intrepid enthusiasts of the novel sport of downhill skiing, and was moved twice as water issues began to dominate the West — most recently with the flooding of the old town of Dillon in the 1960s to create the Lake Dillon Dam. Today, it stands proudly as one of the most popular restaurants in the area, specializing in steaks and other meats that customers can grill themselves. 347 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne.
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