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Best Breckenridge Restaurants

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Up until a few years ago, Breckenridge was not known for its cuisine. But that’s beginning to change with more and younger chefs coming to town. Compared to other resorts like Aspen and Vail, Breck is still a bargain, with only a handful of expensive fine-dining establishments and double that for moderately priced eateries. One area they excel in is breakfast. Those heading out for a day of exercise need fuel.  In this health-conscious community, chefs are adopting the farm-to-fork concept and the best Breckenridge restaurants try to serve fresh, local ingredients. Most places cater to families, and the dress code is still casual, though even that is changing with the menus. You’ll rarely see a tie on a guy, but you may spot long skirts or sequins on women. Jeans are acceptable, but please no sweats. Patio happy hours are popular, especially early ones that start around 5PM since it gets chilly when the sun goes down, even in summer. Most places are open every day during peak seasons. Locals like to wait until shoulder season to sample the more expensive restaurants when most of them offer two-for-one deals. It works for visitors, too.

Briar Rose

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
This is a stellar example of the gentrification of the Breck dining scene. What used to be a musty, dark, meat-and-potatoes dive is now an elegant fine-dining steakhouse, serving only the best American beef, meats and wild game. The most expensive item on the menu (and probably in the whole town) is the 8-ounce Kobe beef skirt steak for $52. Not a meat-eater? Your choices are lobster tail, Colorado trout, fresh catch of the day, roast duck or organic chicken. Sides, salads and starters are separate. Try the tomato salad with blue cheese and red onion swathed in Port wine vinaigrette or New Zealand Green Lip mussels. Veggies include creamed spinach and grilled asparagus. For carbs, you can get Rösti, thin-cut fries and more. Key Lime pie with whipped cream could be dessert. There’s also a small-plates menu and one for kids. Dinner only; you do need a reservation.

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Hearthstone Restaurant

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
Hearthstone is quintessential Breckenridge. The 125-year-old blue house sits high on a hill, with fantastic views of the peaks and town (try to get the table upstairs next to the west window). Longtime local owners have refurbished the interior back to its Victorian splendor, so dining here is a must—both to immerse yourself in the ambiance and to eat like a gold baron of yesteryear. The award-winning wine list complements the food that comes mostly from Rocky Mountain ranches and farms, such as Colorado lamb specialties created daily, Idaho trout, elk with a blackberry demi-glace and prairie-raised chicken stuffed with Camembert. There’re usually three or four fish entrees, as well as a vegetarian choice. Price includes sides like garlic thyme mashers, grilled bok choy or fresh snap peas. We like to come in after the theatre for the killer signature bread pudding smothered in huckleberry sauce. Definitely make reservations.

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Modis

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Expensive
It’s easy to drop in this eatery since the front door is right on Main Street. But you’d be lucky to get a table, as the popular spot is always crowded; so put your name down and return later. Longtime local restaurateur Eric Mamula (Downstairs at Eric’s) opened Modis a few years ago and named it for his toddler’s words for asking for more food: “mo dis.” He’s raised prices since then, tipping it into the more expensive dining bracket, but it’s still a good value since each entree comes loaded with two sides. Soups, salads, apps, extra sides and desserts are additional. A nice mix of meat, fish, pasta and even a tofu dish are on the menu. Locals rave about the Cioppino in tomato saffron broth and the buffalo ribeye with bourbon sauce. Chef doesn’t use trans fat or MSG, and liquid dairy is hormone-free.

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Mountain Flying Fish

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Sushi in the mountains? You better believe it. Chef Tetsuo Shimoda had been slicing up sushi in Japan and New York for 20 years until he settled in Breckenridge six years ago. Now it’s not just the best Sushi Bar in Summit County; it very well could be some of the best this side of the Big Apple. Besides the freshest Sashimi and Nigiri from Japan, Chef Shimoda also serves Asian cuisine like Japanese Curry, Teriyaki dishes and Nabeyaki Udon noodles. House specials are Wa-Fu-Seviche, Carpaccio and spicy tuna salad. A large selection of rolls, soups and salads round out the menu. Healthy rice bran oil is used for all fried foods. Open at 5PM for dinner only; reservations suggested. 

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Relish

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
We always try to sit on the second-floor veranda overlooking the rushing Blue River and the peaks—the best deck in town. Inside, sleek lines, amber walls framed with dark wood, and lots of windows produce a refined yet warm atmosphere. Chef/owner Matt Fackler and wife Lisa have been locals for years, and we’re happy to see their wonderful restaurant doing so well since they opened in 2006. Matt has a way with combining flavors and ingredients to create exotic dishes like pecan-crusted red trout with marjoram grape butter sauce and grilled fish spiced with coriander paired with cantaloupe gazpacho. Entrees come with sides; desserts, appetizers and salads are extra. The chef changes the menu every season to take advantage of the freshest products. He keeps prices down, quality and service up, which is why we love going there. Open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday and dinner every night. Reservations recommended.

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Ember

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Moderate
Ember smolders with sexy ambiance. Warm amber walls wrap around you, inviting you to linger near the fireplace or in one of the cozy nooks upstairs in the three-story, turn-of-the-century home. From the changing colors of the table lamps to the artwork decor, the place simply sizzles and seems more expensive than it is. Oh, you can drop a bundle if you start with one of the Culinary Cocktails and eat your way through caramel-almond flan. But they’d have to roll you out. The gourmet menu is sectioned into Kindle (appetizers), Crackle (small plates) and Blaze (entrees). A note about servers: most of them are professional, not kids with night jobs like many ski resorts, so the service is as excellent as the food. “Euphoric Hour” is 4-6PM daily in the bar and on the deck. Reservations recommended.

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My Thai

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
We like this small casual eatery because the food is consistently good and made with fresh and natural ingredients. Entrees include traditional Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles; plus a variety of stir-frys with brown or jasmine rice, noodle and fried rice dishes. Curries are made with coconut milk, and you have a choice of chicken, beef, tofu or shrimp served with brown or jasmine rice on the side. Flavors are Massaman, Green, Pineapple or Panang. Appetizers like Spring rolls, and Potstickers will get your juices flowing. There are soups and salads, too. The kid’s menu is extensive, with lots of favorites in smaller portions. Eat in or on the patio; either way, you’ll agree with the locals that it’s the best Thai in Summit County.

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Crepes a la Cart

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
In a “kitchen” no bigger than a tool shed, crepe-makers create lighter-than-air crepes filled with nearly every kind of food that can be held in a fan-shaped paper holder and eaten without utensils. There’s a “shmear” of cream cheese, salmon and onions; and the quintessential La Parisian Crepe of ham, melted brie and Dijon mustard—more than 15 lunch and dinner crepes, including a “design your own” version. They’ve got at least a dozen dessert crepes; they include the venerable Crepe Suzette (butter and sugar with Grand Marnier), Funky French Monkey (peanut butter, bananas and chocolate, and Lemon Soufflé (lemon juice, butter, sugar and cream). We’ve stood in long lines waiting for our special treat that’s great for breakfast, lunch, light dinner or any-time snack. During winter and cold summer nights, we sit al fresco around a gas fireplace on the deck munching on zee crepes.

Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
 Locals consistently vote Giampietro’s “Best Pizza in Summit County.” Started by a chef from Venice, Giampietro’s recipes come straight from the Old Country and everything is home made. Pizzas are New York style and Sicilian Deep Dish in a square pan. There’s only one size—16-inch that feeds two to four adults—but you can also order by the slice. Every topping known to man is available, including eggplant, anchovy and artichoke. This goes for Calzones, too. All the classic Italian dishes are made here, such as meat lasagna, Fettuccini Alfredo and manicotti. Antipasti range from the traditional antipasti plate to bruchetta to marinated olives. The dining room is small, with red and white-checkered tablecloths (what else?) on small tables, and they don’t take reservations. But don’t let that stop you. You can wait or order take-out from the regular menu or family-style menu for large orders. 

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Rasta Pasta

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
Pasta with Jamaican influence—imagine that. That’s exactly what the founder did, and the tiny restaurant with Rastafarian tradition turned out to be one of the most popular places in all of Breck. Our favorite dish is Chicken Montego Bay, penne pasta tossed with marinated chicken, pineapple and fresh veggies sautéed in white wine and folded into a light Alfredo sauce. Spaghetti Knuckles is the Carib version of spaghetti and sausage. If you like a little kick, Spicy Jammin’ rotini mixed with shrimp and hot spices will deliver, as will Natural Mystic, penne with a hot pineapple curry sauce. Garlic bread and a small salad come with all dinner entrees; just bread with lunch. This is a great place for kids, but be aware of a $3 split-plate charge. Entrees average $10.95, with the highest price $15.95 for Seafood Alfredo.

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