Best Pizza Places in the Colorado Mountains
Hungry yet? A full day of exploring the Colorado Rocky Mountains should be followed by a satisfying dinner at one of Colorado's best local pizza eateries. These places are hard to find if you don't know where to look or have no idea about which ones are reputed favorites among the locals. These are the pizza places you'll be glad to visit after a long day chewing up the powder, blazing trails through the Rockies, dabbling in creeks with your fishing rod, or finishing a shopping expedition in one of these quaint and rustic mountain towns.
Colorado Style Pizza
Idaho Springs: BeauJo's Mountain Pizza
Stopping at BeauJo's in Idaho Springs on our way down from the mountains has become a tradition for my family, because none of us can resist the thought of a deep-dish "mountain pie" with thick bubbly crusts in all different bread flavors, melted cheese, and a hearty italian sauce recipe (purportedly discovered in an abandoned mine by the infamous Colorado miner, Pete za Pie, as BeauJo's legend goes). Tradition also has it that you must drizzle honey on your thick crust "handle" when you've finished the gooey part of your pizza. It's tradition! You have to do it or your BeauJo's experience will be lacking in authenticity.
The building one of several historical attractions in Idaho Springs. The inside is decorated in rustic red-brick, with antique gold-mining tools and photos from Colorado's gold rush days on the walls. You will also find hundreds of white paper napkins, doodled on by restaurant guests, attached to the walls and ceilings of a few of the dining rooms.
If you happen to be around on a Monday, their special is the Prairie Pie Pepperoni Pizza for $12.99. Wheat Free Wednesdays have a special $12.99 gluten free pizza available.
I've heard that the BeauJos' in other cities don't compare in the least bit to the BeauJo's in Idaho Springs, as Idaho Springs' has far superior food, atmosphere, and service. I can't tell you from my own experience if that is true because I rarely, if ever, go to any BeauJo's other than the one in Idaho Springs! I'm not sure if I could.
Need directions? Jump out of the traffic on I-70 at Idaho Springs. You can see the BeauJo's building and sign from the highway. Map to BeauJo's in Idaho Springs.
Winter Park and Frasier: Hernando's Pizza and Pasta Pub
Hernando's in Winter Park is by far the most popular restaurant amongst Frasier and Winter Park locals, and it, too, has become tradition for many who stop in Winter Park for a day or two for its great slopes, beautiful hiking and mountain biking trails, or quaint shops. Make your reservations early on weekends because it's almost guaranteed to fill up!
The appetizer of garlic breadsticks with red tomato dipping sauce might risk filling you up before the pizza even arrives! I remember our group would have been happy to eat those breadsticks for the entire meal. The pizza soon took precedence, though, and was quickly consumed. I don't know how to describe the pizza at Hernando's because they don't have quite the self-proclaimed legendary flair that BeauJo's is known for, but I can tell you that our table ordered three different topping combos from their specialty pizza menu, and none of us could pick a favorite from the three we tried, yet each pizza definitely had its own flavor. Hernando's is known for its different crust options, and one of those is a whole wheat crust with just a hint of sweetness.
Colorado pizza eaters must be artistically inspired by the mountain splendor of the surrounding scenery, because this restaurant is also decorated by doodles! These doodles have monetary value, however, as each diner's contribution is an individually decorated dollar bill. Find these under the glass surface of your table, glued methodically to the walls, taped to the rustic pillars, and even plastered to the ceiling. (Ask your waiter or waitress for some markers and you can leave your own mark on Winter Park.) The tradition started when Jeff Davidson asked Russ Petersen to help him revamp Hernando's in 1967. Russ suggested a design scheme of decorated dollar bills for the walls, but Jeff thought it wouldn't work. To prove him wrong, Russ colored a dollar bill and taped it on the wall, then bet a bottle of wine that there would be twenty additional dollar bills on the walls by the end of the ski season. After the first couple of weeks, there were still no other bills on the walls, and Russ was getting desperate. He started paying staff to decorate and post their bills. By the end of the ski season there were exactly 20 bills posted. Russ won the bet. By 2008 there was over $20,000 in decorated dollar bills on the walls of Hernando's.
Print out some Hernando's Pizza Pub Coupons before you go!
Village Pizza in Estes Park
"When we asked around in town where to find good pizza for a reasonable price, all the locals told us to go here. We were not disappointed." -Visiting family from Virginia
"If you're looking for a restaurant that knows pizza, look no further than Village Pizza. This place puts out not only the best pizza in Estes Park, but some of the best pizza I've ever had." -Visitor from Ohio
Others have described Village Pizza in Estes Park as a Mom-and-Pop type local favorite that's often packed out on weeknights as well as weekends. Homemade crusts, generous toppings, sweet and cheerful waitstaff, and the healthy buzz of business sums up this pizza place. Note: Thin crust lovers rejoice that Village Pizza is more about the topping than the breadstuffs, and someone once described their crust choices as "thin, thinner, and thinnest." Click here for contact info and map to Villiage Pizza of Estes Park.
If there's a pizza place you're familiar with that you think should be on this list, let me know! Great pizzas shouldn't just belong to the locals.
© 2010 Jane Grey