Bird & Jim (Estes Park)
Why go: Named for Isabella Bird and her one-eyed desperado man, Mountain Jim, the modern space offers views of the historic figures’ old playground, Rocky Mountain National Park,
from padded seats in view of a kitchen that is chef Ethan Brown’s playground.
What to have: Smoked old-fashioned, smoked pheasant chowder, carnivore platter, wild game meatloaf, Colorado lamb Bolognese.
Where to sleep: Just a few doors down at the Alpine Trail Ridge Inn. Open Mon.-Sat. from 11 a.m. until closing, Sundays for brunch and lunch starting at 10:30 a.m.
Treeline Kitchen (Leadville)
Why go: It’s one of those places travelers stumble into on their way home from Aspen and leave with dropped jaws. Eric Wupperman and wife Christine Street turned their dream into a dream destination. They mixed modern flavors and comforts into a historic brick building, then added a rooftop patio with fantastic mountain views.
What to have: Buttery black cod, jalapeño cornbread, roasted vegetables, crushed potatoes, apple crisp.
Where to sleep: Just across the street at the historic Delaware Hotel. Open daily, 3:30 to 9 p.m.
Pine Creek Cookhouse (Aspen)
Why go: In winter, you take a sleigh, snowshoe, or don cross-country skis and follow the trail from Ashcroft Nordic Center to this remote spot, about 14 miles south of Aspen. In summer,
though, it’s a beautiful drive to the restaurant, with many opting to park in Ashcroft Ghost Town and walk along a scenic path a little longer than a mile.
What to have: The trout! Beet salad, wild game momos, salmon chowder, elk sausage or steaks.
Where to sleep: There’s nothing in walking distance, unfortunately. If you want to keep to the outskirts of Aspen, the Annabelle Inn is a popular, unpretentious option. Summer season from June-October: Wed.-Sun., lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., patio service 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., dinner 6 p.m.