Dining in Colorado is generally casual. Dinner hours are typically from 6 pm to 10 pm, but many small-town and rural eateries close by 9 pm. Authentic ethnic food is hard to find outside the big cities and major resort towns.
Unless otherwise noted, the restaurants listed in this guide are open daily for lunch and dinner.
Although you can find all types of cuisine in Colorado's major cities and resort towns, don't forget to try native dishes like trout, elk, and buffalo (the latter two have less fat than beef and are just as tasty). Steak is a mainstay in the Rocky Mountains. Chili verde, also known as green chili, is a popular menu item at Mexican restaurants in Colorado. Many restaurants serve vegetarian items, and some are exclusively vegetarian. Organic fruits and vegetables are also readily available.
Regardless of where you are, it's a good idea to make a reservation if you can. In some places it's expected. We only mention them specifically when reservations are essential (there's no other way you'll ever get a table) or when they are not accepted. For popular restaurants, book as far ahead as you can (often 30 days), and reconfirm as soon as you arrive. Large parties should always call ahead to check the reservations policy. We mention dress only when men are required to wear a jacket or a jacket and tie—which is almost never in the Rockies.
Smoking is prohibited in Colorado's public places, including restaurants and bars.
The legal drinking age in Colorado is 21. Colorado liquor laws do not allow anyone to bring their own alcohol to restaurants. You'll find renowned breweries throughout Colorado, including, of course, the nation's second-largest brewer: MillerCoors. There are dozens of microbreweries in Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and the resort towns—if you're a beer drinker, be sure to try some local brews. Although the region is not known for its wines, the wineries in the Grand Junction area and along the Front Range are earning increased acclaim.