Growing up, I spent a lot of time at ski resorts. I mean, a LOT. Being from Southern California, Mammoth was a winter staple for us — I learned how to ski there and then spent every subsequent ski season on the slopes of Mammoth with visits to other ski destinations peppered in. I’ve had the good fortune of getting my ski tips on the mountains of Vail, Aspen, Tahoe, Sun Valley, the list goes on. But in all of my time shooshing up and down those hills, I have never encountered anything quite like Telluride.
Funny, so many of you asked me while I was there, “where’s Telluride?” and it’s a legit question given its ultra-remote locale in southwest Colorado. It’s a bit of a trek to get there (I’ll provide how-to tips below), but that is also the reason the likes of Oprah, Ralph Lauren, and more choose Telluride over other ski resort towns — it’s completely low profile, yet unabashedly fabulous. It’s where you want to go if you want a chic, gourmet, upscale time without all of the pretense and display (i.e. you can leave the Gucci at home, unless you really want to bring it — we all know I did).
This secluded gem held many surprises for me during my five day snow-filled adventure last week. One of them most certainly being the food scene. There is tons to do – and even more to eat – in Telluride, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Telluride can easily be broken down into two main hubs: Downtown Telluride and Mountain Village. Mountain Village is darling (and where I stayed) and has the most abundant ski in/ski out potential for those prioritizing fresh powder over everything else. There is nary a spot in Mountain Village where you can’t just hop right on to the mountain and go. Downtown Telluride, however, holds the key to better shopping and abundant fine dining. Luckily, both areas are easily accessible by a free – and beyond charming – gondola that traverses between both areas all times of day (and even most times of night).
HOW TO GET THERE
You’ve got a few options when traveling into Telluride, one of which is flying directly into Telluride Regional Airport (they recently re-opened the airport to commercial flights). However, from personal experience, your best bet is to fly into Montrose Airport (an hour and a half drive from Telluride) and use Telluride Express to transport into town. The Telluride airport can be a little sketchy (ok, a lot sketchy) and this will help minimize your chance of a flight delay or cancellation due to weather.
WHERE TO STAY
As you can imagine, you have a plethora of hospitality options in Telluride. From Airbnb rentals, to quaint hotels, to full on spa resorts, it’s all here! For my trip, I knew I wanted to be conveniently located, on the mountain, and with access to a killer spa, and The Peaks Resort & Spa checked every box. With a ski in/ski out valet that tends to all of your ski needs and rentals right in the hotel, this is an absolute dream for a fresh powder junkie – there is no closer proximity to snow activity. But for those looking for a little après ski fun (raises hand) you also have a world class spa awaiting your sore muscles and cold tootsies. Indoors pools, outdoor pools, dry saunas, steam rooms, roman tubs, massages, facials… YES, PLEASE.
WHERE TO EAT
Here is where things get exceptionally awesome. Now, I don’t know about you, but my lasting impressions of ‘mountain food’ weren’t exactly great ones. I remember the ski resort cafeterias and the local dives in town, but I definitely don’t recall gourmet, farm-to-table, chef-driven, culinary experiences. Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t skiing in Telluride. Shame on me for that miss, because the food scene here just blew me away. Better late than never, right?
With a heavy hand of French influence, a side of Top Chef alum, and no lack of locally sourced goods, the restaurants in Telluride are nothing short of extraordinary. A few of my favorite highlights:
- 221 South Oak | I’m not sure what I appreciated more here, the charming restored home that 221 is nestled inside, or Top Chef Eliza Gavin’s take on fine dining with a local twist. Expect to see elk, boar and venison on the menu paired with creamy gnocchetti, miso roasted vegetables, and black trumpet ash. No shortage of skill and talent here.
- Bon Vivant | I can’t say enough good things about Bon Vivant – not only is it highest on my list of do not miss spots in Telluride – but it’s literally the highest place I’ve ever eaten. 11,000 feet above sea level to be exact. Bon Vivant is only accessible by ski, snowboard or snowmobile, so prepare accordingly if you plan to get your french onion soup and champagne on at this exclusive peak-side eatery. BONUS: if fancy eateries on-mountain are your thing (they should be), also be sure to check out Alpino Vino for an outstanding evening experience.
- La Marmotte | Another to be added to your ‘must have’ list, La Marmotte is just the most precious place. Rustic, fabulous, French, set in a wooden chalet with the most stunning mountain backdrop — it’s the kind of place that makes you second guess if you’re even living real life (you are!). Boasting an elegant menu of foie gras, coq au vin, caramelized goat cheese tarte, beef tartare, and a beautiful wine list, it’s the type of food you could easily grow accustomed to having after a long day of ski. Warm your belly here.
- The Butcher & The Baker | Because you know you need breakfast, and baked goods, and perfectly poached eggs and bomb breakfast burritos. Darling counter-order spot (and a favorite of the locals) serving up all of the above and more. Don’t miss their amazing stuffed croissants and MASSIVE breakfast sandwiches.
- New Sheridan Chop House | Classic steakhouse perfection. Set inside the historic New Sheridan Hotel, which is home to the town’s oldest bar and its namesake world-renowned chop house, there is much to love, appreciate, and savor within the celebrated walls of this building, perfectly cooked steaks being among them. I adored the vintage stylings of this restaurant, and their Alaskan king crab legs even more. This is the kind of place you order a big glass of cabernet and submit to a stunning aged porterhouse.
Allred’s | Last, but most definitely not least is Allred’s, a Telluride requisite. Accessible only by gondola (how cute is that?), this restaurant came repeatedly recommended, and now I see exactly why. The views would be enough to draw anyone in and keep them mesmerized, but fortunately they don’t stop there… not even close. The contemporary American cuisine being served here is just exquisite. Allred’s may just get my distinction as best of Telluride. From their signature truffle potato ‘croutons’, to the miso glazed sea bass, and HANDS DOWN the best desserts I had all trip, my meal was positively flawless. And yeah, there’s still THAT VIEW.
Your mouth is most definitely watering now, right? I know it sounds crazy to travel all the way to a ski resort for the food, but Telluride is a veritable culinary sensation in its own right and deserves all of the credit as such.
WHAT TO DO
Come on, it’s a ski resort… get out on the mountain! But if you are looking for activities that may not be screaming ‘obvious’, Telluride has plenty to do. Ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobiling are awesome, family-friendly, and readily available options. A few ideas you may not have thought of however, are fat tire winter biking, the Dunton Hot Springs, and Heli-skiing. Yep, jumping out of a helicopter to gain even better access to all of that fresh pow. It’s on my bucket list for sure… maybe next year.
That’s a wrap! What a jam-packed, delicious, majestic trip. Thank you for taking the journey with me into Telluride — it was really the trip of a lifetime which has solidified me as a forever fan. Can’t wait to be back soon… hopefully with a little one in tow!