Searching for the top restaurants in Grand Lake, Colorado? You’ve arrived to the correct location!
Grand Lake, Colorado, is a one-of-a-kind destination that has drawn visitors since the late 1800s. In the 1880s, the city was the location of an actual gunfight. Now, the rustic appeal of Grand Avenue’s wooden boardwalks contributes to the aura of the town’s historic frontier background.
Grand Lake is located near the western boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park and is a lesser-known entry for those who have already visited the west side. The glacial lake is Colorado’s biggest natural body of water, reaching 256 feet at its deepest point. Once the ice sheets melted, glaciers flowed down the mountains, producing the lake, particularly the ice from Mount Craig, also known as Mount Baldy, on the east end.
Before the trappers and prospectors arrived, it was a summer fishing spot for indigenous Ute and Arapaho peoples. Eventually, visitors came in Grand County by horseback or train from Denver, which was 67 miles distant. The early visitors hoped to see the Rocky Mountains and, eventually, Rocky Mountain National Park, which opened in 1915.
The North Inlet, one of two rapid streams that run into Grand Lake, is fed by snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. In 1867, the brave pioneers established lodges and businesses to serve their visitors. The Rapids Lodge, located on the North Inlet’s banks, was one of the first hotels to provide guests with running water, electricity, and heat generated by a water-powered generator.
Restaurants in Grand Lake provide casual eating with spectacular views. You may remain in town and enjoy the Old West atmosphere, or you can dine at a waterside restaurant with breathtaking views of Grand Lake. In any case, you will be enchanted by the experience and will not leave hungry. These are seven delectable eateries to try while in town.
Visiting other places in Colorado? See our other guides:
- 7 Must-Try Breckenridge Restaurants
- 12 Best Things To Do In Breckenridge, CO
- 13 Most Iconic Denver Restaurants
- 10 Best Restaurants In Colorado Springs
- 1 The 7 Best Restaurants in Grand Lake, Colorado
- 1.1 Tavern at Huntington House
- 1.2 Kitchen One Love Rum
- 1.3 Sagebrush Barbecue & Grill
- 1.4 Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is a historic lodge and restaurant.
- 1.5 Ceairas Sweet Shop has replaced Pollys Sweet Shop.
- 1.6 Bakery Blue Water
- 1.7 Backstreet Steakhouse at Daven Haven Lodge
- 1.8 Which of these Grand Lake Colorado restaurants are you most interested in trying first? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
The 7 Best Restaurants in Grand Lake, Colorado
Tavern at Huntington House
US Route 34 + 1 (970) 800-416415500
When the Grand Lake Lodge first opened in 1920, it was advertised as a place to encourage visitors’ adventurous spirit. The property’s closeness enabled tourists to appreciate the wild Colorado Rockies. During its long history, the resort’s beauty has gained a reputation for casual elegance, relaxation, and adventure, and the cabins and grounds are the ideal respites for a wonderful mountain retreat. The hotel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 for its Rocky Mountain rustic stick type of building, which was formerly common in parks across the American West.
The Huntington House Tavern, located on the grounds of Grand Lake Lodge, has been serving guests for over a century. As you walk in, you’ll be amazed by the soaring ceilings, antler chandeliers, and a wall of windows overlooking Shadow Mountain Lake and Grand Lake. The views from the restaurant are spectacular. Now, for the first time in the resort’s illustrious history, they are open for the winter season this year. The regular season for 2022 starts in May and finishes in early October.
Chef de Partie Karoline Schwartz’s cuisine emphasizes locally sourced seasonal ingredients and fruit. The supper prix fixe menu includes two meals and several sharable sides in large amounts. When we went in the late spring, I began with a Hamachi Crudo, which is still on the menu. The fresh Hiramasa King yellowtail tuna (gluten-free) was prepared with tamari, lime vinaigrette, and spiked with chile oil.
Other appealing alternatives include a Fitch Ranch short rib empanada and a French onion soup with a sourdough crouton and flakes of melted gruyere cheese. The empanada is served with a mildly spicy salsa verde sauce, corn salad, pickled red onion, and queso fresco. The second course provides a number of alternatives. A vegetarian dinner, a pasta dish, two seafood options, venison, and beef are all on the menu. While I appreciate certain plant-based dishes, Colorado is famous for its steak.
The grilled prime Grand County Filet Mignon with mashed potatoes and a black garlic compound butter was my choice. The perfectly cooked steak and buttery potatoes were an excellent blend of rich tastes. Brunch is popular with both residents and visitors. There’s filled French toast, smoked fish filet plate, and Fitch Ranch steak and eggs on the menu. The artisan cocktail menu is tantalizing, as is the superb wine selection, which allows for fantastic pairings to drink while enjoying the wonderful meal and breathtaking view.
Kitchen One Love Rum
970-798-8067928 Grand Avenue
Just another beach bar in the mountains offering Caribbean-inspired sandwiches, salads, and drinks, according to the motto at One Love Rum Restaurant. They mean it; the tastes are alive. With the addition of a vibrant dining area, you’ll be transported to beautiful shores and turquoise seas.
After scanning the menu, you might begin with Poke nachos, Caribbean Ceviche (ahi tuna or octopus), or Island Guacamole, as we did. The traditional, silky green dip was fresh and had just the right amount of flavor when paired with the crunchiest handmade chips. We were hungry but wanted to reserve space for the many tacos on the menu.
The One-and-Only The original recipe Tacos serves jerk chicken, pig belly chicharrones, poke seared tuna, octopus, or black bean tacos topped with pineapple salsa, spicy mayo, sweet soy sauce, and cabbage slaw.
I went with the jerk chicken taco with all the toppings because I liked the zing of those Caribbean spices on a taco. The chicken was delicious and not too hot for my taste. If you don’t like spices, you may find this a little too spicy. The cinnamon, nutmeg, and scotch bonnet tastes were my favorites. The toppings, particularly the tasty pineapple salsa, went wonderfully with the appropriate balance of spicy and sweet. The white rice and black beans were a hearty side dish, and the beans were creamy and flavorful. I finished my lunch.
When the bar beverages drifted past, I was impressed. We didn’t order any of the artisan drinks, such as the Painkiller, which is made with spiced rum, coconut, pineapple, and orange juice over ice and topped with grated nutmeg. I momentarily regretted my decision to drink iced tea with lemon. There are local and imported beers, as well as Red Stripe (Jamaican beer) and fountain drinks. Even though you’re in the middle of the Rockies, the active audience enjoys both inside and outdoor seats, and everyone likes the bright environment.
Sagebrush Barbecue & Grill
Grand Avenue, +1 (970) 627-14041101
When David Freeman founded Sagebrush Barbeque & Grill in 1999, he wanted to create a gathering place with exceptional cuisine. The cuisine is Western (think beef and game), but there are also fish, chicken, pasta, and vegetarian options. The bartenders are courteous, and the bar is a welcoming stop for sports on television, draft beers, wine, and mixed cocktails. The indoor dining space has numerous wide windows that overlook Grand Boulevard, making it ideal for people and hummingbird watching.
When I hear BBQ, I want BBQ, and this establishment delivers. Although there are many options on the vast menu, I gravitated toward the BBQ section. You may purchase platters like a rack of pork ribs, a half chicken, pulled buffalo or pig, and beef brisket from that website. You may also Name Your Own plate, which comes with two sides and cornbread. I went with this option to obtain two of my favorites and split the bill with my sister-in-law. We decided on brisket, three pork ribs apiece (three options), fries, and coleslaw.
Although we chose three different kinds of meat, there are thirteen different proteins to pick from, so the choices are limitless. You may choose up to four on your own plate. My brother chose the Prime Rib, which is a house speciality. Slow-roasted Fitch Ranch beef with au jus and horseradish sauce is served with mashed potatoes, veggies, and garlic bread. To say we gorged ourselves would be an understatement.
Our plate was packed high with juicy and delicious brisket. The ribs literally fell off the bone, and the rub created a wonderful crust. We used the house barbecue sauce, but you may use mustard or a zesty sauce instead. I really like the house sauce, which was ketchup-based and packed a punch of sweet and spicy flavor. But, honestly, you don’t need it since it was so excellent.
Despite the fact that it was a busy night at the Sagebrush, the service was prompt. The prime rib was rare (as requested) and delicious. He preferred his cut, a 10-ounce amount, although customers may choose an 8- or 12-ounce portion. Our waitress was wonderful, and we truly enjoyed our lunch as well as the entertaining atmosphere at Sagebrush. Whether you like grilling or hunting, this is the place for you.
Rapids Lodge and Restaurant is a historic lodge and restaurant.
Rapids Lane + 1 (970) 627-3707210
Owner John Lapsley Ish and his family established the Historic Rapids Lodge in 1915. He harnessed power from the surging North Inlet using an overshot water wheel (his invention), providing his visitors with running water and electricity. That was such a wonder back then. Ish constructed the Lodge with his own hands, utilizing the ample Lodgepole pines near Grand Lake.
He then assisted his son Leslie in the building and operation of The Pine Cone Inn, which was built using the same material. His Rapids Lodge was given a traditional western aspect thanks to the Lodgepole pines. His various qualities and achievements as a pioneer and homesteader were detailed in his obituary following his death in 1943. Ish enjoyed the outdoors and made the most of his possibilities via hard work and perseverance.
You may still stay and have supper directly beside the flowing inlet that formerly housed the overshot wheel at today’s Lodge. Locals and tourists alike like filet mignon, pork chops, Elk medallions, Colorado lamb, spaghetti, and seafood dishes. Reservations are necessary. We were fortunate to have a table and the waterside pavilion right on the Inlet.
As we perused the menu, we were struck by the force of the rushing snowmelt flowing into Grand Lake from our vantage point on the North Inlet. Our waitress was kind and helpful. She advised us on what to order, and the pork chop was referred to as a show stopper.
The maple-brined bone-in chop comes with a side of maple brandied smoked peach sauce. To say the chop was massive would be an understatement. The properly cooked pork was juicy and tender, and slightly pink (as asked). The maple and peach tastes complemented the grilled flavor of the protein wonderfully. I loved the velvety mashed potatoes and crunchy haricot vert (string beans) that came with it.
On the banks of the Inlet, we dined like kings. Other courses were grilled rare Colorado lamb chops with a mustard shallot sauce and ravioli with pine nuts with sautéed shrimp in a red pepper cream sauce. Our meals were all great, and the amounts were large.
We celebrated John Lapsley Ish, who discovered this exquisite location and built a magnificent lodge that has lasted the test of time. Dinner here is spectacular for a variety of reasons, including the setting, the cuisine of local meats (pork, lamb, and cattle), and fresh veggies portioned to accommodate robust diners. We tried our best to go through the excellent cuisine and had a nice evening outside at this historic location. It should not be missed.
Ceairas Sweet Shop has replaced Pollys Sweet Shop.
Grand Avenue, +1 (720)788-48321106
If you were in Grand Lake in 1957, you could have seen Pollys Sweets and Ice Cream store start for business. It’s still THE spot to get hand-scooped ice cream, soft serve on handcrafted waffle cones, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, caramel apples, snow cones, taffy, shaved ice, and more 65 years later! Locals and tourists alike queue up in May and throughout the summer to get their favorite ice cream fix at this lovely A-frame shop on Grand Avenue’s promenade.
Pollys was taken up by new owners in 2016. Following years of consistent development, the proprietors chose to rebrand Pollys Ceairas Sweet Store. With a new name, it still serves luscious handcrafted ice cream and treats.
Polly, for example, was a character. She used to swap goodies for fresh fish caught that day by clients. The name change is a fresh step toward the grand opening in the summer of 2022. The proprietors are prepared to take this action. They will offer all of the classics, including Huckleberry Ice Cream (supposedly no one does it better) and genuine bubble gum, two childhood pleasures.
We had to try Pollys to see what all the excitement was about, and it was fantastic. The natural and fresh ingredients, as well as the generous serving sizes, made our cones unforgettable. There will be a great celebration and loads of freebies when the business reopens in May. To acquire your ice cream, you must run, not stroll. It is the best in the area.
Bakery Blue Water
+1-970-627-5416928 Grand Avenue
Perhaps you want to go on an early trek in Rocky Mountain National Park, spend the day kayaking on Grand Lake, or go shopping in town. Blue Water Bakery serves wonderful coffee, pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and hot breakfast plates to help you get through your busy day. The line forms early, so make sure you get there before all of the snacks are gone.
We didn’t want a cooked breakfast on our hiking day, but we dropped here for some of the most wonderful pastries we’d ever had. Fresh blueberry muffins, scones (the tart cherry scone was fantastic), cinnamon rolls, croissants, and coffee cakes are all delectable. We purchased a range of snacks and discovered that we like the handcrafted concoctions coming from Blue Waters’ kitchen.
Everything is cooked from scratch every day using fresh butter and baked on-site. Since we arrived so early, the items were still warm. If you have the time, there is sitting both outside and inside for bigger, heartier cuisine. There are Denver omelets, egg wraps, bagel sandwiches, filled French toast, and a vegan tofu scrambler on the menu. They also provide gluten-free alternatives and handmade bread.
While we were in town, we went to Blue Water for brunch. If you’re there for lunch, you can have a cold or hot sandwich on your favorite handmade bread. The warm turkey and brie sandwiches are topped with cranberry compote. It’s a laid-back atmosphere, but the cuisine is delicious. Blue Water also provides chili and soups on milder spring afternoons, as well as summery salads to chill down on hot summer days. But it’s the pastries here that truly steal the show.
Backstreet Steakhouse at Daven Haven Lodge
+ 1 (970) 627-8144604 Marina Boulevard
If you haven’t had the opportunity to eat the finest steak in Grand Lake, you must visit Backstreet Steakhouse for supper. You’ll enjoy a leisurely evening with wonderful meals in this informal, rustic atmosphere. The steaks are hand-cut daily, and there is both indoor and outdoor seating in the dining area (conditions permitting).
Daven Haven has been a lodge and restaurant since the 1930s, with just three long-term proprietors in its illustrious history. The Lodge was formerly on Grand Lake’s Main Street (Grand Avenue is now the main thoroughfare), near to a petrol station and several tourist bungalows. The cottages are presently used as staff housing behind Daven Haven. The Barnes Family, Daven Haven’s most recent caretakers (since 1990), greet both long-time and new visitors with the same warmth as the owners before them.
Burgers, mac & cheese (with tuna, shrimp, or tenderloin), and fish and chips are among the options. The big lure, though, is the All You Can Eat Shrimp or Prime Rib Special night. We arrived on Prime Rib night, and two of my group ordered the Prime Rib. The rib is roasted in the oven with garlic, rosemary, and a homemade seasoning. It was prepared fresh to order and did not disappoint.
I opted with a classic and ordered a hand-cut ribeye steak. Salad or soup, traditional baked potato, fries, or rice, and seasonal vegetables are offered with all dishes. I upgraded my side and got the twice-baked potato, which was delicious. The platter was large, and the sides went well with my medium-rare steak. I really like the twice-baked potato. The filling is removed, seasoned, and placed back into the crisped shell.
This is not the place to be concerned about calories, so forget about it. The meal is filling and ample. The meat was simply seasoned, tender, and inexpensive. They understand their customer base and provide reasonable rates for basic, honest meals. With their banquet rooms, you may hold parties and weddings. It’s simply a pleasant, welcoming spot to eat.
What more could you desire in a magnificent setting next to a stunning glacier lake? Since it is in the Rockies, Grand Lake is not elegant. It’s simply a pleasant, welcoming spot near a wonderful National Park. You will be properly fed and warmly welcomed here.