Places for Western Food in Colorado Springs
Do you feel like you can only truly experience a new place by sampling the signature foods associated with it? Like eating a bagel in New York or seafood along the coast? We can relate. Food is one of the most wonderful ways you can connect with a community! Colorado is often associated with “western” cuisine, but what does that really mean? Does it describe the foods of our past, when cowboys roamed the earth, or the foods of our present, like native trout, Colorado lamb or range-raised bison? The answer, foodie friends, is both. Let’s meet some of the dining establishments serving up their special take on western dining in the Pikes Peak region.
Flying W Ranch Serves Western Food with Cowboy Ambiance
Get the real deal western experience when you book an evening with your loved ones at the Flying W Ranch. This long-running Colorado Springs attraction has hosted its signature chuckwagon supper for millions of visitors across four generations! Built in the 1940s, the Flying W once served as a real ranch, complete with Black Baldy cattle and champion quarter horses. Over time, the purpose of the ranch evolved, especially once they began offering trail rides. Guests would enjoy a long horseback ride around the Front Range before hanging out and enjoying a potluck supper. Those suppers were the foundation for today’s popular chuckwagon experience, which has since subtracted the horseback rides while increasing the amount of homestyle cooking — and singing cowboys.
Your evening at the ranch begins with a chance to mingle and look at the grounds. Then it’s on to supper, a traditional chuckwagon meal that comes in three separate courses. Guests get their choice of smoked beef brisket or smoked turkey, plus sausage, trail beans, apple sauce, giant, foil-wrapped bakers and buttermilk biscuits. Dessert is an old-fashioned spice cake. Vegetarians are not ditched at all at Flying W, despite the traditional association between chuckwagon suppers and meat. They have a hefty garden vegetable pasta and creamy vegetable soup to fill you up along with the same sides as the rest of your crew. They even have a gluten-free meal — just be sure to note it on your reservation!
Dinner is followed with cowboy tunes from the second oldest western singing group in the world. They sprinkle in some family-friendly humor and dad jokes between beautifully harmonized tunes. The Flying W experience is a beloved tradition for many visitors, drawing new generations of families year after year.
Restaurant 1858 Creates Elevated Western Elegance
Our next restaurant option for western fare takes a dramatic swing from rugged to upscale. Restaurant 1858 is a special treat in the Pikes Peak region, as much for the extraordinary scenery as it is for its excellent cuisine. That’s because it’s located on the “grandest mile,” a stunning scenic stretch encompassing the famous and fabulous Seven Falls. Located right near the base of the crashing waters, 1858 has outdoor dining close to the falls, with views of the box canyon and surrounding scenery. The only way to get to the restaurant is via shuttle, either as a Broadmoor Hotel guest, or via the Seven Falls transportation shuttle that picks up ticketed visitors. The ride is complimentary for restaurant guests. The extra bit of work really is worth your time, as the food is spectacular.
Restaurant 1858 is focused on delivering refined Colorado classics you won’t find anywhere else. It’s elevated western food, which we think is perfectly appropriate for an establishment tucked away in a mountain canyon at the foot of cascading falls. Colorado Rocky Mountain red trout is certainly a star on the menu, served with golden rice and summer vegetables and offered seven different ways. Get the Western Slope and it will come dressed with Palisade peach chutney.
Other western menu highlights include Colorado bison kabobs, part of the 1858 wood-fired, mixed grill meal that also includes Texas quail and venison sausage. Guests also rave about the Colorado trout dip, which uses Broadmoor Farms tomato and caper relish, plus crushed avocado. We would be remiss if we didn’t instruct you to finish it off with a Palisade sundae. Those Palisade peach preserves could probably convince you to move here.
Juniper Valley Ranch is a Hidden, Chicken-Fried Gem
Juniper Valley Ranch is mighty proud of their take on western hospitality. With more than 70 successful seasons under their belt, they’ve certainly earned that pride. The family-run, locally owned restaurant relies on proven family recipes to create some of the best fried chicken in Colorado Springs.
Juniper Valley Ranch is located just south of Colorado Springs, about 10 minutes past the May Museum (the Bug Museum). Its location off the beaten path has done absolutely nothing to deter its loyal fans, travelers or excited visitors who discover their fried chicken signs while cruising up and down Highway 115.
Dinner at Juniper Valley is served up family style. You pick the meat and it comes with all the fixings. The main offerings are their famous fried chicken and baked ham. However, they also offer a chicken fried steak on Fridays and Nashville Hot chicken on Thursday and Sunday evenings. The sides are exactly what you would expect when consuming massive quantities of fried chicken: mashed potatoes, cole slaw, okra and scratch biscuits with cream gravy. A rotating selection of desserts completes your meal, with options like sundaes and other ice cream available (especially appreciated on Thursdays and Sundays). Reservations are required, so call ahead if you’re not already vaulting off the road after learning there’s fried chicken ahead.
Front Range Barbeque Smokes the Competition
Barbeque may not have started in the west but pioneers wasted no time in bringing it along for the ride as they settled here. Front Range Barbeque brings the smoke, the flavor and the fire you love all tied up in a friendly piece of buffalo check cloth and tied with a pretty twine ribbon. The restaurant has spent the last 20+ years doling out barbeque and scratch-made sides from its central location next to Bancroft Park in Old Colorado City. It’s a locally owned operation that embodies the American Dream, started by two brothers using recipes created by mom and dad.
The menu is exactly what you would expect from a barbeque joint with the motto, “It’s not fine dining, but the food is better than fine!” Hefty portions. Juicy, smokey, tender meat. Rich, filling sides that envelope you in comfort and contentment. Desserts you can’t pass up even if your stretchy pants are stretched to their limits.
Take comfort food to the limit by sampling one of their BBQ bowls. They start with a base of mashed potatoes or steamed white rice, then add veggies, cheesy cornbread, rich gravy and your choice of brisket or burnt ends. Their barbeque plates offer similar options on a much larger scale. The combos are your best choice for sampling all that Front Range has to offer. The Frontier combo gives you ribs, two meats of your choice and two sides. If you can’t possibly eat a slice of pecan pie, go for a rootbeer float to finish. It uses Colorado City Creamery vanilla and seems to be a touch less filling after a giant meal.
Four Shows the Love for Colorful Colorado
The last of our western dining collection has a special place in the hearts of Colorado Springs restaurants. Four was established by renowned chef Brother Luck, our local boy who made good, competing on national television shows like Top Chef, Chopped and Beat Bobby Flay while also operating various successful restaurant concepts in the Pikes Peak region. Luck began cooking from a very young age, working in kitchens when he was 14 years old and eventually attending the Art Institute of Phoenix on merit scholarships.
Four is an upscale eatery located in Downtown Colorado Springs. It opened in 2017 with a concept that nodded both to the four areas from which our food is derived (hunting, fishing, farming, gathering) and the Four Corners (where Colorado touches Utah, New Mexico and Arizona). It is known for having quite the Colorado flair, which is why it’s the perfect place to complete our list.
The menu at Four shifts with the seasons, so what we recommend today may not be there tomorrow. However, these suggestions do highlight the delicious culinary concepts that drive it. Duck green chili is one of the steady dishes on the menu, managing to transform a Colorado staple with new savory flavor. Chile-crusted elk provides another Rocky Mountain delight, cooked to perfection and served with huckleberry gel and local microgreens. Close it out with cereal milk panna cotta. That last one isn’t necessarily “western,” but come on. Cereal milk.
For the best in western dining, these local restaurants offer diverse options and delicious food. Visit them all to sample the many ways these creative chefs interpret western cuisine. Just be sure to pack your stretchy pants.