Restaurant Scuttlebutt

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Salt and Lime deck at sunset

Some call it musical chairs. We prefer musical fares—as in the ol’ switcheroo sweeping through Steamboat’s restaurant scene this season, with some expanding, some moving and others spicing up their offerings.

Azteca/Clyde’s Pies 

Showing that teamwork and partnerships are alive and thriving in the eatery world, Azteca and Clyde’s Pies are teaming up to share a space in the bottom of the Ghost Ranch building at 56 Seventh St. inside 7th Street Commons. After closing his long-running Mex restaurant on Ninth Street in November, where he’d been slinging burritos for 15 years, Azteca owner Jonas Gabriel has now opened anew below Ghost Ranch, tag-teaming the space with Clyde’s Pies. Azteca operates there until about 3 p.m. every day, and then Clyde’s team moves into the same kitchen, slinging pizzas to go. There’s no seating, so customers order through a take-out window. “We’re excited to be back open and we’re starting with a smaller menu,” says Gabriel, who still serves up his fish burritos “the good way” if you know to ask. 

Sidebar: What Happened to the Ghost Ranch Bar?

Bar historians rejoice (or cringe)! The Ghost Ranch bar, which reportedly came from the Black Hills and was the one where “Rocky Raccoon met his match,” was sold by the building’s owners to a bar broker who has plans to re-sell it. “We ended up getting conflicting stories on where it came from,” says building partner Cam Boyd. “One said Montana, and another said South Dakota. But it was as classic of a bar as you’ll anywhere out West.”

Who Ya’ Gonna Call…Wallbusters!

Salt & Lime, Laundry Bust Walls to Boost Biz 

Salt and Lime restaurant expansion

Owned by Rex’s Family of Restaurants, Salt & Lime and The Laundry/Creekside Cave have done some brickwork demo to enhance their dining options during, and after, the pandemic. Expanding its footprint like its enchiladas do your belly, S&L busted through the adjacent wall separating it from the former Artisan’s Market. Like early railroad builders boring a tunnel, the demo created a through-passage to a new dining area, adding 2,000 more square feet and doubling its existing dining space. Add a rooftop deck and that’s worth yelling Ole!

Owner Rex Brice’s team also busted out walls a few blocks away at Creekside Café and Laundry, creating a pass-through to better space out guests. And like passing plates at dinner, they’re sharing: Creekside uses Laundry’s dining room for breakfast and lunch, and Laundry moves in come dinner. “The pandemic really drove us to get creative on expanding seating capacities and we’re grateful for that motivation,” says Rex’s Group Lindy Schwanke. “It feels great to now have increase seating with shared dining spaces at Creekside and Laundry, and expanding and renovating the Salt & Lime dining area. We’re thrilled to see our customers enjoying the new spaces and can’t wait to host so many more new guests at max capacity this summer.”

Old MacDonald Had A…

Yampa Valley Kitchen Focuses on Farm Fresh

First Mambo’s, then Besame and now Yampa Valley Kitchen. Call it a culinary hat trick for restaurateur Hannah Hopkins, who recently opened a new breakfast/lunch joint on Ninth Street where Low Country Kitchen used to be. Using local, organic and sustainable foods, down to its salts, oils and spices, the restaurant prides itself on farm fresh goodness, succulent coffee and other drinks, and awesome-sauce outside patio dining. 

Joose on the Loose

When Manic Training moved from its sweaty digs on Downhill Drive to the old newspaper building on Curve Plaza, it left adjacent smoothie and health food café Joose high and dry. Cucumber cool, owner Izzy Mecca didn’t flinch, moving to an even better location downtown caddy-corner from the library at 1306 S. Lincoln Ave. Now you can stop there after your ride for a pre-emptive strike against those toxins you’re bound to ingest later at your après. The specialty drink hub offers a variety of cold-pressed juices made from plant-based ingredients, as well as smoothies and coffees including Bulletproof. It also serves up breakfast bowls, salads, soups, wraps and other grab-and-gos.

New Digs for Distillery

Located at 1103 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat Whiskey Co., town’s first and only craft distillery, recently finished expanding its bar and tasting room, with now even more room to buy handcrafted drinks for your friends and an outside patio (for those who might not have bathed since their bike ride). “It turned out great,” says Jessica Newhall, who owns the joint with her husband, Nathan. “We have way more room to serve up everything we offer.” And that’s a lot, as the distillery is constantly tinkering with small batch recipes and makes its spirits entirely by hand in an American-made pot still. Hop off your bike or horse saddle and saddle up to its Sleeping Giant Gin and Ski Town Vodka, or its new Ski Town Tiki Rum, Whiskeycello (in lemon and orange), and Steamboat Territorial Moonshine. 

Tele-Elevated

Located in Torian Plum Plaza (perfect for the end of your ride), Elevated is Steamboat’s newest base-area dining and drinking scene, owned by Mike and Andrea Kallberg. Headed by longtime chef Pete List, it offers fresh-from-scratch tapas, small plates and more, all in a cozy dining area with couches, full bar and more. Open from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, it also comes with an upstairs game room for the kiddos. Put it on your libation list if you’re looking to lounge around on the mountain. 

New Proprietor for Café Diva

Longtime co-owner Paul Underwood recently sold his stake in this venerable fine dining restaurant at the base of the mountain to Scott Buchler,

who also recently purchased Ore House at Pine Grove and Freshie’s Breakfast and Lunch Café with co-owner Seann Conway. But not to worry; executive chef and co-owner Kate Rench is still very much at the Diva helm, whipping up culinary delights with her same penchant and panache for detail. “You don’t take a great restaurant and change it,” says Buchler, who also purchased the building. “We’re in it for the long haul and are going to carry on its great legacy.” With the spring’s passing of longtime Diva server Daryl Newcomb, Buchler added they also plan to name a special drink after him, install a plaque at his favorite table, and establish a memorial fund in his honor. 

Callin’ Collin: Primrose Opens Downtown

He’s baackk! Yes folks, Collin Kelley, the original founder of Carl’s Tavern, succumbed to the Yampa Valley Curse and is back in Steamboat after a brief hiatus, this time heading up his new culinary masterpiece at Primrose at 110 Yampa Street, Steamboat’s newest fine dining. Billed as “mountain-certified social dining,” the joint features sous chef Grace Trolinger, chef de cuisine Craig Sutherland, pastry chef Patrick Ayers and “Guy in the “Coat” Kelly. Choose from the likes of lobster rolls for an app, hand-cut angus steaks, ribeye and fresh seafood for main dishes, and Pancho’s Revenge mezcal libation to wash it all down. 

“The name itself derived out of COVID-19,” says Kelley, who on a hike one day spotted a flower in full bloom peeking vibrantly through the snow. “All these flowers know is adversity; what it takes to survive is a tribute to everyone who’s had it rough during the pandemic. I wanted something timeless, not just a trendy name.”

And don’t expect the same menu every time. “We’re always changing,” says Kelley. “We’re already on to our third menu, to keep things new and fresh.” 

Paying It Forward…with Pancakes!

Chef hats off to Sharon Stone, owner of Sharon’s Restaurant at 2851 Riverside Plaza. With the help of an anonymous donor, the 32-year restauranteur has been serving free breakfast and coffee for over a year to those affected by job losses due to the pandemic. The original donation has enticed others to contribute, which has kept the program going. “As long as the meals are needed and the community keeps pitching in, I’ll continue to do it,” says Stone. “I just love helping out how I can.” The free breakfasts include a choice of biscuits and gravy with eggs, baby pancakes with eggs or a breakfast burrito with green chili or salsa. 

Johnny B. Goods’ Pie Happy Hour

slide of pie from Johnny B Goods
Photo courtesy of Johnny B. Goods

Who says happy hours always have to focus around hootch? Certainly not the folks at Johnny B. Goods diner downtown, who offer a happy Hour for…pies. Yep, you heard that right. Get there between 3 and 5 p.m. and you’ll get two bucks off a piece of pie, which usually go for $4.99. “It’s pretty popular,” says Johnny’s Marcelle McCaslin. “We get a lot of seniors and high-schoolers in for it.” Favorites, she adds, include the ever-popular apple/caramel/bacon, blueberry cream cheese and strawberry pies.

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