On a recent trip through Del Norte, a street-corner restaurant caught our eye. We’d only ever really stopped in the town near the eastern end of Wolf Creek Pass for beer and pizza at Three Barrel Brewing Co., so we pulled over and went in.
The Colorado Grille & Tap House opened in April 2017 and is connected to the Mystic Biscuit Coffee House at 590 Grand Ave. We were there for a drink and a sandwich, though, so we stuck to the restaurant side of the equation.
After taking in the aesthetics (lots of wood, the color red, machinery parts, and a COVID-suspended bar) we checked out the menu. The first thing that lept out at us was the first thing listed under lunch dishes: The Colorado. It was not only an interesting sandwich — sliced house-roasted prime rib grilled with mushrooms, bourbon onions, diced chiles, and cream cheese on a toasted jalapeño cheddar bread — it was the only item we saw that cited its creator. We don’t know who you are, Miriam Falbo, but we like your sense of taste. We also found the boldness of naming this unusual sandwich after the state amusing.
It was certainly a creative invention — like a Southwestern version of a prime rib sandwich bitten by a radioactive tea sandwich. It worked, but we could see how it might go awry if it was missing any of its components. We can’t imagine enjoying the prime rib and the cream cheese with nothing else, but the other ingredients (the chiles in particular) combined with those two strong flavors to bring them together in a cohesive whole. You get a huge savory aura from the meat and mushrooms and some sweet spiciness from the onions, chile, and cheese.
To wash the sandwich down, we ordered a Mule Deer — a mixture of Deerhammer whiskey, ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime. Deerhammer Distillery, by the way, is a must-visit for whiskey fans passing anywhere near Buena Vista. They take great care in turning out tasty spirits. Despite the heavy flavor of the whiskey, which brought just a hint of caramel, the cocktail at the restaurant was refreshing on a summer afternoon.
Finally, before we left, our server asked if we were interested in ice cream or a milkshake. We hadn’t been thinking of it beforehand, but all of a sudden, we very much were. So we got a lavender vanilla shake. We don’t think about it often, but we appreciate how much lavender has entered the culinary world over the years. It adds a delightful herbal quality to whatever savory or sweet item it’s in, and the milkshake was no exception. The pleasant nature of the beverage, which we got in a to-go cup, calmed our nerves when we realized construction was going to significantly extend our trip back over Wolf Creek.
If and when we return to the eatery, we’re not sure we’ll get The Colorado again — if only because there’s a lot of other dishes to check out on its menu. We appreciated the use of regional ingredients in the drinks, though, and look forward to trying more.