It's been three years in the making and not at all what I expected to find, but Mexico has brought something incredibly new and fresh to Dillon. For a county 9,000 plus feet elevation and tucked away in the Rockies, there is no scarcity of great food. Mexico brings yet another interesting batch of flavors to the area.
I've been passing this building (in progress) for years and it's nothing like I expected on the inside. The decor and furnishings are really great. From the designer floors (with imbedded pebbles creating a separation of areas) to the brick pizza oven and the brass sculptures and lighting fixtures and furniture straight from Mexico, the ambiance is truly unique. I'm dying to go back and relax in the bar and sample the margaritas.
The dishes, silverware, heavy stone morters for salsa, table clothes, cloth napkins....... all bring a touch of luxury to the environment. And then there is the food!
The "soft" menu (the chef is still testing what will work in the area) has menu items you wouldn't expect. The shrimp stuffed pumpkin flowers, lightly battered and fried, come on a smear of mole sauce with a hint of cinnamon. So good! Where do they get the pumpkin blossoms? (the waitress asked... Ohio!)
Favorite Dish: I had the "Traditional Salmon" and there was nothing traditional about it. It came on a layer of pureed pumpkin something, with black beans. Cooked exactly right, it was absolutely delicious.
My daughter had the chicken quesedilla, an open face affair with chicken, fresh Mexican cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro. Uh oh... she hates cilantro (which wasn't listed on the menu). No problem! The waitress whipped it away and brought her a new, cilantro free version.
The dessert menu looked interesting but neither of us had any room for dessert.
I wrote about the Arapahoe Cafe a couple of years ago and it's due for an update. After spending five consecutive months in Summmit County, the A Cafe has become one of my favorite places to eat breakfast or lunch, and I am starting to be recognized as a "regular".
With indoor and outdoor dining, this place does a bristling breakfast and brunch business. (It's also open for dinner and there's a pub downstairs, but I haven't had an opportunity to try either of those). One of my favorite things to do is enjoy eggs benedict and coffee on the patio outside over the Summit Daily News. My daughter particularly likes the pancakes which have granola and nuts in them. The bacon is perfect; cooked just right and very lean.
If you're in the mood for a tropical experience, stop by the Tiki Bar at the Lake Dillon Marina. Billed as the highest Tiki Bar in the world (9,000 ft. elevation), the terrace restaurant serves BBQ and potent rum drinks.
Favorite Dish: Caution, the weather changes fast on Lake Dillon. You can be sitting in sunshine when you order, but be in the midst of a thunderstorm by the time your food comes!
On a Friday or Saturday night Pug Ryan's is one noisey place. But it's noisey because it's filled with people having fun and eating great food. Pug's has a wall full of medals and awards for their home brewed ales.
You can eat in the bar, or enjoy the atmosphere of a ski country dining room. The extensive menu offers, steaks, prime rib, seafood, ribs, chicken, burgers... something for every appetite. Apres ski is busy and lively. Extreme happy hour, from 4 to 7, in the bar offers half price options on food and beverages.
Favorite Dish: I had the BBQ ribs with a half slab of pork and a couple of giant beef ribs. I couldn't even eat half of it and had to have the other half at home the next day! The margaritas were excellent.
My daughter had a salmon oscar with crab meat, bernaise sauce and asparagus. This isn't what I would have expected pub food to be!
This morning we drove to Frisco to pick Lorna up at the Transfer Station and the weather was TERRIBLE. The Dam Road was closed, due to blowing snow and Highway 70 was slippy and slidey. Jill did a fabulous job of driving but the rental car kept trying to take the navigation out of her hand. We got behind a semi doing one inch per minute and idiots kept zooming past us. But that was nothing compared to the other direction where a multi car accident, fire engines, ambulances and cars in every which direction created a total stop on I 70 going East.
So after picking up Lorna we decided to wait out the storm and the traffic jam by having breakfast at the Butterhorn Cafe. OK, so it's not actually in Dillon but I don't have a Frisco page so here it will be. It's only a short hop from Dillon to Frisco (as long as the weather is decent and there are no accidents).
Favorite Dish: The cafe is homey and crowded with folks. The home made croissants are their specialty and they are included in many of the breakfast items. Lorna and I had the Eggs Buttermilk, a take off on Eggs Benedict but on a flaky croissant with avocado and a red pepper sauce instead of the regular hollandaise. They were delicious! Coffee kept coming and service was friendly. Jill had the Frittata #3, essentially a chedder and bacon omlet with wheat toast. She was happy.
When we left the storm was much lighter and the blowing snow seemed to settle down. There was a long line of people waiting to get in for lunch. We didn't see the lunch menu but may have to go back soon.
The bakery also sells a large assortment of items; breads, rolls, croissants and cookies. You can get take out deli items.
I know I have already given Pug's a mention in "Things to Do" but I do think it should get a second mention here in "Restaurants" given its deserved popularity as a restaurant as well as a brewpub.
I haven't actually eaten here in the evening, though perhaps on my last visit I should have: HIC! But judging on its busyness this seems to be the place to eat here in Dillon.
The pub promotes itself as a steakhouse, specialising in prime rib steaks and its thick cut slow roast rib but the menu itself has much, much more including: wings, ribs and an impressive seafood section.
Favorite Dish: As I said above I haven't eaten here in the evening but I have had lunch on a couple of occasions and I can personally attest to the beef offerings - the "Blackened Rib Hoagie" from the lunch specials for that particular day, was succulent, substantial, perfectly cooked and superbly flavoursome: the balance between the tender juicy beef with its subtle spice and slight crunchiness on the outside absolutely spot-on!
Keeping to superlatives, the 8oz ground rib burger, cooked to taste, ascends to gastronomy - and that's not a word I use frivolously!
This is not the cheapest place in town but if it quality is your benchmark, Pug's is the place.
On a visit to Dillon, without foreknowledge, it comes as some surprise to find that the town is virtually totally modern (That'll be VT modern then!). If you have been through my Dillon intro then you will know why; if not then I suggest that you go there!
The Arapahoe is a Dillon original, having been moved, Lego-style, from the old town when the new reservoir was put in place. This is the explanation for the creaky beams, the lack of true 90 degree joints, the sloping floor and the not-quite-fully-closing door.
OK, it has changed ownership a few times in relatively recent years, but has now recaptured its basics - Excellent Service, Excellent Food, Excellent Atmosphere and not trying to be anything clever.
There is a wonderful homely feel to this restaurant which is due to both the staff and the food, this is exactly what I had imagined a small town American restaurant to be, though pre-dating my stereotype by perhaps 50 years!
Favorite Dish: ALL the breakfast options: Eggs Benedict - damn near perfect (perhaps a touch more tartness to the Hollandaise?); Biscuits and Gravy - not what I had expected but delish nevertheless; Huevos Rancheros - given the choice of the red or the green a good compromise was both!
Wth good coffee, toppped-up as fast as we could drink it ,the breakfast bill always less that $20, excellent friendly and personal service, this is THE breakfast place in Dillon.
I should note: Although I have only had breakfast there (4 times so far), the rest of the menu looks equally good - smoking room was a bit chilly in Winter though!
This restaurant is fantastic and has a wide variety of food. Though for some you must have a distinguished pallet to fully enjoy some entrees with a pub feel. Fish and crab are amazing and potatoes are steam baked. I recommend the crab stuffed fillet. it is perfect!!!!
Favorite Dish: thai shrimp or crab stuffed fillet
This cafe was moved from its original location (in what's now Lake Dillon) to its present position a couple of blocks from the lake. It has outdoor and indoor seating and is open from 7/8 am. The cafe is very cabin-like and warmly rustic. It's not very big, maybe seating inside for 60.
Favorite Dish: I ate there twice for breakfast and was at a dinner catered by the cafe. All three meals were very good. Everything on the menu was straightforward and uncomplicated. The portions are generous, but not overwhelming. I like the Taos omelet with potatoes. The service was a little slow on the weekend when the place was hopping, but very kind.
We went to Eric's because some people were craving an Iowa style Tenderloin sandwich...what a disappointment. If you go there, try something else.