Rocky Mountain National Park has a fair sized gateway town in Estes Park so if you are in the eastern portion of the park, you can head over there for a meal or a drink in the evening. On my trip in 1994, I visited Estes Park Brewery and it's a no frills kind of place that serves typical pub grub and run-of-the-mill micobrews made on the premises.
On the our most recent visit in 2008, we preferred to spend the limited time we had in the park, well in the park. Moraine Park Campground was amazing that September, not overly busy except for elk bugling and wandering around. Our spot was on a little hilltop and we loved not only having meals there but also hanging out and having a few local beers right in the midst of nature.
Favorite Dish: Cheese is a great thing to keep in your cooler. It keeps well and goes with just about anything. It goes particularly well with beer, another staple in our cooler. We like to stock up on beers from small breweries while traveling around the US, especially ones we can't get back home. La Folie was a real trophy beer. This Rodenbach Grand Cru clone is very tart and refreshing and offsets a nice brie or cheddar well.
There are no restaurants within the park. Beaver Meadows and Fall River Visitor's center have concessionaires, but, other than that, the only restaurants you'll find are in nearby Estes Park.
Rather than take the time to go to a restaurant, take advantage of the picnic areas provided, such as this one in Moraine Park. Its far better to enjoy a meal surrounded by this scenery than the tourist melee that greets you in Estes Park.
Favorite Dish: n/a
Located just past the town of Estes Park this barbecue house made the perfect stop after a day of hiking through the park. Smokin' Dave features all the usual cuts of meat, and more. The plates are piled a mile high of food, pork, beef, chicken, and other plates of catfish, corned beef, salmon, sausage and eleven appetizers, 5 desserts, and gigantic plates for 5 to 6 people called the belly buster.
After you food arrives you will have multi choices of barbecue sauce at your table, Spicy, Carolina Mustard, Tangy, Original and more.. see photo..
They also feature a kid's menu.
This is one mom and pop place NOT to miss if you appreciate smoked barbecue.
Favorite Dish: Texas Beef Brisket made me very happy, but I could not finish it and needed a doggie bag. They slow smoke this for 12 hours. I also got to taste the Carolina Pulled Pork which was smoked for 15 hours.....both were awesome!
Don't Miss this place.
Service Fast, Restrooms Clean, And the decor is old west, which makes it all a bit of fun.
We tried Dave's own home made beer, and found it to be very tasty, much like a Belgian beer, or Coor's Blue Moon... but better..