When it comes to eating well in the Rockies, Telluride isn't the first place that comes to mind. But it should be. Over the past few years, and without much fanfare, this quiet town has become home to some of the most innovative restaurants in ski country.
Around since 1996, Cosmopolitan continues to reinvent itself. Chef-owner Chad Scothorn has moved away from French country cuisine to more contemporary food, such as a sensational yak loin with truffle-beet mashed potatoes and roast chicken stuffed with crab and cheddar. Also excellent is the molten chocolate cake with caramelized bananas. Dinner, $90. At 300 West San Juan Ave.; 970-728-1292.
Don't be put off by the corny "Wild West" facade of Harmon's at the Depot. Chef James Ackard's menu is far from unsophisticated: seared foie gras with rosemary-apricot jam and an elk loin in a zesty Bing cherry molé. And owner Harmon Brown's 550-bottle wine list is exceptional. Dinner, $100. At 300 South Townsend; 970-728-3773.
Any ski town can whip up a respectable pizza. But few can match the ones at Rustico. Using old family recipes, this authentic Northern Italian trattoria serves great pasta and polenta, terrific grilled homemade sausages, spit-roasted meats, and crisp thin-crust pies from the only wood-burning pizza oven in town. Dinner, $70. At 114 East Colorado Ave.; 970-728-4046.
Perched in a gondola station at 10,500 feet, Allred's is the après-ski spot for its views and, of course, chef Bob Scherner's excellent Asian-spiced Muscovy duck and cardamom-and-espresso glazed rack of lamb. For dessert, try the "tea tasting" sampler of Darjeeling truffle, Thai tea panna cotta, and a white tea Napoleon. Dinner, $120. At the Gondola Station San Sophia; 970-728-7474.
Restaurant prices reflect a three-course dinner for two, excluding beverages and gratuity.