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Top 9 small-town diners to check out in 2014

1:15 PM, Jan 1, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - In the last four-and-a-half years at 9NEWS, I've traveled more than 20,000 miles across Colorado.

By now, I've visited at least 80 percent of the state. During each trip, I've had the opportunity to sample more than 100 small town diners. Let me tell you, there's some amazing food out there!

A lot of the time, random people will stop me and ask me for suggestions. They'll say things like, "Hey, I'm heading to Fairplay this weekend. Know of any good places to stop for food?" The answer: "Ummm, yeah!"

Below is a list of my top 9 favorite small town diners around Colorado (and interactive map:)

1) The Jefferson Market - The Jefferson Market is located in the town of Jefferson just off of Highway 285 in Park County. It's only a few miles away from Kenosha Pass. The Jefferson Market is one of those neat local places that only exist in small towns. Not only does it offer general items, but it also serves one heck of a breakfast! Each plate is served fresh by a cook who works in the back. One neat thing about the Jefferson Market is how some locals leave their coffee cups hanging on the store's walls every day. They keep them there for a re-fill every morning. The Jefferson Market is famously known for its fresh fudge. It's the best fudge I've ever tasted.

2) Golden Burro Café & Lounge - If you happen to be driving through Leadville, make sure to swing by the Golden Burro. This place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Time and time again, the Golden Burro has been voted 'Best Breakfast in Leadville' by the people who visit it. I'm a big fan of the Golden Burro's chicken fingers and fries. They're tasty and fried perfectly. Not only will you find good food here, but you'll also have one interesting experience. The Golden Burro's owners love to tell people about Leadville's rich history.

3) Willy's Wings - I was born and raised in Upstate New York. Meaning, I grew up on Buffalo wings. They're my favorite food. When I moved to Colorado, I was devastated when I couldn't find any amazing "Buffalo-styled" wings, then I heard about a place called "Willy's Wings." Willy's Wings is located in Morrison (only a 15 to 20 minute drive from Denver). I'm not sure how long it's been around, but its owners sure know how to make wings. Note: After discovering Willy's Wings, I was introduced to Woody's Wings in Aurora and Wing Shack Wings in Greeley. Both places are equally as amazing.

4) Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub - While we're on the topic of wings, the Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub does a super awesome job at making them Buffalo-style as well. Their wings are accompanied by the best bleu cheese I've tasted in Colorado. (Note: For anyone who chooses ranch dip over bleu cheese dip for wings isn't a true upstate New York wing lover in my book) However, Glenwood Canyon Brew Pub makes something better than its wings: burgers. They make some of the tastiest burgers I've ever had. Nice thing is their prices are good and the portions are large. Check them out if you're ever in Glenwood Springs.

5) Zocalo Restaurant - I live in Denver, but I work around the entire state of Colorado. However, when I am home I like to dine at Zocalo in Denver's Cap Hill area. Zocalo is a Mexican restaurant with amazing prices and equally amazing food. My favorite dish is the plate of three chicken tacos with chips and queso. By far, Zocalo has THE BEST queso I've tasted in Colorado.

6) Old Town Bistro - Whenever I'm in Sterling, my new favorite dining spot is Old Town Bistro off of Main Street. Their food is so delicious, it's hard to describe! From their BBQ pork sandwiches to their grilled chicken sandwiches, you can't go wrong! On top of that, they make the best side salads with the most amazing dressings available. The atmosphere inside the bistro is calm, beautiful and comfortable. It's certainly my favorite place to eat in Colorado.

7) Ouray Brewery - The Ouray Brewery is located on Ouray's Main Street just as you enter town. Not only will you find delicious local brews here, but you'll also get one amazing meal. Just like Glenwood Canyon, I highly recommend the wings and the burgers. Ouray Brewery actually puts crumbled bleu cheese on top of its wings, giving it a unique taste.

8) Golden China - Believe it or not, the best Chinese Food I've had in Colorado is located in Limon. Golden China is just off Interstate 70. It's located near the local Wendy's. The diner's owner Lin Yufang is one of my favorite people in Colorado. She's a hoot! Not only will you get an amazing meal, but you'll get a hysterical and amazing experience with Lin! My favorite dishes: sesame chicken with white rice and ribs. However, everything on the menu is delicious.

9) Mason's High Country BBQ - My all-time favorite small town food joint is located in Fairplay, which out of towners know as South Park. Criselda and her husband Mark opened Mason's High Country BBQ a few years ago. It's located right off of 285 South just as you enter town. I've had a lot of BBQ in my life, but none has been as delicious as the BBQ at Mason's. Criselda and Mark make everything fresh daily. My favorite plate, which Criselda jokingly calls 'The Kevin Torres Special' includes a pulled-pork sandwich, ribs, two sides and a Diet Coke (the Diet Coke makes up for the rest of the calories. If you're only looking for one thing, I highly recommend the pulled-pork sandwich. It's smothered in the most delicious BBQ sauce I've ever tasted. I actually make trips from Denver to Fairplay just to order it.

Email me at with your favorite small-town diner!

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