We drove up a winding mountain road next to the hypnotic white noise emerging from the river, with the smell of conifers permeating our lungs from canyon walls that seemed to be covered in a thick shag carpet of trees towering above us. We were driving to one of the most beloved spaces in Northern Colorado – the Mishawaka Amphitheater.
Cheerfully referred to as “The Mish”, this small space on the side of Poudre Canyon Highway in Bellvue is one of the best, if not thee best live concert venue in Northern Colorado. It all started back in 1916 when Walter S. Thompson built the dance hall by hand next to the bubbling white caps of the Poudre River. Things have changed over the many years, some good and some bad. The most recent evolution for The Mish was in December of 2010 when Dani Grant and her husband Matt Hoeven, owners of Chipper’s Lanes and directors of local music non-profit, SpokesBUZZ, took over to breath in new life and set the establishment on the straight and narrow.
Upon hearing that news in 2010, I was relieved that this venue would continue to entertain and feed bikers, hikers, and music lovers alike for years to come. One of the most memorable concerts of my life was at The Mish, and I’ve been to thousands of them all over the west coast. Absolutely nothing compares to the magical mountain moments that fill your head with the sounds of a thumping bass and a roaring river.
But, Mishawaka isn’t only a concert venue, it’s also a year-round bar and restaurant. So, this particular visit for us wasn’t about the music, it was about the food.
We sat out on the deck right next to the river, kicking our feet up while gazing at the eagles soaring above us in the sky and keeping an eye out for wildlife on the mountain slope on the other side of the river. I was really hoping to spot a bear, because there had been quite a few visits from them throughout the year. But, no such luck.
We wanted to start of with an appetizer of spinach artichoke dip, but our server came back to the table to inform us that they were out of it for the evening. So, we opted to go with their hot wings.
To make up for the lack of dip, the kitchen loaded us up with extra wings, which was really nice. The portion size of the drums and flats alone were hefty, and then to have a boat load of extra pieces? It was enough for a meal of its own.
The wings were cooked perfectly with a crispy skin and soft, juicy meat underneath. They were swimming in a bright orange spicy, tangy buffalo sauce that I wasn’t particularly fond of, but The Husband loved it. It had just enough heat to scorn my taste buds, but not enough to destroy my sense of taste.
Wiping away the clown-like sauce smiles from the corner of our lips, we moved on to our entrees. The Husband ordered the 1/2 pound grilled buffalo burger and added cheddar cheese and bacon to it for an extra cost.
It was a bit over-cooked making it a dry patty with little flavor. The Husband wasn’t entirely disappointed with it, and thought that discovering an average burger was better than eating a horrible one.
I ordered the Mish Burrito – rice and black bean burrito smothered in vegetarian green chile sauce, and topped with cheddar and jack cheese. Sprinkled on top were chopped tomato, onion, black olives, jalapeno salsa, and sour cream. I added chicken for an extra cost.
This burrito was the size of a small mountain animal. I swear, if you had been hiking or rafting all day long, coming to The Mish to eat this burrito of epic portions would make your stomach smile. If you aren’t in the competitive eating business, then you’d have enough left over for two meals. Our server told me that not too long ago an eight-year old boy wolfed the whole thing down. There was no way I’d be able to compete with that.
Despite the astronomical size, it was just okay. Unfortunately, the rice was undercooked and still even crunchy raw in some bites. But, beyond that, the green chile was mild and tasty, the vegetables were crisp, and there was enough cheese to make strings from fork-to-mouth in each bite.
I also ordered some onion rings to share with The Husband. They came out a little on the burnt side of done. If they hadn’t been so brown with the dark taste of carbon attached to it, they would have been fabulous. Thick, and without the onion sliding out of the breading after first bite.
Mishawaka Amphitheater has one of the most incredible atmospheres to enjoy, especially for a dining experience. Hands down, they have the best patio deck for miles and miles. Our dinner didn’t add anything special to the moment as we took in the fresh mountain air and marveled at the changing autumn leaves in Poudre Canyon. The Mish is on the right track with changes for the music venue, but they still have a lot of work to do on the food.
13714 Poudre Canyon Highway
Kid-Friendly? Yes! It’s a great place for the kids to enjoy, but the kids’ menu is mostly fried.
Parking: Limited parking along the highway
Healthy Options? Mostly bar-type food, some vegetarian options.
Budget-Friendly? Not even close. Apps are $9, entrees 410-$15 for bar-food. Tourist prices, for sure.
Recent Health Inspection: Average