Well, food-lovin’ friends – this is the last “official” On The Road Review I’ll write on Feasting Fort Collins. I might chip in some help and lend a hand when needed in the future, but for the last few weeks during my time on here, I’ll be keeping the reviews in town.
It’s pretty funny that I end my travel review adventures in Estes Park, where I struggled for so many years to find decent dining, and in a town I didn’t think I’d visit often when I first started writing this site. Good grief, I’m in Estes more now than ever thanks to Fresh Air Fort Collins and my many year-round outdoor excursions in Rocky Mountain National Park.
In those years I’ve discovered that Ed’s Cantina is really awesome. I also sat next to wood-burning fireplaces at The Rock (still my #1 favorite place to eat in Estes), and have been on the search for the best burger through the whole town. Because no meal makes me happier than a burger and a beer after a day in the wilderness. And I’m talking “I’ve found my purpose in life” kind of happiness when I bite into that burger, take a swig of craft beer, and wipe the trail dirt off my hand and onto my pants.
Needless to say, I’m as tough a burger critic as I am a steak critic. Because that’s the other sentimental food that makes me feel like life is worth living.
So, if you read the review of The Rock, you know there’s no other place I’d rather eat in Estes. Sad news is that they don’t open until 4pm. If I get off the trail early and need a lunch/early dinner (linner?) option, then I have to have a back up. And fellow hiker pals, that’s The Grubsteak.
Photo Credit: EstesParkInformation.com
My very first visit to Grubsteak was the day Estes opened right after the 2013 flood. I piled my kids in the car and drove all the way down to Golden, then up the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, because that’s the only way you could get into town. It took forever. My youngest kiddo threw up all over himself and the back seat halfway there because he got car sick. We got into Estes, I sprayed out the car in a self-serve car wash, bought him some new clothes at one of the shops that wasn’t obliterated by the flood, got us a hotel room, and then took all of us out to dinner.
My kids still talk about this trip and ask for another hotel stay.
We went through all of that because I was determined to put my money where my mouth was. When businesses and economies say they need support, they mean financial support. They don’t need another Facebook like, they don’t need prayers. They need your cash, because that’s how the world works (and something we really need to remember here in Fort Collins). Whatever little income I got from writing Feasting Fort Collins was shared with those businesses after their devastating loss because so many times Estes becomes my weekend home, and I wanted to chip in with what I could to help. So, we became tourists the minute they were ready to sell their stuff.
Grubsteak was thrilled to see people come in, and truth be told, it was mostly locals. It was strange to see the town so empty when it was usually packed to the gills with people from all over the world. Despite the devastation, people were friendly and welcoming. After dinner we walked by an older woman walking her dog and we stopped to chat for a bit while the kids got some dog petting time in. She gave us tips on who might be open so that we could visit their business too. And we did.
After that visit I came back multiple times after a hike to get in that burger and beer. My tried and true trail pal and I sat on the patio demolishing our burgers while coincidently seeing Fort Collins friends doing the same. It’s always a small world!
Another time another friend and I had incredible service to go along with that burger and beer after a particularly grueling hike that we had to bail on. Nothing soothes summit disappointments better than a smile with a plate of deliciousness.
Large soft buns, thick juicy patties, and crisp fresh vegetables – it’s a winning combo.
Obviously, Grubsteak has more on their menu than just burgers and beer. But I wouldn’t know how those stack up because I’ve only cared about the best burger search. However, Grubsteak is known for their wild game options – buffalo, elk, and even yak. They have wild boar scotch eggs on their appetizer menu, to boot.
And you get to eat all of this surrounded by a collection of historical antiques from the Rocky Mountain area. Because rustic mountain kitsch is comfortable when you’re covered in dirt, or experiencing Colorado on vacation.
But, the burgers are what I know best, and I’ve never had a bad one there. If you don’t see me at The Rock, chances are I’ll be at The Grub.
134 West Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park
Kid-Friendly? You bet!
Parking: Parking lots are right out back. Don’t ever count on street parking here.
Healthy Options? Plenty. Vegetarian and Gluten-Free options
Budget-Friendly? Average Estes pricing – $15-$25 per plate
Recent Health Inspection: Excellent