If you are visiting Estes Park for a romantic getaway or you are visiting Rocky Mountain National Park with your family and kids, you have to eat and checking out some of the best Estes Park restaurants needs to be considered as an activity in itself.
On my two trips to Rocky Mountain National Park and staying at Estes Park for several days, I have had the pleasure to explore some of the best restaurants in Estes Park and I didn’t come across anything that I didn’t enjoy as a meal on my trips.
Best Estes Park Restaurants
These are my personal opinions and choices. I am sure there are other really great restaurants out there as well that I didn’t have the chance to visit.
Vegan Restaurants in Estes Park
If you are a vegan and want to strictly avoid any and all animal products, Estes Park got you covered. I am actually not a vegan, but I have lately been experimenting with avoiding dairy as I seem to get heard burn with excessive dairy. Still haven’t found the root cause of my issue, but at least this allows me to try new food that I would otherwise have not.
Inkwell & Brew:
I am a breakfast person. For me, the coffee makes or breaks my morning. I was thrilled at the first sip of the latte with oat milk. It was delicious. They also have Soy, Almond and Rice milk options.
Grab your favorite cup of coffee and go upstairs to check out the cute collection of greeting cards, notebooks and souvenirs.
Address: 150 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Notchtop Bakery & Cafe:
Notchtop Bakery & Cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch. One of the top rated on Yelp and Tripadvisor, we decided to visit for breakfast one morning.
Husband prefers to avoid eggs as much as possible and he was satisfied with the options. That veggie burrito loaded with tofu and avacado…yumm. Outstanding service and tasty choices.
A must visit restaurant if you are in town during breakfast or lunch hour.
Address: 459 E Wonder View Ave, Ste 4, Estes Park, CO 80517
It’s a lunch buffet and dinner place. Even though they make Indian food, the owner and staff are from Nepal. Indian food is a great option for those looking for vegan food overall. Channa Masala, vegetable curries, dhals / lentils and roti are all as vegan as it can get.
However, you might want to make sure that they haven’t added any Ghee (clarified butter) or heavy cream to any of the curries if you want a pure vegan food. Owner is a friendly guy and will help you with your choices dishes made to your needs. And their lunch buffet for $11.99 is a steal for the quantity and options in the town.
Address: 184 E Elkhorn Ave, Unit H, Estes Park, CO 80517
Ed’s Cantina & Grill
Vegan Nachos, Quinoa tacos, Vegan Burritos…mouth watering options at this Mexican place is all one would need for lunch or dinner.
Even better, they have a separate Vegan menu, so you don’t have to interrogate the chef on what was used in making your favorite dish.
If you are at Ed’s might as well as for the best possible view by getting seated at the Patio that overlooks the gushing Big Thompson river that flows through Estes Park.
Address: 390 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Vegetarian Restaurants in Estes Park
Dear Husband is a pure vegetarian and others in the group were not. However, we never had issues finding restaurants that catered to the needs of everyone in the group.
Cafe de Pho-Thai
What better than a coconut based soup on a cold winter afternoon after you have spent hours outdoor skiing ?! It’s a Thai place and it’s hard to screw up Thai food. Only issue is the parking in front of the restaurant can be limited to 1hr or 3 hr slots. If you go on a busy day, look for parking elsewhere.
Address: 225 W Riverside Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517
Oppa Asian Bistro
A decent Asian Fusion and Korean place. For those who are looking for some spicy goodness, check out their Kimchi fried rice. Small cozy place with variety of noodle and rice based lunch and dinner options that won’t break your budget.
This place is right next to the Thai place mentioned above and the parking situation is a bit annoying.
Address: 183 W Riverside Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517
Himalayan Curry & Kebob
A mixed review on their service especially. There has been several complaints about how slow they were during the peak hours. However, food is decent and if you are looking for Indian and vegetarian and vegan food, it’s not a bad option. But, if service bothers you, look elsewhere.
But if you want Vegan food, you better make it very clear to them and make sure they don’t add any Ghee (clarified butter), milk or animal products.
Address: 101 Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
La Cocina de Mama Mexican Food & Cantina
Gluten Free Restaurants in Estes Park
It’s highly likely you can get rice based and gluten free dishes at most of the restaurants and go for potatoes instead of bread at most of the places.
Another safe bet is Asian and Indian restaurants for Gluten Free food in Estes Park.
However, if you really want to have that slice of Pizza but want gluten free options, here are your options nevertheless excellent ones.
Other Gluten Free Options include Trailhead Restaurant, outside the Fall River visitor center.
Only Gluton free dish at Mama Rose’s is their Rigatoni – a pasta dish. They have the rice based gluten free penne pasta option for a few extra bucks to replace the regular pasta on this dish. Add some extra sauce and Zucchini to enhance the flavor.
Address: 338 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Sweet Basilico Cafe
Any pizza on their menu can be made into a Gluten Free one. But they only make the gluten free version for the personal 10″ pizzas, not for the bigger sizes.
They do have this following warning on their website, ” Please remember that while we can do our best to meet your dietary needs, we do have flour and other gluten products in our kitchen. As such, we cannot guarantee the exclusion of gluten from any meal. And because of this, we cannot recommend people with sever gluten allergies to dine with us. ” – http://www.sweetbasilico.com/pizza/
Address: 430 Prospect Village Dr, Estes Park, CO 80517
The Village Pizza
A low key pizza joint that has Gluten Free options for most of their Pizzas. Trust me they are delicious and crispy. Absolutely worth eating here even if you don’t need a Gluten Free version.
Address: 543 Big Thompson Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Estes Park Restaurants with a View & on the River
Known for their best view from the patio seating and great ambiance, I personally found this place expensive. But, that can be a subjective thing. When you have a crying baby, hungry stomachs, you settle for whatever is available near you. There was no time to read the reviews or find out about what others recommended.
They do have Hummus and Avocado toasts that I didn’t find anywhere else in the town. Also, they do Gluten Free Option for all their sandwiches.
Our group had sandwiches, hot chocolate and fries. While writing this article, I realized that many people didn’t like their burgers and meat selections. Given how close the Estes Park village is, if you can wait another few minutes, there are more restaurant options in the village.
However, you can’t beat the view you get from the Trailhead restaurant patio.
Address: 3450 Fall River Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
If you are an early raiser or want to hit the trail bright and early for a long day of hiking, you are highly likely looking for a breakfast and coffee place that’s open early. Kind Coffee does open at 6:30AM throughout the year and thats not the only best part about this place.
The View: Located right at the Big Thompson River, gushing through their backyard, order your coffee inside and step out to explore the river, while it’s in making.
Or grab your cup of coffee and go for a walk along the river.
For those starting their long hikes, Kind Coffee has several really healthy and heavy breakfast options that are loaded with avocado, eggs, and cheese that’s guaranteed to fuel your body for the challenge ahead.
A great place to eat at over all. I will definitely go back the next time I am in town.
Address: 470 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Coffee on the Rocks
As the name suggests, the coffee shop on the Rocks has stunning view of the mountains, with a little pond in the backyard, where the docks float around.
My toddler enjoyed chasing the docks while we were appreciating the scenery with another best cup of coffee in town.
Just like Kind Coffee, this place Coffee on the Rocks is also open early from 7AM in the morning. And they are also open during holidays and deep winter months.
Basic assortment of snacks to with the coffee. They do have a decent collection yet delicious breakfast items.
Address: 510 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
The View at the Historic Crags Lodge
The View, lives up to it’s name with absolutely one of the gorgeous views in town as you dine. They also have private two person patio seating that needs to be booked ahead of time.
Even if you don’t get the private patio seating, most of the seating arrangements are along the window overlooking the valley with mountain backdrop. You won’t go wrong here.
Food wise, this is a dinner only place. Vegetarians and vegans – don’t expect much. Choices are very limited. They do have vegetarian pasta and a few appetizers.
But, certainly a meat lovers paradise. Bit on the pricy side for my budget however.
Address: 300 Riverside Dr,Estes Park, CO 80540
Poppy’s Pizza & Grill
Another great Pizza and grill with non-pizza options, right on the river with the soothing sound of water running through the valley.
Pizza was fairly decent. I can’t say it was the best I had. But again, I generally don’t eat much pizza and my ability to critique the taste of pizza is very limited.
Overall the food was tasty, edible and the river made up for the delayed service on a July 4th long weekend.
Address: 342 E Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Estes Park Restaurants that are Open Late
If you are want to eat something at late night, one of the very few options available is Domino’s pizza that is open till midnight.
But, for a really hungry time, Domino’s is not a bad idea.
Mountain Munchies Tiki Bar Estes Park
On Friday and Saturday nights, they are open till midnight.
After a long day of hiking, this place is a great one to wind down for the day with drinks on the rocks or your favorite cocktail with munchies.
Even better, they are located by the riverside for the a serene setup. The entire restaurant is is decorated to every inch.
Catch a great reggae music while at it as the restaurant features live music.
Address: 189/191 E Riverside Dr,Estes Park, CO 80517
Cousin Pat’s Pub & Grill
Now the only pub and grill that’s open past midnight everyday in Estes Park village. They are open till 2AM everyday and it’s a great place to grab a bite and get a drink to go with it.
They offer Happy Hour specials if you can catch them. The bar is a great place to hang out with family or with your romantic partner or friends. Utilize the two pool tables, the juke box and Deer Hunter games for some extra entertainment.
Get seated near the fireplace for a romantic night out.
Address: 451 S Saint Vrain Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Romantic Restaurants in Estes Park
“Romantic” is such a subjective matter. What works for someone might not work for others. To me most of the restaurants listed in this article are considered romantic provided I am going their with the right person. Besides eating out there are definitely lot more romantic things to do in Estes Park.
However, this list is based on the ambience.
Twin Owls Steakhouse
Can’t rave enough about the coziness of their loft room that has a rustic charm. Be it a wedding reception, a romantic dinner for two, a quality time with your family or even a wedding rehearsal dinner, give twin owls steakhouse a call to see if they can accommodate you.
This woody building serves some of the best meat dishes in town with juicy and succulent meat, made to the perfection of your desire. Their appetizers are to die for. Give stuffed mushrooms, and elk dishes on the appetizers a go if you are new to eating Elk.
Berry Brie en Croute on the appetizer is a MUST try.
Address: 800 Macgregor Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
The Dunraven Inn
Cute dollar bill wall will welcome you as you enter the restaurant. I found the rest of the place bit intimate and thought the neighbor might hear all my conversations. Hope they were not paying any attention.
On a busy evening, expect the place to be crowded and bustling with chit-chats of restaurant goers. But, that adds to the charm of the place.
I found the portion size really big on all the dishes we ordered. In hindsight we could have cut down on one of the main entrees as we couldn’t finish the meals. Over all friendly staff and worth driving a few extra minutes out of the town to reach this place.
Address: 2470 State Hwy 66, Estes Park, CO 80517
Best Burger in Estes Park
Penelope’s Old Time
After a long day of hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park, if burger and fries are the only things you can think of, definitely check out Penelope’s Old Time Burgers.
This is a walk up to the counter and order your food type of restaurant. They will call your number over the speaker and don’t be surprised to get your food faster than you expected.
It’s a small little whole in the wall, however don’t let that fool you. This place knows how to make a “made to order” burger.
The food tasted fresh with lettuce and tomatoes just cut in front of us to make the order. They also have an excellent array of sauces to go with the burger such as, ranch, ketchup, bbq, relish and mayo.
You just can’t go wrong with anything you order here!
Address: 229 W Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Gyros On Moraine Avenue
This is not a fast food restaurant, just a classic burger joint on the other hand.
I ordered fried Zucchini and spicy chicken after reading yelp reviews. Both tasted great and fresh overall.
Seemed like a local hangout place as I noticed a few older men hanging out on a sunday to chit-chat. If locals love it, then it’s worth giving a try.
Staff was very friendly and listened to us carefully as we made specific changes to our meals.
I didn’t have gyros, but the friend who ate it said they were awesome and juicy.
Address: 861 Moraine Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517
Dog Friendly restaurants in Estes Park
There are quiet a few restaurants that have really good food and allow dogs during the dining experience in Estes Park.
- MollyB Restaurant
- The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern
- The Wheel Bar
- Hunters Chophouse
- Notchtop Bakery and Cafe
Where to Eat Elk in Estes Park ?
Most of the restaurants in Estes Park that serve meat is going to have Elk and Bison meat options. The choice you have to make is on how do you want to consume the Elk meat ?
Burger ? Check out my burgers section on this article. All of the Grills and Burger joints are guaranteed to have Elk burger on their menu.
Or you might want the Elk cut cooked to your style with a side of vegetables and potatoes. Then head to one of the steakhouses mentioned such as Twin Owls, Wapiti, Grubsteak etc.,
For a curry flavored and indian style Kebobs, check out the Himalayan Curry & Kebob place for elk Kabob (kebob).
I have attempted my best to do a round up of all the restaurants we have visited in the two long trips to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Every time I visit the park, my goal is to check out a new restaurant and keep this list growing as I discover fine dining experiences.
By the way friends, if you have any favorite restaurants in Estes Park to add to this list, do let me know. I would be happy to quote you and add your choice.
Until later Eat Up !
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