My husband and I visited Durango to enjoy its scenic mountains, proximity to Mesa Verde National Park, and a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. You’ll find this charming city along the Animas River in southwestern Colorado.
Fresh food and healthy alternatives are a must on Durango’s menus, and we enjoyed some delicious, but not expensive meals during our time there. You’ll find nice upscale eateries in Durango, which we skipped for this visit, choosing to dine in more casual and affordable places. Here are my eight favorite restaurants to experience in Durango, Colorado, and suggestions for what to order.
1. Jean Pierre Bakery & Wine Bar
One of the raved-about Durango restaurants is Jean Pierre Bakery & Wine Bar. I had read about it online and had several merchants mention the tasty French pastries at this beloved shop. The selection of homemade bread loaves, cookies, pastries, and croissants is enormous and tantalizing.
What To Order At Jean Pierre
Though Jean Pierre serves full-service meals, my husband, Eddie, and I only popped in for pastries to take home and chocolate-filled croissants for breakfast. I wanted one of everything but settled on an apricot tart, almond pastry, some chocolate-drop cookies, and the croissants we came for. You mustn’t leave without trying at least one of these chocolate cookies — they are delicious!
2. College Drive Cafe
The top eatery on my Durango list was College Drive Cafe, a locals’ favorite restaurant with a long waiting list. Good thing you can call and get on the list to save time, which we did. Our table was waiting when we arrived at the restaurant, and our waitress was quick, friendly, and efficient.
What To Order At College Drive Cafe
I tried the Murphy Scramble with spinach, seasonal tomatoes, and fresh avocado slices served with toast and really tasty breakfast potatoes. Eddie had the Traditional eggs Benedict, typically my go-to dish and favorite breakfast item. Since I had chosen otherwise, I ordered a side of delightful hollandaise, which went well with my perfectly made egg dish.
FYI: This was my favorite meal in town.
3. Switchback Tacos
Eddie and I loved the street taco choices and side dishes at Switchback Tacos in downtown Durango. The prices were affordable in terms of tacos, but I thought the rest of the menu was slightly pricey. Switchback is known for handmade cocktails, margaritas, and the fresh ingredients on their street taco menu.
What To Order At Switchback
We shared an order of queso (a really good recipe), red salsa, and corn chips. Each item is priced individually, but you can save a few bucks by ordering more than one. Then, I had a pork carnitas taco with pineapple salsa and pickled onion. My taco was around $4 and plenty filling after sharing the appetizer. It was messy to eat, but 10 out of 10 flavor-wise. Eddie had a chicken tinga and adobada taco; both served with cilantro and onion and totally delicious.
His favorite part of the meal was the Spicy Reyes margarita, with a Tajin rim, Silver tequila, and orange juice. Mine was the amazing O.G. Elote (Mexican street corn), topped with crema, chipotle mayo, cilantro, and dusted with cojita cheese. It was the best Elote I’ve had in my life — I could have easily eaten two or three more orders. It’s addictive!
Pro Tip: Switchback Tacos is within walking distance of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and has regular hours, especially compared to many other restaurants in town. Consider this for dinner after your train trip.
4. Animas Chocolate & Coffee
Expect hand-crafted chocolates and exquisite drinks from Animas Chocolate & Coffee cafe on Main Avenue. We popped into this cute little circa-1895 shop and found the friendliest guy in town making gourmet drinking chocolates. It was cold outside, so the upscale Smelter hot chocolates were just the right thing to warm us up and give us some energy. Of course, you have to pair your yummy drink with some exquisite hand-crafted chocolates, right?
What To Order At Animas Chocolate & Coffee
I chose the El Bandito, a Mexican-style hot chocolate drink infused with chile and vanilla; and Eddie chose The Miner, made with peppermint. Fresh whipped cream topped our drinks, which were smooth and velvety in taste. Don’t miss the exotic truffles toward the back of the chocolate cafe. They are as beautiful as they are delicious.
FYI: These gourmet chocolates are made using the highest-quality chocolate and no added preservatives, so they need to be consumed within 2 weeks.
5. HomeSlice Pizza
We had been towing our RV all day and arrived in Durango late. We found three HomeSlice Pizza locations — one close to the RV park — to take home a gourmet pie. Or you can also dine in and try the long list of brews. I love it when a pizza joint allows two different combinations on the same pizza. It’s perfect for saving money and you don’t have to compromise. Kudos to HomeSlice for being one of those establishments.
What To Order At HomeSlice Pizza
The pizza we shared was part Behemoth (pepperoni, Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, red onion, bell pepper) and part Genovese (chicken, pesto, seasoned ricotta, roasted red pepper). The Genovese advertised roasted garlic, which was substantial, whole-roasted cloves — and they were excellent. Eddie liked his choice, too, and we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.
6. Carver Brewing Co.
We met a local friend in Durango at Carver Brewing Co, a popular downtown brewery restaurant known for upscale bar eats, burgers, and craft beer. They have a nice, friendly vibe and attentive waitstaff. We had heard the locals and people from our RV campground raving about Carver Brewing since we arrived in town, so we were glad to check it out.
What To Order At Carver Brewing Co.
We started with the creamy (and flavorful) artichoke dip with spinach and hatch green chiles. It was served in a bread bowl (I mean, who doesn’t love a bread bowl?) and had tortilla chips for dipping. Carver Brewing Co. was the first microbrewery in all of Colorado, so it’s only fitting that you try one of the beers on tap.
We ordered chicken enchiladas, chile chicken verde (sliced chicken breast drenched in cheeses with a decadent sauce), and beef stroganoff with broccoli and tender and plentiful seared beef tips for our main courses. The beef stroganoff’s gemelli pasta was sturdy enough to hold up to the full-bodied mushroom sour cream sauce — comfort food at its finest. However, I found the portion size of the chicken enchiladas a bit small for the price.
Two other popular items at Carver Brewing Co. are the smash burgers and chocolate chip skillet cookie.
7. Durango Bagel
Durango Bagel is a cute little shop tucked in the corner of downtown, right beside the train depot. I saw the advertisements in a local publication and knew I had to try the bagels and flavored cream cheeses. They also have espresso, coffee, tea, and several other bottled beverages.
What To Order At Durango Bagel
Feast on a tasty breakfast bagel or bagel sandwich. You can also choose from 16 kinds of cream cheese (spicy Mexican, garlic & herb, honey almond, etc.) to spread on your bagels. Eddie and I picked up bagels to eat on our train ride the next day, and they tasted perfect even a day old. We also bought a few extra to freeze. I had a green chile bagel with cheese, while he chose the cinnamon sugar. I was surprised that bagels were only $1.25 or a baker’s dozen for $12. With rising prices across the country, that is an exceptional deal.
8. Lone Spur Cafe
Another popular breakfast eatery in downtown Durango is the Lone Spur Cafe, dressed in Wild West decor and a cowboy-western theme. Lone Spur serves breakfast and lunch, plus Friday and Saturday night special dinners — namely their famous Prime Rib. They are known for their meat ‘n’ egg breakfast dishes, such as corned beef hash and eggs, chicken fried steak and eggs, or ribeye steak and eggs. Hours of operation are 6:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. daily and from 5–9 p.m. for the special dinners.
What To Order At Lone Spur Cafe
We are “breakfast people” and wanted to have one more tasty Durango breakfast before heading out of town. Lone Spur Cafe was the place we chose. I had a traditional omelet with Swiss cheese only, hash browns, and a biscuit with gravy.
My meal was huge, way too much to eat, but I appreciate that I got to choose whether I wanted toast or a biscuit with gravy. I typically have to buy a side of gravy, so that option saved me money. Eddie had the Belgian waffle breakfast, with two eggs cooked to order and the choice of bacon or sausage. We were both pleased with our food, the prices, and had friendly, attentive service.
For more things to do and see in the Centennial State, check out these Colorado experiences: