By Billie Frank, Examiner.com
Family dining should be a good experience for all involved. In our family we look for a casual place with good food and a decent kids menu. Favorites of the younger generation include chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pizza and quesadillas. We look for a place where the noise-level is high enough that we don’t have to worry about interfering with people’s dinner enjoyment if we get loud. It’s sometimes challenging going into a new town where you don’t know the ropes. How do you find the places that fit the bill? We did very well in Breckenridge armed with restaurant recommendations from a few locals who knew the dining scene.
By the time we arrived in town our first night it was late, we were all starved and a bit cranky. After choosing the wrong restaurant (it was not on the list of family dining recommendations) we split up. Steve and I ended up at Bubba Gumps, a Cajun restaurant, part of a chain we’d never heard of. Not fans of chains we would have steered clear and missed a good meal. Besides Bubba’s, there are only a few other chains in Breck. The ubiquitous Starbucks, Daylight Donuts, Subway and the popular ice cream chain, Cold Stone Creamery; a refreshing change. We shared peel ‘em and eat ‘em shrimp and a tasty order of ribs. They hit the spot. The kids (that loving nickname encompasses two generations) found Downstairs at Eric’s, a casual place with an arcade. The casual menu offering soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers pizza and more had something for everyone. The adults could enjoy a relaxing drink while the kids played games.
We also tried these recommended places with good results.
The Blue Moose, serving breakfast all day is a fun choice. Popular with both locals and visitors, they are known for their pancakes, omelets and breakfast burritos. Unless you like washing dishes, bring cash. They don’t take plastic. Open weekdays from 7am to noon and 7am to 1pm Saturdays and Sundays. They are at 540 S. Main St Breckenridge.
Columbine Café is another venue popular with locals. Tucked in the back of a building on Main Street, it is easy to miss if you are not looking for it. They have an extensive breakfast menu, including pancakes, waffles omelets and Eggs Benedict. For warm-weather dining there is a great outdoor patio if you don’t mind waiting. Actually, you have to wait for indoor seating at peak dining times. They also serve lunch. Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to closing (1:30pm), lunch begins at 11am. They are located at 109 S. Main Street (on top of Downstairs at Eric’s).
Daylight Donuts, a locally owned franchise of the 900-store chain is a busy place at breakfast time. The kids ate there twice, we tried on out last day, but there was a 40-minute wait, so we tried a few donuts and their famous sausage rolls. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves in the packed place and it recommended by a few locals. They serve breakfast from 6am to noon and close at 12:30pm. You can find them at 305 N. Main Street.
Lunch and dinner:
The great thing about casual, family restaurants is you can usually rely on them for lunch or dinner (and often breakfast). Often the menu is the same for both meals.
The local outpost of Breckenridge Brewery, a small Colorado chain of brewpubs, is a great choice for lunch or dinner. The children’s menu pleased our two and the adults were able to sample the local micro-brews. Choose from Agave Wheat, Oatmeal Stout, Avalanche Ale and more. The beer experts in the family pronounced it good brew; the guys left with Tee shirts as souvenirs. The pub-style food was good.
Giampietro Pasta and Pizza scored big with the whole family. Everything we tried in this tiny eatery was delicious. From bruschetta (the deal of the day, you can make a meal out of it) to thin crust pizzas to pasta, sandwiches, meat dishes and specials; it’s all good Our daughter-in-law enjoyed the cauliflower soup special so much she went back and had it again. Not only was it tasty, the garnished bowl was lovely to look at. A local told us she buys Giampietro’s pizza dough (a deal at $3 for a large pizza) and makes her own. The lunch menu is available from 11am to 4pm daily and the dinner menu from 4 to 9:30. The pizza menu and the specials are available all day.
Those same savvy folks who own Giampietro’s also run the popular and packed Empire Burger. Specializing in 100% natural Harris Ranch choice Black Angus beef ground daily, they also offer turkey, buffalo and Boca burgers. The menu offers a selection of starters, sandwiches and salads. Want a late-night snack? Empire is open daily from 11am to 1am.
We had dinner without the rest of the family a few nights.
Mountain Flying Fish offering fresh sushi attracts both locals and visitors. We ran into the one person we had met in Break there. The sushi was delicious. We tried a wide assortment and enjoyed it all. Located on the top floor of 500 South Main Street, they are open daily from 5pm to 10pm.
Mi Casa serves its own take on Mexican food in several large dining rooms overlooking the Blue River. I wasn’t very hungry and ordered the delectable-sounding Avocado Frito, a batter-dipped and fried whole avocado “stuffed” with chicken or spiced shrimp. The avocado was incredible; anything battered and fried pretty much is a slam-dunk. Steve ordered the Chile and Nut Crusted Ruby Trout, he loved it.
Our one big dining regret; we didn’t get to is the Crepes a la Cart stand making lunch, dinner and dessert crepes on the west-side of South Main Street. This popular street-food vendor was busy every time we drove by. There are other places on the list that we didn’t get to either, but there’s always next time.
Author’s note: In some cases The Santa Fe Insider Travel Examiner has been provided with complimentary accommodations, meals, admissions etc. while traveling. This has not influenced this article in any way.