Woody Creek Tavern near Aspen is a restaurant that everyone can appreciate


WHAT: Woody Creek Tavern.

WHERE: 2 Woody Creek Plaza, 2858 Upper River Road, Woody Creek.

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

CONTACT: 970-923-4585, http://www.woodycreektavern.com.

COST: Lunch less than $15; dinner less than $25.

Woody Creek Tavern is steeped in lore and schlocky by design.

The century-old wooden building, a 6-mile bike ride from Aspen, is wallpapered with photos, stuffed fish, neon beer signs, newspaper clippings, Christmas lights and other oddball paraphernalia. The large outdoor seating area affords a good view of the Roaring Fork Valley.

It’s been a stop for Rachel Ray on her Colorado pub crawl and has been reviewed by Frommer’s and The New York Times. Yet, right beside it is a trailer park.

The tavern was a favorite watering hole for the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, a Woody Creek resident, dedicated tippler and a man with a serious contempt for authority.

Patrons, and there are always many at the iconic tavern, are an eclectic mix of locals in wool caps and camouflage, curious tourists and some very rich summer visitors having a fun afternoon. It’s a place everyone can appreciate.

We stopped on Labor Day weekend and the place was slammed with people. But the good news is, they run a large and efficient operation, so the waiting time was not that long.

We didn’t see any celebrities, but I looked around at all the kids wearing college T-shirts and realized they probably didn’t just buy them, they actually attend Bryn Mawr, Oxford, Yale and Brown. And they might have flown in on the family jet, hundreds of which line nearby Sardy Field like a glimmering, giant toy collection.

Woody Creek Tavern serves well-prepared tavern food, including hefty burgers, fresh local fish, Mexican specialties and thick steaks.

It’s specialty drink is an intoxicating fresh lime margarita made with Herradura Blanca 100 percent blue agave margarita. The menu notes that because they are so strong, they do not sell them by the pitcher. (Wonder if they made an exception for Hunter S. Thompson?)

The menu has many items that are locally sourced, organic and/or hormone free.

Among them:

Fresh caught Pacific salmon marinated and smoked by Smokin’ Good in Basalt.

Fruitwood smoked trout from Ducktrap River Fish Farms.

Vegetarian chorizo flautas and nachos, vegan tacos, and vegetarian green chile tamales.

Hamburgers made with lean Limonsin beef.

Porterhouse-cut pork barbecue.

Farm-raised tilapia and all-natural Angus steaks.

A poster on the Times online website distills Woody Creek Tavern pretty well: “A down-home, laid-back tavern with good food. A fun place where the waitresses will yell back at ya if you give them a hard time. Good drinks and an all-around good time.” — Oscar from Florida

Good call, Oscar. The tavern owners don’t try to be pretentious, they bank on being a thriving, good-time, kitschy dive.

McJAVA: McDonald’s restaurants in Colorado will give away a free small Arabica-bean coffee to customers until Sept. 25. No purchase necessary.

GRAZING POSSIBILITIES: McAlister’s Deli rolled out a line of fresh entrée salads this month.

New on the menu, a Southwestern Cobb salad with grilled chicken breast with roasted corn and poblano relish, guacamole, cheddar-jack cheese, tomatoes and tortilla chips.

The Italian chopped salad features Black Forest ham, salami, Gambino’s olive tapenade, roasted peppers, provolone, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Mississippi-based McAlister’s, with 307 locations across the country, also is upgrading its salad greens to romaine and spring mix.

QUOTE: “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.” — Oscar Wilde

Send tips and ideas to Tess.Furey@ gjsentinel.com.


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