“Once, while travelling in the wilds of Afghanistan, some fool lost the corkscrew. We were forced to subsist for several days on food and water.” — W.C. Fields
WHILE I DEARLY LOVE junk food, AKA “fair fare,” at the state fair, of which the choices are endless and the prices are reasonable, sitting at a table and ordering off of a real menu is easier on the waistline and less painful than standing in a line in the hot Pueblo sun sans head covering. And there ain’t any reason to eat a messy (but quite delish) turkey leg unless you are loaded down with sani-wipes. Only masochists partake of the luscious ears of corn, an item that gives you 10 minutes of pleasure and 75 minutes of pain picking your teeth to finish off the meal.
But the state fair wouldn’t be any fun without all of that mess, altho I can get an excellent bugger at one of Jim Beatty’s eateries at the fair and no mess afterwards. There is no single day that you can spend in the state of Colorado that is more fun than visiting the city of Pueblo and the Colorado State Fair. It is an absolute gas. But there is more to the city of Pueblo than just the fair, and much of it is dining. Note that there are lotsa reasonably-priced accommodations for staying over including some excellent bed and breakfasts.
I know that if you avoid all the KFC’s in town, there are many fine restaurants in Pueblo to serve you. Didya know that some of the best dining values in the state are in Pueblo? So here’s a sampling of good eateries:
217 E. Routt Ave —719-543-6367
Still the best eatin’ in all of Colorado. When you consider ambiance, service, food and value, they just don’t come any better. The dining emporium run by Jim and Bob Fredregill (Jim’s the significantly older fella) since 1974 is still Numero Uno. The finest steaks, slooo-roasted prime rib, baby-back ribs, chicken, seafood and more. They’ve added a flatiron steak to the menu. All dinners are five-courses: cheese ball appetizer, unlimited bowls of house-made soup, fresh salad, choice of entree, choice of dessert, and coffee or tea. Folks, it don’t get any better’n this. Service is fantastic: efficient, warm and friendly. It’s also the pertiest set of rooms in town. Call 4 reservs.
GIODONE’S HOUSA PASTA
23344 Hwy 50 East —719-542-9751
Home of The Big Dog, great pasta, super meataballs and the best sausage grinder around. It even came on a bun that didn’t fall apart as soon as it got soggy. Giodone’s also does whole messa stuff at the state fair. It’s all great eatin’ and smooth slurpin.’ They even do yummy steaks.
1201 Elm —719-542-0755
During World War II, Pueblo’s steel mills employed as many as 10,000 workers. Today they employ less than 2,500. Folks don’t consume near the gallons of beer or eat near the food they did fifty years ago, so that the restaurants that catered to the steel mill trade either closed or attracted new business. But across from the steel mills they served for years, you can still get a Dutch lunch and a huge mug of beer for a few bucks. I finally made it to Lil Gus’s at the fair last year, and they cooked me a mighty fine medium-rare bugger. Yo!
1319 E. Evans Ave —719-564-6486
This super Mexican eatery is large, spacious, airy, and clean. Food and service are first rate. Start with chicken quesadillas. Then choose from an elaborate menu of traditional and un-traditional fare, such as a bowl of menudo, or chicken and avocado tacos. A house specialty, pork & avocado burrito comes with pork meat and avocado, smothered with chile and served with rice and salad. They also do lotsa American fare, including buggers and steaks. Don’t ask the waiter if the hot green chile is really hot. Take my word for it: it’s hot. It’s yummy, but you gotta wear a turban. And you will leak.
THERE ARE A MESSA other good eateries that I only have room to mention, but all have good reps. Many are near the new Union Depot built recently along the Arkansas River. It’s called HARP (Historic Arkansas River Project).
The Do-Drop-Inn (1201 S. Santa Fe Ave, 719-542-0818) serves one of Colorado’s finest pizzas. Famous for its honey crust pizza, the place is nifty, the food maaavelous. They also do breakfast. Be prepared to wait cuz the kitchen tends to be slow. Issa nice place. They have a second store at Pueblo West and both menus are on-line at www.menusfirst.com. But don’t drop in cuz the wait can be loonnnnggg. The best green chili in town is supposedly at Rita’s (302 N. Grand Ave, 719-542-4820).
There is fine dining in Pueblo. Park East (720 Goodnight Ave, 719-565-6655; www.thenewparkeast.com) has re-opened under new ownership, but the recipes were passed on and they are reported to be doing a bang-up business. But the new kid in town is Restaurant Fifteen Twentyone (123 North Main St, 719-542-9999; www.restaurant1521.com) with an elaborate European menu and modest prices. Chef Owner Duy Pham is well-known in the metro Denver area, having cooked at the Maaavelous (former) Tante Louise and many other great eateries.
Other recommended eateries in Pueblo: Galileo’s Restaurant (310 S. Victoria St, 719-544-0000; www.galileosrestaurant.com) serving traditional and unusual Italian fare; Sunset Inn, 2808 Thatcher Ave, 719-564-9841) where they recently won the Pueblo Sloppers contest, some sorta dish of stuff in a bowl. Hey, the Travel Channel thought it was cool cuz it’s going on the air. Some sorta green-chili covered bugger stuff. Heard tell there were only two contestants. For lunch you should stop in at DC on B Street, (115 W B St, 719-584-3410) across from Union Depot. Or you could head over to Magpies (229 S. Union Ave, 719-542-5522 for a lighter lunch. Unless you’re a guy and then you need two lunches cuz the portions are smallish. If you want to stick to the river walk, try Angelos Pizza Parlor (223 S. Union Ave, 719-544-8588. The ambiance is great, but you gotta like pizza. If you’re into breakfast, check out the Pantry Restaurant (107 ½ E. Abriendo Ave, 719-543-8072). I’m told that everyone luvs it. While you’re in the neighborhood, but not quite full, head for the Hopscotch Bakery (333 S. Union Ave, 719-542-4467; www.hopscotchbakery.net). You can even go back there for lunch and enjoy one of their terrific sangies.
And finally, there’s Willie’s Pit Bar-B-Q (1123 West 13th, 719-545-9338). Still ain’t been there but gonna get there one of these days. Hear tell he’s closed for a month or so for pit cleaning. It takes about two weeks for the pit to cool down enuf soes he can get it cleaned. But the BBQ ain’t to be missed.
I am indeed indebted to muh (very) old bud, Hal XXXXX, for recommending many of the eateries in this column. I won’t mention his name, nor which of the restaurants he recommended, cuz he really doesn’t like food that much. If you ask him how he liked a meal or a restaurant, his standard answer is “not bad”. The only meals he ever really disliked were in Moscow (the one in Russia). I wouldn’t want you to get upset at him cuz of a meal you didn’t like that was recommended. Needless to say, (so why say it?) if you liked the restaurant, that’s a good thing.
Jay Fox is our more than fair fare guy. Reach him at email@example.com.