Why don’t we cut to the really hot tips at the start? The best source of advice I could find for places to eat and things to do in Telluride is the Shell gas station just south of town.
For example, I was hell-bent to have a meal in Allred’s Restaurant at the top of the free gondola service that connects Telluride with a town on the opposite side of the mountain called Mountain Village. The restaurant is in a gondola station at 10,500 feet. You step out of the slowly moving gondola and walk in a door a few feet away (then take an elevator down to the restaurant).
But I wasn’t having much luck with that plan. In the morning the second level of gondola service out of Mountain Village (the best place to park when going to Allred’s) had lost electrical power. I got halfway up the mountain on one gondola line, switched stations, and found the next line wasn’t working.
No problem. I drove back to Telluride, put my car in the “Carhenge” parking lot (take the first right as you enter the round-a-bout at the entrance to town), and walked to the gondola several blocks away. That gondola goes straight to the restaurant and of course has spectacular views along the way. Skiers skim down the mountain beneath you.
But again, no luck. There was a private party occupying the whole restaurant. And no reservations were available for the evening. Back to the Shell station (one of the few places in town where you can find a copy of the New York Times). “Have you been to the New Sheridan Hotel yet?” the man behind the counter asked.
Yes, I had done that. The hotel is newly renovated with an historic bar and a great restaurant, The Chop House, attached. The hotel is a must-see and a community gathering place. “Roudy” the adventurous cowboy, who offers horseback adventures in Telluride for a fee, rides his horse into the bar one or two times a year. Don’t ask why, it’s just something he does when he gets bored.
But back to my unofficial tour guide at the Shell station. “If you’ve seen the Sheridan, you want to go to La Marmotte,” he said. He had pointed me to probably the finest restaurant in town, although it is hard to beat The Chop House. The 125-year-old former ice house is located at the north end at 150 West San Juan Street.
For $50 you can have any combination of appetizer, main course, and dessert that you want. Rib steak is one of the specialties. You may see Kelly Ripa, the morning talk show anchor, walk by your table, but avert your eyes, for that is the custom in Telluride. Leave the celebs alone. If Tom Cruise (not in town when I was there) or Jerry Seinfeld (possibly was in town) goes by, same deal, avert your eyes. Your waiter may be Dillon, the expert skier who charges through the new powder when the Telluride Sky Resort communications director (the company owns the whole mountain on which you’ll ski) calls photographer Brett Schreckengost for some publicity shots.
If Telluride is sounding pricy, that’s because it is. Skiing, by the way, averages about $90 a day if you have your own equipment. New Sheridan rooms can cost from $299 to $399 a night. That was a little steep for me, so I stayed 16 miles away in the Blue Jay Lodge in Placerville, which has a very nice restaurant attached to the front end. It’s famous for monster pancakes. Four-poster beds and tiled bathrooms tell you this is a very comfortable hotel and not a compromise.
That brings me to another tip about how not to be embarrassed in Telluride. You don’t want to be mistaken for a gaper (pronounced gape’ er). Thanks to the nice folks at Telluride SlopeStyle, a ski and snowboard equipment company, I know that there are people who arrive in Telluride at the end of the season with outdated equipment. There is a gap between their helmet and goggles because they have an older style helmet. Somehow, the “gap” word is pronounced “gape” when referring to a gaper, a person who is physically inept and clownishly equipped. Don’t suffer the pain of being a gaper. Get a new helmet.
Or go in summer and talk the skier talk. Assure everyone you’re just there for the film festival (August 29 to September 1) but will be back in the winter to charge down those 60-, 70-, and 80-degree slopes. With a new helmet.
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