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Colorado Constellations | Michelin Star Restaurants in Colorado: Culinary Adventures in Aspen, Boulder, and Denver

Michelin Star Restaurant in Colorado, hero

Casey Glitner

Colorado is the newest star in the Michelin constellation of Haute Cuisine.

It is approximately 5,000 miles from the home of the Michelin Tire Company in the quaint French town of Clermont Ferrand to the bustling wild west of Denver, Colorado. The Michelin family is proud to announce that you can now enjoy a Michelin meal while you get your tune-up to go over the mountain pass. Colorado now has five Michelin stars in the Rocky Mountain sky. (Aspen’s Bosq, Boulder’s Frasca, Denver’s Wolf’s Tailor, Bruto, and Beckon all received one-star recognition.)

So, how and why did Colorado acquire so many Michelin stars? You would expect a Michelin Guide for the gourmet hubs of New York, California, Florida, Illinois and Washington DC, but Colorado took some by surprise.

Colorado hosts some of the most prestigious food festivals, like the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, now in its 40th season and the Great American Beer Festival. This state also boasts multiple James Beard Award-winning Chefs. Having such a solid culinary-centric pedigree attracted the Michelin Guide. 

The heavy portrayal of a Michelin restaurant with its stresses, breaking points and demands has never been so visible. Owner and Chef Jared Leonard of Michelin BIB Award winner AJ’s BBQ attributes many of these portrayals to “The Yes Chef mentality.”

“It forms the foundation of the kitchen; it requires structure and discipline for consistency and quality,” Leonard explains. “It is needed for the restaurant’s ethos, but it is not torture!” 

Leonard’s Texas-style BBQ is only the fifth barbeque establishment named on the BIB list nationwide and the beef brisket from Colorado’s Harris Ranch will leave no doubt why. 

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At Bosq in Aspen, Chef Barclay Dodge is known for his commitment to locally sourced ingredients–sometimes at extreme lengths, “I always carry a gun when foraging to make sure I’m prepared for the random bear or mountain lion,” Dodge says. 

Head Chef at Bosq, one star michelin star restaurant

Paul Cure

As Dodge prepares Venison Bark or Elk Loin with nettle, mole and huckleberry, your thoughts turn to extreme gratitude that he is so willing to scavenge the woods in search of such rarefied ingredients. “It is part of our ethos. Bosq is Spanish for forest, and that dedication to place is first in our philosophy,” Dodge remarks. 

Paul Cure

One chef who has followed that same dedication to place is Bobby Stuckey, Partner of Tavernetta and Frasca Food & Wine. He was educated about the Michelin mentality when he worked at the French Laundry under Chef Thomas Keller’s teaching.

“The most valuable thing I learned from Thomas was to have a goal and work on it daily,” Stuckey says. “Many folks have said that they had to change for Michelin, but if you’re working towards a goal and work on it a little every day, every year, you don’t have to change anything. You keep going.”

Tavernetta, Michelin Star restaurant in Colorado

Paul Cure

The hardest part of this restaurant experience is leaving. With its signature “Eat Frico, Drink Tocai,” you can relish the Friulano menu of braised oxtail and alba truffle paired with Nervi-Conterno 2018 Gattinara from Piemonte for as long as possible. 

Thankfully, you can continue the quest for elevated cuisine at Chef Taylor Stark’s Wolf’s Tailor, which places the chef front and center for a tasting menu par excellence. The Entrust Menu at Wolf’s Tailor highlights the kitchen’s dedication to using what is in season and, most importantly, what is delicious– think Kampachi crudo with Spaghettini with creme fraiche, yuzu, and Ossetra caviar. 

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At Brutø, Chef Byron Gomez presents 11 courses inspired by his experience in Michelin-starred restaurants, upbringing as a native Costa Rican, and personal passion for ethical food systems.Gomez will infuse a fresh perspective into Brutø’s menu while maintaining the restaurant’s zero-waste kitchen philosophy. He will continue to utilize heirloom grains from Dry Storage  and integrate house-fermented and dehydrated ingredients when crafting the dishes.

Rounding out the tour brings you to the charming Beckon, where Chef Duncan Holmes’ quarterly menu features a 2.5-hour meal, which requires you to sit back, enjoy, and delight in the curated offerings that highlight the season, occasion, and moment. Allison Anderson, Director of Experience, tailors the evening so that you hope all clocks stop and the plates of venison, morel, and fig need a taste tester for days to come; I’m still checking the help wanted section.  

Michelin explained:

The Michelin inspectors rate the dining experience on five principles:

  • Quality product
  • Harmony of flavors
  • Mastery of cooking technique
  • Voice and personality of the Chef reflected in the cuisine
  • Consistency between each visit 

Michelin has multiple awards for the region selected: 

  • One star “very good,” two stars “worth a detour,” and three stars “exceptional.”
  • BIB Gourmand “Quality and Value of 3 courses at a reasonable price”.
  • Michelin Recommended: “Above average, but not at BIB or Star level.”

Colorado has Michelin Star awards in 5 regions: Aspen, Beaver Creek, Vail, Denver and Boulder.

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