Ski bums, bikers, campers, and road trippers heading west out of Denver, often pass through the tiny mountain town of Empire, hungering for breakfast in the Colorado Rockies. Restaurants in Empire, Colorado are few and far between, but my recent stop at 1860 Tavern, a mountain dive bar, turned out to be one of those restaurant bars that serve up good ol’ fashioned home cooking.
Under new ownership, 1860 Tavern is a rustic building with a family-friendly atmosphere, typical of mountain bars. The marquis announces that 1860 Tavern is open every day at 4 a.m., making it a perfect stop for skiers on their way to Winter Park. The moment you step inside 1860 Tavern expect a greeting from the owner Gail or her boyfriend Paul.
Breakfast is served all day – which makes me do the happy dance, but even happier is the budget-friendly prices and big portions. Specialties of the house are their Steak & Eggs (always on special) and Corn Beef and Hash. Their 1860 Tavern Steak, top grade premium Colorado steak, is only $1 an ounce. Other menu items are typical bar food – burgers, sandwiches, salads. There’s also Gyro, Salads, and Havarti Pizza. Sundays order up a $2 Bloody Mary.
For me, I stuck with stick-to-your-gut home cooked Chicken Fried Steak, fresh made gravy, home-fried potatoes and eggs.
My husband opted for a burger, saying it was the tastiest burger he’s had in a long time.
While we were there, Paul served a “Flaming Ooppa Fried Cheese,” to a couple that raved about the dish: fried cheese drizzled with fresh squeezed lime and flamed with Everclear & wine!
Entertainment is at your fingertips at 1860 Tavern – horseshoe pits and board games (Scrabble and Sorry!), or step out onto the wooden patio and enjoy a view of the mountains.
When heading west toward Winter Park, make 1860 Tavern a stop on your way, or even on your back. You’ll be glad you did.
NOTE: 1860 Tavern doesn’t accept credit cards, but an ATM is on the premises.
409 East Park Avenue
Empire, CO 80438
(303) 569-0333 or 569-5019