For the past nine years, Budget Travel magazine has conducted an annual contest to determine America’s top ten coolest small towns. The May/June 2014 issue of the magazine is highlighting the winners for this year. I was tickled to see that Estes Park, Colorado – the gateway to the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park – was number eight on the list. Even though we saw a bit of Estes Park on the way to the National Park, we didn’t do any real exploring or experiencing. There is one place in town, however, that we can say with confidence is definitely worth a stop: Smokin’ Dave’s BBQ and Taphouse.
Smokin’ Dave’s is a local Estes Park restaurant that serves up great BBQ with a hearty helping of quirky pig decor. Only a hop, skip, and jump from one of the entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park on Moraine Avenue, it’s location makes for easy access from the park and great views from the west-facing windows and the outside dining. In addition to all the normal BBQ fare – pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket and chicken – the menu has some surprises like catfish tenders and pecan-crusted trout. We chose to stick with our favorite tradition BBQ picks of beef brisket and ribs. Everything was lip smackin’, finger lickin’ good! The baked beans, in particular, were delicious.
We dined in the late afternoon so the restaurant was almost empty. It created a very relaxing environment for eating. The food, atmosphere, and view combined to deliver a memorable experience after a long day of touring and sightseeing. I do think that Smokin’ Dave’s might not be so relaxing when it’s busy. By the time we left, it was already starting to fill up with hungry patrons and was losing that chill vibe. Regardless of when you visit, though, I’m pretty sure your taste buds will thank you.
If you would like to see the entire list of Top Ten Coolest Small Towns in America, check out the May/June 2104 edition of Budget Travel or take a look here at the budgettravel.com website.
If your interested in Smokin’ Dave’s, check this out.