Do you enjoy your dinner with a side of history? If so, you are in luck as Colorado is home to numerous restaurants with a fascinating backstory. (Spoiler: If the building was around in the 1800s, it was most likely home to some kind of illegal shenanigans), including:
1. 740 Front (Louisville)
Established in 1904, this "American Dining Saloon" is not only one of Colorado’s two oldest bars, it also holds the oldest ongoing tavern license in the state. The establishment has seen a lot over the last 100+ years, including illegal alcohol sales during the prohibition era, as well as a supposed brothel operation in the back of the building. (Legend has it that "Samantha," one of the brothel's working girls, was stabbed to death in the basement of the 740 and continues to haunt the establishment to this day...)
2. The Historic Mint (Silverthorne)
Since 1862 The Mint has been serving drinks from the very same wooden bar and floorboards. Today, however, the former Jack Ryan’s Saloon also serves delicious dinner options, including steaks, seafood and burgers.
3. The Broker Restaurant (Denver)
Any guesses as to what The Broker Restaurant used to be? Noooo, not an old-time swimming pool... it's the historic Denver National Bank. How often can you say that you have dined inside a 100+ year-old bank vault?
4. Beau Jo's (Idaho Springs)
Here's something to think about the next time you submerge a thick piece of Colorado-style pizza crust into a pile of sweet honey: The building you are sitting in, which was originally built in 1879, was not only the town's Mining Exchange Building, but a former brothel as well! (You know the balcony area? The "working girls" once used those platforms for dancing.)
5. The Cliff House at Pikes Peak (Manitou Springs)
This elegant, award-winning hotel and restaurant was built in 1873 and has welcomed such distinguished guests as President Theodore Roosevelt, Clark Gable and Thomas Edison.
6. The Red Onion (Aspen)
Built in 1892, The Red Onion's distinct three-story-tall red brick Italianate building has served not only as a restaurant and saloon, but an alleged brothel as well. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Originally called the New Brick Saloon, the restaurant earned the nickname Red Onion for its distinct color.
7. The Fort (Morrison)
When plans for a dream home in the country exceeded the family's budget, Mr. & Mrs. Sam Arnold decided to "get to work" by adding a restaurant to their home. Since The Fort first opened for business in 1963, it has been a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
8. Cherokee Ranch & Castle (Sedalia)
What began as separate homesteads in the late 19th-century is now a stunning 1450s Scottish-style Castle that serves as an environmental education center, special events venue and even as a tea room!
9. Linger (Denver)
The historic mortuary that was once home to the remains of Buffalo Bill Cody is now "Denver's finest Eatuary," serving meals atop cased-glass metal conveyor belts and water from formaldehyde bottles.
10. The Airplane Restaurant (Colorado Springs)
Let your taste buds soar on this incredible 1953-Boeing-KC-97-tanker-turned-restaurant. This is a ride (and experience) that you won't soon forget!
11. Briarhurst Manor Estate (Manitou Springs)
The dignified Victorian-style restaurant and special events venue was built in 1876 by Manitou Springs's founder, Dr. William Bell. Thanks to the social status of the Bell family, the home once welcomed the likes of President Grant, President (Teddy) Roosevelt and Oscar Wilde. After a devastating fire destroyed most of the family's belongings, they went home to England, only to return the following year to rebuild the grand Manor that stands today.
Which historic Colorado restaurant is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!