In 1893, the Buckhorn Exchange was born when Henry H. "Shorty Scout" Zietz opened a saloon just off the tracks of the Rio Grande Railroad, where outlaws and Indians could wet their whistles and feast on the most outstanding fare the Old West had to offer.
When Zietz was just 10 years old, he met Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, joined his band of scouts, and became a lifelong friend to the Indians, including Chief Sitting Bull who nicknamed him "Shorty Scout" due to his small stature. (Pictured: Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill circa1885.)
The Buckhorn Exchange is the proud owner of Colorado Liquor License No. 1 and is now Denver's most historic haunt in which to eat, drink, and be merry. "From the time it opened its doors...in 1893, it catered to cattlemen, miners, railroad builders, silver barons, Indian chiefs, roustabouts, gamblers, businessmen, the great and the near-great all dropped in to imbibe and dine on the West's finest offerings - many still on the menu today. It seems that a square meal, a hearty drink, and a taste for history always lived side by side at the Buckhorn."
After three generations of Zietz ownership, the restaurant was sold, renovated, and restored to its original glory in 1978. The Buckhorn's watering hole still boasts the ornate white oak bar, built in Germany in 1857 and brought across the pond by the Zietz family.
In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt rolled into town in his Presidential Express train, wined and dined at the Buckhorn Exchange, then set out in search of big game on the western slope of Colorado with Shorty Scout as his hunting partner and guide.
One of the most prominent features of this historic eatery is a 575-piece collection of taxidermy, accumulated over three generations of avid hunters in the Zietz family, who took their hunting trophies quite seriously.
The trophies include deer, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, a two-headed calf, a giant buffalo, and a legendary jackalope.
The heritage of the Old West and the history of the Buckhorn Exchange can be found on the restaurant's walls which are not only overflowing with animals, but also artifacts, images, and all sorts of memorabilia pertaining to the Native Americans and Western culture.
Row, row, row your raccoon...
The Buckhorn Exchange specializes in Old West fare, including beef, buffalo, baby-back ribs, game hen, and even alligator tail.
Of course, they also dish up piping hot Rocky Mountain Oysters...if you dare.
Just remember there are always eyes on the lookout, so no cheating. And you just may find that you actually like the tasty little morsels (aka cowboy caviar, prairie oysters, calf fries, swinging beef, huevos del toros, and Montana tendergroins). Um, um good!
Along with your delectable Rocky Mountain Oysters, start your meal off right with smoked rattlesnake chipotle cream cheese dip with fresh tortilla chips...
...and their infamously delicious smoked buffalo sausage with red chile polenta and spicy wild game mustard.
For your entree choose from their wide selection of wild game and fish, including their succulent marinated Colorado lamb chops grilled to perfection (seen here). And don't miss out on their famed bean soup and Gramma Fanny's pot roast, which has been a Buckhorn favorite since 1893.
And for goodness sake, save room for their scrumptious hot Dutch apple pie served à la mode with a cinnamon rum sauce.
Grab your friends and family and join the long list of distinguished patrons that have dined at the Buckhorn, including Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, and Roy Rogers.
Though Shorty Scout is no longer here to entertain you will tall tales from the frontier, many elements of the restaurant remain the same as they've been since 1893 when gamblers, gun-toters, and rounders slugged firewater and swapped stories at the saloon. The Buckhorn Exchange with its rich deep-seated history is a true Denver treasure.
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