Restaurant Week showcases local fare |

Restaurant Week showcases local fare

Brenda Knaus and birthday girl Dian Dowden enjoy their lunch with friends at Carl’s Tavern, one of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week in Steamboat Springs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 2.
Frances Hohl

Brenda Knaus and birthday girl Dian Dowden enjoy their lunch with friends at Carl’s Tavern, one of the restaurants participating in Restaurant Week in Steamboat Springs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 2.
Frances Hohl

— Mmmm, the scent of good Italian cooking, truffles and roasted meat can be smelled in the autumn air as folks wind their way through downtown Steamboat.

If you haven’t ventured out this week, you better jump off the couch now before local chefs pull down their “Restaurant Week” specials.

“The restaurant scene here is fabulous,” said Megan Riordan as she sat with her friends during a lunch at Carl’s Tavern. “I’ve gained 10 pounds since moving here.”

Riordan and company were thrilled to learn Steamboat Springs is participating in “Restaurant Week,” Sept. 24 to Oct. 2 — an event that is often associated with bigger cities. She and her three friends eat out an average of three times a week.

“For such a small town, we have a great diversity of food,” added local foodie Dian Dowden, who was celebrating her birthday with Riordan and friends.

The country’s first Restaurant Week kicked off in 1992 during the Democratic Convention in New York City, as a way for independent restaurants to offer special prix fixe meals in an effort to entice the public to explore new tastes.

A block over from Carl’s, the owner of Cugino’s Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant is wiping off his copper bar, a little perturbed at the construction outside his window.

Chef and owner John Gamradt said Cugino’s has been hit hard by construction chaos on Yampa Street, which makes people think they can’t find parking. He had hoped Restaurant Week would give him a boost. Unfortunately, the new promotion of the week-long event fell a little flat.

“It should happen again, and we’ve actually had some fairly positive feedback but it could be executed a little more efficiently,” Gamradt said.

While some of the restaurant community believed they had short notice, they still jumped at the idea.

“We were notified Saturday morning, and J.J. (Harwig’s chef) whipped the menu up the same day,” said Harwig’s long-time owner Jamie Jenny.

Indeed, Harwig’s chef is preparing scallops and Japanese eggplant among other delights as they offer a “3 Plates 3 Pours” prix fixe menu for $33, which includes a paired drink with each course.

Cugino’s is also offering a three-course dinner paired with wine and dessert. Braised shortribs with a creamy polenta will be one of the entrée selections.

Back on Yampa Street, Scratch’s chefs are doing what they do best — comfort food and dessert.

“It’s basically a choice of two of our staples, salmon or prime rib; an amazing truffle soup or salad; and pecan pie or raspberry sorbet,” said Scratch manager John Trolley.

For $20, the three-course prix fixe menu is a must-do for foodies.

Meanwhile, back at Carl’s Tavern, the birthday girl and her friends plan on taking advantage of Restaurant Week specials to try new places.

“Sometimes you get stuck with the same thing,” said local Susan Findell.

“You need to expand your taste buds,” Riordan agreed.

Folks still have the weekend to explore what’s out there because restaurants all over town are participating in some form.

For a list of those restaurants and what they’re offering through Sunday, go to the MainStreet Steamboat Springs website at

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