Where one trail ends, another begins for Steamboat restaurant

Jake Hardin, manager and co-owner, stands on the deck of Trails End Bar-N-Bites. Trails End has taken the place of Double Z Bar and BBQ, which closed last year after a long run in Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell /Steamboat Pilot & Today

Jake Hardin is optimistic the Chicago Dog and Italian beef sandwich will have people in Steamboat talking about Trails End Bar-N-Bites  — the newest chapter for a dining spot long known for its barbecue.

“I don’t know much about barbecue, so that’s why I didn’t want to go that route,” said Hardin, who opened the Trails End earlier this summer at 1124 Yampa St., the location of the former Double Z Bar & BBQ. “I’m from the Chicagoland area, so that’s why I brought in the Chicago hot dog and the Italian beef sandwich. It’s just a little bit of a taste of back home for me.”

The Chicago Dog is made from a Vienna beef frankfurter with a natural casing that gives the hot dog a snap when you bite into it. It is served on a poppy seed bun with mustard, onion relish, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.

Hardin said the Trails End is also serving up an Italian beef sandwich featuring Italian-style roast beef served on a hoagie with fresh mozzarella cheese and a Giardiniera pepper mix  — which is like a pickled mix of jalapeños, celery and carrot.

“I love pickled vegetables,” Hardin said. “That’s one of my favorite mixtures or pickled vegetables, is Giardiniera.”

The well-established downtown restaurant opened as The Double R Bar and Barbecue in 1983, offering a local watering hole and simple menu. The restaurant had a long, storied history, and it was purchased by Matt Molenar in February 2020.

Hardin took over the location in November and started cleaning and making a few minor changes, including adding new bar shelving and a sit-down bar by the kitchen. The sit-down complements the outside deck seating overlooking the rolling waters of the Yampa River.

He said the restaurant and bar reopened just after Steamboat Resort closed this spring and introduced a new menu that includes the Chicago Dog, as well as many of the items that can be found on the normal bar menu — such as loaded cheese fries, fired pickle chips, fried mozzarella sticks, cheese curds and mac and cheese bites.

Trails End is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

He said most of the feedback on the menu has been positive. However, he does get a comment and even the occasional request for the Z Burger — which is no longer on the menu.

“This is a great place to come meet a lot of the locals that live here in town,” Hardin said. “If you’re from out of town, this is a place where you’re going to find a lot of information from people who live here, you know, where to go, where to hang out and what to do.”

Hardin said anyone who walks through the door at Trails End can feel the history of the space, as well as its connection to Steamboat Springs.

“We didn’t want to take too much away from it because it’s got this cool feel to it, with the rocks and the old wood paneling and stuff like that,” Hardin said. “We just wanted to give it a little bit more life.”

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