Yampa River Icehouse brings cool new vibe to downtown Steamboat

The Yampa River Icehouse at 751 Yampa St. opened earlier this summer.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

John Duty wants his restaurant to be a place where friends can gather for a drink and eat a little barbecue on the banks of the river as it flows by the backdoor — a true Yampa River Icehouse.

“Over the years, icehouses in southern Texas became places that people would gather and come to get things,” said Duty, who opened the restaurant at 751 Yampa St. with his brother Jarett earlier this summer. “They evolved into outdoor type of bar venue and places where you get food, or what have you.”

Customers will find smoked chicken, baby back ribs, pulled pork, brisket, Kreuz sausage and a barbecue sandwich among the Yampa River Icehouse selections. There is also a full menu that includes river snacks such as smokehouse wings, Frito Pie, Hill Country fries and roasted Brussels sprouts. There are also salads including The Wedge, Strawberry Springs and the BLT, along with a selection of burgers, sandwiches, deserts and all kinds of sides.

“Basically, we serve barbecue until it’s gone Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Duty said. “Once the barbecue sells out, we kind of have a basic menu with burgers, chicken sandwiches, three salads and a handful of appetizers.”

In addition to good food, the new downtown restaurant has a large bar that offers seating to those in the indoor dining area, as well as those that are seated on a large outdoor patio. Customers can choose from a large selection of beers, wine and ice cold cocktails.

The indoor seating area features large glass doors that offer great views of the Yampa River and Howelsen Hill and can be opened in the warmer summer months. Duty said the outdoor patio will soon be covered and equipped with heaters, which he hopes will extend the outdoor dining season well into the fall.

A large rooftop deck offers views of the Yampa River, as well as the slopes of the Howelsen Hill Ski Area just across the way. Duty said the Yampa River Icehouse plans to add another service bar on that level eventually.

A customer checks out the menu at the Yampa River Icehouse shortly after the restaurant opened for lunch Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The restaurant is open from 11:30 a.m. to close around 10 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Duty said the Icehouse is expected to open at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant is currently closed on Mondays, but as things move forward, the hours may be expanded.

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Duty said the name reflects the open-air beer joints found throughout Southern Texas in the late 1800s through the 1900s. He said they were community gathering places where people often visited with friends and picked up ice, bread, milk and beer.

Staff prepares for the day Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022, at the Yampa River Icehouse in downtown Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

He said the Steamboat Icehouse will continue to evolve in the months and years to come, and he hopes that, like the icehouses in Texas, it will reflect the community it serves. Duty, who is also a part owner in Sunpie’s Bistro next door, said he expects to see some changes, and running the Yampa River Icehouse has been a learning experience.

“With the Smokehouse being gone and with the Double Z being gone, I’ve tapped into Fred (Matzdorf) and Fritz (Aurin) from both of those places, and those guys have shared recipes and ideas,” Duty said. “It’s been really helpful.”

Tables wait for customers as the Yampa River Icehouse prepares to open Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. The large backyard and open floor plan offer an inviting atmosphere for those looking to get a bite to eat, or a cold beverage, in downtown Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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