Off-season dining

Brown Dog Pizza’s Brooklyn Bridge pie took first place at the International Pizza Challenge in 2014. The restaurant is open through off-season. (Photo by Eric Moore)

It can be a little confusing to those unfamiliar with Telluride, so please bear with us: there are two restaurants named “Oak” here.

They are completely different. They are both worth your time.

Oak, the New Fat Alley (subtitled Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue) is the easiest to spot, given its central location at the base of Chair 8 and Gondola Plaza. As for 221 South Oak Street (named for its locale between Colorado and Pacific Aves.), it is more tucked away, but higher-wattage: Food Network and Bravo TV viewers have likely seen the restaurant’s owner, Eliza Gavin, on television, where she has competed on “Beat Bobby Flay” and “Top Chef.” 

Although off-season is upon is, there’s still a chance to sample the cuisine at both these places: 221 South Oak Street remains open until Oct. 25, when it will close until Dec. 10, according to a list of local eateries compiled by the Telluride visitors bureau online, which is where is you will learn — to your relief, if you like to eat well for not too much money — that a good number of popular eateries are staying open pretty much through fall until winter, with very brief breaks. 

Chef/owner Lucas Price, for example, the proprietor of La Cocina de Luz, has stressed that offseason closures don’t interest him: his priority is staying open to feed not only locals and visitors, but to make sure his kitchen staff remains employed. It’s no different this fall, when the restaurant will be open daily — which means his delectable red-chile sauce will be available to slather over gooey cheese enchiladas and crisp chile rellenos — daily from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. 

Other restaurants locals count on to feed them at all hours (and visitors should make a point of stopping at) include The Butcher and The Baker Café. The venerable shop on Main Street — where whatever you do, don’t miss the breakfast burritos — will stay open daily with only a brief closing period, from Nov. 22-28. 

Smugglers Union brewpub, whose Blonde Betty Belgian-style ale was awarded a bronze medal at the Great American Brew Festival in Denver, will also be open daily straight through to the winter season — which means its crave-worthy wild mushroom linguini enrobed in a sherry cream and Parmigiano sauce will also be available.

Brown Dog Pizza, purveyor of the prized Brooklyn-Bridge pies (the mozzarella and the crust meld together in salty-crispy-chewy bites) will also remain open daily. 

Floradora, on Main Street, will be keeping regular hours (meaning the saloon will stay open every day except Tuesdays).

Some eateries will be scaling back their hours, but still basically remain open. Such is the case with Cosmo, which will maintain its regular hours — which is to say, it will be open daily — prior to mid-October, according to the visitor bureau’s list, and open Wednesdays through Sundays thereafter. Other restaurants will shut down for a spell: The New Sheridan Chop House will do that sooner rather than later, from Oct. 17-Dec. 2.  Siam will close a little later, for a relatively shorter period (from Nov. 2-Dec. 10). 

That said, if there is something in particular you are craving, best to enjoy it over the next two weeks: Annie Carlson, who compiles the visitors center’s list, noted that “Most restaurants are staying open through Oct. 18,” when the gondola closes for the fall season. 

Which brings us back to Oak. You won’t find its closing hours on the visitor center’s list — at least not just yet — because owner Robby O’Dell is “waitin’ to see,” as he put it in his laconic drawl, “what happens with business over the next couple of weeks” after the gondola shuts down for off-season maintenance. “We’ll definitely close for cleaning, but it’s more likely to be for a short period” in November, O’Dell said Friday. The restaurant’s Carolina pulled pork-shoulder sandwich, served with a heaping side of sweet potato fries, and its chopped salad, are particularly popular, O’Dell said, though he was reluctant to single any one dish out. (O’Dell has been operating Oak for more than 25 years; he is likely doing many things right.) 

“We’re kind of a local’s place,” the proprietor said modestly. “Everyone has their favorites.” For the latest Telluride and Mountain Village restaurant hours and information, go to visit-telluride.com.