Off-season dining

The bar (and the kitchen) will be open Wednesday through Sunday during shoulder season at There. (Photo courtesy of There Telluride/Facebook)

Ah, the offseason in Telluride.

At last, the bustling throngs have departed. The bad news is, a good number of the town’s local eateries are off-limits to those who remain behind. According to a list entitled “Off-Season Dining Fall 2019” at telluride.com, 221 South Oak, helmed by chef Eliza Gavin — known not only for her cuisine but for star turns on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” — has been closed for a week. The restaurant reportedly won’t open again until mid-December.

In an interview with Edible Southwest Colorado, Gavin confided that she often “orders in Siam” — which is closed until Nov. 29, according to Visit Telluride’s list — or eats turkey tacos when it’s just her or her family. The tacos are likely splendid; nevertheless, non-cooks can do better during this shoulder season.

Sure, Allred’s, and Altezza, and La Marmotte, the Sheridan Chop House and Phoenix Bean (to name a few) are currently closed. The New Sheridan’s Rooftop Bar is closed (did you really want to go there, considering that snow is scheduled for Sunday?).

But The National remains open until mid-November, according to the online list. Aemono is scheduled to close “the last three weeks of November,” which means it is still open for the next two weeks.

And many restaurants aren’t closing at all, though they are modifying their hours at least slightly. Cornerhouse Grille — with its tasty specials and down-to-earth prices — will stay open. The swanky Cosmopolitan will remain open, as well. The Floradora’s Saloon’s hours are listed as “modified” on Telluride.com’s list, “but our hours are not that limited at all,” a server averred. “We’re open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. most weekdays, and from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on weekends. We’re only closed on Wednesday. And we’re very kid-friendly.”

Other places aren’t closing at all, period, which is good news to those who subsist on the Butcher & the Baker’s locally famous breakfast burritos — or to those who routinely meet friends for lunch there, or enjoy dinner out, at the same place.

Baked In Telluride will be open straight through shoulder season, though according to a sign posted on the front door, off-season hours are 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. According to Telluride.com’s list, Smugglers brewpub (officially, Smuggler Union Restaurant and Brewery) will be open, too.

Local restaurateur David Gonzalez shutters his middle-eastern Caravan restaurant each winter, but right next door, La Cocina de Luz, with its savory local, organic fare — including Anasazi beans sourced from the Adobe Milling company, right down the road in Dove Creek — remains open “7 days a week, from 8 a.m. till 9 p.m.” according to the restaurant’s website. Telluride Truffle and Telluride Distillery — which is to say, treats for all ages — will be open.

“We never close during shoulder season,” said James Gorraiz, the owner of Steamies Burger Bar on Telluride’s main street along with his wife, Stanya Gorraiz. Steamies does modify its hours slightly “during festival season,” he said, “when we stay open until midnight or 1 a.m.”

The couple’s Shake N Dog Grub Shack, in Mountain Village, stays open “365” as well, as Gorraiz put it (shoulder season hours will be 11 a.m.-9 p.m., compared to regular season “which is usually 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.”).

Several restaurants offer shoulder season specials to entice locals to drop by. For example, Smugglers is locally famous for its locals night burgers (check the restaurant for availability). And There, which will be open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner from 5 p.m. to closing — which is usually “at least 9:30-10 p.m.,” according to the restaurant’s co-owner, Jon Yaseen — offers a “library-card-program”: the first to arrive and brandish his-or-her library card is invited to proclaim the evening’s special (i.e., discounted) drink. During shoulder season, three card carriers will get to play, “and we’ll have $3 local drafts,” Yaseen said. Meanwhile, There’s kitchen will be busy turning out new offerings, with a focus on honing its menu for the coming season.

“We’ll be doing a lot of different dishes in order to gauge people’s reactions.” Think: “Small, inexpensive plates” of “heartier foods,” showcasing winter-focused ingredients.

As Yaseen put it, “We’re going to be doing a lot of cooking.”