From the Grand Valley’s wealth of locally grown fruit and produce to the numerous wineries and tasting rooms that are the heart of Colorado’s Wine Country, there are numerous ways to get a taste of Grand Junction. Here are some suggestions for two delicious days of culinary adventures around the area.
You’ll want to work up an appetite for this trip, so kick things off with a hike and appreciate some of the area’s awe-inspiring natural beauty. For dramatic red rock cliffs and monoliths, head to the Colorado National Monument, west of Downtown. You’ll find hikes suited to a variety of skill levels as you travel along the Monument’s scenic Rim Rock Drive. For a more challenging hike that offers incredible views as its reward, head to Mount Garfield. There are two trails to choose from, the Mount Garfield trail is a two-mile-long trail that’s steeper and more strenuous than its counterpart, the Gearhart Mine Trail, which is a little easier and about a half-mile longer. From the top of the trails, you’ll have views of the Grand Valley and the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area. You can find more Grand Junction hiking trail options here.
After the hike, head into downtown Grand Junction for some lunch and a few other tastes of Grand Junction. Head to Café Sol on Main Street, where owner Nick Santos prides himself on using locally sourced ingredients to produce an array of fresh and flavorful soups, salads and sandwiches. Try the Bleu Fig salad, which has dried figs, bleu cheese, prosciutto, almonds and a Palisade peach mist vinaigrette, or the black bean patty melt Panini topped with guacamole and cheddar. You'll find more Downtown Grand Junction restaurants here.
After lunch, spend some time indulging your sweet tooth while exploring Downtown Grand Junction. While you’re wandering along Main Street, check out the array of local boutiques and shops. Find more Downtown Grand Junction shopping. Another must-taste spot in Grand Junction is Enstrom Candy, located at the corner of Seventh St. and Colorado Ave. The story of this local confectionary tradition started back in 1929 when Chet Enstrom and his wife Vernie arrived in Grand Junction to open an ice cream shop. In his free time, Enstrom made delicious almond toffee that developed a loyal following of locals and in the mid-1960s and became the basis of a burgeoning candy empire. These days, you’ll find a variety of specially made candy, chocolates and more at the shop.
For dinner, make reservations at 626 on Rood to experience a seasonal menu that celebrates fresh, local flavors including produce, proteins and wine. From small, shareable plates to dinner entrees, 626 on Rood features some of the area’s most creative cuisine. Or, for a more traditional steakhouse menu, head to The Winery, where finely aged steaks are complemented by an extensive list of locally made wines. For a nightcap, drop by Rockslide Brewery on Main Street or the Kannah Creek Brewery on 12th to sample a locally-brewed beer or two.
No foodie tour of the Grand Valley would be complete without a trip to the town of Palisade, which is filled with local farm stands, wine tasting rooms and more. While you’ll probably want to drive there, one fun way to experience Palisade is by renting a bicycle (Brown Cycles in Grand Junction offers rentals) and riding around to various stops. Start the day with an orchard tour (April through October). Fruit growers like Aloha Organic Fruit or High Country Orchards offer opportunities for the public to explore behind the scenes. Afterward, drop by their farm stores, where you’ll find fresh fruit (seasonal) and vegetables, in addition to locally made salsas, sauces, jams and snacks. There are farm stands throughout the town where you can find peaches, apples, cherries, melons and much more. Stop by a few to find your favorites. While you’re wandering, stock up on supplies to have as a picnic lunch.
Now it’s time to taste Colorado Wine Country and the Grand Valley AVA. There are more than 20 vineyards scattered throughout the area, with the highest concentration found in Palisade. If you want to taste wines at several wineries (and you didn’t rent a bike for the day), consider chartering a limousine to transport you around for the afternoon. Carlson Vineyards, St. Kathryn Cellars, Grande River Vineyards, Maison la Belle Vie, Gubbini and many more offer delicious tastings and beautiful wine country scenery (find a list of Grand Valley wineries here). If members of your group aren’t big fans of wine, add a stop at Palisade Brewing or Peach Street Distillers, where you’ll find some fantastic locally made craft beer and distilled spirits.
Get a table at the popular Bin 707 in downtown Grand Junction. Opened by a former professional snowboarder, this unique eatery celebrates the diversity of local cuisine with expert sourcing of ingredients, including local cheeses, honey, wine, produce and meats. Their charcuterie plate is a fantastic introduction to the flavors of Western Colorado. Or, swing by Le Rouge for some delicious French cuisine and local wine. On Friday and Saturday nights, you’ll find live jazz at Le Rouge starting around 8:30 p.m., so it’s also a great place to grab a nightcap and enjoy some music in a warm, intimate atmosphere.
What’s your favorite thing to eat in Grand Junction? Post photos or video on social media and tag them with #ShareGJ.