One of the biggest bonuses of living along Colorado’s Front Range is the proximity to some of America’s most beautiful mountain recreation areas. Even if you live in the heart of busy Denver, relief from the hectic pace of city life is easily within reach. For many locals, the down-to-earth getaway vacation spots in the Fraser River Valley are the perfect place to nourish the spirit and remember why we live here in the first place.
The Fraser River Valley consists of the laid-back communities of Grand Lake, Granby, Winter Park and Fraser. Set at the outer edge of the Continental Divide, this region enjoys year-round access that provides a generous selection of outdoor recreation options for people of all levels and interests. From summertime fly fishing excursions for avid anglers, to winter sports instruction at the National Sports Center for the Disabled, every outdoor activity is represented on the slopes and within thousands of acres of publicly accessible forest lands.
The best part about spending time in the Fraser Valley is that after a long day on the trail or on the river, you won’t sacrifice the convenience of dining out. Dozens of excellent, locally-owned restaurants will satiate your hunger and go easy on your wallet. One of the newest restaurants creating a buzz in the Valley is found in the community of Fraser, at the Ditch on 40.
The Ditch on 40
When a restaurateur opens a new eatery in the same spot where many other restaurants have met their doom, you have to question their sanity. Could their food really be that good?
At the Ditch on 40, the locals say “definitely!”
Fraser’s newest restaurant is getting rave reviews since its grand opening in December 2011. The culinary talents of hard-working proprietors Dustin and Scotti bring a spicy new twist to traditional Mexican fare found elsewhere.
The duo specializes in New Mexican cuisine, which has a distinctly different flavor than Tex-Mex or West Coast Mexican food. Although many food items like burritos and enchiladas are derivatives of those found in Spain and Mexico, New Mexican cuisine places an emphasis on sauces and ingredients made with chiles grown within the state’s borders, including Hatch green chiles, the most well-known type.
Another uniquely New Mexican food experience that you’ll find at places like the Ditch is “smothering.” This is the traditional act of spooning heaps of red or green chile on top of your selection. Sometimes you smother, sometimes you won’t, but at the Ditch on 40, their food is authentic New Mexican cuisine either way.
Whether you have an early morning craving for a heaping plate of tamales or an evening hankering for a green chile cheeseburger, the Ditch is ready to satisfy your hunger with distinctly different fare. Dustin and Scotti clearly put a lot of thought into their meal selections, which include offbeat choices like “The Burque meets Philly Combo” which is a sandwich consisting of steak strips, chopped Hatch green chile and white American cheese tucked into a Hoagie roll. Another fun choice at the Ditch includes the “Disaster Burrito,” a kitchen-sink special that consists of a beef and bean burrito covered in French fries, cheese, and red and green chile. Both of these items are just $6.50.
The Ditch also offers traditional American food and kid-friendly items like chicken tenders. The restaurant is open every day between 7:30 am and 8 pm (with extended summer hours) and prices are comparable to any fast food spots around town.
If You Go
The Ditch on 40
409 N. Zerex St
Rene Agredano enjoys sharing travel tips about Colorado – her favorite state in the U.S. – when she’s not at her mountaintop cabin retreat in Red Feather Lakes, she’s RVing around America writing from the road.
Header photo by Billy Hathorn.
Photo of the Fraser River courtesy of Angling Trade.
Photo of the Ditch on 40 courtesy of the Winter Park Lodging Company.