Enjoy Hearty Old West Food in Denver

It’s National Western Stock Show time in Denver.  Do you yearn for some hearty, back-to-nature foods with robust western flavors?  Two Denver metro area restaurants, the Buckhorn Exchange and The Fort, specialize in serving heartwarming foods of the Old West.

For a limited time, the Fort in the little suburb of Morrison southwest of Denver features a three-course stockman’s dinner special, and the Buckhorn Exchange, in Denver’s oldest neighborhood, serves a hearty Dutch lunch with foods like the old-time cowboys and ranchers ate.  If you love a friendly Old West atmosphere and generous portions of food, especially steaks and exotic game meats, these restaurants can satisfy your yearnings.

Buckhorn Exchange

This historic restaurant located at 1000 Osage has been serving Old West fare for over 100 years. It boasts having the first liquor license in Colorado, however, there are bars and saloons that were in operation prior to the issuing of the liquor license, which occurred after prohibition ended. Buffalo Bill Cody was a frequent diner here, and his favorite drink is still on the bar list – bourbon and apple juice. Designated as a National Historic Landmark and Western Museum, this 1893 restaurant has more than 500 stuffed animal trophies on the walls, plus an outstanding collection of guns, and photos of celebrity visitors.

When we parked on the north side of this historic restaurant, we immediately noticed a fading sign painted on the old bricks which said “’Steak Dinners Our Specialty.” We saw the same slogan on their rustic brown menus, which are designed as old newspapers. They’re filled with facts about the Buckhorn and guests are encouraged to keep them as souvenirs.

We were seated in the downstairs dining room among many stuffed animal heads mounted on the walls. We opted for their reasonably-priced Dutch Lunch, which is similar to those served to cowboys and ranchers of yesteryear. It includes Buckhorn’s famous bean soup, a platter topped with bratwurst, baby back pork ribs and beef brisket.  Baked beans and coleslaw complete the meal.  Since our lunch was more than we could eat, we know their prime grade steaks carved tableside must really be a super size!  Before leaving, we explored the upstairs where we viewed more western memorabilia and the restaurant’s original German-imported carved bars in the cozy bar/lounge area. Just a few steps outside this area is a large outdoor patio.

If You Go

Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage Street,
Denver, CO

You may want to use your GPS to find this restaurant from downtown Denver. Or you can take the light rail and exit at the 10th and Osage stop. Then just walk across the street.

If driving, try going east from Colfax and Federal, then turning south on Osage (first right) to 10th Ave. Lunch is served 11 am-2 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Dutch lunch is $12.75. Supper starts at 5:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and at 5 pomp .on Saturday and Sunday. Reservations suggested:  303/534-9505.

Margaret Malsam. a Colorado freelancer, has authored two books and written for numerous national magazines and newspapers, including FAMILY FUN, COUNTRY WOMAN, ELKS MAGAZINE, MIDWEST MOTORIST, TOURING AMERICA, MIAMI HERALD, BOSTON GLOBE, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE and others.