The spotlight in Morrison shines most often on two restaurants: the Fort, an award-winning steak and game icon just south of town, and the Morrison Inn, a popular Mexican eatery known for its huge margaritas and fun outdoor patio.
But these famous bookends are only part of the story. Whether you’re in town for a concert at Red Rocks, celebrating a romantic evening out or touring the foothills with family in tow, Morrison has a variety of restaurants for all sorts of eaters.
These three establishments represent the town’s range of dining options:
209 Bear Creek Ave.
Morrison, Colorado 80465
When Café Prague moved down the mountain from Georgetown, Colorado in 2005, it opened up a whole new world of fine dining in Morrison. This surprise of a restaurant offers Eastern European cuisine in an elegant upscale atmosphere. Diners sit at dark-wood tables or leather booths, accented by white linen, with colorful murals surrounding them. Stone walls and fireplaces add to the Old-World ambience.
Café Prague’s menu focuses on such hearty classics as Hungarian goulash, Bohemian sauerbraten and beef stroganoff. The perfectly crispy chicken schnitzel gets rave reviews, as does the salmon filet stuffed with Brie cheese and crab meat. And the side dishes are nothing to scoff at — choose from mashed potatoes, bread dumplings, the house specialty potato pancakes or sweet and sour cabbage that will convert even supposed cabbage haters.
The restaurant, which serves dinner only, boasts a selection of Czech, German and domestic beers and a solid list of more than 40 wines. An outdoor patio is open during warmer weather.
Café Prague also offers free parking in the lot directly across the street. While it may not matter much on a Wednesday evening in February, it can be a godsend on summer weekends when it seems every parking place in Morrison is filled.
215 Bear Creek Ave.
Morrison, Colorado 80465
A Morrison restaurant tradition for more than two decades, Tony Rigatoni’s serves large portions of Italian classics in a comfortable atmosphere. The homey dining room is styled in the typical décor of casual Italian: red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, faux grape bunches hanging on trellises, and black-and-white family photos on the walls. For a pleasant al fresco eating experience, there’s also a side patio shaded by a gigantic tree growing through the middle of the floor.
The menu at Tony Rigatoni’s ranges from sausage calzones to tilapia piccata, and includes pizzas, pastas and sandwiches, plus chicken and seafood dishes. House favorites are the mussels diavolo appetizer served in a spicy tomato broth, and the chicken cara mia entrée — chicken breast with fettuccine, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and avocado in a white wine cream sauce.
On a recent visit, the waitress recommended the chicken fortunata — chicken breast served with fettuccine, spinach, prosciutto and mushrooms in a Marsala cream sauce. It was flavorful (if a bit rich) and filling. The sausage cacciatore – a pasta and sausage dish – arrived in a surprisingly spicy but satisfying chunky tomato sauce. The entrees came with standard house salads and a basket of bread.
But the real story is the portions — each dish is easily enough for two meals (at least for moderate eaters). And in case there still isn’t enough food to go around, kids eat free every Tuesday night. So, if you do venture to this Morrison mainstay, come hungry or prepare to share.
Blue Cow Eatery
316 Bear Creek Ave.
Morrison, Colorado 80465
Perhaps the best way to describe this cute but casual eatery is “cottage diner.” The Blue Cow — which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2010 — is a small breakfast-and-lunch spot with a simple menu of down-home favorites. But it’s also more adorable than most diners have a right to be, with vibrant red and blue walls, interesting artwork, a mini jungle of plants and flowers, and a year-round patio with space heaters for the cooler months. The husband-and-wife owners took over the building in its previous incarnation as an ice cream shop, so there’s even a walk-up window for customers seeking sundaes, shakes or soft serve.
The Blue Cow breakfast menu contains all the morning goodies you could want, from French toast to biscuits and gravy. Top sellers include their “hash-n-eggs” and the Morrison scramble with ham, green pepper and onion. A popular meatless choice is the Santa Fe scramble, which comes with its own little side of homemade nachos. But the hands-down a.m. favorite is the breakfast burrito — a delicious dish that tastes unexpectedly fresh and light for a recipe that stuffs eggs, potatoes and sausage inside a flour tortilla smothered with green chile and cheese.
Lunch options at the Blue Cow include burgers, fish-‘n-chips and a variety of sandwiches ranging from basic grilled cheese to the cubana with roast pork loin, ham and Swiss. Or stop by on summer weekends when the restaurant is open for a simple dinner service. The Blue Cow serves alcohol and also offers a full espresso bar.