Recently, the farm-to-table trend arrived in Fort Collins only to find out we’ve been doing farm fresh fare for decades. Our restaurateurs are backed by a community that has supported local makers, growers and entrepreneurs as far back as we can remember (and we’ve been here for over 40 years). So it just makes sense to find eateries sourcing from farms down the street and preparing meals that are true to Colorado roots — literally.
One of our top picks even sources exclusively from NoCo growers and makers with absolutely nothing coming from major food distribution companies (we see you at the number one spot, Gold Leaf)!
So take a peek at Fort Collins’ freshest fare and get to these spots before the menu changes! In some cases, that may mean you’ll be visiting every week, but we don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
Photo courtesy of The Gold Leaf Collective
Since we talked to The Gold Leaf team after their grand opening, they’ve had huge success, then a temporary closing, a joyous reopening and, now, even more success! They’re number one on our list because they don’t just have a seasonally rotating menu; they have a unique menu that allows for daily changes. Because they are hyper-local, meaning they source every ingredient within about 400 miles of the restaurant, their ingredients change every week and sometimes every day.
So, whether you’re in for the weekly special or a long-time favorite, stop by to taste just how the team at The Gold Leaf is changing the meaning of true local and the stereotypes around plant-based cuisine.
The second spot on our list goes to the Fort Collins restaurant that has its own chicken coop in the backyard! The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm is located inside a 133-year-old building complete with a ¼-acre coop, a starlit patio, elevated country fare and a daily donut special. Offering lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, each menu changes for the season to reflect festive flavors and local ingredients. But the donut changes daily! Look for sweet winter flavors like Maple Syrup Glaze with candied Pecans and Cranberries or summer treats like Ginger Lime.
This upscale bistro is famously one of FoCo’s favorite farm-to-table spots. Though they have similar bistros in Boulder, Denver, Chicago and Memphis, each one sources local ingredients from American farmers to reflect the flavors of the region. In addition to offering enticing menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, the Fort Collins restaurant offers an impressive wine list full of perfect pairings! In short, we definitely recommend stopping by at least once each season. After all, there’s a reason Fast Company named them one of the most innovative food companies!
Ginger and Baker is new to the FoCo food scene so they haven’t had a lot of time to prove the worthiness of their seasonal dishes. However, we’re so impressed with their earliest options, we’re at the edge of our seats to see what they come up with next! And because the building houses a market and bakery, daily café and an upscale restaurant, they have plenty of opportunities to show off. The Cache, named for the Cache la Poudre River, is the team’s restaurant where they can take advantage of local ingredients with brunch and dinner dishes like Wagyu Burgers, Hard Cider Braised Pork Belly and Bloody Mary Steak and Eggs. Check out the website to see the current menu and read the chef’s tasting notes for both the food and the wine which also changes to reflect the seasons!
Photo courtesy of The Emporium Kitchen & Wine Market and Jimena Peck Photography
Another Fort Collins newbie, The Emporium is part of Old Town’s newest entertainment destination, The Elizabeth Hotel. From fresh fish to wild foraged mushrooms, you’ll find seasonal and mountain-inspired ingredients that come together in items like Wood-Grilled Spring Trout, Grilled Pizza and house-made Charcuterie platters, among others. The restaurant and market — which features a variety of local, house-made and artisanal take-away items — are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, happy hour and brunch so you have five menus to try before the season changes!
From the team behind Loveland’s Door 222 (which offers another great menu, by the way), Locality is a beautiful dining destination with a chef-driven menu dedicated to local and fresh ingredients. The kitchen is led by Executive Chef Matt Smith who picks up ingredients and produce himself from farms all around Northern Colorado so each dish can come together in true farm-to-table fashion. Check the website or stop in to see what they’re serving this season — whether you want something casual like a pair of Braised Lamb Sliders or something more upscale like a Colorado Striped Bass.
Located on a cozy corner in Old Town, locals always look forward to seeing what Rare is cooking up next. Inspired by traditional Italian cuisine and driven by modern preparations, you’ll find approachable options every time you visit and a new favorite with each change in season. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at the team’s Instagram where you’ll be the first to see the newest mouth-watering images.
Photo courtesy of Fish
Fish isn’t on the list just because they’re one of the best seafood restaurants in Northern Colorado. Serving cuisine not readily available in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, they still refresh their supplies and ingredients on an almost daily basis and can also special order just about anything you crave with only a few days notice. Visit this season to see what the freshest, non-threatened seafood tastes like and find out how Fish’s preparations set them apart — whether it’s an oyster, a shrimp, a trout, ahi tuna or fish tacos.
With both raw bar offerings and a rotating menu of entrées, appetizers and desserts, Fort Collins’ Jax has become a local favorite for seafood. At the Raw Bar, you’ll find up to a dozen different varieties of oysters nightly as well as clams, chilled crabs and lobsters — all flown in daily. Seasonal entrées are dreamed up and created by Chef de Cuisine Ricky Myers who strives to capture the essence of fresh fish paired with local and organic produce to showcase traditional seafood with a Colorado twist.
The 415 is one of the freshest spots in Fort Collins in every sense of the word. Founded by a team of locals from the famous Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, they brought their food prowess and hospitality expertise to 415 South Mason in 2012 and the eatery has been a neighborhood go-to ever since. Because they use local providers for both food and services as often as possible and because they keep their menu simple and true to the ingredients, you’ll always find frequent menu changes and farm fresh fare. The Rooster named The 415 one of 10 Colorado restaurants to try before you die, but we think it’s also one of 10 restaurants to try before the season changes.
In the comments below, let us know where you go in Fort Collins for fresh, seasonal fare!