Fort Collins has a reputation for being a college town, thanks to the large presence of Colorado State University. After years of living in Madison, Wisconsin I know what it feels like to be constantly called a college town, even when the city has SO much more to offer besides university services.
With big companies like OtterBox and HP based in Fort Collins, there is a foodie population living here looking for great eateries to enjoy. Fort Collins (also called FoCo by locals) definitely exceeds expectations when it comes to the local food scene—there are a lot most restaurants to choose from than just late-night college joints! I didn’t waste any time during my Semester at Sea training to dive into the local food scene, discovering all sorts of delicious restaurants to enjoy!
These are the highlights from my Fort Collins foodie exploration. Here are my favorite restaurants in Fort Collins, Colorado!
One of the coolest spots in Fort Collins is Social, a speakeasy in Old Town with an incredible cocktail list. When I walked in, I felt like I had been transported back in time with beautiful decor and a massive bar that stretched nearly the entire length of the restaurant. I opted to sit at the bar so I could get a full view of the cocktail making process. Their extensive menu is full of classics, newbies and creative combinations, as well as a large selection of NA cocktails. I absolutely loved the complex yet refreshing flavors of my drink which included gin, celery bitters, and blackberry mash. Social also offers a small plate menu to snack on while you sip down your drink.
For a truly unique chocolate experience, I highly recommend a visit to Nuance chocolate. I would say this is a must-do activity why traveling in Fort Collins! Prior to visiting, I had no idea that Fort Collins had a world-renowned chocolate shop in the city, especially one that does entirely single origin chocolate. Although I love chocolate, I am not super experienced distinguishing flavors of chocolate, so I opted for Nuance’s tasting flight. The flight includes 5 different chocolates along with a description and history about their difference. When you eat all the chocolates back-to-back, you truly understand how different the flavors are based on their country of origin. Plus, then you’ll know which bar you want to buy a full size of! The staff is super, super friendly and helpful!
Located close to campus, the Colorado Room definitely has a college vibe, but don’t let that turn you off from their diverse selection of sliders—they’re actually super yummy! From bison to pork to vegetarian, there are slider options to appeal to every kind of eater. You can try several different kinds of sliders in one order since they are ordered ala carte. Their sides are yummy too! I was a big fan of the sweet potato fries. The Colorado Room also has open mike nights once a week if you’re in the mood for sliders with a side of comedy!
A popular spot for brunch in several Colorado cities, Lucile’s serves up a cajun brunch 7 days a week. Many people told me to eat at this breakfast haven, many of which are housed in cute older homes or refurbished buildings. The interior vibes feel like you’re in someone’s living room and the friendly service is a cheerful way to start your day. While I enjoyed checking out Lucile’s, I think the food is a little overhyped. I found it to be just ok but if you’re in the mood for Cajun, it’s definitely not a bad option. The serving sizes are extremely generous and every dish comes with a massive biscuit. I did particularly like their sprinkle on cajun mix which adds a nice heat to their dishes.
If you’ve ever wanted to eat a cookie the size of your face, then Mary’s Mountain Cookies is the place! Open late, this is a cute spot to stop for dessert at the end of your date night or dinner. Mary’s offers a variety of flavors, including classics like peanut butter or chocolate chip, as well as more contemporary flavors like salted caramel or orange doodle. My personal favorite was the ginger molasses cookie which had a really nice texture and flavor!
With a massive selection of beer on tap and a hip brew pub vibe, the Mayor of Old Town is a cool spot to grab dinner and drinks with friends. I sat at the bar to enjoy their delicious buffalo cauliflower and burger, both of which were great. I had never thought of doing friend cauliflower with buffalo sauce, but the flavors work really well together (and you have a lot less guilt about eating it since it’s a vegetable!).