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!
A popular spot for a weekday lunch, Music City Hot Chicken is a fast casual spot that offers several different flavors of fried chicken. I love that you can select the level of heat in your fried chicken at Music City because sometimes you’re in the mood for something really spicy or something more mild. Their most popular dish is the fried chicken sandwich, which is well-worth ordering on your first visit. The crunchy breading and tasty slaw make for an excellent sandwich! They also have a great selection of sides, including a queso mac n’ cheese that I loved.
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!
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!)
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!
Coming from Chicago, I have a lot of experience eating pizza and everyone out here told me that I needed to check out “Colorado style” pizza. The best spot to get it in Fort Collins is Beaujo’s. What makes Colorado style pizza? There are two main distinguishing characteristics — thicker hand-pressed crust and honey instead of sugar in the dough. I know it sounds weird, but it tastes better than it sounds. Beaujo’s offers two styles of crust, either prairie style or mountain pie style, with mountain pie being the thicker of the two styles. Beaujo’s has a variety of different topping options, as well as a robust build-your-own option. I’m gonna be honest that it wasn’t the best pizza I ever had and I’m not sure if Colorado-style pizza is my thing, but I can appreciate the Beaujo’s has a fun atmosphere and is a local favorite.
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!
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.
True to my Wisconsin roots, I can never turn down a good cheese place and Welsh Rabbit is better than good—it’s a great place to sample and enjoy cheese. I included on my list of 8 must-do things in Fort Collins besides breweries, because it is just that worth it! They have both a bistro and a cheese shop depending on what you’re looking for, but I think both are worth a visit. Head to the bistro first, where you can make your own cheese plate. The menu is sorted by variety of cheese and most of the cheeses are available in the shop to purchase when you’re done! The bistro also has a small plate menu with cheese-centric dishes such as welsh rarebit, goat cheese salad and pasta.
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.
Located on the outskirts of town, Jessup Farm is a restored and rebuilt old farm property that now offers shopping, coffee, restaurants and outdoor music during the summer. The Farmhouse is the main restaurant at Jessup Farm and serves up farm-to-table new American fare in a cozy and well-styled farmhouse. The food tastes so fresh and yummy, even with its simple preparations. Nothing on this menu is revolutionary, but it is homey, high-quality food prepared with care and thought about preserving the best of the ingredients integrity.
Did I miss any of your favorite Fort Collins eateries? Comment below with your suggestions!