I’m riding a horse through a beautiful grove of leggy aspens and colorful columbines at Beaver Creek Resort when I hear my stomach growl.
Fortunately for me — and for my fellow horseback riders who are within earshot on this warm July afternoon — this is no ordinary horseback ride. I’m sure I am actually hungry, but more than likely, my stomach is just announcing its eager anticipation of what’s to come.
Our group is heading toward Beano’s Cabin, a fine-dining restaurant perched at more than 9,000 feet above sea level amid the normally snow-covered slopes of Beaver Creek.
In the summer, the main way to reach the cabin is on horseback (a shuttle is also available). And, in the winter, the only way to get to Beano’s is to hop aboard a snowcat-drawn sleigh. This adds an unexpectedly fun layer of adventure to a romantic date night or a girls’ night out in Beaver Creek.
When we arrive at Beano’s a few minutes later, we hop down from our horses, hand over the reins to our Beaver Creek guides and head inside.
Wearing my cowboy hat and boots, I take a seat at a table near the window and look out at the incredible view: a lush grassy meadow, with sloping mountains covered in aspen trees in the background. An acoustic guitar player seated near the cabin’s massive stone fireplace serenades us with relaxing tunes.
And the setting is only just the beginning. For the next few hours, my dining companions and I indulge in a five-course meal and cocktails, with perfectly prepared dishes ranging from bison tartare to elk short loin — all inspired by the Rocky Mountain landscape that surrounds us.
You may know Beaver Creek for its immaculately groomed ski slopes and family-friendly amenities (and for its world-famous 3 p.m. chocolate chip cookies, of course!). But in addition to all that, this beloved Colorado resort is a culinary powerhouse — and if you appreciate good food and drinks at all, you should start planning your next getaway to Beaver Creek.
Beaver Creek’s Dining Options
Beano’s is just one of the unique on-mountain fine dining options at Beaver Creek. There’s also Allie’s Cabin, which serves up delicious Northern Italian fare, and Zach’s Cabin, which specializes in Alsatian cuisine. In Beaver Creek Village, you’ll find Citrea, which serves fresh, Mediterranean-inspired dishes. And during certain days in the summer and early fall, you can book a wine excursion, which includes either a scenic hike or a 4X4 tour, as well as a gourmet wine and cheese tasting. You could literally spend an entire week eating and drinking your way through all Beaver Creek has to offer.
But Beano’s is particularly special because of its backstory. In the early 1900s, a courageous Polish immigrant left his home in Chicago and ventured west toward Colorado. His name was Frank Bienkowski, or Beano for short. Once he arrived in the Rockies, Beano built himself a cabin and began homesteading on the land that would later become Beaver Creek Resort. During the summer, he grew lettuce and hay, then traveled down into the valley to sell his crops. He also supported himself by working in a nearby mine.
Though Beano’s original cabin was in shambles after decades of wear and tear, Beaver Creek wanted to honor this bold man somehow. Using many of the original fixtures, they rebuilt a replica cabin on the site of Beano’s original homestead, which you can check out yourself during a guided 4X4 tour.
Nearby, the resort also built a much larger (and more modern) cabin and opened a restaurant inside. Beano’s first opened in 1986 and has been a beloved eatery ever since.
Last year, the restaurant welcomed a new executive chef, Mackenzie Nicholson. Nicholson was born and raised in Colorado, and she grew up hunting and fishing – so she certainly knows her way around Rocky Mountain-inspired ingredients. Now, she’s combining her love of the outdoors with her passion for fine dining at Beano’s — and diners get to reap the benefit.
On the menu, you’ll find decadent dishes like melt-in-your-mouth duck confit, served with carrot coconut veloute, pickled carrot, crispy leeks and a wasabi pea crumble. Other fan favorites include the seared Hudson Valley foie gras, the Maine diver scallops and the wood-fired quail, which Nicholson roasts to perfection on a rotisserie grill.
“I love the idea of thinking about: What would you be eating if you were living up in a cabin in the woods 100 years ago?” Nicholson tells me. “I want to take those basic concepts and elevate them into the fine-dining realm — that’s where my inspiration for the menu comes from.”
Beano’s also has an incredible wine list and cocktail menu. One of my personal favorites was a drink called “Bees Have Cold Knees Up Here,” a playful, high-elevation riff on the traditional Bee’s Knees cocktail. This version is made with gin, lavender honey syrup, bee pollen and lemon juice.
And be sure to save room for dessert: You’ll have a choice of creative sweets, like a fresh fruit cobbler or a frozen creme brulee, just to name a few.
Bottom line: The entire Beano’s experience is magical from start to finish. From riding horses through the stunning natural landscape to the warm hospitality of the staff, this is really a can’t-miss Colorado experience.
How to Make the Most of Your Trip to Beaver Creek
If you’re considering a trip to Beaver Creek, here’s what to know as you start planning.
Getting There: From Boulder, head south on CO 93 or U.S. 36. Merge onto I-70 and head west until you reach Avon, which is exit 167. Follow Village Road the rest of the way to the resort itself. All told, the trip should take a little more than two hours, depending on traffic.
Where to Stay: All of Beaver Creek’s lodging options are great, but I recommend staying at The Osprey, a beautiful, quiet hotel that’s right next to the Strawberry Park Express Lift and just steps from the main Beaver Creek base area.
What to Do: In between meals, take a scenic chair lift ride or hike around the mountain. You can also go mountain biking, play golf or go fly-fishing. If you’ve got little ones in tow, head to the Adventure Center for fun activities like mini golf, the climbing wall, a bungee trampoline and gem panning.