Durango, Colo., is all about pizza, pastries and a secret speakeasy on this weekend trip
It was a dark and stormy night. Apologies, Snoopy fans — but it really was a dark and stormy night with thunder, lightning and pounding rain as my husband and I drove into downtown Durango, Colorado. Luckily, I spotted a well-lighted pizzeria and a parking spot a few blocks away; using newspapers to cover our heads, we hustled through the streets and ducked inside, drenched. The storm didn’t let up all weekend, but we still had a great time in this small, cute city in southwest Colorado. The downtown historic district revels in its Old West roots, as do many of the hip restaurants, bars and boutiques in the area. The tab: My husband and I spent about $200 for two nights at the Fairfield Inn & Suites and about $160 for meals and drinks.
Durango has some Victorian darlings, notably the Strater Hotel and the General Palmer, but I was in one of those rare moods where I wanted new, fresh and shiny instead of old and historic, so I chose Durango’s newest hotel, the Fairfield Inn & Suites, which opened in 2016. It’s a few blocks from downtown and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad depot, the price was right, and it even included a buffet breakfast. Our room was very quiet with a modern feel and had a king-size bed, desk, flat-screen TV and a spotless bathroom.
I was happy to be indoors, out of the rain, sitting at a cozy table at Fired Up Pizzeria that first night. A glass of Chardonnay for me and a pale ale for my husband was followed by a Caesar salad and a bacon mushroom pizza. Everything was great — until the roof starting leaking next to our table; luckily, we had finished our meal. Lunch the next day was at Ken & Sue’s, which was jammed with people escaping the rain. We were feeling a bit cooped up ourselves and went a little free-range, ordering some hen-house treats: chicken pot pie, hoisin-glazed chicken sandwich and a Chinese chicken salad. The meal was pure poultry in motion.
I met a charming couple who told me I could not miss the town’s best-kept secret: a hidden speakeasy where they’ll let you in if you say the magic words. They raved about its retro ambiance and classic cocktails and even gave me the current password (posted on the speakeasy’s website and social media). My husband and I arrived at what turned out to be a barbershop where we chatted with the doorman/greeter, gave him the password and, voila, a tap of a book and a bookcase opened up to the atmospheric world of the Bookcase & Barber. We grabbed a corner table and ordered from a large menu of literary-themed cocktails: the Hunter Thompson, an old-fashioned made with Wild Turkey 101 bourbon, and a William Faulkner, a mint julep with Basil Hayden’s bourbon, both excellent.
THE LESSON LEARNED
Jean-Pierre Bakery — c’est magnifique. It’s hard to pass this charming French patisserie without stopping for a treat: croissants, cinnamon rolls, apple strudel, éclairs, napoleons, cream puffs and much more. Tip: If you can hold out until later in the day, they frequently offer discounts.
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