While Alamosa is bordered by wild and rough terrain, including high passes, craggy peaks, and the famous Great Sand Dunes, the San Luis Valley is known for its rich agricultural history.
Established in 1878 as a stop on the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad, Alamosa became a major hub for commerce, and in the last century farming and ranching have flourished in the San Luis Valley. Towns in Alamosa County export barley, wheat, and potatoes, among other crops, and there’s plenty of room for sheep and cattle ranching.
Thanks to this agricultural background, Alamosa has plenty to offer food lovers, from farm-to-table eateries to breweries to markets where you can pick up fresh produce. To help you plan a foodie tour of this corner of southern Colorado, we’ve highlighted some of the best ways to dig in.
You know the old saying: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That’s especially true for foodies, and fortunately, Alamosa provides on the breakfast front. Start your culinary tour of Alamosa at The Roast, where you’ll find ethically sourced, locally roasted coffee beans. You can drink your java in-house or take home one of their signature blends. (The dark roast Wolf Creek Blend is especially flavorful.) There’s a hearty breakfast menu, too. Don’t miss the biscuits and gravy—The Roast uses local sausage from Gosar Sausage—or the Southwest Chorizo Scramble. The shop also invites you to smother any item in green chili, and you won’t regret taking them up on the offer.
When most people hear the term “fast casual” they think of giant chain restaurants, but Alamosa does things a little differently. One of its most beloved spots, Locavores, falls in the fast-casual realm, but it’s definitely one of a kind. Whether you come for the Colorado Cubano or the Smashed Banh Mi, you’ll be sticking around (and visiting again) for Locavores’ famous sauces, all of which are made in-house.
Locavores pride itself on its ability to get food from farms to forks in 24 hours—that’s because its suppliers are scattered around the San Luis Valley and southern Colorado, not around the country or the world. They source meats from Gosar Natural Foods in Monte Vista and Scanga Meat Company in Salida, and their potatoes come from Rockey Farms in Center and Seger West Farms in Del Norte. And, of course, there’s the green chili peppers—this close to New Mexico, it’s a must-have. Locavores’ green chilis come from Milberger Farms in nearby Pueblo.
The Craft Beer Scene
Farmers in the San Luis Valley produce so much barley—malt barley, specifically—that they’re major suppliers for Coors Brewing Company, based in Golden. But the area is not just associated with big-name macro brews, as craft breweries are becoming more prominent.
The Colorado Farm Brewery operates on the same property where the owners’ great-grandfather. Ray Coody (Cody), once homesteaded. Using ingredients grown on the Cody family farm, the brewery produces a wide variety of lagers, ales, and porters. The brewery is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and visitors can book a private tasting and tour of the farm, malthouse, and brewery.
Over more than a decade, the San Luis Valley Brewing Company, based in Alamosa, has perfected its microbrews, and you’ll find its creations in liquor stores and bars all over the area. The brewery, which makes concoctions like the Alamosa Amber and the Valle Especiale, also serves excellent food from local farms, ranches, and producers like Gosar Sausage, many of which are paired with their brews. Don’t miss the Green Chili Guacamole Burger.
Blending their passions for agriculture and beer, Mark Martinez and Derek Heersink, co-owners of Square Peg Brewerks in Alamosa, have fully embraced the “farm to tap” movement. Using barley and other ingredients from their own Colorado farm, they create a wide variety of lagers, ales, and porters. While Square Peg is known for its excellent craft beers, its friendly, easy-going atmosphere has made it a popular hangout.
Pick Your Own Produce
In the market for some locally grown veggies? Potatoes have been cultivated in the San Luis Valley since the 1880s, and that’s still where the vast majority (something like 90%) of Colorado’s potatoes come from. The warm days and cool nights characteristic of the valley’s summers make for a potato-perfect climate, which is why you’ll find more than 70 varieties growing in the San Luis Valley.
While the valley is known for potatoes, it’s also recognized as a great place to grow lettuce, carrots, and mushrooms. You can find all of these foods each summer at the Alamosa Farmers’ Market, which has grown to the point that it has two locations. From mid-July through the middle of October, it’s held in downtown Alamosa from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays. On Wednesdays in August and September, you’ll also find vendors set up at the Rio Grande Farm Park.
The produce is the main draw at the farmers’ market, but there’s also live music, kids’ activities, and adult educational demos on things like beekeeping, seed saving, and solar ovens.
For more than 100 years, farming has been an important aspect of life in the San Luis Valley, creating a community that values foods made with fresh, locally sourced grains, vegetables, and meats. While many small towns in America are food deserts, offering few or no healthy options, Alamosa offers a bounty of good things to eat. From green chili burgers to tasty craft beer to baskets of fresh potatoes and veggies, this corner of Colorado will please the palate of travelers who truly love good food. Visit Alamosa.org to check out all of the food and dining options in the area.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated Media in partnership with Alamosa CVB.