The time-honored tradition of meeting in an establishment that places value in a perfectly aged steak says a lot about how the host feels about his or her guests. It reflects the importance of the people at the table and creates a lasting impression. And as American steakhouses go, Colorado is in the thick of many fine dining and blue-jean casual restaurants that fit the bill for a successful business outing.
EAST OF THE DIVIDE STEAKHOUSES
Guard and Grace, Denver
In a town that appreciates good beef in a traditional setting, Guard and Grace has turned the notion of a steakhouse inside out. Food critics and interior designers have bestowed their kudos since the restaurant opened in 2014 for its wow-factor design, impeccable service and fired-up fare. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in the endless Colorado blue skies and sunlight. A curved bar wraps around the centerpiece open kitchen, while window booths follow the same bowed path.
As for the menu, there are the traditional cuts of steak—New York, filet mignon, prime rib and hanger steak—but with a choice of Prime or Angus and even a grass-fed filet mignon. Guard and Grace uses oak as its wood of choice, so you’ll see calls out for oak-fired prime rib, octopus and vegetables. Expect Guard’s signature touch of combining Asian, Mediterranean and Pacific Rim flavors and cooking traditions, such as white balsamic and miso dressing on a house salad or the prime beef tartar with pickled mustard seed and umami aioli. The tartar offering and menu changes seasonally
Private dinners can be customized and many groups request sushi or carving stations. Event Manager Jeorgette Jackson says, “For our chef’s demonstrations, one of our chefs will break down a tuna or salmon while creating an amuse-bouche.” Private dining spaces can be divided to suit 10 to 80 for a sit-down meal or up to 125 for a cocktail reception.
The Palm, Denver
It’s been almost a year since The Palm in The Westin Denver Downtown got a makeover. Like an HGTV home redesign show, The Palm took the open concept trend to task and pulled down walls in the bar, opened the dining room seating for better flow and transformed the private dining spaces with a fresh, new look. Even the iconic caricatures on the walls are getting a literal facelift thanks to a local artist Paul Vismara.
For private dining, steaks will always take center stage at The Palm, but take note of some other menu items old and new. For instance, the chicken and veal parmigiana are sautéed to order (not fried), just like The Palm’s first Italian menu 90 years ago. For beef connoisseurs, Wagyu beef is now on the menu and so is Colorado-raised veal.
The renovated private dining areas at The Palm can be stretched out to suit 100 guests or divided into three rooms that seat up to 36 people each. Skyline Park is adjacent to the restaurant, so in warmer months French doors are opened for overflow onto the patio.
The Fort, Morrison
When a private event calls for pure, unadulterated Colorado, there is no better place than The Fort. The private dining spaces will transport guests to an earlier time when frontiersmen like William Bent and Kit Carson were expanding the West. History buffs will relish the level of authentic detail in Bent’s Quarters. The log-beamed room, which can comfortably seat 40 people (50 with a tight fit), is filled with fur trade collectables like buck knives, muskets, lucifers and New Mexican medicinal herbs. For smaller parties, the Tower Room is an intimate setting for 10 to 16 with comfortable benches that encircle the space, a beehive fireplace and windows that overlook the city of Denver. Other private dining spaces includes the St. Vrain Council Room for 115 guests and The Grill overlooking the main dining room and flowing onto a patio for warm weather events attended by 24 to 32 guests.
Bison and beef are king at The Fort. Kit Carson buffalo rib eye and tenderloin are perennial favorites. Beef steaks proudly come from ranches in Colorado, which are overseen by rancher Roy Armstrong from the Great Western Grazing Company in La Junta. Be sure to order a side of New Mexican Dixon red chili sauce. Dixon chilies are deep red, slightly sweet and a bit hotter than Hatch green chilies.
As of press time, The Fort was working on plans for a new summer lunch patio menu and an amplified Colorado history program that features academically recognized historians, speakers and musicians. The Fort also provides bus transportation for large parties from January through March.
The Steakhouse at Flying Horse, Colorado Springs
At the Flying Horse, sweeping mountain views provide a breathtaking backdrop for private meetings and events. The property is home to a Tuscan-style steakhouse, lodge and conference center, spa, athletic center and golf course. At the steakhouse, private dining spaces are available for parties of six to 40, and the lodge and clubhouse have private space for up to 300.
8th Street Steakhouse, Steamboat
For casual groups, Steamboat’s choose-andgrill-your-own-steak eatery keeps groups busy and entertained throughout the night. Guests select their own cut of meat and grill it to their own perfection. “It’s a great social atmosphere for groups,” says Tim Pahula, owner. “People have a lot of fun grilling their own steaks.” An expert chef is on standby to help with advice and seasonings. Cuts include Prime grade New York strips and Kobe beef, as well as bison. Entrées come with an unlimited salad bar and Texas toast. An upstairs balcony space can be divided into private dining for 30 to 45 each or combined for a larger group of 75.
Mahogany Grille, Durango
Housed in the historic Strater Hotel, this steakhouse will remind guests of Colorado’s cattle rush days when Victorian finery was the norm for those who could afford such luxury. The restaurant has a private dining room that seats up to 25, and the menu features three cuts of steak: pan seared black pepper filet with a brandied mango chutney, grilled rib eye with a red wine demi-glace, and elk tenderloin dressed with a chokecherry sauce. The Strater is known for theater performances, Western musicals and vaudeville, live music and comedic acts. Tickets can be arranged with a private group dinner.
FRONT RANGE FOOTBALL STEAKHOUSES
Sonny Lubick Steakhouse, Fort Collins
With six conference titles to his name, Sonny Lubick’s legacy is forever attached to Colorado State University as the school’s most winning coach. So, it’s only natural that a steakhouse be named in his honor. Now well into its ninth year of business, the restaurant is as iconic as the coach.
The Coach’s Room, a.k.a. the private dining room, can seat up to 35. The menu features hand-cut New York Strip steaks with roasted garlic butter, slow roasted prime rib, tender filet mignon and a solid selection of fish, chicken and vegetarian entrées, as well as chef creations.
Elway’s, Denver & Vail
In Colorado, the name John Elway is synonymous with the Denver Bronco’s pro football team as a former star quarterback and current executive vice president of football operations/general manager for the Denver Broncos. Elway’s Cherry Creek has long been at the top of its game as a gathering place in Denver. As expected, Prime grade steaks and cold shellfish towers are crowd-pleasing attractions, but Elway’s is more than just hearty slabs of meat. Classic sauces put a fresh twist on freshly flown-in fish. Southwestern enchiladas and roasted corn and chicken chowder give a Bronco’s salute to the restaurant’s mountain west heritage.
Private dining areas are perfect for small gatherings of up to 80, and the restaurant’s outdoor spaces provide additional space for year-round events when the weather is fair. “Elway’s is ideal for patio events and tented galas for up to 150 people,” says Director of Sales Lara Clem.
Check Elway’s website for other locations, including The Ritz-Carlton, Denver with three private dining spaces, The Vail Lodge and Denver International Airport.
Shanahan’s Steakhouse, Denver Tech Center
Former Bronco’s coach Mike Shanahan’s namesake restaurant reflects his legendary career and influence on Denver. From a showcase of Lombardi trophies to the contemporary atmosphere, the restaurant evokes class and talent. The restaurant delivers what you expect: white tablecloth service and expertly prepared steaks with mainstay sauces like béarnaise and brandy peppercorn. Starters include favorites like crab cakes, coconut shrimp and oysters shucked to order. There are three private dining spaces that seat 24 each or can be combined to host groups of 48 to 72.
As private meeting spaces go in Colorado, steakhouses will always be a hot spot for their consistency in quality, reliable service and the state’s culinary tradition of a great steak and good conversation.