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Rapids Restaurant, Grand Lake, Colorado: River Views, Sophisticated Food in a Rustic Setting

Rapids Restaurant Grand Lake Colorado Elk

Rapids Restaurant offers deliciously sophisticated dining in an authentic and comfortable rustic log building overlooking Colorado’s Tonahutu River.

RFT Editor Anne Weaver and I traveled to Grand Lake, a small tourist town on the shores of Colorado’s deepest glacial lake and we had the good fortune to eat at Rapids Restaurant.

We were staying at the historic Rapids Lodge and met a friend at the Rapids dining room, a low-ceiling building with big windows that offer views of the rocky river. When the weather cooperates, guests can also eat outside, but the weather was a bit cool, so we grabbed a table by a riverside window.

Each meal comes with the restaurant’s signature shrimp cocktail and Rapids salad or soup. The cocktail features three large, perfectly cooked, ice cold shrimp hanging off a stemmed glass filled with slightly spicy, house made cocktail sauce. The salad is composed of a variety of greens topped with tomato, crumbles of blue cheese, and toasted, chopped walnuts and is served with a choice of three, house made salad dressings.

Cup of Raspberry Sorbet from Rapids Restaurant

The raspberry sorbet served between appetizers and salad and the entree was refreshingly delicious.

Between the shrimp and the salad came another surprise: a small, refreshing scoop of house made raspberry sorbet. It proved to be the perfect palate cleanser.

Best Elk Ever

The restaurant offered two local options: elk and ruby trout. My friend opted for the elk, which came as three big, tender chunks of meat, perfectly cooked to medium rare in a slightly sweet red onion pomegranate reduction. The meat was juicy and rich without any gaminess. It was served with a potato sliced paper thin and grilled green beans.

Not in the mood for fish, I opted for the house smoked St. Louis style ribs. On the waitress’ suggestion, I ordered the half rather than a whole rack. And she was right. The dish came as six big, fork-tender pork ribs slathered in oven-warmed sauce. The ribs were both juicy and slightly smoky and accompanied by the same delicious potato and green bean combo.

Plate of Ribs at Rapids Restaurant

My half rack of ribs at Rapids were meaty and juicy.

Although we had to box part of our meal, we were tempted by the desserts, which are all made in-house. There was mocha mousse cake, Irish bread pudding, mixed berry cheesecake, and crème brulee. My friend and I opted for the mocha mousse cake, which we found to be deliciously rich and chocolately. The mousse, which separated the cake layers, was light and delicate.

Slice of Mocha Mousse cake at Rapids Restaurant

After a filling and satisfying meal, we had no room for dessert. We took this delicious mocha mousse cake back to our room for later.

Our meal at Rapids Restaurant was both surprisingly and satisfying. In our seven-day tour of Colorado’s Grand County, we enjoyed some truly excellent food. Our meal at Rapids Restaurant was, however, the best meal of our trip and we look forward to dining here again and again. — Review by Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor, Photos by Anne Weaver, RFT Editor

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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at

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