"There are a lot of reasons to love living in Colorado," says Skyler McKinley, spokesman for AAA Colorado, which just released the latest list of AAA's Diamond Program restaurants and hotels. "That 66 Colorado properties placed at the top of AAA's transformed Diamond Program helps cement our top-tier status as a travel destination of global significance. These hotels and restaurants consistently exceed expectations by providing their guests highly personalized, memorable experiences. There's no question that they represent the upper echelon of their industry."
Once again, Colorado has a single Five Diamond restaurant — but then, that category comprises just 0.2 percent of more than 30,000 AAA Diamond restaurant listings. And once again, the honor goes to the Penrose Room at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, which has maintained its top rating since 2007.
Eighteen restaurants have earned AAA's Four Diamond designation, including one newcomer to the list, Beano's Cabin at Beaver Creek. According to the AAA inspector: "This mountainside restaurant is located in a former hunting lodge and comes complete with antler chandeliers and a cozy fireplace. The seasonal fixed price menu offers multiple courses and features fare such as venison, Wagyu beef and Colorado lamb. The restaurant is accessed by a scenic shuttle or sleigh ride."
That inspector didn't just happen on Beano's. According to McKinley, a hotel or restaurant can apply for AAA inspection, and the list of those that do range from high-end properties to much lower-end spots, like a Motel 6. "The Four or Five Diamond properties get the bulk of the attention, but there are many on the cheaper end that are 'AAA Approved' for meeting our quality standards," he explains. "About 3,000 properties fail to meet those every year."
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Want to experience a Four Diamond restaurant but skip the scenic shuttle or sleigh ride trip? Many of the other Colorado restaurants in this category are in the mountains, too, including Alpenglow Stube, Element 47, Game Creek Restaurant, Grouse Mountain Grill, Keystone Ranch, Mirabelle at Beaver Creek, Splendido at the Chateau and Summit.
Summit, also in the Broadmoor, rates Four Diamond status, as does the Cliff House Dining Room in Manitou Springs. In Boulder, Frasca Food and Wine and the Flagstaff House get the Four Diamond designation. And here in Denver, the Four Diamond winners are EDGE Restaurant & Bar, Guard and Grace, Mizuna, Palace Arms, Panzano and Rioja.
See the entire Colorado list here.
And, hey, if Beano's can make the list, maybe next year El Taco de Mexico, which was just named the winner of an America's Classic Award by the James Beard Foundation, should apply. Diamonds are definitely classic.