Mom’s Kitchen Cafe
101 N Washington Street
Otis, CO 80743
Even if you’re driving in northeast Colorado on Interstate 76 on your way to someplace else, it makes sense to get off the beaten track and visit Otis if you’re looking for a good home-cooked meal. Mom’s Kitchen Cafe is located on the southeast corner of the town’s only stoplight. The name of the restaurant is no cliche. It’s actually named after a well known and well liked mother in town named Carolyn Smith. Smith’s restaurant in Otis was an institution back in the day. People would come to “Mom’s Place” from miles around for a hearty, home-cooked meal. Today, the tradition lives on. At Mom’s Kitchen Cafe nowadays, old-timers, young working guys and little ones all come to greet and eat. Smith’s grandson and his wife now own the restaurant after it was reopened in a different location by Smith’s son Eddie a few years ago. Maxine Reynolds, a current cook at Mom’s and also Smith’s daughter, said she grew up at her mom’s apron and that she still cooks from original recipes. “She taught us all to cook … she taught us all to cook from scratch,” Reynolds said. Everything is fresh at Mom’s Kitchen Cafe. Nothing is pre-cooked and nothing is frozen. Some of the pies the eatery offers are lemon, coconut, strawberry supreme and pecan. Even the breakfast sausage is homemade. “Every Sunday we have pan-fried chicken and we will have an alternative meal, roast beef, roast pork, baked ham, something like that, keeping in tradition with our family,” Eddie Smith said. Diners like Michelle Patterson told CBS4 the food is usually so appealing that it’s easy to stay in town for meals. “When you don’t want to go home, you come down here and have better food here,” she said. Lemoyne Wolfe, a “regular” at Mom’s Kitchen Cafe and resident of Otis since 1931, jokes that he’s a newcomer in town. Over the years he has collected historic pictures of the old farm town. He recently brought many of the photos to hang up on the restaurant’s walls. “Every little town needs a place like this,” Wolfe said.
2842 S.E. Frontage Rd
Johnstown, Colorado 80534
A favorite stop for truckers from all across the continent, Johnson’s Corner is the kind of place you’ll never forget. The landmark is the only full-service truck stop between Denver and Cheyenne and it’s known for its cinnamon rolls. They are soft and tasty. And HUGE! Get to Johnson’s Corner by going north on Interstate 25 from Denver and get off on Exit 254. There are 150 truck parking spaces at this southern Larimer County enterprise and more than 100 people work there.
Cavillo’s Mexican Restaurant
400 Main Street
Alamosa, CO 81101-2618
As we travel around the state one thing we’re always on the lookout for is good Mexican food, and we usually try the chile rellenos before forming an opinion of a place. For our taste buds, hot as they may be after a spicy meal, the best we’ve ever found in Colorado is served in the San Luis Valley. There, three different people on three different days told us that “Hands down, the (best Mexican food) would be Calvillos.” Calvillos often has a full parking lot, sometimes as early as 4 p.m. on a weekday afternoon! Two large buffet tables teem with every imaginable Mexican dish you can imagine. As one entree disappears, kitchen workers quickly replace it with another, piping hot entree. You’ll never have a chance like this to sample so much in one place. Posole, relleno casserole (great!), fajitas, guacamole, burritos, chicken, beef and pork dishes … the list goes on. There are three distinct sauces served that you’ll want to check out — scampi (butter and garlic), “la ranchera” (mild spice w/ vegetables), and “a la diabla” (a zesty hot sauce). Owner Jose Lopez and his family come from Calvillo, Mexico. In 1997, with only $4,000, they opened the restaurant in a small building in Alamosa. It became so popular so fast that they expanded into a bigger place. Jose says 80 percent of their recipes come directly from the family’s matriarch. Jose has a story about a visitor from his country who told him “this food is better than in Mexico!” The family also operates restaurants in Monte Vista and Center. Calvillo’s serves a lunch and dinner buffet daily.
Rino’s Italian Restaurant & Steakhouse
400 E Main Street
Trinidad, CO 81082
Besides serving some of the finest Italian cuisine in the region, the singing waiters at Rino’s entertain diners with classic Italian songs. After successful singing and restaurant careers in Hollywood and Las Vegas, original owners Frank and Bob Cordova came back to their hometown of Trinidad. In 2006 Frank took over the business as the sole owner. Rino’s is an experience of taste and music from Italy. To get there take Interstate 25 south through Pueblo and Walsenburg to Trinidad. They are located at 400 E. Main.
Eddyline Restaurant and Brewery
926 S. Main Street
Buena Vista, CO 81211
Tucked up next to the beautiful Arkansas River, the Eddyline is a great spot to visit after doing some kayaking, hiking a nearby 14er or just taking a break in Buena Vista. “Eddies” are a point in a river where the flow is mild compared to a fast current all around, and in this new part of town there’s a decidedly mild vibe. On a recent visit we enjoyed their Red Chile Pasta (“authentic New Mexico grown red chile made in a spicy cream sauce”) and the Elephant Rock Amber Lager. On some nights they dim the lights after 8 p.m. and play documentaries on a pulldown screen.