Rockin’ at the Rock Inn

Estes Park restaurant combhines comfort food and forward thinking practices 

A look at the Rock Inn’s crowded parking lot with pickups and Harleys spilling over to roadside parking, and you think this over-sized log cabin probably serves biker-bar cuisine, cheap beer and undrinkable wines to a cast straight out of “Easy Rider.”  Au contraire. Turns out The Rock Inn is a locals’ hangout, and by and large, they don’t go for fancy cars.

The kitchen sends out varied and interesting scratch-made dishes, some fine renditions of comfort classics and others innovative. The menu changes seasonally. The vegetables were well cooked, which to me is a sure sign that the kitchen cares. Among the wines they serve (even by the glass) is Trinity Oaks, a winery that partners with Trees for the Future and plants a tree for every bottle sold. As of today, they had counted more than 3.8 million trees in the Americas, Asia and primarily Africa. And the Rock Inn is green too. Take-out boxes are by Bio-Plus Earth #2, made from recycled paperboard and are recyclable. No Styrofoam guilt when walking out with a doggie bag. They’ve even got a joice bar. It’s couldn’t help but think that there’s a lot of Boulder-style eco-consciousness at The Rock Inn.

My friend Jeannie and I dined at The Rock Inn a couple of weeks ago. I knew it was a place my husband would like, so we returned last weekend after a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Each experience was happy, with tasty and satisfying, good service and affordable prices — especially at happy hour, nightly from 4:00 to 6:00. Another plus is that on neither visit was to music so loud that talking/hearing were impossible. Here’s what was ordered on my nearly back-to-back visits to The Rock Inn.

Spicy corn dip is a totally delicious version a chile con queso with the addition of corn kernels. Tricolor chips make for a lively appetizer presentation.


Fresh spinach salad with sunflower seeds, red onion and housemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Caesar salad with hearts of Romaine, a bit of color and house-made dressing.


Pan-seared trout with a choice of starches -- here quinoa.


A pair of salmon cakes with roasted red pepper remoulade. Prime rib, medium rare as ordered, tender and delicious.


Too bad this picture of the chicken marsala is so dark. The rich dish really was attractive presented with colorful vegetables and a brilliant sauce..


Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake is a whimsical notion, but it was also dense and delicious.

Price check:Appetizers, $5-$9; crocks of soup, $3.50-$4.50; $9-$9.50 plus 75¢-$1.25 per extra topping; salads, $7.50-$8.50; sandwiches, $7.75-$13; steaks, $24-$29; other entrees, $20-$22; pasta, $9-$15; à la carte sides, $3.50-$4.25.

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One thought on “Rockin’ at the Rock Inn”

  1. I’m the Jeannie who’s mentioned, and echo Claire’s evaluation. The Caesar Salad was forgettable, though the dressing was acceptable. The pan-seared trout was lovely, if a little heavy on the salt (ask to have that adjusted if you decide to order it). The cheesecake prompted me to move it to MY side of the table. I loved the atmosphere and enjoyed the conversation with the restaurant manager. Staff was attentive but not hovering. I’ll be back.

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