Food + Family + Good Times
Nestled under an awning between Main and Second avenues, the Ore House thrives as one of Durango’s oldest and finest restaurants. Since the barnwood-clad door first opened in 1972, Durangoan’s and weary travelers alike have been treated to more than choice steaks and artisanal libations; they’ve been welcomed in as one of the Ore House family.
Over the last 46 years, the Ore House has evolved from a traditional steakhouse with hearty dishes and mahogany décor into a cutting-edge bastion of Durango. Progressive, seasonal menus feature Southwestern fare with accents of Classical European and South American influences. Partnerships with Colorado craft brewers, distillers and winemakers keep glasses filled with one-of-a-kind flavors. Beyond the walls of the restaurant, a commitment to community development reigns supreme.
The secret spice behind the energy wafting from this Durango go-to? A dash of tradition infused with the dedication of the talented staff of 30, including the talented culinary team, Cliff Bornheim, Regan Briggs, Jack Roberts and Colin Corwin, hospitality manager, Jamie Miller, bar manager, Ryan Cleveland, and their fearless leader, owner and head dishwasher, Ryan Lowe.
“I’m enamored by our crew every day,” Lowe praises.
Born and raised in Durango, Lowe grew up cooking in the kitchen with his mom, who instilled in him a love of fresh, locally sourced food. This passion now shapes the philosophy behind the Ore House.
“We’ve never bought more regional food than now,” says Lowe. “It tastes better, is better for you, and is way more interesting.”
It’s also more sustainable than purchasing from mass producers. For instance, when grocery stores panicked during November’s romaine lettuce scare, the Ore House’s Colorado Caesar stayed on the menu, thanks to a small farm in Pagosa Springs.
These leafy greens grown just down the street are one of many tasty sides harvested in the ‘hood. Mushrooms are foraged from the surrounding San Juan National Forest. Belford cheese is made from James Ranch cow’s milk just up the Animas Valley. Heirloom tomatoes, Hatch green chilis, carrots, beets, and even jam are delivered by farmers who Lowe and team know on a first-name basis.
The same dedication to sourcing as many regional ingredients as possible rings true at the bar, where bar manager Cleveland focuses on innovating brilliant cocktails and unraveling the complex world of bold, beautiful wines pulled from the Ore House’s impressive wine collection. Bottles include the Miner’s Cut, an Ore House and Sutcliffe Vineyards collaboration conjured from grapes grown in nearby McElmo Canyon.
Beverages pair perfectly with an array of main courses, like wild-caught seafood, heritage-breed pork, lambs and hand-cut USDA-certified steaks from local ranches. Whether ordered gluten-free or “Ore House Style” with lobster elegantly piled on top, each meal is intentionally crafted, considered down to the last crumb or salt sprinkle.
The camaraderie celebrated by the team is integral to keeping the energy high at the Ore House. With a legacy as the après spot for ski patrollers and the hatchery of the Snowdown Follies, the restaurant is also sought after by locals who come for the birthday discount. When 103-year-old Arvo Matis came in for his 103-percent discount, Lowe not only gave the gentleman $3; he bought the whole table dinner to thank Matis for his patronage over the decades.
“We’re not a tourist trap; it’s really a local’s joint,” he continues. “We like to do everything we can to foster those relationships. That’s the most important thing to us. We’ve got to be relevant to the people here.” “
Confirmation of this relevance came in the form of a letter from the Durango Chamber of Commerce this fall, when they announced the Ore House is one of three finalists for 2018 Business of the Year.
“The Ore House is in the finest portion of its life cycle right now,” says Lowe proudly. “This place has a lot of memories for a lot of people. Customers come to enjoy an experience, to be able to think, laugh and cry. Those are the three critical elements of being a human. If we can help them have one of those things happen while they’re here, I think we’ve done our job.”
147 E College Dr
Durango, Colorado 81301
by Joy Martin
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