Colorado’s ski resorts are some of the best in the world. Some of them even have a real “Old West” town as a bonus. Crested Butte is one of my favorite for that reason. A walk along the core of this high altitude remnant of Colorado’s mining days will reveal dozens of homes and buildings from the 1880s and 1890s.
Several of these historic buildings house great restaurants. Slogar is hands down my favorite. Said to have been built in 1882 by Thomas W. Lipcomb, it was first a home before becoming Sporcich Saloon. Thirsty miners would hang out after a hard day at the mine drowning there worries in beer and whiskey.
Prohibition brought an end to the merriment until the building re-opened in 1976 as The Slogar Bar & Restaurant. Three generations of the Clark family has run the current version of Slogar ever since. It’s a rare thing to offer a set family style menu, especially in Colorado, but the Clark family has figured out a dinner winner deal. For just $25 per person this is a bargain in Colorado ski country. Slogar serves its famous fried chicken from a recipe dating to 1915. The sides are a starter of cottage cheese and tomato chutney, relish tray, Pennsylvania Dutch sweet and sour coleslaw. Mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy, cream corn arrive when the chicken lands on the table followed by ice cream for dessert.
Reservations are a must. We were there towards the end of the ski season and packed the back room with eleven hungry skiers. Our waitress, Lee, is a part-time worker at Slogar and lives high above Crested Butte in Irwin. Lee got us started with the relish tray, cottage cheese and the famous tomato chutney. I never knew cottage cheese could taste so good until I topped it with Slogar’s tomato chutney.
Drink orders were taken and my wife and I had a bottle of Michael David Chardonnay from Lodi California. This was a perfect wine to go with fried chicken and the sides. I love a restaurant that gives me something to eat soon after sitting down. Especially when the starters are as tasty as what Slogar marches out to the table.
Fried chicken is the star of the show, but if needed an occasional outlier can order the steak. We had no such rebels at our table. After munching on starters and drinking like a bunch of off-work miners the chicken landed. Each person is granted a generous half chicken. Lee deposited two Rocky Mountain-sized platters of fried chicken at our long table. At first there was much chatter, but soon a happy quiet ensued as everybody dug into the mountains of crispy chicken and a few happy sighs were heard.
The cream corn, mashed potatoes, and gravy go with the chicken like cheese to a cheese burger. One of the bonuses is Slogar gives each table all the sides they can eat. Each time the cottage cheese, biscuits, gravy, corn, or mashed potatoes went low, Lee brought in refilled bowls. I never walk away from Slogar hungry.
When the chicken feasting slows to a nibble, it’s time for ice cream. This might seem too simple serving vanilla ice cream, but there is the strawberry jam that came out with the biscuits for a fruity topping if needed. When it was all over but the burping and sighing there were almost fifteen pieces of fried chicken left. We were all staying in a hotel at the ski resort and leftovers didn’t appeal to anyone but my wife and I.
Back to the hotel
We took it all and stuffed the chicken into three to-go bags. I had a plan for the leftovers. We would eat it for lunch two days later on the drive back to Denver. The rest would go to the under-paid resort workers in our path back to the hotel. I gifted one bag of the chicken to the shuttle bus driver and most of the rest to the front desk staff at The Grand Lodge. I asked the young woman behind the front desk, “Have you ever tried Slogar’s fried chicken?” She told me, “I’m too poor to eat at Slogar.” I gifted her one bag of the prized bird and headed back to my room. When I got there I discovered they hadn’t brought us hand towels or washcloths so I went back to the front desk to request them again.
When I got to the front desk the young woman I gifted the chicken to was happily munching a chicken wing. I requested the towels and grinned at how much she was enjoying the chicken wing. Just seeing how much she was enjoying the fried chicken spurred back up to our room for the other bag of leftover chicken for her and her crew of five. We received our towels and wash cloths soon after and felt great having found a home for the leftover chicken.
I’ve only been to Crested Butte about six times. It’s far off the beaten path and about five hours drive from Denver. One thing’s for sure. Every time I go Slogar is on my mind and if they are open I make reservations each trip. They do close for parts of the off-season but during summer and winter the chicken is a flying from kitchen to table. If you go, be sure and catch a meal at this legendary Rocky Mountain gem. It’s one of the best anywhere.