Durango launches its own Restaurant Week with an eye on showing you what you’re missing

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Zachery Leclaire puts up orders in the kitchen at Steamworks Brewing in Durango, Feb. 25, 2021.

A new tradition. That’s what organizers of the annual Durango Restaurant Week hope they are creating this week. 

Local eateries are offering a wide range of exclusive options during the first Durango Restaurant Week. The options range from a three-course menu to specialized dishes and handcrafted alcoholic beverages. 

Rachel Welsh from the tourism group Visit Durango, the group behind the event, says the celebration is a chance to highlight the culinary scene and celebrate the restaurants and hospitality workers who work in them.

“We have a lot of great chefs and restaurant owners here in Durango. So they were excited to have an opportunity to experiment a little and to showcase, you know, what they're good at,” Welsh said.

One of the spots participating is The Durango Diner, which has been a staple in town for 60 years. 

Greg Mauger took over ownership of The Durango Diner about 18 months ago, in the midst of the pandemic. It was something he had considered for a while after working there off and on for 10 years. After moving away, Mauger moved back to Durango after recovering from COVID.

“I figured I'd rather work myself to death than never be this bored again. So, certainly, owning a restaurant is working yourself to death. So here I am doing that exact thing,” Mauger said. 

Mauger said he appreciates the chance to show people the Diner offers more than many people expect from a typical diner. For Restaurant Week he is featuring a Birria Benedict. It's inspired by a traditional Mexican stewed meat dish. 

“We're doing a little bit of a spin on it, but we're cooking it in a traditional way. And we're using short ribs,” Mauger said. “We're taking that meat and then putting it on a benedict, so putting it on an English muffin with a couple eggs.” The dish gets topped off with a special white queso hollandaise. 

Mauger said he has tried to keep the traditional diner vibe and keep those traditional diner dishes, but also put his own culinary stamp on the menu where possible.  

“You know, I want fresh hash browns, eggs and bacon and all that stuff, but also, you know, we have a little bit of something funky to offer people something a little different,” he said. 

Mauger focuses on many local Colorado products, like potatoes from Monte Vista, which he personally picks up. Most of their beef and pork comes from Callaway Farms in Delta.

Durango Restaurant Week continues through Sunday, April 9, with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options at several local restaurants and bars.