Windsor restaurants: Your guide to dining in Northern Colorado's biggest little town – Coloradoan
Fort Collins may be known for its ever-growing food and beer scene, but don’t let that distract you from what’s happening just down the road.
After decades as a sleepy bedroom community, nearby Windsor has been on the upswing over the past 20 years, with its population more than tripling since 2000, according to census records.
And while residents and employers have flocked to Windsor, restaurants have popped up to fill the needs — and plates — of the growing community.
« Back then, we were only one of a couple restaurants out here, » said chef Jason Shaeffer, who took over Main Street Windsor’s Chimney Park Bistro in 2007, turning it into the award-winning fine dining spot Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar. Roughly eight years later, Shaeffer opened Hearth Restaurant and Pub — the area’s first true gastro-pub — across the street.
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A decade ago, Windsor added its first microbrewery and more recently saw the reconstruction of its historic 1899 flour and feed mill, which rose from the ashes of a 2017 arson to house two new restaurants and a craft brewery starting in 2019 and 2020.
In downtown Windsor alone, at least three new eateries are set to join the fray in 2022, including Cancun Mexican Grill & Cantina, Loveland’s Mo’Betta Gumbo and Fort Collins-born William Oliver’s Publick House.
« It really feels like now we’re becoming a little more of a hub, » Shaeffer said. « It’s the whole ‘rising tide raises all ships’ kind of thing. »
Here are some restaurants, bars and breweries to try in Windsor this year as well as some dining developments to keep your eye on.
Cacciatore at Heller’s Kitchen, 301 Main St.
Get your fill of comforting Italian classics at Cacciatore at Heller’s Kitchen. The inviting eatery, which opened in the Windsor Mill in 2019, dishes up everything from hearty pizzas and happy hour mozzarella sticks to creamy cauliflower risotto and classic Italian entrees appropriately called « Nonna’s specialties. » Cacciatore at Heller’s Kitchen serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, as well as take-and-bake family style meals, according to its website.
Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar, 406 Main St.
If you’re a true Northern Colorado foodie, you’ve heard of Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar — Windsor’s dining darling that’s been serving up award-winning fare with Shaeffer at its helm since 2007. Chimney Park has grown into a regional staple, boasting seasonally crafted menus and special holiday and wine dinners. Chimney Park is open for dinner 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 4-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
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Mr. Yo’s Donut, 1296 Main St., Unit A
Busy mornings call for Mr. Yo’s Donut. The nearly decade-old doughnut shop, which is run by Windsor couple Hyo and Susanna Jang — or Mr. and Mrs. Yo — is known for its fresh daily doughnuts, coffee and other baked offerings, like sausage rolls and croissants. To make things even quicker, hit the shop’s drive-thru window. Mr. Yo’s Donut is usually open 5 a.m. to noon Mondays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to noon Sundays. Hours are subject to change and are updated regularly on the shop’s Facebook page.
Pelican Jo’s Pizzeria, 263 Eastman Park Drive
After nearly 15 years in Windsor, the family-owned Pelican Jo’s Pizzeria is going strong, serving up New York-style pies in its unfussy Eastman Park Drive location. Pizza varieties vary from classics like meat lovers to Pelican Joe’s mango habanero chicken pizza, as well as create-your-own options, calzones and sub sandwiches. Order ahead for family pizza night or pop in for pizza sold by the slice. Pelican Jo’s Pizzeria is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Wing Shack, 1261 Main St.
Whether it’s for game day or your lunch hour, Wing Shack is a favorite stop in Windsor. The regional chain, which has locations across Northern Colorado and in Cheyenne, serves up traditional and boneless wings, sandwiches, salads and potato chips and fries fresh out of the fryer. Wing Shack is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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Hearth Restaurant and Pub, 205½ Fourth St.
While Chimney Park Restaurant and Bar is a fine dining favorite in Windsor, Hearth Restaurant and Pub is its fun, less formal sibling. Hearth serves up wood-fired pizzas, a 16-tap system of craft beers and a menu packed with hearty fare from stacked burgers and hot sandwiches to Angus flat iron steak and Scottish salmon mignon. After eight years at the helm of Chimney Park, Shaeffer opened Hearth across Main Street in 2015 — renovating Windsor’s century-old Freemasons lodge into the cozy, industrial-touched space it is today.
« There was a need for more, » Shaeffer said of Hearth’s inception, adding that he wanted to offer something other than fine dining to Windsorites. Hearth is open for dinner from 3-9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 3-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, as well as for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. It’s also become known as a regular happy hour stop, with happy hours from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and all night on Mondays.
Sala Thai, 1293 Main St., Unit 3
Warm up with some traditional and Thai fusion dishes at Windsor’s Sala Thai. For more than a decade, Sala Thai has been cooking up authentic Thai entrees, curries, noodle dishes and house specialties, like crab fried rice, avocado curry and crispy rainbow trout. Sala Thai is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and for dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. It is also open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Windsor Mill Tavern, 301 Main St., Unit C
Cozy up in the underground Windsor Mill Tavern, which offers up a range of craft cocktails, cold beer and pub fare in an almost speak-easy-like space. The tavern, one of the Windsor Mill’s first tenants to open in 2019, features a warm atmosphere in its garden-level space — dotted with touches like large timber posts that survived the historic mill’s 2017 fire. When dining at Windsor Mill Tavern, take your pick from hearty sandwiches and burgers, cottage pie or wild game meatloaf and bar favorites like Bavarian pretzels and Colorado white cheddar cheese curds. Windsor Mill Tavern is open 4-10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 2 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.
High Hops Brewery and The Heart Distillery, 6461 Colorado Highway 392
For the best of both worlds, head to Windsor’s High Hops Brewery and The Heart Distillery, which operate out of the Windsor Gardener garden center. Started from a homebrewing hobby — and bolstered by its own home-grown hops — High Hops became Windsor’s first microbrewery in 2012. The Heart Distillery opened under the same roof six years later, adding gin, small-batch bourbon, vodka, whiskey — and, of course, craft cocktails — to the mix. Last year, High Hops Brewery and The Heart Distillery secured a common consumption license, making it the site of Windsor’s first entertainment district and allowing customers to enjoy their beers and cocktails in either of the distillery or brewery tasting rooms, as well as the property’s beer garden and patio. High Hops Brewery is open noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. The Heart Distillery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, noon to 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
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Mash Lab Brewing & Kitchen, 4487 Highland Meadows Parkway
Looking for a beer and burger away from the bustle of Main Street Windsor? Try Mash Lab Brewing, which opened on the town’s western edge in 2016 and has since grown into a 10-barrel brewhouse with an adjoining restaurant serving sandwiches, pasta dishes and small plates. Mash Lab Brewing & Kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Peculier Ales, 301 Main St., Unit A
While its fellow mill tenant Windsor Mill Tavern is cozy and underground, Peculier Ales’ upstairs atmosphere is bright, airy and open. And, for the growing brewery — which expanded its operations with a new Fort Collins location late last year — it’s home. Peculier Ales opened in the Windsor Mill in summer 2020, brewing up a variety of ales and lagers with plans for some sour beers. After starting out hosting roving food trucks, Peculier Ales also added an on-site kitchen, Comn Fare, to the the brewery in November. Comn Fare features bistro eats with a county fair twist — from classic and elote corn dogs, french fries and fried pickles to crispy fried cauliflower, beer brats, pretzels and funnel cake fries. Peculier Ales is open noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, noon to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Tipsy Cricket, 205 Fourth St.
It’s only fitting that the establishment under Windsor’s Hearth restaurant is as cozy as Tipsy Cricket. The inviting little tavern and wine bar, which replaced Toast Coffee and Wine Bar in August, is finding its lanky legs in downtown Windsor by serving up a slate of wines, rotating craft beers, beermosas and seasonal specials like an autumn-inspired Chardonnay and caramel apple spritz. While now just focusing on beer and wine, the tavern hopes to expand into a full bar early this year. Tipsy Cricket’s food menu boasts small plates like a baked brie appetizer and bruschetta toast as well as its not-so-small paninis. The tavern will begin hosting monthly pub trivia nights in February as well as live music from 6 to 8 p .m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Tipsy Cricket is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
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If you have a taste for some new Windsor dining options — and a bit of patience — do I have some news for you. At least three new restaurants are set to open in Windsor later this year. Starting this spring, Loveland’s Mo’Betta Gumbo plans to open its first Windsor location at 526 Main St. The giant 6,000-square-foot space will be transformed to accommodate the Cajun and Creole eatery’s large kitchen and bar.
Just a few doors down, at 514 Main St., Fort Collins whiskey- and bacon-centric William Oliver’s Publick House will stage its long-awaited Windsor expansion. Hoping to open in the downtown space this summer, William Oliver’s owner Ryan Wallace told the Coloradoan the new location will feature much of the same food and whiskey offerings William Oliver’s regulars have come to love, as well as the addition of a snug — a small, private drinking area built off the bar in traditional Irish pub fashion.
Cancun Mexican Grill & Cantina, which has restaurants in Fort Collins and Greeley, has also set its eyes on Windsor. The Mexican eatery is planning to take over 431 Main St., the longtime former home of beloved Hawaiian restaurant Okole Maluna, first reported by Retro 102.5. Windsor’s economic development department confirmed the eatery’s plans with the Coloradoan.
Erin Udell reports on news, culture, history and more for the Coloradoan. Contact her at [email protected]