Food & Drink

Multi-restaurant event lets diners experiment


Thursday Night Dine Around participants enjoy a $5 dish at  You Need Pie! in Estes Park

By Jennifer Pund
With the winter snows beginning to thaw, March is the perfect time to venture out and explore a world of cuisines, and a variety of Estes Park restaurants, during Thursday Night Dine Around. Dozens of restaurants all over town offer special $5 menus each Thursday in March. The offerings change weekly, prompting diners to return each week. Organizer Val Thompson—who owns and runs You Need Pie!—encourages everyone to stop by two or three restaurants each week to see friends, have fun and taste a wide-range of great food.

The Thursday Night Dine Around has evolved from similar events held in Estes Park the past. According to Thompson, the original idea came about in 2007 by Phil and Mel Tulin, former Estes Park residents. “They participated in a similar event back in the Northeast where they lived and thought it would be fun for Estes Park to have a something like that here,” Thompson said. “Three years ago when we re-opened the pie shop in it’s current location, I wanted the event to continue as originally intended and became the defaco organizer.”

The event was conceived to bring more business to Estes Park during a slow period in winter. “Since eight years ago, March has become a busier month for Estes Park. With increased focus on spring break activities, but typically the weather is pretty good, so we’ve just left it in March,” Thompson said.

Thompson wants to be sure the weekly March event isn’t confused with the “Taste of Estes Park,” which is a popular fundraiser for the Quota Club held at the Convention Center in April. “There is always confusion regarding these two events,” she said. “I am a big believer in calling things what they are, hence the ‘You Need Pie!’ tagline.”

Thursday Night Dine Around has grown every year and this time has 21 local restaurants participating in five Dine Around events which run from 4:30-7:30 p.m. “The plates are supposed to be different each week because customers go back to their favorites week after week to sample different items,” Thompson explained. “The event has received some great support from the town.”

Find $5 menu items on Thursdays in March at You Need Pie! Diner and Bakery, Himalayan Curry & Kabob, Chicago’s Best, Baba’s Burgers, Hunter’s Chop House, Snowy Peaks Winery, La Cabana Bar & Grill, Rock Cut Brewery, Antonio’s New York Pizza, Ed’s Cantina, The Grubsteak, Cascades at The Stanley Hotel, Claire’s On the Park, Cafe de Pho Thai, Big Horn Restaurant, Estes Park Brewery, Sweet Basilico, The Wild Rose Restaurant, Peppers Mexican Grill, Smokin’ Daves BBQ Taphouse and El Mex Kal Mexican Restaurant. [See links below]

The Thursday Night Dine Around event is successful for restaurants and creates an environment ripe for experimenting or trying new menu items in small portions. “Restaurants like to do the event because it’s such fun for the customers. At $5 a plate, it’s not a big money maker for the restaurants, but it gives us a chance to see our great customers out and about having fun, enjoying food,” she said. “Many restaurants take the opportunity to introduce new items, or those just largely unknown to their customer base,” Thompson said. “ I personally love it because everyone is just having such fun.”

Groups, couples and single diner can jump from place to place sampling as many menu items as time allows in one night while some lodges offer specials for including Thursday night stays. “Diners love the event because they get to hop around from restaurant to restaurant seeing friends, talking about where they’ve been and try a variety of things, sometimes new things and it’s a great price,” Thompson said. “Many lodges plan to offer extended weekend specials that encompass the Thursday Event.”

Visit or contact Val Thompson at You Need Pie!, 509 Big Thompson Ave. or call 970-577-7437 to learn more.

Originally published in the March 2016 issue of the MMAC Monthly

El Mex Kal Mexican Restaurant – 160 1st St. (970) 586-4377
Smokin’ Daves BBQ & Taphouse – 820 Moraine Ave.(970) 577-7427
You Need Pie! Diner & Bakery– 509 Big Thompson Ave. (970) 577-7437
Peppers Mexican Grill – 401 E. Elkhorn Ave. (970) 577-0032
The Wild Rose Restaurant – 157 E.Elkhorn (Church Shops) (970) 586-2806
Sweet Basilico – 430 Prospect Village Dr. (970) 586-3899 (except 3/17)
Estes Park Brewery – 470 Prospect Village Dr.(970) 586-5421
Big Horn Restaurant – 401 W. Elkhorn Ave (970) 586-2792
Cafe de Pho Thai – 225 W. Riverside Drive (970) 577-0682
Claire’s On The Park – 225 Park Lane (970) 586-9564
Cascades at The Stanley Hotel – 333 E. Wonderview Ave (970) 577-4001
The Grubsteak – 134 W. Elkhorn (970) 586-8838
Ed’s Cantina – 390 E. Elkhorn (970) 586-2919
Antonio’s New York Pizza – 552 W. Elkhorn (970) 586-7275
Rock Cut Brewery – 390 W. Riverside (970) 586-7300
La Cabana Bar & Grill – 165 Virginia Drive (Top of Courtyard Shops) (970) 586-1156
Snowy Peaks Winery – 292 Moraine Ave. (970) 586-2099
Hunter’s Chop House – 1690 Big Thompson Ave. (970) 586-6962
Baba’s Burgers – 861 Moraine Ave. (970) 586-1171
Chicago’s Best – 112 W. Elkhorn Ave. (970) 586-4796
Himalayan Curry & Kebob – 110 W. Elkhorn Ave. (970) 586-6226

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