Back of the House
Destination Rico: The food is that good By Rick Scibelli, Jr. It is that down time in the San Juans that wedges itself between the aspens’ encore and the winter season’s first, first tracks, and Eamonn O’Hara’s inn and restaurant is open, but empty. For many, the thought of running a small inn in a quaint town in the middle of the Rockies feels like a dream job, the perfect escape from the crummy cards we firmly believe we have been dealt. But the reality, more often than not, proves different. No grocery store or doctor’s office, no movie theater, questionable cell service, snow drifts and, well, the difficult neighbor that happens to be your only neighbor and quite possibly your only acquaintance. And good, interesting food? Forget it. The best restaurants always lie in the next town over—on the other side of the mountain. Unless, of course, you are in Rico, CO, a historic blip on the map wedged between Telluride and Dolores, where the best res-
taurant may just sit right across the street. And if you’re Eamonn, veteran chef and innkeeper of the Argentine Grille and the Rico Hotel Mountain Lodge, there is no place that you would rather be. Yes, his restaurant is empty tonight, but despite his salt-andpepper hair being a little tousled and his posture hinting toward a lifetime of looking down upon a stovetop, Eamonn’s eyes aren’t showing a modicum of worry. You could almost paint the picture of the 19th-century immigrant innkeeper—lantern and all, meeting you at the front door after a long day of wet travel through wicked winter weather—the frosted windows, a roaring aspen wood fire, a warm drink, hot food, and a bed. Come in. I have been expecting you. There is no person I would rather see than you. That is how Eamonn can make you feel. ediblesanjuanmountains.com 11
Telling the story of local food throughout Southwest Colorado and The Four Corners.