Marion’s of the Rockies . Idaho Springs
Along with Barricuda’s on 11th and Ogden, Marion’s of the Rockies holds title in the top tier of my “most visited” dining spots here in Colorado. This Idaho Springs restaurant is a place that I consider a second home, or at least my home for breakfast. With ski season rolling in soon it’s time for some props and recognition to a fine Idaho Springs eatery.
12 years ago during my first winter in Denver, some friends took me on my first ever ski day to Winter Park. I wasn’t even familiar with Colorado ski resort geography much less prime breakfast joints. En route we pulled off I-70 at the first Idaho Springs exit and whipped into one of these pictured spaces at Marion’s. We piled out of the truck, I saw the friendly faces for the first time, and I’ve been going there ever since.
Marion’s namesake comes from the gentleman named Marion, who has been operating the establishment in this same location since 1978. In June of this year he retired and transferred the business to his nephew Scott. Scott and his wife Christina have since taken over day to day business – but not to worry, I visited in August and you wouldn’t know anything had changed behind the scenes. In earlier years I would notice a boy 12 years old or so who would bus the tables. For a few years after that he remained at his weekend dishwashing post, and I always saw him working during brief mountain sojourns. A couple years back I realized I hadn’t seen him in a while, and when inquiring was told he was now at college in Arizona. When you see the same faces and family running a place for that many years straight you know they must be doing something right.
Entering you find two dining areas: to the right a cozy room consisting of mostly booths. Incandescent and comfy is the best way to describe it. To the left is a second dining room with plenty of natural light due to the large windows. Tourists enjoy sitting here in order to view the gigantic rocky wall that frames in the north side of Idaho Springs. For the longest time this atrium side was the smoking half, however the ban a few years back opened it up to all diners.
During peak breakfast hours cars fill every available parking space. Despite the place being packed though I’ve never had more than a 15 minute wait. Tables clear fast when there’s powder to reach, and Sally, the matronly manager is quick get people seated and fed.
On weekends Denverites heading to the high country make up a large percentage of the patrons, but many Idaho Springs locals make regular stops through Marion’s too. Visit on a quieter weekday and you’ll hear plenty of community news and gossip. Casino workers from nearby Black Hawk and Central City call Idaho Springs home and some also make Marion’s a stopping point.
Although I vary my menu somewhat, I’m usually partial to the chicken fried chicken – which provides sufficient sustenance for a day on the slopes. There are plenty of other hearty breakfasts including a steak and eggs dish I occasionally have. Lunch and dinner offer typical family style restaurant plates.
Next time you’re racing up I-70, (or if on the weekend watching a snail pass you,) zip off on the first Idaho Springs exit and pay Marion’s and family a visit. I can promise you won’t be disappointed. And you might see me there sipping coffee out of their brown mugs and accidentally pouring too much A1 Sauce on my chicken fried chicken. Oh and I believe the Rotary club meets there on Fridays.
Marion’s of the Rockies is at 2805 Colorado Blvd in Idaho Springs. If traveling west on 70 exit 241B and look on your left.
by James Van Dellen