Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rio Grande Southern Hotel in Dolores

The Rio Grande Southern Hotel and Restaurant was built in 1893 and is the oldest building in Dolores, Colorado. It was the first hotel in town and for many years was the only eating house between Durango and Telluride. It is located a short distance west off of Highway 145 on S. 5th St., in the vicinity of the Galloping Goose display and museum.

The Dolores area is a gateway for both canyon hikes and mountain hikes. Heading north along Highway 145 the Bear Creek and Priest Gulch trails are about 25 miles away. The west fork of the Dolores River also has interesting hikes at Fish Creek and the Geyser Springs among others.

Above Dolores is the Boggy Draw Trail System. The small but excellent Anasazi Heritage Center museum is a short distance away and it acts as the Visitor Center for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

My visit to the Rio Grande Southern was following a view of the Galloping Goose Railway display and a short late fall walk on the Dolores River Trail. The Dolores Visitors Center along Highway 145 has copies of the menus of the Dolores restaurants. The interior of the Rio Grande Southern dining area reminded me of the similar era Historic Painted Desert Inn at Petrified Forest National Park. The Painted Desert Inn has been long retired and is preserved as an historic site, but the Rio Grande Southern Hotel is still operating.

The lunch menu at the Rio Grande Southern has a strong German flavor due to long time Dolores area chef Rita Bergestrom. On the shelf above the table where I ate there are copies of her “A Taste of Old Germany” cookbook for sale. I had a tasty Schnitzel sandwich with a side dish of German potato salad.

 I had to look up what exactly Schnitzel is and I found that it is a breaded boneless cutlet that is thinned with a hammer and fried. Schnitzel seems to be a style. The meat used can vary. I think my sandwich was pork but other meats can be used. The term Weiner Schnitzel is specific to veal.   There was a layer of lettuce and tomato with mayonnaise on the bottom and a layer of ham on top.