Dine Around Estes Review: DIG 👍🏼 or dip 🏃 – recs. for 2023

Wanting to make sure you don’t waste your precious time during the Dine Around Estes event? Looking for amazing restaurants and blow-your-mind food and brew experiences in charming Estes Park?

It started with one online article that I stumbled across – I don’t even remember where or how. And it was every Thursday in March – and Jason’s birthday was a Thursday in March – it was perfect! It was fate.

“Want to taste all the Estes Park restaurant scene has to offer?”

https://www.visitestespark.com/blog/post/dine-around/

But, there was barely any information about Dine Around Estes online – information from the official Estes Park website, and that one article I randomly came across – and that’s it! So we didn’t really even know if it was a real thing. Even driving up there, planning our route, we kept making backup plans in case it wasn’t actually a real event.

My husband, Jason, and I love road trips and adventures, and we love Estes Park. It’s an easy, pleasant drive for us. Jason is a talented wildlife photographer and these are the roads that are most familiar to him that he drives to track elk, foxes, and moose.
With the family we always love to make this drive a full experience, with an early morning drive up Mt. Evans – the best scenic drive in this area of Colorado (yep, my opinion, try it and see what I’m on about 😊) and lunch at Beau Jo’s – classic.

I also love driving up to Estes Park just me! As a working mom and a serious introvert, when I have a rare full day to recharge, I oftentimes drive up to Estes Park in order to grab my favorite treat (a Fitz cream soda from Rocket Fizz – trust me, you’ve got to try one), get a book from Macdonald and sit and write morning pages at Inkwell & Brew.

Also, feel free to take these recommendations for your own adventures up to Estes Park. We highly recommend it for a family afternoon, or leaving in the morning for a lunch date. A mini road trip for good food? Yes please!

Estes park brewery 4:30
dip 🏃

Our experience: a strange atmosphere. We have always loved the beer brewed here, but now we recommend either the tasting counter on the first floor or buying from a liquor store.

This was our first stop, and so we got there the first minute we could – and we were pumped! But, when we told the server we were there for Dine Around Estes, the waiter literally rolled his eyes. We ordered our first beers of the night and asked about what they had for the special – and he again rolled his eyes and pointed at this weird sign on the table advertising burritos? It was completely separate from the menu and felt absolutely random.

It really is a blow to the gut that the first place we went to had such a bad attitude and lazy choice for Dine Around Estes. We’re so thankful that everywhere else that we went was so thoughtful and aware of the event, had good choices, and made us feel special. But this experience first made us worry that our theory that Dine Around Estes wasn’t truly a full event – was true.

In summary, amazing beer, but not worth the trip to the second floor.

Sweet Basilico

We skipped this one for only one reason – Jason and I hate mushrooms, they were offering Mushroom Marsala as their Dine Around dish. What they offered was super clear and inviting – on a big sign. They feel local and cozy, and the interior design fit perfectly with the atmosphere. Excited to try this place in the future! It smelled amazing.

Note to self: put this on the list for 2023!

Smokin’ Daves BBQ
DIG 👍🏼

Our first true tasting plate! We were SO excited as soon as we heard it was a sampler.

The ambience was so cozy and fun, and as soon as we walked in it smelled absolutely amazing. And even though practically every table was full, carry out orders were being brought out constantly – it was a pretty quick turn around to being sat down.

Our server knew exactly what we were looking for as soon as we started talking and even asked us if all the options sounded good. We also got drinks to support them and have recommended them to many people since.

One beef slider, one pulled pork slider, half a sausage, cole slaw, and baked beans. The baked beans were KILLER! Get them as soon as you’re able.

Barbecue is just a clear and automatic yes for us and this was amazing food and an incredible experience.

The Cascades 6pm
DIG 👍🏼

GOOD FOOD, AND at the Stanley – which is classic. They also had a more expanded menu: two $5 menu choices – one vegan – and a $5 wine on the menu with your choice of red or white. Great food, great menu!

Jason and I both got wild game chili – which is so Colorado! It was spiced well with good meat and broth balance and was filling and the perfect thickness. Also, I’m a sucker for thick, sweet cornbread and this cornbread rocked.

Ambience: very crowded, tables too close together. We were seated immediately but it was tight and loud. Interior design wise: gaudy design. Also, two of the ceiling tiles were upside down and as an interior designer I noticed.. but I bet not many other people did.

Note for 2023: order the purple drink 💜😁

Rock Cut Brewing Company
DIG 👍🏼

I loved the bartender here – knowledgeable, friendly, without being overbearing or up in our business. One of the brewers was there coming in and out, giving out free tasters and asking opinions, and he was genuinely interested in us and asked us where else we went for Dine Around Estes. The locals were chatting, and it was a fun atmosphere without feeling like we didn’t fit in.

My favorite beers are dark beers – like Porters and Stouts, and I loved their vanilla one! Not as much a fan of their Imperial Stout… but that’s 100% my taste.

YOU NEED PIE 7:15
DIG 👍🏼

These guys were all about Dine Around Estes and that was so refreshing considering we started somewhere that had a pretty negative attitude towards it! A huge sign outside advertising it and the cutest little taster plates with two pie options. Two cookies, a half piece of pie, and a mini cupcake. Everyone who worked there was so positive, friendly, and warm! We got ours to go, and I recommend it. Mostly since there isn’t a lot of seating available – only 5 or 6 tables if I remember correctly – and all of them were full. Looks like there’s a counter for ordering just pie to go if that’s more up your alley!

The atmosphere is what’s special here – everyone was welcoming and friendly. The pie definitely is a step or two above store bought (not high end or the best pie I’ve ever had) but everything else here was what made this experience special.


In summary…

Dine Around Estes
DIG 👍🏼

Started off as a rocky experience, but ended with some of the best food and experiences all in a row. Hopefully, this article will convince you to give it a try. And, like us, if you are having a hard time finding information, do not worry! Dine Around Estes is a fun, real event that almost all of the restaurants and locations made important. For our Dine Around Estes experience, the variety is what made the whole event feel fully worth it.

We already love Estes, but especially after our first experience at Dine Around Estes we will definitely be making time to make this a regular thing for us – hopefully even two weeks out of the month next year!

Some tips and tricks for the road:

  • Pick your priorities and go there first! We got to a full experience at 5 restaurants, and I don’t think it would be easily possible to pack more into Dine Around Estes than that. We arrived the first minute and left last minute of the event, so use your time wisely!
  • Don’t get discouraged! Even though the first place we went was an unsettling and unpleasant experience, every other place was special and amazing, with yummy food too.
  • Be flexible! We didn’t end up staying at Sweet Basilico because of the menu choice, and got to experience other places because of this! Every week of the Dine Around Estes experience has a different menu offering from each restaurant, and always know there is next year (we’re looking forward to it) – or you can come up to Estes and visit restaurants and breweries outside of the event as well.
  • Know a little of what to expect! Though a few options along the main stretch of main street, all of our places were far enough to drive at least four minutes between them. Park as close as you can and get ready to run back out to your car! Reach out if you have specific questions – I’m happy to share more of my personal experience.

No matter your strategy, mapping preferences, or choice of restaurants – you should go and experience it.

I hope to hear about your experience! Comment below with your stories, send restaurant recommendations by way, and feel free to DM me on Instagram to share your story!

Welcome to Aesthete Workshop 💜

My passions are expanding – and therefore my blog is expanding as well! This is a joining of two worlds: my love for design – interior design specifically – and my love of art and how it’s developed through my little Etsy shop of the same name. My existing interior design specific posts are still around, and I will most definitely still write more! I just want to bring more of me into this space. More sharing, more learning, more of my personal journey, both heart and art alike.

I am growing, learning, and developing every day – emotionally, as a mom, as an interior designer, as an artist – and I want to share it, and hear about your development too.

AES·THETE /ˈesˌTHēt/ one having sensitivity to the beautiful, especially in art

Our Value:
💜 Love art 💜 Reclaim wonder 💜 Share your story 💜

What Aesthete Workshop is:
⇢ A safe place for those who love art, use art, create art
⇢ A safe place for those who, like me, are learning their way through life

What Aesthete Workshop is all about:
⇢ Positive mental health, encouragement, community
⇢ Imperfection, learning, being beautifully messy
⇢ Finding the beauty in the everyday moments

Aesthete Workshop is for:
⇢ Artists
⇢ Art Appreciators
⇢ Deep Feelers
⇢ Lovers of Life

What will happen here at the Aesthete Workshop blog:
⇢ What I’m learning – in life and my art practices
⇢ Encouragement and Positivity
⇢ Art and Interior Design

Hi friends! My name is Amanda! I am currently a mom of two boys: 3 & 1 – with one on the way (my husband is really hoping for a girl, but I wouldn’t mind either way – I love being a boy mom). My day job is an interior designer working on commercial multi-family spaces, and I love spending my free time on my small business and personal art journey. My husband has a huge heart – he’s a building manager for a large non-profit out here in Colorado, and spends all his free time as a talented wildlife photographer.

I’m unashamed about my love for beautiful clouds and the color purple, I’m constantly listening to an audiobook, and I have one vise in life – I can’t say no to a Dr. Pepper.

I am focusing on my mental health as a large priority these days. Because of the large amount of upheaval and lower-t trauma life change in my life these past 6-8 years, I’ve been chronically disassociating for the past 1-and-a-half or 2 years. These days, I work moment by moment on staying present, inhabiting my body, and not letting my inner protectors react without taking control of my heart and soul. I absolutely know my body is constantly working on protecting my sensitive HSP soul, but for the past few months, I’ve been aware and working with my therapist. I no longer want to live in survival mode – on autopilot, and instead get present in my life, enjoy every beautiful moment.

I have important people speaking truth into my life – and learning more about what I need in my life to move my life where I want it to go: a personal art practice, schedule consistency, managing my triggers, going to a movie alone every week, somatic therapy, grounding meditations, as some examples. My personal heart goal is to get preventative in my mental health instead of reactive – as I’ve been practically living on cortisol in my life for who knows how long.

And as you can tell, also – I tend to overshare – I’m an open book!

Hey, friend! You got this too 😊 you really, honestly do 💜

I have learned for me personally that this is my mantra, my go word, what I look in the mirror and say to myself when I’m just so low on energy but still have shit to do (I always do).

It’s been about a month since I’ve really sunk my time into my little Etsy shop and I’m excited to come back and show you guys everything I’ve been cooking up… in other news… I also have something else big cooking – baby number three!

With two toddlers, a full 40+ hour a week day job, and everything else life has to offer (I really need to clean my house too 😉), I’ve been telling myself “you’ve got this” several times a day. And let me tell you, I actually do got it! Tired, busy, not on ounce of introvert time, too much fast food, and falling asleep before my head hits the pillow, I still do it day after day 💜

And you got this too.

Freebie lock screens below to remind yourself that you got this:

You are cared for and have a place here at Aesthete Workshop! 💜

⇢ Where have you seen or created beauty in your life recently?

Love ya!
⇢ Amanda Margaret

Starting your art journey, even with a smaller budget

First, you have to fall in love.

The hardest part of my job as an interior designer is artwork (also, wallpaper, which honestly is just a whole wall covered in art). I work closely with clients and address artwork as thoroughly and often as it takes, but sometimes at the end of the project, I encourage clients to take a look and find art for themselves.

by Amanda Margaret Interiors

To start your art journey, my favorite places for affordable prints, printed for you, and sometimes even framed for you:
Minted
Artfully Walls
Gallery inspired, chic, conceptual: Saatchi Art
Trendy, graphic, youthful: FY!
Unique and full of personality, hand numbered, limited edition and affordable: https://www.thepeoplesprintshop.com/
Genuine vintage (most), I especially love looking through their lithographs: https://www.chairish.com/search?q=lithograph
Classy, minimal, trendy posters: https://popchart.co/

Now, remember you can frame absolutely anything and it will look artistic and professional. I was over at a client’s house the other day and was loving her art collection. She pointed out a shadow-box style framed piece of a lovely quote in French, and told me it was the inside of a cardboard box that she just like the look of. She also had a framed paper placemat-style menu from a restaurant in Paris that she kept from her honeymoon – it had lovely wrinkles in it!

Keep an eye out for things you like the look of, or mean something to you! Book pages (or a bookmark even), an old postcard, a letter from your family, an old map with worn seams, a fabric patch, any of these things can be framed and look natural, professional, and artistic. One of my favorite things right now is pressed flowers, especially meaningful ones like your wedding bouquet. My favorite company that does this is Emblem and Pine.

Collect things you love, then take them to get professionally framed (I recommend no mat – shadowbox style) and you will have the most unique art collection of any home that you know.

Also, keep your eye out in thrift stores, at farmers markets, and out and about wherever you are!

Things You Didn't Know You Could Frame | Better Homes & Gardens

If you would like to seek out art that you love, and are willing to do the work, you can save yourself some money, and with some tips and tricks, it can look just like the real thing.

As I started this article by saying – the first step is falling in love!

There is so much art out there! I promise you will find something you fall in love with. Keep searching and researching and figuring out what gives you emotion and sticks in your head. Search for some specific genres: photography, modern abstract, traditional painting, botanical or architectural prints, minimalist, then search within those genres. Oftentimes you like one genre and then find other, specific art that you love in other genres even if you don’t like the more general category.

The best way to save money with artwork is to use printable resources and then frame prints yourself. Start searching! Here are some resources.

Trendy, Minted-like: https://juniperprintshop.com/
Vintage art prints: https://museumqualityart.com/
Photography (free, differing quality – never print above 100% size): https://unsplash.com/
Minimal, Scandinavian, Figural: The Printable Studio
Minimal, Scandinavian, Textural: MIUUSSTUDIO
A favorite artist of mine: Dan Hobday Art – Printable Collection

Now, once you choose your amazing art that you fall in love with, there are many places you can print and frame to hang on your wall. You can even do it at home, especially if you are using a floating, glass gallery frame or shadowbox. Or, you can also upload directly and get it printed and framed at:
https://www.framebridge.com/
or https://simplyframed.com/

I am so excited you are starting out on your art journey! Remember when it comes to art, follow your heart (oh my, I’m regretting thinking of that now) and explore. Find things you love, include unexpected things, and every time you look at your walls, it will feel just like home. Holes can be filled and pieces can be replaced, so feel free to experiment! You’ll end up loving every wall in your home.

Nook with various materials on gallery wall


A clean, rustic, eclectic space for a relaxed family

I was honored to put together two designs for a client who wanted a light, bright, and kid-friendly space. Their love of saddle-colored leather was the main starting point, with layers of texture and details that come in the form of plants and interesting artwork.

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One of my favorite coffee table alternatives is a large, leather ottoman, totally kid-friendly, and wears so gorgeously over time. I especially love pieces that look better with wear than they did new.

Continue reading “A clean, rustic, eclectic space for a relaxed family”

A Whole Room of Furniture a Little at a Time

I am often asked at my job – what is best way to choose when purchasing a whole room of furniture that can’t be afforded right away. It certainly is an intimidating proposal, and with an open floor plan, a whole living room layout, dining room layout, and entry, that is a lot of expensive pieces to buy and it feels like you need them all at once.

The secret is being intentional and asking yourself how you use each of your rooms and what you would actually use most. But don’t forget that your home is the place that you live and love, and for me, work, so don’t forget to find pieces and details that bring you joy every time you see them.

Buy first what you would use right away

If there is something that you would use every day that you can afford first, definitely make it a priority. In our new home, the first piece of furniture we splurged on with our new budget was a more expensive, new bed for our master bedroom. It was worth the splurge and it makes us feel spoiled every single night or anytime we relax in bed. The second large purchase was our live-edge dining table. We love having people over and often sit down for casual lunches or larger dinners, so as soon as we received our table we started planning. Having our dining table comes with the added bonus of also filling our home with our favorite people.

Something we don’t have quite yet is the nice coffee table that we are currently saving for. This is something that would definitely be nice to have and we would use often, but isn’t necessary to enjoy watching TV together, having people over to sit on our sectional, or for the main purpose of our room. For you, though, a coffee table may be necessary! As you think through these things, be honest with yourself about what may be worth waiting and little to get exactly what would last you years and years.

Buy second what you want the most

It’s totally cool with getting super excited about certain things and specific furniture pieces! The thing that makes your home – your home are the things you see everyday and are pretty much obsessed with. For me, it’s my big prints of my husband’s photography and a high-end essential oil diffuser. Seeing these things will keep you excited about your future purchases and especially if they are little things, filling your walls or shelves with a little decor you love is affordable and inspiring. A few fake plants, a cool, industrial lamp you can see from your desk, or a chair for your reading corner that really makes your home feel like you are worth prioritizing too!

Buy last the things you still need

As you have been living with your space for the period of time that it takes to save for the first two steps, I am sure you have come up with many things you would like and use! Living with your space is the best way to figure out what you need best for your family. Keep a single list in one place in your phone or home, and prioritize it after writing things on your list for a while so you don’t make any compulsive purchases. I always prefer chatting with my husband about these decisions, since he has a steadying presence and logical thought process, so I don’t get swayed by anything that only I want on more surface level and we can really have what we need as a family in every room.

Fourth: Don’t buy anything in addition

The secret to saving money in your home is not about what you buy, but more about buying only what you could use and what you really, really love.  Simple right! Nope, in reality, this is the hardest part. But our responsibility to our environment and our pocketbooks means figuring out where to say no and how to stay happy with what you have are really the most important things we can do in this process.

Winter Whites

Since I read the most in the winter, a cozy corner to turn pages and admire the snow out the window is a necessary addition for my intimate home spaces. The glowing white of the snow out the window and the soft sound of flipping pages bring add a different feel to winter.

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White Textured

 

I absolutely love the feel of monochromatic spaces. It allows you to focus on texture, quality, and subtle differences without too much contrast. It is such a calming and peaceful sense to be in a space totally surrounded by a single color in unnamed shades,

COTW---Autumn-Creams

Curl up with hot cocoa and keep reading! 👇💮

Continue reading “Winter Whites”

Pillows of the Week #6

Mongolian Lamb Pillow CoverIn parallel with the Autumn Blues that are inspiring me this week, these pillows bring in the season without stereotypical reds and yellows.

Deep, mysterious, and atmospheric, deep blue can add beautiful layers to a neutral couch needing some autumn love. Especially if you like something a little more unique!

Deep, Dark, Autumn Blues

 

POTW---Autumn-Blues

  1. Layla Grayce / 24 x 24″ / Square Feathers Velvet Dark Blue Throw Pillow
  2. The Oliver Gal Artist Co. / 14 x 20″ / Dreaming About You Geode Pillow
  3. Lumbar Pillow / Navy Blue
  4. Pier1 Imports / Taylor Navy Pillow / Magnolia Home Collection
  5. West Elm / Mongolian Lamb Pillow Cover / Copper / Square

Continue reading “Pillows of the Week #6”

Fall Colors – Autumn Blues

Autumn is the season of warm sweaters, burning fires, and deep natural woods. Warm tones are found absolutely everywhere, and autumn leaves burn the colors of the sun.

I love the fall! Since it is my favorite season, I go all out. I want my clients to feel the season as much as I do!

Blue may feel like an unexpected color for autumn, but the deep sea of Autumn blue washes a space in encompassing color without feeling fully winter. Cozy materials, and natural accents add to the feeling with reminders of the warm tones you typically think of when autumn crosses your mind.

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Neptune Interiors

Deep, midnight blue fill the evening sky on fall nights, and gray skies are washed with swaths of cool gray. Also, any warm colors stand out incredibly well against the strong background of peacock blue. And neutrals just add to the calming effects of calming, romantic, deep blue.

COTW---Fall-Blues

More Cool Autumn below  ⬇☄️💙🍂🍁

Continue reading “Fall Colors – Autumn Blues”

Combining Styles

Jason and I have probably the most different styles that we could possibly have. Jason would prefer a studio apartment penthouse with minimal furniture. He has a dark industrial aesthetic and likes simple materials, with natural accents, and like a little bit of lodge too! My favorite combination of colors of gray and gold, and I love feminine touches, vintage accents, and lots of architectural detail.

At least we both prefer neutrals right…

 

Combined-Styles---J-v-A
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As we think about owning a home sometime in the future – I want something historic and adorable, of course – we want to both feel like we belong, and can spend tons of time here, together. But as most homeowners know, combining styles is difficult and time consuming.

It’s important to me that even though my job is interior design, my personal style doesn’t take over our space. Because it’s ours together!

Read more about how we did it! ⤵️

Continue reading “Combining Styles”

Pillows of the Week #5

Here are some pastel pretties for you! I am hanging on to summer as long as I can, before I run full on into Autumn.

For now, here are some pastel pillows for you, inspired by floral colors and modern artwork.

Blushing Blooms

COTW---Pastel

  1. World Market / 18 x 18″ / Lavender Mongolian Lamb Fur Throw Pillow
  2. Society 6 / 17 x 12″ / Calcutta Marble / Rectangular Pillow Small
  3. Zinc Door / 13 x 19″ / Surya Crescent Lines Blush Lumbar Pillow
  4. Etsy / studioRS / 14 x 20″ / ‘Blue Gesture 1’ Pillow
  5. Society 6 / 16 x 16″ / Pretty Succulents by Nature Magick

A balance of pastel purple, blush pink, and sky blue bring similar tones all together while being united by a calming succulent pillow. A modern marble pillow keeps the updated shapes and materials connected, while bringing neutral black and white, while bringing in metallic gold.