Under new management since the start of the ski season, Smugglers Brewpub has converted itself into a gastropub, which basically means more adventurous food than a typical pub or sports bar, at not much more than pub/sportsbar prices. Along with a rotating selection of craft beers, of course.
Look for a full-on DISH column soon, but meanwhile the deeply flavorful pork and tomatillo green chili ($5 or $8) is highly recommended, as a starter or make a meal of it. Yes, Smugglers still serves up sports on big screen televisions and it still serves chicken wings ($7 or $12). But these wings don’t have the tired sports bar “processed food” look, feel or, most importantly, taste. A pork, veal and beef meatball sandwich ($12) is noticeably and agreeably light on the tomato sauce and served on a great chewy roll. The same meatballs are served on linguini in two sizes ($13 or $19).
The talent behind all this is Josh Klein, who has been working the Telluride food scene for years, most recently at the Hotel Madeline and before that as manager of the late, lamented Excelsior Café in the Jake Linzinmeir “empire,” which also included Chair 8 and the Blue Point Grill. You get the feeling that Klein is putting ideas into practice that have been percolating for some time…. Yeah, Josh, Telluride did need a gastropub.