At first glance, you may just drive on through this tiny town that appears to be nothing more than a bump in the road on Highway 285. But stop in this special place in the middle of nowhere, especially for lunch (or breakfast). I’ve done it several times and every time I had a great meal and great service. First impression of Villa Grove is it’s a sleepy stop and not much more than a bunch of buildings that could use a little TLC. But, walk through the door of the cafe in Villa Grove Trade and you’ll find it an agricultural hub and artists haven.
Villa Grove is the northern gateway to the ancient San Luis Valley (home to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve). Founded by Civil War veterans in 1863, it became a lively stop on the narrow gauge railroad.
As my friend Lisa and I were on the last leg of our two week road trip, I told her we had to make a stop in Villa Grove. The first time I was there was during a stay several years ago at Joy Joyful Hot Springs a few miles down the road. The food at Villa Grove is all locally sources and the staff in the cafe is friendly and folksy. Lisa laughed as I was almost giddy about getting to stop in. Hey, when you find a great spot off the beaten road, you stop any chance you get.
Villa Grove Trade has been a general store since 1882. It for sale if you’re in the market for a historic general store in a tiny Colorado town. The store and cafe are colorful, eclectic and just small town fabulousness.
We went for a light lunch in the cafe housed in the same building and split their Vegetable Sandwich with tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, cheddar cheese, and spicy mustard on rye. Lisa got a side of their homemade mayo and said it was amazing.
We indulged in their homemade sweet potato fries. They’re fantastic! I also really love the colorful tablecloths.
As we were eating, several ranchers stopped in….for pie. I joked with one of the ranchers that I would eat whatever he didn’t. There wasn’t even a crumb morsel left on his plate for me! That’s one of the things I love about Villa Grove – you can chat with locals or with those like us who are just passing through. You know it’s a great joint if ranchers stop in for pie after working the land and cattle all morning.
Before heading out I made a to go order of some of their homemade vegetable soup to have dinner that night. I also had to grab two pieces of peanut butter fudge. It’s homemade and I couldn’t resist the sweet treat. It’s some of the best peanut butter fudge I’ve ever had.
On this journey to joy that I’m on, I’m trying to stop and pay attention to the signs, no matter how big or small they may be. Messages and signs come from everywhere, even the bathroom. Painted on one of the bathroom walls is Psalms 72:3 “…and the mountains shall bring peace to the people.” During that lunch, this passage painted on the wall spoke volumes. I find tremendous peace in the mountains. They are where my soul belongs. Guess it was one of God’s little ways to remind me of that and sometimes you need to see the message literally written on the wall….even if it’s in a bathroom.
When I first stopped in at Villa Grove a couple of years ago, I bought my favorite coffee mug ever at the pottery shop across from the general store and cafe. Mine is in the Azulscape glaze and whenever I post a pic on social media, folks ask where I got it.
So after lunch, we head across the street to Always Azul Pottery. Yes, I bought a second mug so I would have a pair of these handmade pieces. If you want to try your hand at making pottery, Always Azul offers pottery retreats and they have a bed and breakfast. Think I’m going to put that on my Explore Colorado list!
Yes, Villa Grove is more than just a bump in the road. Stop in, have some pie while chatting with folks, and take home a piece of pottery to remind you of this special stop along the old railroad.