Shel Silverstein once asked, poetically, “How many slams in an old screen door?” The answer, he said, “Depends how loud you shut it.”
The screen door at Lyons Fork has shut many times, presumably at a variety of velocities and decibels, though I can’t vouch it’s the same screen door. The sandstone building at 450 Main St., right at the fork of highways 36 and 7 where the North and South St. Vrain River converge, was built in 1881, just one year after the Town of Lyons was founded. (That same sandstone was used in architecture around Colorado, famously at University of Colorado Boulder, and shipped as far as Chicago and New York.)
Standing in front of the one-story building — its classic Western architecture complemented by a couple of brushy shrubs, the only two windows right up front, that screen door opening to the distressed blue of a wooden door — it’s easy to believe that 450 Main St. was originally a watering hole known as The McAllister Saloon.
The building has housed many businesses since: a brewery, a butcher shop, a mercantile, a pool hall and, since the 1960s, a number of restaurants. Its current incarnation as Lyons Fork embodies all this history — of its former businesses, of the Town of Lyons and of the Western U.S. in general.
Inside, Spanish-inspired décor gives colorful contrast to the subdued brown of the exterior. A candy apple red ceiling gives way to burnt orange and buttercream yellow accent walls covered in local art, while door frames, booths and shelves cool things down even more in shades of blue, green and deep purple, all the way down to the gleaming hardwood floors, which are reflecting the glow of twinkling strings of Christmas lights above the bar.
The effect is inviting, to say the least, particularly sitting beside one of those two windows late on a Sunday morning with the sun spilling over a hot cup of coffee… and a good margarita.
It seems only right, at such a historic Colorado landmark, to eat a meal equally steeped in Centennial State culture: the Fork’s chile Colorado.
If there’s one food that sums up Colorado, it’s pork chile verde. You can ask a dozen people for a recipe and you’ll get a dozen variations, but it always goes a little something like this: roasted green chiles (the subtle heat of Anaheims are a go-to complement for eggs, which we’ll get to in a minute), slow-cooked pork (shoulder, loin, chops — your pick), chicken stock, cumin, garlic, onions, cilantro, salt, pepper and, the star of the show, tomatillos.
The Fork doesn’t deviate from tried and true perfection. They top their tart and savory verde, filled with tender chunks of pork, with two eggs, a dollop of sour cream and a hunk of melt-in-your-mouth cornbread.
It’s about as Colorado as you can get.
The Fork leans into their heritage — they treasure it — and you can tell from the painstaking detail they’ve put into everything, from the atmosphere to the food.
I don’t want to question Shel Silverstein’s logic about the lifespan of a screen door, but I’d like to offer an alternative answer (not to be confused with an alternative fact): How many slams in an old screen door might just depend on how much you treasure it.
Lyons Fork. 450 Main St., Lyons, 303-823-5014.