In addition to looking at the Vail Daily, as Claire Walter suggested, we suggest that you have a look the Sunday edition of the Vail Mountaineer. There's a new column on Sundays called "Dining on a Dub" [btw, can someone tell us what's a dub?]. In it, places are listed and described that are less expensive than most others. Generally the places are not in Vail Village or in Lionshead, but it may be interesting to you anyway.
In the Dec. 20, 2009 edition of the Vail Mountaineer, there are 2 places in Vail mentioned (that we haven't been to) and they are Big Bear Bistro and Pazzo's Pizzeria (this is the web address for the column: http://www.vailmountaineer.intelligentdocs.com/Content/Files/vailmountaineer/Documents/Document_336.pdf)
This is a link to the Dec. 27th edition of the Vail Mountaineer which lists restaurants in Minturn, Eagle and Gypsum:
This is a link to the Dec. 13th edition which also only lists restaurants in Minturn, Eagle and Gypsum: http://www.vailmountaineer.intelligentdocs.com/Content/Files/vailmountaineer/Documents/Document_329.pdf
In Lionshead, we enjoyed the ribs at Moe's but we didn't eat there. We took them home and ate them in the comfort of our dining room. Moe's space is not to our liking.
In the Jan. 9th edition of the Vail Daily there is an ad for Lancelot's in Vail Village. They are offering an Early Bird special of 2 for 1 entrees, with the purchase of a bottle of wine. That is probably enough food for 4 people. Pre-season, we had a delicious (King Arthur) prime rib there for $26 (and they were giving a pre-season 25% off that price of the prime rib) which the 2 of us shared and still had enough leftover to take home.
Also, the Sat. Jan. 9, 2010 edition of the Vail Daily has its weekly Restaurant Listings & Specials. While there's nothing in the list to shout about, it does bring to mind that if you are truly budget-conscious, you might consider having a big lunch somewhere followed by a tiny dinner. That could bring the price of your Vail meals down a bit. Larkspur has a daily lunch special, for instance, as does Up the Creek, both of which we would recommend.
That's all from ALEDM for the moment! If we think of other places, we'll do another posting.
P.S. Thanks BlueOx for the plug for the Valley Valley Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM that we posted on Chow last year. [This is the link to it: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/622174]
P.P.S. And hi Claire, it's good to see you are contributing!
Thanks everyone for all the postings and of the links. I assumed there wouldn't be much on offer during January but thought I'd give it a try. I've done a number of reservations as I will be headed there soon. Is there any of the following I should cancel? (Up the Creek is one of my favourite places in Vail so will definitely be going there)
Thinking of having some pizza from Old Forge one night.
Not sure if any of you purchase food on the mountain, but there is a meal card on offer by Vail Resorts. Buy $240 card for $200. Hence my reservations at Centre V and Cucina, where the card is valid.
i enjoy apres at pepi's and alpenrose, but think you are better off not doing dinners there. i have heard that ludwig'sat sonnenalp is offering something on wed and thurs nights.... something like a 3 course for $30, but i am not positive...don't have a vail dailey in front of me.
Minto, the places you have chosen may offer "value deals" and are very centrally located in Vail Village, so you will get to experience life in the Village. However, they may not offer food much different from your home town. I'd rather have a pizza at Vendatta's (not for the food) or natcho's at Los Amigos to get that experience.
Cucina Rustico will be good, but everyone there will be from somewhere else. Pepi's bar is more fun than any other place in the Valley if Rod has some Texans to pick-on. If Center V is offering reasonable deals, that is news to me. You might want to use the "card" for Game Creek, VRI's best on mountain dinning, instead.
Sweet Basil for Lunch and Larkspur for dinner are unbeatable. Sit in the bar area at either and order interesting apps. If you are feeding a family of eager eaters, checkout both the Daily and the Mountaineer "newspapers" for specials.
A "Dub" is a dollar.
Unfortunately, Vail is not known for anything cheap. There are good eats at a variety of places, but not a lot of cheap eats.
There is a full service grocery store, which is always an option for an inexpensive "picnic".
Pray for snow, and enjoy the back bowls.
I'm here in Vail now but no new snow for a while.
We dined at Centre V which was quite good. We had the cod and venison loin, both cooked perfectly.
Had dinner at Russel's. I had the ribeye but was not impressed with it. There was not much marbling to it so was quite dry tasting eventhough it was cooked med-rare. My friend had the grilled salmon which was great.
Dinner at Pepi's was very good. We had the jaegar (sp?) schnitzel and the vegetarian strudel.
Dinner at Montauk Seafood was pretty good. Had the mussels, lobster mac and cheese and the trio ahi appetizers. Service was great.
We did our "picnic". We picked up a whole chicken, veggies and ready mashed potatoes from Safeway and made 2 meals out of that.
Some specials that I've seen offered:
As Alpine Chef made note, there is a 3 course for $30 at Ludwig's on Wed/Thur/Sun nights. We will try that out later in the week.
Bistro Fourteen up at Eagle's Nest is offering buy one get one free entree on Tues nights. Any comments on food here?
I believe Game Creek is offering 30% off.
Up the Creek is offering 30% off entrees between 4-6pm plus I think 30% off wine anytime.
As RobynS wrote, it's a peak time in Vail (and other ski towns too), so few shoulder season steals are gone. You might look around at brochure racks (find them at the visitor centers or possibly the supermarket if there are none where you're staying) for discount coupons. Also, pick up the 'Vail Daily' and check out the ads. If nothing else, you might find some worthwhile happy-hour deals.