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Mar 17, 2006 02:18 PM

VAIL - Top Restaurants

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I'll be in Vail in early April for a few nights. Can someone please tell me what restaurants are a must? Any price range is fine. Thanks!


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  1. Do you want to stay in Vail proper, or are you willing to venture down valley to Eagle-Vail, Avon, Beaver Creek, Edwards and Cordillera? Will you have a car? You really open up a lot more options if you can leave downtown Vail.

    My purely personal opinion is that there are only two must-does in Vail. I recommend Sweet Basil for lunch and Larkspur for dinner.

    In case he doesn't chime in here, my friend Blue Ox would recommend the cafeteria at the Vail Medical Center for soups and salads.

    Let us know if you want to know about things outside Vail and we can give you a lot more places, both those designed for tourists and those of a more local flavor.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Dick Davis

      Would love some other suggestions if you don't mind. I promise we'll be gentle with the staff.

      We've been to Pazzo's Pizza in Avon before and there's a sandwich shop/bakery in Avon that was also pretty good.
      Ate at the Dusty--something or other in Beaver Creek. We'll definitely skip that this time.

      We also liked the steaks at the Minturn Country Club.

      Gashouse in Edwards--been there but don't remember much about it.

      Anything you can add on any gastronomic level will be apprecciated.

      1. re: twodales

        Here are some others you might try:

        Eagle-Vail -- Ti Amo -- family run and family-style Italian. $$

        Avon -- Avon Bakery and Columbine Baker -- pastries, sandwiches. $

        Beaver Creek -- Golden Eagle Inn -- excellent game dishes and fish. $$$
        Mirabelle, Grouse Mountain Grill and Splendido -- fine dining -- can be excellent, though not totally consistent. $$$$
        Beano's Cabin -- an "event" dining experience -- ride up the mountain in a snow-cat or horse-pulled sleigh/wagon. Food is just OK. It's the experience you are paying for and if you have kids in BC during the ski season it's something you should probably do once. $$$$$

        Edwards -- Juniper -- excellent food and ambience -- make a meal of the appetizers -- don't miss the curried lamb pizza (really). $$$
        Eat!Drink! -- pates, cheeses, olives, breads, wines by the glass. Excellent light lunch. Let them pick the cheeses, etc. to match your wine selection. $$
        Fiestas -- New Mexican cooking. Also great breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. $$

        Cordillera -- Mirador at the Lodge at Cordillera. Yes, the same lodge where Kobe Bryant pooted in the churn. Lunch there overlooking the mountains is very nice. $$$ (lunch) $$$$ (dinner)
        Chef's Corner -- Nice setting, excellent breakfast and lunch. No alcohol. $$

        There are lots more. As Blue Ox suggested, ask the locals.

        1. re: Dick Davis

          We liked Pazzo's Pizza and a good andwich shop/Bakery in Avon Bakery & Deli.

          1. re: twodales

            Are there any good "ethnic" restaurants in the Vail Valley. Any decent Indian or Asian food to be had? Any other "cheap & cheerfuls"?

            Really, we like good food whether it's from Larkspur or Pazzo's. The food is what really counts.

            1. re: twodales

              You're going to have to get Blue Ox for this. He's the true local with knowledge of all the "hidden gems." Check out his post on March 11 for some of his recommendations, or just hope he shows up here and really gives you the lowdown.

              1. re: Dick Davis

                Dick, thanks, I was trying to thing of something witty to say about ethnic food in the Vail Valley, but I can't. There are sushi places, but why would anyone come this far inland to eat seafood? The only place that comes to mind is Naythan's (sp) in Avon for Nepalize. His Thai place across the street has been questionable. May Palace in Vail is good for the mountains. The bar is more fun, just for the locals.

                And we don't consider Mexican to be ethnic.

                1. re: BlueOx

                  Well, perhaps I should have put "ethnic" in quotes...I use the term loosely considering the locale. If there are any Asian (Thai or Indian, for example) places that would be great. I've searched and read about Larkspur and all...I'd love to eat there but my husband isn't much of a foodie... much to my chagrin. Really, I enjoy a good meal, whether it's fancy or simple. We've got a local contact so perhaps we'll check with her. Thanks for the input

                  1. re: twodales

                    Just returned from the Vail Valley. I have to say, I was disappointed in LARKSPUR. We popped in for lunch off of the slopes. It was slightly pretentious in atmosphere...nevermind...the waitress warmed up greatly with her generous tip. The special was crabcakes...they were (of course) out. Opted for the Larkburger. It was really nothing special. The bun was more like a dinner roll in texture and flavor. The meat itself appeared to have been made in a form. At first it tasted meaty but it didn't have any nice crusty flavor. The fries were okay but didn't seem freshly made. I should have gone for the tomato soup with grilled cheese.

                    The best meal we had was at UP THE CREEK.

                    We were taking a day off from skiing one day and took a walk through Vail. We browsed various menus and decided to return to "Up The Creek" for lunch.

                    We were seated by a creekside table near the patio. We were treated warmly from the time we entered until the time we left.

                    I would like to say that the white seafood chowder was absolutely delicious and not at all overcooked. The seafood was all tender to the bite. The smoked trout was also very good. It was a little firm to the bite, a common problem with smoked fish and the sauce could have used a bit of horseradish. Still small matters...

                    My daughter's crème brulee had her practically scraping the bottom off of the dish. I had to explain that the black specks meant quality: vanilla flavoring vs.. real vanilla beans. Last minute glazing of the sugared top was a plus. Even the cappuccino was perfect.

                    Our host was personable and our waitress was efficient and made us feel comfortable.

                    The menu changes and they sometimes have ostrich, caribou and such. The day we were there they also had kangaroo on the menu...but it was April Fools day so who knows???

                    We also ate at FIESTAS in Edwards. It was really very average although the margarita was good.

                    PAZZO'S pizza in Avon was good as always. Very comfortable atmosphere and pretty good chow.

                    ROCKS MODERN GRILL in Beaver Creek was also good. Had a delightful and very efficient French waitress. My husband had the Fish and Chips and I had the Lavendar-Honey Glazed Sonoma duck with buttermilk mashed potatoes and perfectly crispy veggies.
                    Modern upscale surroundings but children are certainly welcome. They are located in the Beaver Creek Lodge.

                    Had something light at the BLUE MOOSE in Beaver Creek. Good for families. Much better than the DUSTY BOOT. (Won't ever go there again.)

                    We stopped at the ROUTE 6 CAFE to grab something simple one night but it was closed. Next time.


    2. If you check out the postings for Vail over the last 6 months, you’ll get a good look at what the Vail Valley has to offer for food. Dick Davis’ recommendations are spot on. The food in the Valley is varied and good. However, this ski season has been very busy and the restaurants packed.

      From now until the week of April 3rd, its going to be tough to get reservations and good service. Every year about this time, burn out hits the locals. They are thinking about Moab, Mexico/Central America or going home to Australia and New Zealand. This years the burn out factor is higher, due to how busy its been.

      In addition the “212 factor” is driving locals away from their usual haunts. Seems that the old “Do you know who I am” cry has been replaced with if you google me, you’ll find out how important I am. What these folks don’t understand is that if you live here, you care about how someone skis, kayaks, bikes, or hikes/climbs; not in who you think you are.

      You need to be a bit creative in dining the next couple of weeks, eat early (late means not much left and tired servers), sit in the bar, do high end take out or cook in your condo. Also, try places that aren’t on everyone else’s radar (ask a local when you get here). Then for the next 8 months things will be wonderful again.

      4 Replies
      1. re: BlueOx

        Hi from a Philly hound seeking advice

        Headed to the Vail valley with the family next week. I believe we are staying at a house in Cordillera (is this both a town and a resort?) but possibly, Edwards.

        I've scanned the earlier threads and already have Chef's Kitchen on my list. What else should we try in the area?

        What about:

        a spot for a special dinner, good food, great atmosphere? Not trying to break the bank but willing to pay for something special.

        A tavern/saloon with good pub grub, local specialties (can't wait for some Fat Tire!)? What about a place with live music?

        As we will probably cooking at home a good bit, are there special markets/specialty shops I should check out?
        Thanks in advance!

        1. re: JT007

          Hi, JT -- I'll defer to Blue Ox, the local guru for all things chowish in the Vail Valley, but just got back from out there and will offer my two cents.

          First, Cordillera is a large residential development about five miles west of Edwards. In addition to the houses, there are three full-size golf courses and one par-3 course. The Lodge at Cordillera is on the property and there is a pretty good restaurant there. I think it's now called Mirador. We especially like it for lunch.

          Special spot? My vote is Larkspur in Vail. Didn't get there this trip, but our experiences there have always been excellent. In Edwards, Juniper is your best bet. Beaver Creek has three possibilities: Splendido at the Chateau, Mirabelle and Grouse Mountain Grill. My wife and daughter had dinner recently at Mirabelle and Grouse Mountain Grill and reported that both were excellent. Five of us had dinner last Thursday night at Splendido and it was OK, but not great. Another possibility in Beaver Creek if you want to do something different is ride horses up to Beano's Cabin for dinner. Lots of people like to do that because it is different and I would say do it once, but it is very expensive for what you get food-wise.

          Tavern/saloon -- Mango's in Red Cliff just reopened after being completely rebuilt. As of last week they were only open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday, but open for dinner every night. They like to say they are "world famous" for their fish tacos. I had them last Friday night and they are still wonderful. Check this place out. If you've never been there, Red Cliff is a little bitty dump of a town that is just classic. You won't believe it has a place like Mango's. It's a pretty good drive from where you will be staying -- probably 25-30 miles one way, but I think it's worth it.

          If you happen to get down to Leadville, do try Tennessee Pass Cafe. It has a really diverse menu and excellent food. We had lunch there last week -- my wife had a fabulous spinach salad and I had chicken enchiladas unlike any I had ever had -- sort of New Mexican but very different from Fiesta's, another good place in Edwards.

          I could go on and on about the restaurants in that area -- you will have no problem finding excellent food -- but enough is enough.

          Now I'm going to sit back and wait for the real expert, Blue Ox, to weigh in.

          Dick Davis

          1. re: River Rat

            Thanks for the info!

            I found out that we are staying in Edwards but I know that we are playing golf at some of the Cordillera courses.

            Mango's sounds awesome. Thanks for the tip, is there anything in terms of sightseeing/activities out that way, so I can convince the family to make the trek?

            I read up on the Eat! Drink! place, is this the place where I should stock up on wine?
            Is Chef's Corner also a market?

            Thanks for all your help!!

            1. re: JT007

              On the way to Red Cliff you will pass through the little town of Minturn, a neat little mountain town with some shopping. Be sure to hit the Minturn Market on Saturday. It's sort of like an upscale flea market. Be sure to try the crepes that will be in a booth to the right as you go through the main entrance. Also the Minturn Saloon, previously mentioned by ColoradoFun, is worth a stop. The scenery on the way to Red Cliff is worth the trip. I would recommend going down there as the sun is setting. The Eagle River runs beside the road for a ways and then you climb Battle Mountain -- views of the Eagle River valley and Notch Mountain to the right. You will pass the Gilman ghost town, a "modern" ghost town where the Gilman Mine used to be -- can't remember when it shut down, but not that long ago -- with lots of employee housing that is now abandoned and lots of creepy stories about bowls of soup still on the tables because they evacuated under threat of starting to glow in the dark. I think all those stories are probably bogus, but interesting anyway. After you pass Gilman you will take a very sharp left turn off Hwy. 24 just before you reach the great bridge that spans the Eagle River canyon. Follow the narrow road down into Red Cliff.

              Eat! Drink! is a good place to stock up on wine, cheeses, olives, etc. Actually we usually go to Avon Liquor in Avon for wines, but Eat! Drink! is good as well.

              Chef's Corner is also neat -- very innovative breakfasts and lunches. It's owned and run by Rick Kangas, formerly the chef at Grouse Mountain Grill. They have some market items, including Rick's Rubs for steaks, baked potatoes, etc. He usually also stocks some quality steaks that you can take home to grill.

              ColoradoFun also mentioned Wolcott Yacht Club. That really is a fun place. They have live music several nights a week outside in what will remind you of a beer garden. A good place to eat and drink while listening to good music.

              Hope you have a great time. Please post a trip report when you get home. It's always fun to see our old haunts through a new set of eyes.

      2. Larkspur rules!

        1. I live in Denver and am not a Vail area expert by any means but for a tavern/saloon there is the always classic Minturn Saloon

          Or the Wolcott Yacht Club for fun atmosphere
          (they both may have live music some nights?


          For nice dinners I enjoyed La Tour last summer and Sweet Basil which has been mentioned in prior posts. I think they are both listed on Open Table if you would like more info.

          Have fun!

          1. Lirpa, thanks for posting on this thread, it beats trying to repeat what went before. Most of what's been posted is still accurate about the Valley Valley, particularly RR's (Dick Davis). I'll add a couple more places, Balata at the Singletree Country Club has great indoor/outdoor seating, very good food and slow service. In Cordillera (Divide and Ranch) there are 3 places, Mirdore, Timber Hearth and Grouse on the Green. Grouse has one of the best views in the Valley and is a casual pub. Good draft beers, including Fat Tire. If you get a chance, try O'Dell's 90 Shilling, also from Ft Collins.

            The 3 fun places are Walcott Yatch Club, The Saloon in Mintrun and Mango's in Redcliff. The food is OK, prices fair and vibes terrific. For lunch Finnegan's in Avon is a good deal and has a nice deck. Loaded Joes (also in Avon)is a good happening spot for music, trivia and coffee, plus free wireless.

            Dick nailed Beaver Creek on the top 3. And some folks really like the Golden Eagle.

            I'm hearing very good things about the remodeled Sweet Basil in Vail. I think lunch is a better time to go. The 215 factor has been high this summer, so Vail and the Beav can get a little "anxious". Dick 212 has been replace with 215.

            We don't have very many ethnic restaurants and the ones we have aren't anything special.

            Please let us know what you find when you get home.

            Blue Ox

            4 Replies
            1. re: BlueOx

              OK, I screwed up a couple of things, its 315 alert not 215. And the post that got this thread going again was Philly Hound.

              In Vail, if you have trouble getting reservations, sit at the bar. The barpersons are almost all really good servers, they don't sell up and are fun to BS with. If you have a European accent, hide it, the barperson will think your not going to tip.

              1. re: BlueOx

                Funny, I was surprised by the 215 comment, I'm coming to Colorado to escape Philly!

                Thanks for all the advice, I will be sure to report back

                1. re: BlueOx

                  315? Rochester? What restaurants does anyone know of there?

                2. re: BlueOx

                  Ok, so I'm back in Philly and already longing for the Rockies.

                  Thanks to this board's suggestion, we went to Mango's in Red Cliff. The drive to Red Cliff was scenic and the town of Red Cliff is like something out of a movie! Great fish tacos, huge plate of nachos and a couple of Fat Tires=great time!

                  We did a lot of cooking at home and I was impressed with the selection and prices of meats and fresh trout at Chef's Market in Cordillera. I do wish they opened earlier than 9 for breakfast though.

                  Had drinks at the Minturn Saloon (classic!) and ate at the Minturn Country Club. I loved the idea of picking my steak out and grilling it myself but was a bit disappointed with the quality of my $28 ribeye. But it was definitely a fun atmosphere, once again aided by a Fat Tire or two!

                  In Vail, we ate lunch at the Red Lion (great burger and i can imagine the business this place must do during ski season).

                  On the way to the airport in Denver, we stopped in at a little sandwich shop in Georgetown...I forget the name but a great selection of gourmet sandwiches and ice cream...delicious!

                  Thanks again for your help!