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A Skier’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in Vail

This ski town is like a mini metropolis, with so many restaurants that the choices are overwhelming. These are our top culinary picks.

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Because of Vail’s two villages and horizontal layout, answering the question of where to eat is often decided by proximity. But if you’re willing to drive (or catch the free shuttle), the best restaurants are at your fingertips.

Dinner

There’s plenty of fine dining to be had, but sometimes it’s nice to take it down a notch. These aren’t casual spots, but they’re not fancy-schmancy either. Reservations are highly recommended during ski season.

1. Mountain Standard

The sister restaurant to fine-dining darling Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard does it all. The food is wood-fired, hearty, and creative. This is a spot to order a smattering of dishes to share and then sit back and let the magic happen. Depending on the size of your party, we suggest ordering at least one thing from each section on the menu: starters, raw bar, salads, and fire it up.

Don’t miss: The rotisserie chicken with Anson Mills bacon grits and smoked pimento butter is beyond perfect on a snowy night.

2. Almresi

When the Thoma family moved from Germany’s Black Forest to Vail and opened Almresi, they brought Bavarian-style dining with them. The space itself is a wonderland of detail with rough-hewn tables, cozy cushions, wooden beams, and even dirndl-wearing servers, but it’s no theme park. No, this is an elevated dining experience that will engulf you in melty raclette, sultry roasted meats, and hot mulled wine. 

Don’t miss: If you’ve got kids in tow, the spätzle with mushroom cream sauce (fittingly called the Heidi) is a slam dunk.

3. Matsuhisa

Despite having a dozen locations around the world, Nobu Matsuhisa does it right every time. One can hardly find better sushi than that of Matsu, and at the Vail restaurant, floor-to-ceiling windows let diners simultaneously ogle the ski mountain and platters of the gorgeously presented fish creations.

Don’t miss: Never pass up the ceviche-style scallop tiradito or the Japanese eggplant with miso and sesame.

4. Slope Room

The menu at the Slope Room is eclectic, at times drawing inspiration from Asia (Korean short ribs with green papaya) and others from Latin America (blue corn tamale with roasted poblano sauce), but that just means everyone will find something they like.

Don’t miss: The Colorado Wagyu hot stone, where you cook thin slices of marbled beef on a blazing hot slab before dragging them between a variety of sauces. 

5. Root & Flower

This once-tiny wine bar is so popular, it’s expanded over the years to include a full kitchen. There are small plates and charcuterie boards, but don’t overlook the heartier shared plates like steak a la plancha with chimichurri.

Don’t miss: The elote dip, and a chance to speak with your server about which wine (or cocktail) to pair it with. 

 

Lunch

Skiing or otherwise, you need to eat.

1. The Blü Cow

There’s a special camaraderie found at the Blü Cow, a locals favorite that bustles every hour it’s open. The spot is best known for its Swiss Hot Dog and, honestly, it would be a travesty not to order it. Need proof? The Blü Cow has been serving the sandwich—two slender pork and veal brats, spicy brown mustard, curry spice, and arugula in a split baguette—since 1967. 

Don’t miss: The Swiss Sidecar is the best of all worlds: a half a Swiss Hot Dog and a bloody mary.

2. Vendetta’s

Vendetta’s menu is lengthy but you only need to know one thing: order the pizza. New York-ish in style, these huge pies mean cheesy slices that are perfectly foldable. Plan for leftovers.

Don’t miss: It might be a sleeper, but The Boneyard is a terrific white pizza with spinach, mushrooms, tomato, garlic, and feta. 

 

Lunch On the Mountain

Vail is enormous, so big that sometimes it’s easier to pack a pocket sandwich than it is to make a lunch plan. But for those days where you want something more, the options extend beyond the cafeteria line. 

1. The Dog Haus (located at the bottom of Pete’s Express, Lift #39)

It’s been closed for a couple of years, but finally—finally—The Dog Haus is reopening. There’s nothing fancy about this slopeside, order-at-the-window hut, but the hot dogs, brats, and cold beer are exquisite fuel before (or after) tearing up Blue Sky Basin. 

Don’t miss: The trifecta of jalapeño-cheddar bratwurst, a bag of chips, and a Dale’s Pale Ale tallboy never disappoints.

2. The 10th (located at the top of Gondola One at MidVail)

For those days when you want to leave the riff-raff behind, The 10th provides the perfect venue. First, trade your ski or snowboard boots for cozy slippers in the boot room, then sit down to a table with a server and a sweeping view of the slopes outside. Peruse the wine list (or order a Cinnamon Old Fashioned) and pay special attention to the chef’s specials. If the winter Niçoise is on the menu, it’s a favorite. 

Don’t miss: The flaky pot pie is rather legendary, huge, and easily shared.

3. Wildwood Smokehouse (Located at the top of Wildwood Express, Lift #3)

Despite being best known for its barbecue, Wildwood’s semi-secret menu item is back: the chicken and wild rice soup. During the pandemic, when the resort was forced to downsize menus, the soup was 86ed to the dismay of many. But it’s back and as tasty as ever.

Don’t miss: The chicken and wild rice soup, plus onions rings

4. The Ice Bars (Located at Wildwood Smokehouse and the top of Eagle’s Nest)

In celebration of Vail’s 60th anniversary, the resort is reimagining its very famous, very short-lived 1964 ice bar. While not necessarily food-forward, these two glittering bars (one at Wildwood and one at the top of Eagle’s Nest) are worth stopping by for a drink, a gander, and an Instagram story. 

Breakfast

These morning meals will set you up for the day. 

1. The Little Diner

At The Little Diner, breakfast runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and that’s really all you need to know. There is a lunch menu but with the breadth of a.m. dishes ranging from crêpes and French toast to omelets and eggs Benny, there’s no reason to even look.

Don’t miss: If you’ve got the time, order the pannekoeken (aka the Dutch Baby). The soufflé-like treat takes 20ish minutes to bake so if you order it, no drumming your fingers on the countertop.

2. Loaded Joe’s

When you’re dashing across the bridge to the main village but still need caffeine, Loaded Joe’s is there to save the day. Espresso drinks (made with Seattle-based Rococo Coffee Roasting’s beans) rule the day here, but there are also stacked breakfast sammies and burritos, and smoothies.

Don’t miss: The acai bowl, if you’ve got time, otherwise an egg, avocado, and cheddar breakfast sandwich to go. 

Worth the Drive

Vail’s dirty little secret is that some of its best restaurants are scattered around the Vail valley and not in the town itself. These spots are more than worth putting some miles on the car.

1. Craftsman Brew Co.

When one of the best fine-dining chefs in Colorado opens a gourmet sandwich shop, you go. And when that restaurant is so popular it finds a larger space, you go again. And again. So it goes at Craftsman, Chris Schmidt’s Edwards’ restaurant. If you haven’t had the pleasure, there’s a lot more than just sandwiches on the menu—think ice-cold oysters, duck croquettes, and chicken liver pâté. Those, plus a lineup of mushroom pastrami sammies, lobster rolls, and green chile Philly, will make just about anyone happy.

Don’t miss: The coal-roasted yams with lime yogurt, brown butter, hazelnuts, and cilantro will instantly become your new favorite vegetable.

2. Hovey & Harrison

Hovey & Harrison in Edwards is many things: a farm-to-table cafe, a market with fresh produce and seasonal offerings, and a community gathering spot. Anchoring it all are exquisite eats and a vibe that encourage you to linger and chat with your neighbors. Go for breakfast (brisket potato hash!) but go back for lunch (hot ham and cheese!), and never, ever skip the pastry case (morning buns!). 

Don’t miss: The mushroom congee with a soft-cooked egg is perfect for breakfast or lunch.

3. The Rose

If you can’t tell, Edwards is a bit of a culinary hotbed. And right in line with Craftsman and Hovey & Harrison is The Rose. This bistro celebrates the midday and evening meals with an array of eats (from avocado fries to tacos to banh mi) that don’t hold to a single inspiration—aside from everything being straight-up delicious. The bar, too, is deep with talent. 

Don’t miss: The fried chicken with sage honey butter and pickled celery is Southern comfort, mountain-style.

4. Ti Amo

With this oldie but goodie in Eagle-Vail, don’t let the office park exterior dispel any illusions of Italian hospitality. There are few places in the valley as warm and accommodating at Ti Amo—and the Italian menu follows suit. Go on a Thursday for lasagna, otherwise order the Gnocchi Principessa, an insanely indulgent, totally wonderful gnocchi, gorgonzola cream, prosciutto getup. This red sauce joint is always jammed, so don’t even think about going without a reservation.

Don’t miss: The grilled romaine heart salad with roasted tomatoes. You’ll want the recipe so you can duplicate it at home. 

5. Northside Kitchen

Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Avon, Northside has a little bit of everything, including the valley’s best donuts in the morning. The menu is enormous, so much so that it’s hard to believe that eats as diverse as huevos rancheros, French dip, and lobster-shrimp risotto can all be good. And yet, each and every dish delivers.

Don’t miss: A hold-over from the pandemic, Northside’s take-and-bake family meals (enchiladas, lasagna, chicken parm, etc.) are rightfully popular. The dishes generously feed six, plus leftovers. Pick one up for a ski weekend, and you’ll be set.