In a ski town as jam-packed with options as Vail, Colo., “where should we eat” is a bit of a loaded question. That depends entirely on what you’re looking for. There’s Michelin-quality restaurants headed by world-class chefs, family-friendly pizza joints, food carts, greasy spoons, and much more.
That said, having a little local intel when it comes to where to spend your money and fill your belly is always a good thing. Use this handy list to help narrow down your options next time you’re in town.
The Best Restaurants in Vail
There is no shortage of high-end restaurants in this chic ski town. When you’re itching for a fancy meal in just the right setting, these are our go-tos.
The owners of longtime Vail Village favorite, Sweet Basil, opened Mountain Standard about 10 years ago under the conceit that everything served on the menu would be prepared over an open wood fire. The steak frites, featuring the cut of the day, is not to be missed. Reservations recommended.
The French-style brasserie is the perfect date night spot, with a thoughtful, traditional menu with dishes such as beef Bourguignon and escargot. The romantic ambience and decor seals the deal. Reservations recommended.
The restaurant inside the new Gravity Haus Vail hotel, the Slope Room serves a surprisingly sophisticated menu with items such as caviar, foie gras, and Colorado Wagyu beef. The focus here is on creative dishes using local ingredients in an innovative new space. Reservations recommended.
Come as you are to any of these family- and group-friendly spots, where the vibe is welcoming and menu options are designed to please everyone.
Deca + Bol
This bowling alley-restaurant combo is the best of both worlds, especially with larger groups and restless kids. The menu at Deca is pretty diverse; there’s sandwiches, wings, tacos, and sliders as well as fancier entrees like blackened mahi mahi. There’s also a kids menu. Reservations recommended, especially for bowling.
Bart & Yeti’s
A local favorite in Lionshead Village, Bart & Yeti’s is a welcoming spot to refuel after a day on the slopes. The food is good and well-priced, and the portions are generous. Try the green chili, made with pork and served with tender flour tortillas. No reservations.
This is the best option for delicious, freshly made pizzas and Italian fare. The pies are huge and loaded with toppings, the space is welcoming, and the location, in the heart of Vail Village, can’t be beat. Reservations accepted.
Vail’s après scene doesn’t disappoint. From daily live music to great happy hour specials, here’s where it goes off when the lifts stop turning.
With a killer happy hour from 3-5p daily with food and drink specials, The George is a local standby for après. A no-pretense type of place, hit The George for a chill scene at good prices … for Vail, at least. No reservations.
The Red Lion
Right in the middle of it all, the Red Lion is the spot for people-watching, cocktail-sipping, and hobnobbing with the Vail crowd. There’s also live music daily at 4p and 9p. No reservations.
This sports bar is exactly what you want after crushing Vail’s Back Bowls, with a large, sunny patio, several TVs, drink specials, and a huge menu with a little bit of everything. No reservations.
The key to a successful ski day is in the prep, which includes a filling breakfast. You can go wrong starting your day at these spots.
This locally owned gem is exactly what you need before a bell-to-bell day on the slopes. It’s a warm and homey spot for plates full of pancakes, bacon, omelets, crepes, and more. Order the German pancake, called Pannekoeken, for a special treat. No reservations, but you can get on the waiting list.
Located inside the Highline Hotel, this little spot is known for its homemade biscuits with country gravy and chicken fried steak and eggs. Westside Café also boasts an incredible Eggs Benedict menu; don’t miss the bison tenderloin bene drizzled with bison demi glace. No reservations but you can get on the waiting list.
Swing by this coffee shop across from the covered bridge in Vail Village for one of the best breakfast sandwiches in town and a great cup of coffee. There’s also fat breakfast burritos and fruit smoothies.
Vail is big. You’re going to need to fuel up to get from the frontside to the bowls and back. Vail has lots of options, from quick service to sit-down lunches. These are our top picks. Note that reservations and proof of vaccination are required.
One of Vail’s newest on-mountain dining outlets, The 10th is located at the top of Gondola One is open daily for lunch. The full-service restaurant serves up a quieter and more upscale setting than your typical ski cafeteria, and pricey but well prepared dishes such as the 10th burger, made with Colorado Wagyu, and a delicious herb-roasted chicken pot pie.
Hit the Wildwood Smokehouse, located at the top of Game Creek Bowl, for belly-filling plates of barbecue (order the brisket sandwich) with rib-sticking sides like baked beans, cole slaw, and cornbread.
Vail’s best on-mountain cafeteria with the most seating and best quick-serve menu is Two Elk, located at the top of Chair 14. Menu favorites include healthy options like the ramen and grain bowls, a welcome departure from burger and pizza (which they also serve).