In twenty-four hours in Vail Colorado, you have three chances to experience the best and tastiest of the local dining scene – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Seize each of these opportunities to treat your taste buds to the local flavors in one of the Colorado high country’s trendiest towns.
How to start your day at 8,000 feet of altitude? Some serious coffee is in order. For the best cup o’ joe in town, skip the Starbucks and opt for Vail landmark café Loaded Joe’s, in the charming Vail Village district.
The gourmet coffee house will awaken the senses with a scrumptious latte. You’ll find out why the place was voted “Best Caffeine Fix” in the Vail Daily’s Best of 2010 awards.
For a heavier plate of classic breakfast fare, check out the menu at The Little Diner, another Vail institution that tends to fill up fast. The Dutch-style pancakes are especially fluffy here.
The Little Diner’s fifteen minutes of fame – a recent shout-out in American Way, the American Airlines in-flight magazine that describes The Little Diner’s breakfasts as “the best bacon and eggs this side of the Continental Divide.”
If you went light for breakfast, sit down for a slow lunch at Up the Creek Bar and Grill. On a sunny day, the patio seating of Vail’s only creek-side restaurant makes for great ambiance.
To complement the Rocky Mountain landscape, order something with local flair – a ruby red trout or a Colorado rack of lamb, for example. Hottest menu item: truffle fries.
For a quicker, more casual lunch option, head to Joe’s Famous Deli. Scrumptious paninis and fancy sandwiches like the “Fun Guy” veggie option with Portobello have earned it the “famous” in the name. Top it off with a scoop of whimsically flavored birthday cake ice cream.
Make reservations at Kelly Liken Restaurant for fine dining experience in Vail with an ‘only in Colorado’ spin. Committed to using only top-quality local Colorado products, the menu items change often and according to season, but specialties such as King Canyon Bison Ribeye tend to spring up perennially. In fact, this was the dish that Michelle Obama chose on her most recent Presidents’ Day trip to Vail.
If you have hungry kids or a tighter budget, try Bully Ranch Restaurant (pictured at top). You can have an “I’m in Colorado” food moment with items like the Colorado Striped Bass or Colorado Lamb. Or go out on a limb with a “wild game” burger with its bison and elk patty, served with pepper jack cheese. This is Vail, Colorado – why not?
It turns out that Loaded Joe leads a double life – a perky café with speedy Wi-Fi by day, and loungy pub by night. Head back after dark and you’re likely to run into some Vail natives – it was also voted “Best Locals’ Pub” by the Vail Daily. Check out the calendar full of weekly events by night. Open Mic Sunday, Trivia Tuesday or Reggae Thursday, anyone?
If You Go
Address: 227 Bridge Street, Suite C, Vail, CO 81657
Phone Number: 970.479.2883
The Little Diner
Address: 616 West Lionshead Circle, Vail, CO 81657
Phone Number: 970-476-4279
Up the Creek Bar and Grill
Address: 223 Gore Creek Drive, Vail CO 81657
Phone number: 970-476-8141
Joe’s Famous Deli
Address: 288 Bridge St., Vail CO 81657
Phone number: 970-479-7580
Kelly Liken Restaurant
Address: 12 Vail Road, Suite 100. Vail CO 81657
Phone number: 970-479-0175
Bully Ranch Restaurant
Address: 20 Vail Rd, Vail, CO 81657-5049
Phone number: (970) 479-5460
Cynthia Ord is a freelance writer based in her hometown of Denver CO, a contributing editor at The Travel Word (http://www.thetravelword.com/), and a Latin America addict.
Special thanks to:
The Kelly Liken Restaurant
The Little Diner
The Bully Ranch Restaurant at Sonnenalp
and Up the Creek Bar and Grill
for providing the photos featured in this article!