Though I’ve long been a fan of Vail, I’ve been migrating to nearby Beaver Creek in recent years, and that held true again this year.
I spent most of my time on the slopes in the eastern part of Beaver Creek, which meant lunch in the village proper. Thanks to the well-situated escalators, this is an easy proposition. Coyote Café is right at the base of the first down escalator leading to the village plaza. A lively and casual Tex-Mex place, it has excellent guacamole made fresh tableside, chili in several incarnations, and a first-class pulled pork sandwich.
Although getting there means a walk in your ski boots from the mountain base, I was very happy to return to the saloon-like Dusty Boot. Although the burgers are terrific, notably the Castle Peak Patty Melt with sharp Cheddar, sautéed onions and Thousand Island dressing on toasted marble rye, I generally order the combo bowl of soup and half a sandwich. I recommend the Turkey Bacon Melt on grilled sourdough, the Reuben on marbled rye or the well-named “Lunch Lady Grilled Cheese” with Cheddar, Swiss and jack with diced tomato on sourdough. The fries and onion rings are also regrettably good.
When I found myself in the western reaches of the Beaver Creek terrain, I headed for The Ritz-Carlton at the lift base in Bachelor Gulch. On a sunny day, it’s tempting to sit outdoors and listen to the live guitar, but my choice remains the atmospheric Buffalo Bar, with its timber walls and wood floors. The menu is full of hearty choices perfect for warming up after a morning in the cold. I’ve liked everything I’ve had here, my default favorite being the superb bison chili, which I can substitute for the soup of the day in the “Bachelor’s Grab” combo with a salad and half a turkey club. The table’s top choice remains the juicy bison burger with white Cheddar, with the flaky-crusted chicken pot pie a close second.
I had long heard good things about Vin48 in Avon, which is at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain, and I finally made it there on this trip. With a sleek but comfortable contemporary setting, this stylish restaurant has delicious food and excellent service. A very satisfying arugula salad featured roasted shiitakes, little chunks of Gorgonzola and sweet potato chips in a smoked tomato vinaigrette. Rich, tender-braised beef cheeks on a bed of pepper jack cheese grits had a nice dollop of guacamole, crunchy tortilla chips and a zingy ancho-citrus sauce. Dessert sounded so good that I succumbed: banana cream pie cheesecake with toasted meringue and chocolate mousse with crème fraiche and a raspberry sauce.
For a casual dinner, I have come to rely on The Blue Moose in Beaver Creek Village for pizza. I am a fan of the small spinach salad, which is impeccably fresh with mushrooms, red onion and tangy blue-cheese dressing. There are also hot and spicy wings as starters, and then there are the pizzas. I was reminded that I had ordered the same thing last year (with no regrets): the chicken ranch with bacon, fresh tomato, red onion, Cheddar, mozzarella and ranch dressing. The Blue Moose welcomes families with a children’s menu, paper tablecloths and crayons for artists of all ages.
Before forays into Vail, I heard good things about places I have recommended previously (read the original post here): Larkspur, The Tavern at the Arrabelle, and the restaurants at the Sonnenalp — Ludwig’s, Bully Ranch and the Swiss Chalet. On this trip, however, I had time for just one Vail dining experience.
Following drinks at the lively, sophisticated bar at Sweet Basil (seek out Sean, who knows his wines and spirits) we returned to a longtime favorite. Russell’s sits right on the Eagle River by the iconic covered bridge and is known for its steaks. The house specialty is steak Diane, a classic grilled filet served with a mild mushroom, shallot and brandy cream sauce that is indeed delicious, but I chose instead the superb lamb chops: tender and flavorful with rich potatoes dauphinoise.