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The 18 Best Hot Spots for Eating & Drinking in Vail, Feb '15

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Welcome to Curbed Ski's list of the 18 Best Ski Town Hot Spots, our answer to any question that begins with, "Can you recommend a restaurant in...?" This highly elite group will cover 18 restaurants and bars in ski towns across North America, spanning myriad cuisines and collectively satisfying all of your dining and drinking needs. Every couple months we'll be adding places that were omitted or have stepped up there game. Have a tip? Let us know here.

It's high ski season in Colorado, so what better time to provide an update to our Vail dining and boozing guide? Curbed Ski has personally researched and curated the top spots to eat, drink, snack, and double-down in one of the hottest ski towns around, and like our other Eater 18 guides, this highly selective list of Vail restaurants includes everything from our favorite après spots, to fine, dining, and even our go-to barbecue joint. With the 2015 edition, we dropped fast-casual Yellowbelly and the pastry shop Mountain Cupcakes in favor of the family-friendly Moe's Original Barbecue and the Italian restaurant Campo di Fiori. Bummed your favorite spot didn't make the cut? Rather than have a huge freak out, wouldn't it be better to just nominate it for inclusion or tell us your picks in the comments?

Please note that this list is ordered geographically, not in any sort of ranking.


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· The 18 Hot Spots for Eating & Drinking in Park City, Jan '15 [Curbed Ski]
· Mapping the 25 Best Après-Ski Spots in North America [Curbed Ski]
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Westside Cafe and Market

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This comfort-food haven is worth the trek across the highway for hangover-curing Bloody Mary's and breakfasts. They claim to have the world's best Benedict's, and we might have to agree. Try the Red Neck or the Fried Chicken. Also an affordable spot for lunch or dinner.

The Little Diner

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There's a reason The Little Diner is one of the most popular restaurants in Vail: great food made from scratch and sold at reasonable prices. Try the Pannekoeken (German Pancake) for a twist on a breakfast classic; the baked to order airy dough rises like a soufflé. It's the best spot to grab breakfast or lunch in Lionshead, and one of our favorite places in the Vail Valley. Be warned, the crowds can get intense, so come early for breakfast.

Moe's Original BBQ

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If you want something tasty, well-priced, and casual, head to Moe's Original BBQ in Lionshead. This family-friendly spot may be low on ambiance, but there's no cheaper way to fill yourself up on decent food in Vail's over-priced dining scene. The pulled pork sandwich is our go-to order. Also a great option for lunch.

Flame at Four Seasons Resort Vail

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There's no shortage of steak in Vail, but when we are going to lay down the big bucks, we prefer Flame. Located in the Four Seasons, Flame turns out interesting appetizers (try the Rocky Mountain Elk Corn Dogs) and of course, lots of meat. You can't go wrong with the Petite Filet or the Dry Aged Bone-In Bison Ribeye, served with your choice of rubs and an array of sauces. The Crispy Brussel Sprout Kim Chi is a good take on the ever-popular vegetable, and the extensive wine list will keep any oenophile happy. Pro tip: even though this restaurant isn't cheap, they are very accommodating to families and children.

Kelly Liken

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Whether it's Kelly Liken's time on Bravo's Top Chef Season 7 or her multiple James Beard nominations for Best Chef Southwest, the young chef is a powerhouse in the Vail culinary scene. Open since 2004, the menu at Kelly Liken changes often but try the Colorado lamb and save room for Chef Kelly's famous Sticky Bun Sundae. The restaurant also has a fun tasting menu and runs great shoulder season specials (in fall and spring) throughout the year, so check the website before you go.

Osaki's Sushi & Japanese Cuisine

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In the heart of Vail Village, Osaki provides fresh sushi and a welcome change from the plethora of "New American" options in town. Prices are reasonable, the fish is fresh, and there's even a seven-course tasting menu from Chef Takshi Osaki. Be warned, the restaurant is super tiny, so reservations are a must.

Campo de Fiori

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Vail's best Italian restaurant Campo de Fiori delivers on classic pasta dishes, a good wine selection, and an upscale yet casual ambiance that fits the ski-town scene. The burrata or mozzarella appetizers are divine and unique salads provide a twist on Italian staples. There are plenty of good meat dishes, but we always prefer the pastas. Insider tip: If you have a small party (3 or under) and can't get a reservation, call and ask if anyone is seated at the 5-top bar.

Matsuhisa Vail

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Looking for a splurge restaurant that offers more than Colorado lamb and a fancy steak? Head to celebrity Chef Nobu's Vail outpost of Matsuhisa. Order the Broiled Black Cod with Miso or the King Crab Tempura "Amazu" Sweet Ponzu and prepare to be amazed. Or order the "Omakase" tasting menu and let the chef do all the deciding. Be forewarned, it's hard to get out of Matsuhisa for less than $100 per person, but it's worth it.

Yeti's Grind

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Avoid the Starbucks in Vail and instead head to Yeti's Grind, a place that does everything from black coffee to elaborate seasonal lattes. The latte art can be beautiful and its a comfortable spot if you are taking a break from the slopes.

La Tour Restaurant & Bar

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La Tour has consistently topped the Vail restaurant scene for years, so it's a must-try splurge when on vacation. But if shelling out big bucks for duck and lamb entrees isn't quite in your budget, check out La Tour's lunch or Sunday brunch menu. Well-composed salads and well-priced tartines allow you to try fabulous cooking at an easy-to-stomach price.

Mountain Standard

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One of Vail's newer (and hottest) restaurants comes from the creators of Sweet Basil, offers guests wood fired cooking, and has been earning rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Try the bruschetta, lamb salad, or the pork shank and you won't be disappointed. The wine list is decent, but the cocktails and draft beer list really shines.

Sweet Basil

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A Vail favorite since it opened in 1977, Sweet Basil continually puts out delish American fare like Muscovy Duck Breast and Berkshire Pork Ribeyes. Last spring Sweet Basil updated their dining room, built a new wine room, renovated the bathrooms, and expanded the kitchen. The food is as good as ever.

Game Creek Restaurant

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Every ski area has the "experience" restaurant and Game Creek is the go-to Vail spot. Located just below Eagle's Nest and above the Game Creek chair lift, the restaurant is only accessibly by snowcat in the winter or by hiking or taking a 4-wheel drive shuttle in the summer. The above-average ambience and spectacular scenery help make this a don't miss spot. A less expensive option is the Sunday brunch. FYI, Dinner is only available Thursday through Saturday.

Vendetta's

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The pizza is good, but the best part of Vendetta's is the lively après scene and a hoppin' bar. Located on the main drag, Vendetta's is our go-to spot for an affordable, filling dinner after a day scoring powder in secret stashes around the mountain. Be patient with the crowds, order another beer, and watch the skier crowd cutting loose. There's also a sweet patio during warm weather.

Joe's Famous Deli

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Take a break from the fancy, pretentious food of Vail and head to Joe's Famous Deli for decent quick breakfasts and a good sandwich at lunchtime. They also have amazing ice cream and a small seating area. Don't be deterred by the line, it moves fast.

The Red Lion

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Touted as Vail's #1 Bar, we love the Red Lion for its happening après scene and its convenient location on the way back to the main parking garage. In summer or winter, the Red Lion almost always has a crowd, but the lively ambiance is one of the best in town. Join a mix of locals, ski bums, and tourists for a beer or some live music.

Terra Bistro

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Terra Bistro has been impressing Vail diners for over 20 years now, so it's a solid choice. Guests rave about the Brussels sprouts, flatbread, and the entree scallops are also a good option. Attentive service and a good happy hour round out this Vail classic.

Larkspur

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With an extensive wine list and elevated food, Larkspur is always a good choice when dining in Vail. Our local's tip: head there for happy hour on the patio and don't forget to try their sister restaurant Larkburger, a fast-casual joint with outposts in nearby Edwards.

Westside Cafe and Market

This comfort-food haven is worth the trek across the highway for hangover-curing Bloody Mary's and breakfasts. They claim to have the world's best Benedict's, and we might have to agree. Try the Red Neck or the Fried Chicken. Also an affordable spot for lunch or dinner.

The Little Diner

There's a reason The Little Diner is one of the most popular restaurants in Vail: great food made from scratch and sold at reasonable prices. Try the Pannekoeken (German Pancake) for a twist on a breakfast classic; the baked to order airy dough rises like a soufflé. It's the best spot to grab breakfast or lunch in Lionshead, and one of our favorite places in the Vail Valley. Be warned, the crowds can get intense, so come early for breakfast.

Moe's Original BBQ

If you want something tasty, well-priced, and casual, head to Moe's Original BBQ in Lionshead. This family-friendly spot may be low on ambiance, but there's no cheaper way to fill yourself up on decent food in Vail's over-priced dining scene. The pulled pork sandwich is our go-to order. Also a great option for lunch.

Flame at Four Seasons Resort Vail

There's no shortage of steak in Vail, but when we are going to lay down the big bucks, we prefer Flame. Located in the Four Seasons, Flame turns out interesting appetizers (try the Rocky Mountain Elk Corn Dogs) and of course, lots of meat. You can't go wrong with the Petite Filet or the Dry Aged Bone-In Bison Ribeye, served with your choice of rubs and an array of sauces. The Crispy Brussel Sprout Kim Chi is a good take on the ever-popular vegetable, and the extensive wine list will keep any oenophile happy. Pro tip: even though this restaurant isn't cheap, they are very accommodating to families and children.

Kelly Liken

Whether it's Kelly Liken's time on Bravo's Top Chef Season 7 or her multiple James Beard nominations for Best Chef Southwest, the young chef is a powerhouse in the Vail culinary scene. Open since 2004, the menu at Kelly Liken changes often but try the Colorado lamb and save room for Chef Kelly's famous Sticky Bun Sundae. The restaurant also has a fun tasting menu and runs great shoulder season specials (in fall and spring) throughout the year, so check the website before you go.

Osaki's Sushi & Japanese Cuisine

In the heart of Vail Village, Osaki provides fresh sushi and a welcome change from the plethora of "New American" options in town. Prices are reasonable, the fish is fresh, and there's even a seven-course tasting menu from Chef Takshi Osaki. Be warned, the restaurant is super tiny, so reservations are a must.

Campo de Fiori

Vail's best Italian restaurant Campo de Fiori delivers on classic pasta dishes, a good wine selection, and an upscale yet casual ambiance that fits the ski-town scene. The burrata or mozzarella appetizers are divine and unique salads provide a twist on Italian staples. There are plenty of good meat dishes, but we always prefer the pastas. Insider tip: If you have a small party (3 or under) and can't get a reservation, call and ask if anyone is seated at the 5-top bar.

Matsuhisa Vail

Looking for a splurge restaurant that offers more than Colorado lamb and a fancy steak? Head to celebrity Chef Nobu's Vail outpost of Matsuhisa. Order the Broiled Black Cod with Miso or the King Crab Tempura "Amazu" Sweet Ponzu and prepare to be amazed. Or order the "Omakase" tasting menu and let the chef do all the deciding. Be forewarned, it's hard to get out of Matsuhisa for less than $100 per person, but it's worth it.

Yeti's Grind

Avoid the Starbucks in Vail and instead head to Yeti's Grind, a place that does everything from black coffee to elaborate seasonal lattes. The latte art can be beautiful and its a comfortable spot if you are taking a break from the slopes.

La Tour Restaurant & Bar

La Tour has consistently topped the Vail restaurant scene for years, so it's a must-try splurge when on vacation. But if shelling out big bucks for duck and lamb entrees isn't quite in your budget, check out La Tour's lunch or Sunday brunch menu. Well-composed salads and well-priced tartines allow you to try fabulous cooking at an easy-to-stomach price.

Mountain Standard

One of Vail's newer (and hottest) restaurants comes from the creators of Sweet Basil, offers guests wood fired cooking, and has been earning rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Try the bruschetta, lamb salad, or the pork shank and you won't be disappointed. The wine list is decent, but the cocktails and draft beer list really shines.

Sweet Basil

A Vail favorite since it opened in 1977, Sweet Basil continually puts out delish American fare like Muscovy Duck Breast and Berkshire Pork Ribeyes. Last spring Sweet Basil updated their dining room, built a new wine room, renovated the bathrooms, and expanded the kitchen. The food is as good as ever.

Game Creek Restaurant

Every ski area has the "experience" restaurant and Game Creek is the go-to Vail spot. Located just below Eagle's Nest and above the Game Creek chair lift, the restaurant is only accessibly by snowcat in the winter or by hiking or taking a 4-wheel drive shuttle in the summer. The above-average ambience and spectacular scenery help make this a don't miss spot. A less expensive option is the Sunday brunch. FYI, Dinner is only available Thursday through Saturday.

Vendetta's

The pizza is good, but the best part of Vendetta's is the lively après scene and a hoppin' bar. Located on the main drag, Vendetta's is our go-to spot for an affordable, filling dinner after a day scoring powder in secret stashes around the mountain. Be patient with the crowds, order another beer, and watch the skier crowd cutting loose. There's also a sweet patio during warm weather.

Joe's Famous Deli

Take a break from the fancy, pretentious food of Vail and head to Joe's Famous Deli for decent quick breakfasts and a good sandwich at lunchtime. They also have amazing ice cream and a small seating area. Don't be deterred by the line, it moves fast.

The Red Lion

Touted as Vail's #1 Bar, we love the Red Lion for its happening après scene and its convenient location on the way back to the main parking garage. In summer or winter, the Red Lion almost always has a crowd, but the lively ambiance is one of the best in town. Join a mix of locals, ski bums, and tourists for a beer or some live music.

Terra Bistro

Terra Bistro has been impressing Vail diners for over 20 years now, so it's a solid choice. Guests rave about the Brussels sprouts, flatbread, and the entree scallops are also a good option. Attentive service and a good happy hour round out this Vail classic.

Larkspur

With an extensive wine list and elevated food, Larkspur is always a good choice when dining in Vail. Our local's tip: head there for happy hour on the patio and don't forget to try their sister restaurant Larkburger, a fast-casual joint with outposts in nearby Edwards.