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The 18 Best Hot Spots for Eating & Drinking in Vail, May '14

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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.

Just in time for summer, we've personally researched and curated the top spots to eat, drink, snack, and double-down in Vail, Colorado. Like our guide to the top restaurants and bars in Park City, this highly selective list of Vail restaurants includes everything from hot après spots to fine dining and even our go-to cupcake joint. 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.

· The 18 Best Hot Spots for Park City Eating & Drinking, Feb '14 [Curbed Ski]
· UPDATED! Beers or Bust: The Best Ski Town Breweries, April '14 [Curbed Ski]
· All Eater Ski 18 Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]
· All Eater Ski Coverage [Curbed Ski Archives]

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1. Westside Cafe and Market

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2211 N Frontage Rd W
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-7890
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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.

2. Yellowbelly

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2161 North Frontage Road West, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657

As our top pick for an affordable, tasty lunch in Vail, Yellowbelly is a "fast gourmet" chicken joint that gets rave reviews. Try the Boylan's Cherry Soda on tap and the fried chicken. Vegetarians will be satisfied with quinoa salad, sautéed green beans, baby kale salad, and the popular Brussels slaw. If you venture down to the metro area, check out Yellowbelly's other location in Boulder.

3. The Little Diner

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616 W Lionshead Cir
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-4279
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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.

4. Flame at Four Seasons Resort Vail

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1 Vail Rd
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 477-8600
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There's no shortage of good 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.

5. Kelly Liken

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12 Vail Rd
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 479-0175
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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, 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 specials throughout the year, so check the website before you go.

6. Osaki's Sushi & Japanese Cuisine

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100 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-0977
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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.

7. Matsuhisa Vail

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141 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-6628
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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.

8. Yeti's Grind

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141 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-1515
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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 slope.

9. La Tour Restaurant & Bar

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122 East Meadow Drive
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-4403
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La Tour has consistently topped the Vail restaurant scene for a while now, 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.

10. Mountain Standard

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193 E Gore Creek Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-0123
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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.

11. Sweet Basil

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193 Gore Creek Drive, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-0125
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A long time Vail favorite, Sweet Basil continually puts out delish American fare like Muscovy Duck Breast and Berkshire Pork Ribeyes. Consistency doesn't mean lack of innovation, however, and Sweet Basil is currently closed until May 23 for renovations. Upon opening, expect an updated dining room, a new wine room, renovated bathrooms, and expanded kitchen.

12. Mountain Cupcakes

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162 E Gore Creek Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 306-6422
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Satisfy your sweet tooth at this Vail Village bakery. Well-decorated cupcakes, macaroons, and other heavenly desserts await the famished skier, and the spot also serves up breakfast and lunch. Mountain Cupcakes can also provide baked goods for special events or weddings.

13. Game Creek Restaurant

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Vail Mountain, Game Creek Bowl
Vail, CO 81658

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.

14. Vendetta's

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291 Bridge St
Vail, CO
(970) 476-5070
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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.

15. Joe's Famous Deli

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288 Bridge Street, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 479-7580
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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.

16. The Red Lion

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304 Bridge St
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-7676
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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.

17. Terra Bistro

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352 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 476-6836
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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.

18. Larkspur

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458 Vail Valley Dr
Vail, CO 81657
(970) 754-8050
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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.

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1. Westside Cafe and Market

2211 N Frontage Rd W, Vail, CO 81657

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.

2211 N Frontage Rd W
Vail, CO 81657

2. Yellowbelly

2161 North Frontage Road West, White River National Forest, Vail, CO 81657

As our top pick for an affordable, tasty lunch in Vail, Yellowbelly is a "fast gourmet" chicken joint that gets rave reviews. Try the Boylan's Cherry Soda on tap and the fried chicken. Vegetarians will be satisfied with quinoa salad, sautéed green beans, baby kale salad, and the popular Brussels slaw. If you venture down to the metro area, check out Yellowbelly's other location in Boulder.

2161 North Frontage Road West, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657

3. The Little Diner

616 W Lionshead Cir, Vail, CO 81657

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.

616 W Lionshead Cir
Vail, CO 81657

4. Flame at Four Seasons Resort Vail

1 Vail Rd, Vail, CO 81657

There's no shortage of good 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.

1 Vail Rd
Vail, CO 81657

5. Kelly Liken

12 Vail Rd, Vail, CO 81657

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, 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 specials throughout the year, so check the website before you go.

12 Vail Rd
Vail, CO 81657

6. Osaki's Sushi & Japanese Cuisine

100 E Meadow Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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.

100 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657

7. Matsuhisa Vail

141 E Meadow Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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.

141 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657

8. Yeti's Grind

141 E Meadow Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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 slope.

141 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657

9. La Tour Restaurant & Bar

122 East Meadow Drive, Vail, CO 81657

La Tour has consistently topped the Vail restaurant scene for a while now, 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.

122 East Meadow Drive
Vail, CO 81657

10. Mountain Standard

193 E Gore Creek Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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.

193 E Gore Creek Dr
Vail, CO 81657

11. Sweet Basil

193 Gore Creek Drive, White River National Forest, Vail, CO 81657

A long time Vail favorite, Sweet Basil continually puts out delish American fare like Muscovy Duck Breast and Berkshire Pork Ribeyes. Consistency doesn't mean lack of innovation, however, and Sweet Basil is currently closed until May 23 for renovations. Upon opening, expect an updated dining room, a new wine room, renovated bathrooms, and expanded kitchen.

193 Gore Creek Drive, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657

12. Mountain Cupcakes

162 E Gore Creek Dr, Vail, CO 81657

Satisfy your sweet tooth at this Vail Village bakery. Well-decorated cupcakes, macaroons, and other heavenly desserts await the famished skier, and the spot also serves up breakfast and lunch. Mountain Cupcakes can also provide baked goods for special events or weddings.

162 E Gore Creek Dr
Vail, CO 81657

13. Game Creek Restaurant

Vail Mountain, Game Creek Bowl, Vail, CO 81658

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.

Vail Mountain, Game Creek Bowl
Vail, CO 81658

14. Vendetta's

291 Bridge St, Vail, CO

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.

291 Bridge St
Vail, CO

15. Joe's Famous Deli

288 Bridge Street, White River National Forest, Vail, CO 81657

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.

288 Bridge Street, White River National Forest
Vail, CO 81657

16. The Red Lion

304 Bridge St, Vail, CO 81657

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.

304 Bridge St
Vail, CO 81657

17. Terra Bistro

352 E Meadow Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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.

352 E Meadow Dr
Vail, CO 81657

18. Larkspur

458 Vail Valley Dr, Vail, CO 81657

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.

458 Vail Valley Dr
Vail, CO 81657