Vail, Colorado is Open for Business: The Dining Scene

We visited Vail last weekend and I plan to write about what we did there, but first and foremost you should 1) know that it is open and 2) know that restaurants are open. Let’s face it, I go to Vail to eat all the things. Seriously.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (9)

We stayed in a one-bedroom, pet-friendly, condo at Antlers at Vail. Fritzi got to go, making this her second trip to Vail and second stay at Antlers at Vail. She’s spoiled.

Now, let’s talk about safety, since we’re living with COVID-19 in the world. Vail is located in Eagle County which is currently in Phase Blue, which basically means things are open and small events can happen. The gondola will start running and the farmers market will get underway this weekend.

RELATED: Antlers at Vail, Where Unpretentious Vail Lives

By going out into the world you are assuming risk, but if you follow posted rules around Vail, and Eagle County’s Commitments of Containment, you’ll be safer: 1. Maintain 6 feet of social distance. 2. Wash hands frequently. 3. Cover your face in public. 4. Stay home if you are feeling sick. 5. Get tested immediately if you have symptoms.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (10)

On this trip we ate at one of the oldest Vail restaurants and one of the newest. It was an ode to what Vail is—a mixture of old-school and new-school that feels oh, so good—and when it comes to food, it tastes oh so good.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (1)

On the first day, we’d browsed some menus and walked around deciding where to eat. This is one of the best parts of being a Vail—walking around deciding where to eat.

We settled on El Segundo for dinner. This is a brand new Mexican restaurant in the heart of Vail Village along Gore Creek. A rainstorm had cooled things off so we opted for an inside table. Reservations are recommended at many places, but not required.

We’d read that El Segundo has over 100 tequilas and since we’re fans of both tequila and Mexican food, this was the restaurant for us.

Masks on, the hostess sat us at an inside table near the bar. Masks off, I ordered the Friend of the Devil (Maestro Dobel, cucumber, jalapeno-cilantro syrup, fresh lime) and Ryan got Smoke on the Water (Mezcal Uniơn, fever tree ginger beer, fresh lemon, sprinkle of cayenne). Yes, they were as yummy as they sound.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (3)

We ordered chips and salsa and the steak fajitas to share. The chips were nothing special but the fajita steak meat was scrumptious.

The restaurant has a laid back vibe with Day of the Dead artwork on the walls. The patio is dog-friendly, but we didn’t sit there or bring the dog.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (2)

We each had a nice tequila on the rocks as a dessert. Our meal was around $100 with the drinks being the biggest part of the bill. If you enjoy a nice tequila/drink list, this is the place to go.

The next day we bought breakfast at Les Delices De France; two breakfast sandwiches and a cup of coffee. I like Les Delices because it’s fast, affordable and the breakfast sandwiches are huge. Get a side of mayo or hot sauce because the French bread can be dry.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (6)

We sat on a picnic table in the sunshine for breakfast al fresco with the fur kid, Fritzi. She busied herself pulling weeds from between the cobblestones, I’ll send Vail the invoice later. Haha!

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (5)

For lunch we ate at Piney River Ranch. We had just finished the Upper Piney Trail and it made sense to belly up to a picnic table here. While they normally have table service, this summer patrons order at a window and pick up their boxed lunches at the next window.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (16)

We got a Cuban, BBQ chicken wrap, ice teas and two sides. The standout here is the potato salad. Seriously, this salad is creamy and delicious. As a wedding venue, Piney River Ranch caters so make sure this salad is on the menu.

Eating here, looking out on the lake and Gore Range after a big hike, is super satisfying.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (20)

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (15)

Sandwiches here around $13 and include a side. As a side note, while it can be busy on a weekend, this area is off-grid meaning that your cell phone won’t work so you’ll be forced to live in the moment.

Vail has a lot of types of food. You’ll find a smattering of German bistros, Italian joints, Mexican eateries and American restaurants. We decided on La Bottega, an Italian restaurant on the edge of Vail Village that I’ve walked past 100 times.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (11)

After being sat on the patio we were greeted with a basket of freshly baked bread and bread sticks. It was hard to pace ourselves, this bread was that good.

I had a limoncello drink which seemed appropriate for a warm patio evening and Ryan sipped on a Chianti. By the way, their menu is online. You scan the bar code on the table and your screen goes directly to the menu. I hope more restaurants do this is the future. It is touchless and environmentally friendly.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (13)Dinner was an antipasto salad as an appetizer, clam linguine for Ryan and a La Bogetta Pizza for me. The bresaola, an air dried, aged beef, had just the right amount of saltiness that complimented the other ingredients that included tomato, mozzarella, arugula and grana cheese. I would get this pizza again and again.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (12)

We only saw the inside briefly, but the bar area of La Bogetta looks inviting during ski season. With dark wood and an Italian-feel, it fits in perfectly in this Colorado ski town. Dinner is quite reasonable given that it is an Italian restaurant in Vail. Six inch pizzas start at $9.95 and entrees are anywhere from $20 to $40.

We had dessert at one of Vail’s legendary restaurants. Sweet Basil opened their doors in 1977, and has been a Vail institution ever since. The line at this restaurants tent at the Aprés Lamb event during Taste of Vail is inveriably the longest because the chef always makes something unbelievably creative, beautiful and delectable.

RELATED: Five Reasons to Love Vail, Colorado

Our dessert was no exception. We had Malt & Salt, a vanilla bean panna cotta, milk chocolate ganache, salted pretzel and ice cream. It sounds heavy but was actually quite light and delicate.

Vail, Colorado is Open for Business The Dining Scene. HeidiTown (13)

Sitting by the open doors looking out onto Gore Creek, it was a pleasant Vail evening and the issues of the last couple months didn’t even enter my mind. I realize I was practicing escapism, but sometimes, that’s okay.

By the way, they send guests home with the recipe for their famous Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake printed on recipe paper. They have been serving this popular dish since opening their doors. We gave it to a baker friend in hopes that she tries it and lets us be taste testers.

The next morning, I made a quick breakfast in our condo’s full kitchen. Belgian waffles and eggs for Ryan and eggs and left over pizza for me. Served with hot coffee and eaten while listening to Gore Creek, it was a perfect way to spend our last morning in Vail.

Thank you to Vail Summer and Antlers at Vail for hosting this trip.

 

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