Aspen is the place to be seen, but Vail is the place to see. A popular winter destination, Vail is home to one of the largest ski resorts in the world and the largest in the States, offering 5,289 acres of diverse, exciting terrain. But Vail offers beauty beyond the sprawling Rocky Mountains blanketed in the freshest powder you’ll find; the town of Vail feels like a little piece of Europe in the States.
Vail was founded in the ‘60s by veterans who served in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division during World War II, and they modeled the town after the charming and romantic architecture of small European towns. Quaint cobblestone streets free of cars weave their way throughout the town of Vail, all lined with charming boutiques and cozy restaurants and cafés, the mountains acting as a halo to the town below.
Vail’s restaurant scene is one that goes far beyond the mediocre offerings you might find in other ski towns. You’ll find everything from high-end names like Nobu to celebrity-chef restaurants like Kelly Liken to local favorites that have become institutions in their own right. Want to know where to go after hours of playing in the snow? Check out five of Vail’s trendiest restaurants.
Atwater at Gore Creek
If the view doesn’t get you, then the beloved pheasant soup will. Atwater at Gore Creek is the signature restaurant at Vail Cascade resort. This authentic Colorado grill nestled in the mountains offers large bay windows overlooking Gore Creek and creates an atmosphere that is both warm and peaceful. Atwater pays homage to Colorado’s phenomenal craft beer scene with an extensive and eclectic selection on offer here, and beer lovers will enjoy the creative beer and food pairings on offer. After dinner, pop over to the hotel’s The Fireside Bar, the town’s go-to watering hole in winter.
Ordering sushi and fish in landlocked Colorado may not seem, well, right, but can you really second-guess all-star chef Nobu Matsuhisa? Matsuhisa set up his eponymous Vail restaurant in 2011 in Vail Village’s Shops at Solaris. Go for the broiled black cod with miso, a Matsuhisa specialty.
Kelly Liken wanted to bring a fine-dining experience to Vail with her self-named restaurant. The restaurant is upscale American with plenty of art decorating its walls. The menu is reflective of Colorado fare and frequently changes depending on the season and the ingredients available. On the menu you’ll find dishes like Colorado pan roasted leg of lamb, red beet pappardelle, and pan-seared diver scallops.
In the mood for Italian? Look no further than Terra Bistro. This loft-style restaurant is sleek and modern in its design. On the menu you’ll find dishes featuring free-range meat and poultry and locally sourced produce.
Locals sing the sweet praises of Sweet Basil, a restaurant that was named a Colorado favorite by Zagat. Visitors can treat themselves to a trendy night in this down-to-earth eatery — you might even catch a celebrity or two tucking into a meal. The menu here is creative, with a focus on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients incorporated into the dishes. Be sure to leave room for dessert, as the hot sticky toffee pudding cake is the restaurant’s most iconic dish.