Vail Village is at times both a raucous post-ski party and high-end heaven with crazy comfortable hotels, chic boutiques and some of the best high-end dining in the mountains. The culinary scene is borderline ridiculous in Vail, and luckily, the great flavors are not only reserved for those with deep pockets. The Euro-style village is as diverse as the tourists who visit. Here are three ways to dine in Vail Village,depending on your mood and budget.
In Your Ski Boots
Pazzo’s Pizza, (122 E Meadow Drive, 970-476-9026)
Because Pazzo’s isn’t engulfed in the tourist haven of Bridge Street, it has a decidedly local’s feel to it. A crowd of 20-somethings usually crowds the pizza bar after the lifts close, inhaling thin-crust slices while being warmed by the toasty ovens. The bar area is ideal for tipping back a pint of Colorado beer and reminiscing about a day spent in the Back Bowls. First and foremost, however, Pazzo’s is perhaps the family restaurant of the Vail Village. Its price point is part of the draw, but serving the best pie in town in a relaxed atmosphere is what really draws the families.
In Your Jeans and a T-shirt
Bully Ranch (20 Vail Road, 970-479-5460)
Housed in the new Sonnenalp resort, this throwback takes a decidedly western turn with its dining room that’s caked in rich wood décor, complete with antler chandeliers. While it’s a cowboy steakhouse at its core, the menu itself is diverse with options such as fajitas, comfort classics like chicken pot pie and fresh seafood to compliment an affordable steak list. But the burgers are the reason to come here. The “Definitive” is aptly named and the king of the menu. It’s a huge fresh Angus patty topped with candied bacon, fried onions and blue cheese. It just might be the best burger in town, and it tastes even better wearing cowboy boots.
Once-in-a-Ski Trip Dining Experience
Restaurant Kelly Liken (12 Vail Road, 970-479-0175)
While the world was introduced to this haute eatery when chef/owner Kelly Liken made it to the final four of Bravo’s Top Chef, the Vail Valley already knew the gem that it had. Liken is one of the top toques in the entire state, showcasing simple American flavors using organic Colorado ingredients. The menu is served as a prix fixe, with three and five course options, covering a variety of hearty meat, fresh seafood and delicious vegetable options. The restaurant and its deep wine list have been featured in Food & Wine and by the James Beard Foundation. Its local focus extends to its cellar, offering a respectable assortment of Colorado-produced wines, including standout selections from Canyon Wind Cellars, whose owner/winemaker is a Vail-area resident.