You might visit Vail for the mountains, whether in summer or winter. But your taste buds won't want you to leave.
This charming, walkable mountain town is home to some of the state's most delicious dishes, from five-star jaw-droppers, to indulgent riverside lounges, to expertly prepared food from around the world. It can be hard to narrow down all of Vail's restaurant options.
For a guided foodie tour, Vail Valley Food Tours takes visitors on a three-hour walking tour of the village, to visit some of the region's top gourmet restaurants for tastings and (optionally) drinks. The company also offers a craft beer tour. This is ideal for visitors who just can't decide on a single restaurant and want to get a taste for a bunch of the best.
Or set up your own self-guided tour. Here are our five favorite places to fill up in Vail:
1. La Tour
This French restaurant downtown in the walking village has won many awards, and it's famous for its expansive wine collection. The wine menu is 40 pages long, with both French and domestic bottles.
In the winter, warm up with the truffle French onion soup (a menu staple and always our favorite) with braised beef short ribs and truffle cheese. Any time of year, the Rocky Mountain trout meuniere, served with Colorado creamer potatoes, is the perfect way to fuse French with local. The menu changes up occasionally.
During warm weather, grab a table on the outdoor patio. If it's chilly out, snuggle up with your loved one and wine next to the indoor fireplace.
This restaurant is the Four Seasons' flagship steakhouse, where lounge meets luxury. The Four Seasons also runs an in-resort bar, The Remedy Bar, which offers playful twists on classic cocktails and also has a delicious food menu, although less extensive than Flame. For a real, sit-down dinner, head to Flame.
Flame prides itself in its steak.
Try the 35-day dry-aged bison rib eye and drool-inducing, family-style apps, like mashed potatoes that take comfort food to a new level. Expect your meal to come with a line-up of inventive sauces that can transform every bite.
The staff here can expertly pair your meal with a beverage, whether wine or cocktails. For dessert, don't miss the donuts. Yes, for dessert. And if you still want more sugar, pop upstairs to Remedy and order its award-winning, famous hot chocolate, which has been named one of the best in the world.
This is the place to go in downtown for Japanese food and also a hoppin', sophisticated nightlife. Grab a seat at the long bar counter and you can see the mountain while you delight in Matsuhisa's signature-style sashimi. The yellowtail jalapeno sashimi is the most popular, and for good reason. (Wiping up drool now.)
Even if you think you don't like sake, try it here. Matsuhisa's cold sake selection can convert anyone.
Located right on the water, Mountain Standard is the more relaxed, upbeat, playful sibling of the well-known Sweet Basil restaurant upstairs. Watch chefs prepare your meal in the open kitchen. Start with wood-grilled bruschetta with spring pea hummus, ricotta, calabrian chilis and pea shoots. (Don't you know, peas are all the rage?)
For a no-fail dinner, the corned pork shank is a fave of the restaurant's owner. Mountain Standard also has a raw bar with oyster shooters or a vodka-cured king salmon. For something lighter, the Standard Wedge salad with crispy prosciutto can be a full meal. The menu changes up, but it's always delicious. We've never had a bad (or below amazing) meal here.
5. Game Creek
This is five-star dining at its finest, and most interesting. Game Creek is a fine dining establishment that you can't just drive up to. The only way to get here is via horseback ride, hike or four-wheel-drive in the summer. In the winter, you have to take a snowcat through the snow-covered fields to get here.
After your adventurous journey, you'll be ready to dig into this American, innovative menu. Hours are limited and reservations are required. But this is a must-do experience for anyone visiting Vail.