Where are some of the most unique, innovative, or just downright classic places to enjoy a summertime meal in the Vail Valley? Reserve your spot on our reader-endorsed musts.
Most Magical Meal: Collective Vail Glamping
Who said a night under the stars had anything to do with roughing it? Collective Vail’s glamour camping (gl-’amping, get it?) venue atop a butte at 4 Eagle Ranch revolves around an outdoor dining room where couples drink in the landscape and starscape as they sip on cab from the ranch winery and sup on multiple exquisitely plated courses prepared on-site by chef William Howell before retiring to safari tents complete with king-size beds. From $500/night; collectiveretreats.com
If you already have a home or hotel room in the valley, reserve a table, rather than a tent, for one of the most romantic, and memorable, meals of the summer. $150, reservations required.
“It’s a night you’ll never forget!”
A night in a glamping tent at Piney River Ranch (and late-afternoon Gore Range Burger paired with a draft Mountain Livin’ pint in the rustic lodge restaurant) on the shores of Piney Lake above Vail; Piney may not be as luxe, but the magazine-cover-worthy setting and experience may convince you to swear off boil-a-meals and sleeping on the ground for good. $199; pineyriverranch.com
If You Only Have Time for One Meal: Sweet Basil
In the now-you-eat-it-now-you-don’t world of Vail Village restaurants, it’s usually pretty telling when a venue sticks around for more than a season or two, so consider it a neon sign that Sweet Basil has been eliciting raves on Vail Village’s Main Gore Drive since 1977. Our overwhelming readers’ choice for the valley’s signature place to dine, it’s not hard to taste why: anything with Colorado lamb is perpetually a winner on the ever-evolving menu that features creative takes on seasonal ingredients. And if you can’t score a reservation, try Sweet B’s downstairs offspring, Mountain Standard, which commands a culinary sweet spot on the creekside promenade. sweetbasilvail.com
... But, If You Want to Stay for Another Sunset: Vista at Arrowhead
Between the sweeping views of Red & White Mountain from Vista’s patio on the verdant links of Arrowhead, the alpine-inspired menu sourced from Colorado ingredients, and Mickey Poage singing sweet nothings at the baby grand, it’s no wonder why Vista at Arrowhead is a perennial summer favorite among locals and tourists alike. To whet your appetite, plan for an afternoon tee time, as the restaurant resides inside the Country Club of the Rockies clubhouse. vista-arrowhead.com
... Or Want to Dine with the Locals: Zino Ristorante
Nine-to-fivers at Miller Ranch have made Sweet Basil’s Riverwalk satellite their summer home. Especially on languid Tuesday night Mussel Madness, where regulars binge-slurp on half-price skillet after skillet as they spectate the bocce court on the restaurant’s riverside lawn. zinoristorante.com
Locals’ Sweet Tooth-Tested Dessert: Charles’ Hot Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake at Juniper
Sorry, s’mores: When it comes to summer desserts, Juniper pastry chef Charles Broschinsky’s signature confection wins (sticky) hands-down with locals. juniperrestaurant.com
Give a Local $20 for Dinner and They’ll Spend It at: Vendetta's
What they’ll order: A 12-inch Popeye’s Passion (pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black olives; yams and spinach will cost you extra). vendettasvail.com
The Burger Every First-Time Needs to Try
Golden Peak’s culinary landmark restaurant, Larkspur, may be closed for the summer season, but if you don’t mind queuing behind scores of lacrosse kids, you can score a signature patty-on-brioche at the Edwards-based burger shack that spawned a regional slow-food chain. larkburger.com
Best Burger That’s Not a Burger: Expert Burger's Alyeska
It’s a salmon patty slathered in caper mayo, topped with a hard-boiled egg and pickled onions on a fluffy bun, but in a word: Yum! Pair it with the best hand-cut fries in the valley and a butter pecan root beer float. expertburger.com
Where to Have a Meltdown: Kiwi International Delights
A place where winter lasts forever doesn’t cultivate many ice cream parlors, but on hot days in Avon you’ll find locals cooling off with house-made strawberry lime popsicles at this hidden gem, just around the corner from Loaded Joe’s.
Redefining the Kegger: The Bonfire Kegyak
TV8 host and all-around outdoors guy Ken Hoeve has taken “Tap the Rockies” to a whole new level, mating a kayak with a stainless steel pony ballasted with his favorite Firestarter IPA. While Hoeve’s kegyak may be too top-heavy for some of our rougher rapids (“I can’t shake up the beer too much,” he rationalizes), it’s a flatwater hit on hot summer days.
Where You'll Find Locals
Locals Say: "Kegyak me!"
5 Local Brews That Say Summer
Brush Creek Blonde, bonfirebrewing.com
Gore Creek IPA, vailbrewingco.com
Gold Dust Blonde, 7hermitsbrewing.com
Mountain Livin’ Pale Ale, crazymountainbrewery.com
Vail Tail Pale Ale, gorerangebrewery.com
What to Sip at the Valley’s Most Scenic Happy Hours
The Yard Sale at White Bison
A mix of gin, cucumber, mint, and soda is the hit of one of Vail Village’s liveliest and most scenic happy hours on Gore Creek. whitebisonvail.com
The Maya at Maya
Maestro Dobel silver tequila with tamarind, citrus, and a chile-encrusted rim is the hit of the Westin Riverfront Resort’s Friday Afternoon Club, served with southern vistas of Beaver Creek Mountain. richardsandoval.com/mayabc/
The Perfect G&T at Harvest
Made with local ingredients—yes, even the tonic—for a taste that, when combined with the panorama from the Sonnenalp Club’s deck is, well, perfect. harvestvail.com