Alfresco at Altitude

An insider’s guide to outdoor lunching in Vail Village, Lionshead, Beaver Creek, Arrowhead, Avon and Edwards.

By Tom Boyd June 1, 2010 Published in the Summer/Fall 2010 issue of Vail-Beaver Creek Magazine

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Vail Valley summer days are mind-blowingly beautiful. Clear blue skies, snowcapped peaks, idyllic temperatures—in other words, the perfect setting for alfresco dining.

Vail Village

Pepi’s: Pepi’s brings true Old World traditions and hospitality to the heart of Vail at its historic “crossroads”: Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive. Local character is as strong as the sunshine on the spacious deck, where Vail pioneers Pepi Gramshammer, a former Austrian ski racer, and his effervescent wife, Sheika, keep a vibrant local spirit alive with ample help from their daughters. The Gramshammers draw on their rich Austrian heritage to serve gemischter salatteller, wurst, knödel and strudel that call to mind a crisp summer day in the hills above Innsbruck.  231 E. Gore Creek Drive, 970-476-4671

Vendetta’sLong an iconic local hangout, Vendetta’s comfortable deck offers good food, good service and good value. (A sure sign of this establishment’s lofty status is its decades-long popularity with the Vail Ski Patrol.) The ambience is addictive, the people watching fun and the hearty cuisine fantastic, enhanced by the refreshing Italian herbs that suffuse the extensive menu.  291 Bridge St., 970-476-5070 


Tavern on the SquareLocated near the base of Lionshead’s Eagle Bahn gondola, Tavern on the Square offers spectacular views and a tavern menu with homestyle favorites such as fish ’n’ chips, meatloaf, and mac and cheese. Order individually or family-style and enjoy an assortment of organic brews and fresh cocktails meant to complement any dish on the menu. The terrace is perfect for relaxing with a stout after a bike ride down Vail Mountain, helmet in hand and backpack slung over the metal-wicker chair.  675 Lionshead Place in The Arrabelle, 866-662-7625

Beaver Creek

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Perfect pairings at Hyatt 8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill

Image: Park Hyatt

8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill: It’s a mountain-framed alpine setting, but something about this deck cries out for pairing a glass of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio with one of the many enticing appetizers. The options to go light are plentiful here, leaving lots of energy for that afternoon hike on the nearby trails. Most selections on this diverse and flavorful menu come from nearby food producers; the smoked salmon comes from Lyons, north of Boulder, and the seared beef carpaccio hails from Meyer Range Beef, also based in Colorado. It is this attention to detail that delivers a dining experience truly in concert with mountain living.  136 East Thomas Place in the Park Hyatt, 970-827-6600

Beaver Creek ChophouseAt first glance, this expansive patio at the base of the Centennial lift seems perfect for an après cocktail. And it is. But before the gang has realized where they are, they’ve fallen in love with one of Beaver Creek Village’s epicurean pillars, for lunch or dinner. Not-to-miss selections include the Tuscan-style grilled chicken sandwich, the ahi tuna burger, the blue crab cakes and the smoked turkey club croissant. 15 W. Thomas Place, 970-845-0555

Golden Eagle InnGolden Eagle Inn’s cuisine reflects its alpine environment, in particular the elk chili and elk meatloaf, must-tries for those new to the Rockies. Among the many great options at this refined yet family-friendly establishment are salads that have been elevated to a fine art. Flavors aside, the Golden Eagle’s patio may be the best people-watching venue along the resort’s main plaza, and the splendid floral displays themselves merit a visit.  118 Beaver Creek Plaza, 970-949-1940 


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The deck at Vista

VistaThis restaurant’s idyllic setting includes a gently flowing waterfall and a magnificent view of the clubhouse at Arrowhead’s Country Club of the Rockies. The mussels aren’t mandatory, but why pass over a dish so apropos to many of the best main courses, such as the Alaskan halibut picatta or lobster tagliatelle? To chart a different course, open with a shaved fennel salad paired with braised boneless short ribs. Vista’s deck offers entertainment each Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. during the summer. 676 Sawatch Drive in the Country Club of the Rockies, 970-926-2111


The GashouseIt’s not in the Bible, but it seems pretty clear that on the eighth day, God created the Gashouse—and then Edwards sprang up around it. This piece of living history is an oasis of western ranching spirit. Situated on the edge of a pristine slice of Eagle River Preserve open space, the Gashouse deck is a locals’ favorite and one of those places people come from far afield to experience. Rocky Mountain cuisine highlights the reasonably priced, family-friendly menu; think surf-and-turf, crab cakes, fried chicken, tuna melts and burgers, all complemented by such libations as margaritas and cold beer.  34185 Highway 6, 970-926-3613

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