Over the past decade at mid-Vail, the on-mountain lunch has evolved from the slurp-and-go afterthought of a bowl of cafeteria chili to a multicourse meal to be savored and remembered. Thanks to The 10th, the resort’s signature on-mountain dining venue, the midday meal is now an official occasion. Named after the legendary 10th Mountain Division and opened in December 2011, the lodge (at 10,250 feet) is tucked back from the madness of the Gondola One-Wildwood Express-Mountaintop Express interchange—Vail Mountain’s equivalent of Grand Central Station, or Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, where a confluence of skiers and riders freshly disgorged from Gondola One hurry to summit chairlifts. Leave that chaos behind by clicking out of your bindings, walking up the stone steps, and crossing the restaurant’s threshold.
Just inside, you’re welcomed, then ushered into the boot room where generous cubbies await. Hang your helmet on hammered steel hooks resembling 10th Mountain Division skis, remove your outer layers, and trade those frozen boots for a pair of cozy fleece slippers. (This might also be a good time to concede that your ski day may effectively be over.)
For a guaranteed seat at the table you’ll need a reservation (vail.com; 970-754-1010). But should you arrive early or unannounced (walk-ins are accommodated based on availability), plan to either warm up by the 80-foot-tall custom-
designed stone fireplace or order a cocktail at the dramatically lit onyx bar and relax in the cozy lounge (pictured here). In either case, take in the enormity of the 13,000-square-foot space, the vaulted ceilings, and the Gore Range that, thanks to massive, triple-glazed floor-to-rafter windows, can be spied from nearly every vantage point.
When your table’s ready, you’ll be ushered to your plush chair. Place your cloth napkin in your lap, and let lunch begin. For starters, instead of staid chili, you might be tempted by pumpkin Frangelico soup or perhaps lobster and brie bisque. These are good, but even better is the flatbread topped with burrata, apricot jam, prosciutto, and arugula. This is championed as an app, but it’s ample enough for an entrée.
The chicken and pheasant pot pie is the most legendary of The 10th dishes—flaky, cozy, and bobbing with root veggies. (It’s also huge and easily shared.) Note that season to season, The 10th’s menu doesn’t change dramatically, so look to specials, such as grilled shrimp Niçoise, with a hefty amount of perfect bitter radicchio, for added flair. No matter what you order, add a not-too-sweet cinnamon old-fashioned or some bubbles to complete the experience.
Post lunch will go one of two ways: You’ll stuff your feet back into your boots and clomp outside to the snow—either energized to join the frenzy headed to the top of the mountain for more runs, or primed to download Gondola One and get a head start on après.