Vail is a cosmopolitan, upmarket place and its range of restaurants reflects this. Pretty much every type of cuisine is available and the standards are high, but most places are pricey, especially by UK standards. Each of the base areas has its fair share of good places to eat and drink.
The mountain restaurants are limited however, with only a couple of table service options – self-service is the norm.
On the mountain
Set near Patrol Headquarters, at the top of the Mountaintop and Northwood Express lifts, Buffalo’s small wooden hut gets very crowded inside and out. It serves a limited but good-value self-service menu – specialities include buffalo burgers and buffalo chilli.
Contact: 00 1 970 754 8245
Two Elk Lodge
This huge self-service restaurant is set at the top of the Sourdough lift on the ridge between the Front Side of Vail Mountain and the Back Bowls. Chalet style with picture windows, lots of wood and beams and a very high ceiling Two Elk gets packed every day. Food is freshly cooked at food stations serving pasta, pizza, burgers, burritos, salads and soup or chilli.
Contact: 00 1 970 754 8245
At the base of the Look Ma run at Mid-Vail, The 10th serves the best table-service lunch on the mountain. Built in chalet-style with big windows, it is named after the 10th Mountain Division, in which the founders of Vail fought during the Second World War. As well as a big light and airy dining room, it has a cosy bar and lounge area with easy chairs, fireplace and terrace. A wide-ranging menu includes elk chilli, mushroom panini, Wagyu beef burger and lobster ravioli.
Contact: 00 1 970 754 4800; vail.com
A Vail institution since 1974, these days Alpenrose’s menu features German specialities not typically found in American resorts. Expect hearty goulash, dumplings, Kässpätzle and traditional Alpine desserts such as palatschinken (Austrian crêpes) and apple strudel.
Serving classic ‘modern American’ cuisine, Sweet Basil offers dishes such as Alaskan halibut pistou with peas, asparagus, wild onions and cherry tomatoes; duck breast with braised peach, peppers, chanterelle mushrooms and miso caramel; and saffron seafood linguini. Expect high-quality cooking and presentation. As well as the spacious dining area (renovated in 2021/22) there’s a busy bar with high stools.
Set in the luxury Solaris Residences development in Vail Village, Matsuhisa is part of a chain of upmarket restaurants owned by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and serves delicious and inventive Japanese fusion cuisine. Signature dishes include yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, black cod miso and white fish tiradito, all served in a dining room with stone floors and walls and floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of Vail Mountain.