Vail Valley Favorites Resident-approved restaurants

  • 7 Local Favorites
  • Boxcar Restaurant
  • Yellowbelly
  • Tacorico
  • Larkspur
  • Moe's BBQ
  • Metropolitan

Whether it’s après hot wings, a fine-dining anniversary dinner, a quick takeout bite to eat at home, or the best slow-smoked ribs in town, local foodies know where to go for best-in-class eats. 

They also know that not all great food is right off the lifts; sometimes, it’s tucked away beyond the resorts. 


Boxcar Restaurant

Find it: Next to the railroad tracks in the town of Avon, below Beaver Creek.

The crowd: Savvy townsfolk who’ve changed out of their boots even if they’re still rocking the ski clothes; the after-work crowd; and visitors bedding down in Avon.

The goods: Seasonal, local, artisanal ingredients and chef-driven upscale comfort foods like the Rocky Mountain Gastropub (Quebecois poutine and nuts roasted in duck fat).

Try: The BLTA: Roasted pork belly, heirloom tomato, lettuce, and avocado on wheat. 

Bonus: A pub at heart, Boxcar has great gourmet bar snacks, small plates, and après ski specials, but it’s not well known by the après ski hordes, so you get intimacy and value with your visit.


Yellowbelly

Find it: In West Vail, next to Safeway.

The crowd: Locals of all ages; families; and a fast-growing following of condo-based visitors popping in for take-out.

The goods: Chicken! GMO-free, natural chicken to be exact, along with similarly pure sides and salads. 

The chicken is also gluten-free in the fried version.

Try: You can’t go wrong with any of the juicy rotisserie birds or sandwiches, but fried chicken is the original comfort food and Yellow Belly’s strong suit. 

Go for the decadent dark plate, on the bone with two sides (brussels slaw, macaroni pie, and roasted beets are the standouts). 

Families should check out the 10-piece fried chicken sampler with hefty sides.

Trivia: Co-owner Barry Davis previously ran Bōl, Vail’s very hip bowling alley-turned-cocktail lounge. 


Tacorico

Find it: On a corner in downtown Edwards beside Eat! Drink!.          

The crowd: Local groups and their families, out-of-towners who know a local, and hipsters from near and far.

The goods: Made-to-order fancy street tacos stuffed with fresh, organic ingredients, plus creative cocktails and great starters.

Try: To start, order the chorizo and queso dip with homemade chips; then scarf down the rajas tacos (hatch chiles, creamed chipolte corn, and cotija cheese). 

For a little adventure with any taco, request the optional jicama “tortillas” instead of wheat.

Tip: Thursday through Saturday, 3pm to 5pm, all street tacos are just $2, mix and match.

Trivia: While Tacorico is Mexican, its most sublime cocktail (tequila, tangerine, ginger, chipotle salt) is named for Puerto Rico’s Sasquatch-style monster, the bloodsucking, goat-eating “Chupacabra.” 


Larkspur

Find it: At the base of Vail’s Golden Peak during lunchtime.

The crowd: Longtime locals; think high-profile diners like Lindsey Vonn, repeat Vail skiers, and parents with kids enrolled in the Golden Peak ski school. 

The goods: Vail’s top ski-in/ski-out lunch is a sit-down affair featuring fresh “new American” cuisine that has been wowing diners for 15 years. 

The main restaurant is lunch-only, but breakfast, soups, salads and to-go dinners are served in the adjacent Larkspur Market.

Try: The natural, grass-fed Larkburger is so popular that it spawned its own restaurant chain (Larkburger) with more than a dozen Colorado locations, but the real signature dish is the Caesar salad, thanks to the spectacular fried mashed potato “croutons.”

Tip: Always order your salad with extra croutons; the Market’s breakfast sandwiches and burritos are Vail’s best kept a.m. secret, perfect for ski school families; and while Larkspur no longer does dinner, fast-casual–style sibling Larkburger in nearby Edwards has a killer burger menu.


Moe’s Original Bar B Que

Find it: Just out of sight at the west edge of Vail’s Lionshead base area, tucked upstairs above the retail shops.

The crowd: Both residents and visitors; homesick southerners; local employees on lunch break; diners that skew younger and louder during après ski hours when pretty much everyone is still in ski boots.

Photo by: @Jesspeterb

The goods: A full slate of real slow-smoked southern BBQ—easily the best in the region— plus crazy-good sides.

Try: The rib sandwich—part of a slab with the bones pulled out, served on a roll—is a scrumptious and unique item you won’t see even in Memphis or Kansas City.

The Alabama-style pulled pork sandwich, with tangy vinegar sauce and crunchy slaw, is another can’t-miss. 

The go-to side is the Jo-Jos, sweet-potato wedges with a fried-chicken treatment.

Trivia: It all began with three college buddies from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; the trio came to Vail as ski bums and started catering BBQ out of an Edwards trailer in 2001. 

Thirteen years later, Moe’s spans 10 states and more than 30 franchise restaurants, but the trio still owns this original flagship in Lionshead. 


Metropolitan

Find it: In front of the St. James condominiums building, a two-minute walk from the ice rink at the east end of Beaver Creek Village.

The crowd: Wine lovers, international visitors, and those who dig a more sophisticated après scene. 

The goods: Tapas, both traditional Spanish and globally creative, plus the region’s only enomatic wine machine, which allows self-serve sampling of perfectly stored fine wines by the glass, half-glass, or taste.

Try: The date flatbread, patatas bravas, and sweet-and-salty chopped brussels sprouts are all enhanced by the same secret ingredient: prosciutto. 

When it comes to the classics, it’s hard to beat the bacon-wrapped dates or lamb meatballs. 

More unusual choices include rabbit ragout gnocchi and duck confit tacos.

Tip: New in the 2013–2014 season, Metropolitan is as insider as it gets in the village. 

Daily from 3pm to 6pm, the eatery hosts Beaver Creek’s least known, most upscale happy hour, with specials on cocktails, wines, beers, and tapas.


Westside Café

Find it: Off the tourism radar in the Holiday Inn, West Vail.

The crowd: Hearty breakfast options (till 4pm!) draw high-energy locals and Front Range (Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs) weekend warriors who want to fuel up for big days on the hill. 

Happy hour and dinner deals (from 11am!) attract youthful-but-tired bar-goers fresh off the slopes.

Photo by: @SMITHCXIII

The goods: Classic bar food and diner staples with Rocky Mountain and southwestern twists.

Try: For breakfast, go for the bison meatloaf with eggs, the house cured lox, or the signature Cap’n Crunch French toast. 

Post-breakfast, order the bacon-wrapped tater tots, Grandma’s chicken pot pie, or the bison lasagna.

Tip: Pop in for nightly specials such as all-you-can-eat wings (Monday), BBQ night (Sunday), and Date Night Thursdays.

The Local Special and the Tourist Special are exactly the same meal—but look closely before ordering.

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