There are few experiences less “Vail” than dining on Pepi’s sunny deck in the heart of Vail Village. The classic Vail establishment celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, making it just one year younger than the town itself.
Pepi and Sheika Gramshammer, two of the town’s most storied residents, own the establishment. You might be lucky enough to be greeted by Pepi himself (an Austrian ski racing legend), or dine next to Pepi and Sheika on the patio.
On a sunny day, bask on the deck catching afternoon rays while people watching and sipping one of Pepi’s famous Bloody Marys. It’s a popular stop for apres, offered through the summer months, when you can kick back with a German beer, a bratwurst and listen to some live music.
Dining at Pepi’s is a chance to try authentic Austrian and German fare. There are tried and true classics, such as the wienerschnitzel. The breaded veal cutlet is the favorite dish for owner Pepi, who says, “The wienerschnitzel is the best. Everybody likes it, even the kids.”
We liked the jager schnitzel, prepared in a similar fashion to the wienerschnitzel but served with a creamy wild mushroom sauce.
Then there are newer creations from chef Helmut Kaschitz, including lighter summer dishes such as the spice-crusted tuna sashimi salad. Thick, decadent slabs of tuna are perfect dipped in spicy Thai dressing.
“I think our beet salad is going to be a big hit,” says Kaschitz. “We try to get away from the heavy dishes. People want something light and easy.”
Summer is also the time for the chefs to hit the local farmers market scouring the stalls for the freshest produce to craft the side dishes.
That said, if you’re looking to dig into a succulent cut of meat, Pepi’s won’t disappoint.
The caribou cutlet is another classic, featuring a juicy cut smothered with rosemary jus and complemented by a baked pear filled with juniper berry jam. Kaschitz takes great pride in his sauces, and this one will have you mopping up every last drop with a crusty piece of bread.
If there’s any place to save room for dessert, it’s Pepi’s. We recommend the apple strudel, a pie-like creation served with a generous scoop of ice cream and berry-streaked cream sauce.
“Some dishes like this, you just can’t take off the menu,” says Kaschitz.