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Best of Vail Valley: All American Food

These American classics are always finger-licking delicious, especially when found at one of the winners of our 2021 Best of Vail Valley survey.

Best Barbecue

The winners in this year’s Best Barbecue category consist of two staples in our community and an unlikely newcomer.

Moe’s Original Bar B Que has done it once again. What started in our valley and has grown into an international franchise of over 60 locations; Moe’s is a seasoned heavyweight in this category. The Bama-style pulled pork sandwiches are a must, and If you’re lucky enough to be there when they are featuring boudin balls, don’t be shy.

Moe’s Original Bar B Que, with locations in Vail and Eagle, in continues its long history as a Best of Vail Valley Barbecue favorite.
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If you find yourself craving barbecue in Minturn, Kirby Cosmo’s is the clear local’s choice. Its delicious variety of smoked meats comes with tantalizing sides and appetizers, such as pig wings or fried green tomatoes.

And now, for the unlikely newcomer: Riverwalk Theater. As the pandemic worsened and restrictions tightened, the small movie theater in Edwards decided to do big things by parking a smoker outside. The brisket sandwich is saucy and magnificent; and it pairs well with any movie.

Best Burgers

Burger fans unite, these three joints flip the best patties in the valley, according to our readers:

In Avon, the Benderz Burger has taken over. Served at both the Northside Kitchen and Southside Benderz locations, this burger is customizable and you can stack it to the moon. One delicious patty will satisfy the average diner; those who dare to triple-stack it will have no regrets but may have some tasty leftovers.

The Benderz Burger, served at Northside Kitchen and Southside Benderz in Avon, is customizable and you can stack it to the moon.
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Craftsman in Edwards has gained a reputation for putting out incredible sandwiches, and the Schmidt Mac burger delivers with two patties, cheese, griddled onion, “shrettuce,” dill pickles and special sauce on a sesame bun. For something smaller, the kids’ menu cheeseburger offers a small glimpse of one of the greatest burgers in our valley.

Meanwhile, a longtime downvalley favorite, Brush Creek Saloon features a separate burger menu with over a dozen creative and delicious options. The Patty Melt, Green Chili burger and Dirty Chipotle burger are each worthy of their own visit, and if you find yourself feeling extra spicy, try the Eagle Fire Truck.

Best Steak

There are those of us whose idea of a great meal includes a big, sizzling hunk of beef. When Vail Daily readers want a great steak, they head to these places.

Elway’s in Vail Village is a traditional steakhouse. Pick out your preferred entrée, then add side dishes as desired. The restaurant’s namesake knew a little bit about football. It turns out old Number 7 knows a little bit about steak, too.

Elway’s, a chophouse in Vail Village, took one of the top three spots for steak in the valley.
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Near the Covered Bridge, Russell’s is a longtime local tradition for great meals, from steaks to crab legs. A number of folks at Russell’s have worked there for decades. They’ll treat you right.

Over in Minturn, the Minturn Country Club is another local institution, with a bit of a twist. Order your preferred hunk of goodness from a counter, along with your sides, then cook your own steak on grills in the restaurant. Take a beverage while you’re cooking to stay cool, and make a new friend or two.

Best Deli

If you want something quick and delicious, the Vail Valley has some delightful delis.

Avon Bakery & Deli has been satisfying the hunger of locals for years with bagels, burritos and breakfast sandwiches in the morning and soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch. For those who prefer their sandwiches on the lighter side, try the grilled veggie sandwich.

The Boardroom Market & Deli in Edwards also has traditional deli fare. And, like deli menu boards everywhere, many of the sandwiches are named. The Pepi’s Face, a hand-rolled meatball sub, is a hearty one. If you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.

Eagle’s Red Canyon Café is another place with named sandwiches. The Bonfire bagel is named for the popular local brewery. For lunch, try the Mussolini melt panini, a combination of hard salami, mozzarella cheese, pesto, tomato and spinach. Get it on a ciabatta roll for the full effect.

Boardroom Market & Deli in Edwards serves delicious and creatively named sandwiches.
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Best of Vail Valley 2021: It’s time to recognize those who make the valley special

The Vail Daily for several years has asked readers to pick the Vail Valley’s best in an annual readers’ poll. That poll is a big deal for the winners.

Recognition in the readers’ poll is a boost for business owners, managers and employees. An award “tells you your community likes you,” Yeti’s Grind owner Larry Leith said.

And the community response is impressive. Vail Daily Publisher Mark Wurzer noted that this year’s poll drew more than 74,000 votes cast by roughly 5,600 people.

The Vail Daily poll, run by a firm called Second Street, is one of many similar reader polls throughout the country. In the Vail Valley, votes are cast in four broad categories: retail, food and beverage, arts and activities and services.

Wurzer said Best of Vail Valley ties in well with “Vail Daily Live,” the Vail Daily’s streaming TV show, which focuses on dining, activities and cultural events.

“Vail Daily Live” will be the host of the Tuesday live-streaming announcement of winners at 6 p.m. Winners will also be published Nov. 10 at VailDaily.com on a Best of Vail Valley page.

The Best of Vail Valley 2021 magazine will be inserted into the Nov. 12 print edition, just in time for Opening Day at Vail Mountain. The magazine will also be distributed independently on publication racks throughout the valley.

Wurzer noted that the content, which has proven popular among locals, second-home owners and visitors, will be used through the year.

“One of our missions is to help visitors, second-home owners and locals with a really good source of information,” Wurzer said.

“What it means to us is reassurance we’re continuing to do a good job,” Ptarmigan Sports store manager Mike Sayers said.

With the retail world changing dramatically over the past several years, physical stores have ever-increasing competition, particularly from online outlets.

But readers have said Ptarmigan Sports is a place they actually want to visit while they shop.

What brings customers back is “knowledge and customer service,” Sayers said. “We like to be here for the customer to build relationships.”

BWP Motorsports founder Hunter Schleper grew up in Vail. He said the shop’s recognition as the valley’s best mechanical shop in last year’s edition “means the world.”

Hunter Schleper is the son of Buzz’s Boards founder Buzz Schleper. That shop has also received numerous Best of Vail Valley awards in the past.

Hunter Schleper said growing up in and around the retail business has taught him to take pride in taking care of local residents.

Winning the award in 2020 helped bring more people to BWP Motorsports, but a readers’ choice recognition also means “people have trust in what we’re doing.” It’s also gratifying to see that “people are recognizing us as the premier motorsports store in the valley.”

Yeti’s Grind has for years been at or near the top of Best of Vail Valley polls.

Leith is a fan of the project.

“I love it — the whole thing’s fun,” Leith said. This year’s format, which recognizes the top three finishers as winners, is “a great idea,” Leith said, adding, “We all have multiple places we love.”

Join the party!

Winners of the 2021 Best of Vail Valley readers’ choice awards will be announced Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. Join the virtual party at VailDaily.com, Vail Daily Live, Facebook or YouTube.