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Gluten-free folks and vegetarians, rejoice: here’s what you can eat at Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week in the Vail Valley is an undeniably good time. What’s better than eating old favorites and new specials from the best restaurnants Vail and Beaver Creek have to offer? But for those who follow an alternative diet, planning outings like these usually pose a challenge.

Here’s a list of where to get gluten-free and vegetarian options at Fall Restaurant Week $20.19, which runs from now until Oct. 6.

Gluten-free

10th Mountain Whiskey: A tasting flight and a bowl of mixed nuts goes for $20.19.

8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill: Lunch options include a kale salad. Though it comes with a draft beer, gluten-free diners could bring a beer nerd friend or ask for a substitution.

Beaver Creek Chophouse / Vail Chophouse: For lunch, grab a house salad with a Mountain Cheeseburger with one topping – ask for their gluten-free bread – and a house dessert for $20.19. For dinner, both restaurants are also serving a Loch Duart Scottish Salmon with summer sweet corn succotash, rock shrimp and roasted corn sauce or a Slow Cooked Pork Shank with green apple mustard, mascarpone polenta and fennel slaw.

Blue Moose: Grab all-day food specials with a Guenoc Chard, Cabernet or Sangria for $2.19.

Bol: This eatery is offering 20.19% off the entire check – pair a sweet discount with poke, wings or gluten-free flatbread.

Buffalo’s @ Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch: The food options – cauliflower masala with a cashew raita and the cast-iron nachos – are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free. But each entrée comes with a Colorado draft beer, so try asking for subs or donate your beer to a friend.

Boneyard: The two other menu options are burritos, so gluten-free people should try the low roasted prime rib with garlic mashed potato and asparagus or the short rib platter with garlic mashed and broccolini.

Elway’s Steakhouse: Try the USDA prime New York Strip, Prime Rib, Vancouver Island salmon or half a roasted chicken for $20.19.

Fall Line: This restaurant is also offering $20.19 entrees, or grab 2 cocktails for $20.19. The steak frites, the shrimp pad thai and the Vietnamese noodle bowl are all gluten-free, and so are most of the starters.

Garfinkel’s: Go classic with a rib eye, salad, baked potato and a vegetable. It comes with either a draft beer or a soda, so naturally, gluten-free people will want to go for the soda.

Gessner: Sip on $20.19 select bottles of wine, and pair that with two-for-one entrées when you order an appetizer. Stick around for fall spa specials if you’re stopping in after a busy day of hiking, climbing or other activity.

Golden Eagle Inn: With select entrées at $20.19, and a menu that contains several gluten-free options, diners should head over to check out what’s on tap.

Grill on the Gore: Take 20.19% off the entire bill, but the discount is only valid from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and diners must mention restaurant week to receive the discount.         

La Bottega: Take $20.19 off select pastas and entrees, and most pasta dishes can be made gluten-free.

La Tour: Start with two cocktails for $20.19, and pair it with select $20.19 entrees. Go traditional with a chicken Paillard, or warm up with the roasted maitake mushroom and lettuce curry.

Leonora: Choose three items off the small plates menu for $20.19. All menu items are labeled, and bonus, many of them are also nut-free and dairy-free. Keep in mind that the deal did not apply on Friday, but will continue until Oct. 6.

Matsuhisa: Pair a miso soup with a three-compartment bento box for $20.19. Get creative with some sushi and sashimi.

Mirabelle: Chef Daniel Joly’s Colorado lamb meat bowl with local mushrooms and potato gratin is sure to bring an aire of luxe to your dining plans.

Moe’s Original BBQ: Share a Double Wide Family Pack with three to four people. The whole spread includes one pound of pork, chicken or turkey, two pint-size sides and choice of four buns or cornbread. Skip or share the bread it for a gluten-free meal.

Montauk Seafood Grill: Take 40.38% off full-size entrees for double the savings. Menu highlights include shrimp and scallop fra diavolo and steamed Alaskan crab.

Pepi’s: For a $20.19 lunch, choose any two items off the “Sandwiches” or “European Specialty” menus: gluten-free folks can eat veal, pork or smoked buffalo brats or leberkäse, a mashed potato dish with spinach and a fried egg. Moving into the evening, then gluten-free entree option for $20.19 include is the double veal or pork bratwurst.

Root & Flower: Toast to your small bowl of olives with a glass of Italian bubbly: the bar is offering a bottle of prosecco and olives for $20.19.

Russell’s: Take 20.19% off of the entire check, but leave the King Crab off the table, because it’s not included in the deal.

Splendido: Wine lovers can snag bottles of Naonis or Prosecco for $20.19.

Sweet Basil: Pair a small plate and a drink for $20.19. Gluten-free options include a half-dozen oysters with a glass of sparkling wine or the Salmon Tataki and their special Perfect Margarita.

Swiss Chalet: The restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel is offering assorted entrées for $20.19.

Tavern on the Square: The restaurant is offering a four-course chef’s tasting menu that changes nightly, so there’s a chance that items could fit dietary needs. Call ahead to confirm.

Terra Bistro: Try a buy-one, get-one-for-$20.19 deal on house entrees, many of which are gluten-free.

The George: All entrees are $20.19, including the king crab and the surf-and-turf. Both are gluten-free, and would pair nicely with happy hour drink specials.

The Met Kitchen: This restaurant leaves it open for creative menu selections with signature cocktails for $20.19 and 20.19% off the total bill. There are plenty of options, including the lobster tacos on a corn tortilla.

Toscanini Ristorante: All entrees are $20.19 – and they have a whole gluten-free menu. Check it out on their website.

Up the Creek: Entrees are $20.19. For gluten-free options, try the pan-seared scallops with mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, grilled sweet corn, basil, balsamic and buffalo mozzarella.

Vail Beaver Creek Restaurant Week kicks off Friday, Sept. 27, and spans 10 days.
Townsend Bessent | Daily file photo |

Vegetarian

10th Mountain Whiskey: A tasting flight and a bowl of mixed nuts goes for $20.19.

8100 Mountainside Bar and Grill: Lunch options include a kale salad, and it comes with a draft beer.

Big Bear Bistro: Pair two crepes with a bottle of wine for $20.19, or do two smothered burritos – plant-based options available – with two coffees for the same price.

Blue Moose: Pizza and beer is the perfect pairing, and get any 3-topping slice and a Colorado draft beer for $2.19 each.

Bol: Take 20.19% off the entire check – try the sweet pea ravioli for a full meal, or pick and choose from the extensive list of snacks and shareables, many of which are plant-based.

Buffalo’s @ Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch: The food options – cauliflower masala with a cashew raita and the cast-iron nachos – are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free. But each entrée comes with a Colorado draft beer, so try asking for subs or donate your beer to a friend.

Boneyard: Chow down on some enchiladas with black beans, lettuce, sour cream and pico de gallo with a guajillo red sauce. There is also a special on the classic Boot Burrito. Both are served with meat, chicken and pulled pork respectively, but diners could ask to omit those ingredients.

Fall Line: This restaurant is also offering $20.19 entrees, or grab 2 cocktails for $20.19. The noodle bowl is vegetarian, but that’s it for the entrees.

Gessner: Sip on $20.19 select bottles of wine, and pair that with two-for-one entrées when you order an appetizer. Stick around for fall spa specials if you’re stopping in after a busy day of hiking, climbing or other activity.

Golden Eagle Inn: Plant-based eaters of all varieties can get the vegan zucchini sautée, normally $30, for $20.19. It’s also gluten-free, too.

Grill on the Gore: Take 20.19% off the entire bill, but the discount is only valid from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and diners must mention restaurant week to receive the discount.          The menu is fairly traditional, and most of the vegetarian options are salads and appetizers.

La Bottega: Take $20.19 off select pastas and entrees. Vegetarians should try the the spinach and ricotta cannelloni, the fettuccine puttanesca with Kalamata olives in red sauce or the truffle gnocchi.

La Nonna: All pastas are $20.19, and half of them are vegetarian. Try the spaghetti crudaiola with fresh tomato, arugula, garlic and extra virgin olive oil for a lighter meal, or go all-in with the malfatti de ricotta: spinach ricotta dumplings, heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and straciatella cheese.

Leonora: Choose three items off the small plates menu for $20.19. All menu items are labeled with dietary preferences. The summer farro risotto and watermelon and heirloom tomato salad will satisfy everyone, including vegetarians. Keep in mind that the deal did not apply on Friday, but will continue until Oct. 6.

Matsuhisa: Pair a miso soup with a three-compartment bento box for $20.19. Get creative with some sushi and sashimi.

The Met Kitchen: Get two signature cocktails for $20.19 and 20.19% off the total bill. There are plenty of options, including the vegan plate of the day.

Mountain Standard: Pair green hatch chile pimento cheese and any two draft beers for $20.19.

Pivot 62: Select any pizza with a glass of house red or white wine or a draft beer for $20.19. Veggie pizzas include a mushroom pizza topped with a generous pile of arugula.        

Root & Flower: Toast to your small bowl of olives with a glass of Italian bubbly: the bar is offering a bottle of prosecco and olives for $20.19.

Splendido: Wine lovers can snag bottles of Naonis or Prosecco for $20.19.

Sweet Basil: Pair a small plate and a drink for $20.19. The only vegetarian option is fried cheese sticks with a Pinkus beer.

Swiss Chalet: The restaurant at the Sonnenalp Hotel is offering assorted entrées for $20.19.

Tavern on the Square: The restaurant is offering a four-course chef’s tasting menu that changes nightly, so there’s a chance that items could fit dietary needs. Call ahead to confirm.

Terra Bistro: Try a buy-one, get-one-for-$20.19 deal on house entrees, many of which are plant-based and vegetarian.

Two Arrows: Start the morning right with two avocado toasts and two 12 oz. drip coffees for $20.19.

Toscanini Ristorante: All entrees are $20.19. Go nuts on some meat-free ravioli, capellini and bucatini – all fun shapes of pasta.

Up the Creek: Entrees are $20.19. For vegetarians, the option is caprese gnocchi.

Dine inside a gondola car

There’s an exciting new way to dine in the Vail Valley, but it isn’t at a brand new restaurant. The Blue Plate in Avon took a familiar mountain town icon and has reimagined the dinner table and surroundings to create a fun new way to enjoy a meal with friends.

Elli Roustom, co-owner of the Blue Plate with her husband, Adam, who is the executive chef, came up with this idea after a friend suggested it to her.

“My best friend gave me the idea. She showed me a different kind of gondola dining, it was much smaller, but really nice as well. What would be more fitting than dinning in a gondola in the Vail Valley?” Elli Roustom said.

Elli soon ordered not one but two gondola cars to be delivered to Eagle County. From there, she and Adam enlisted the help of Balz Arrigoni or Arrigoni Woods on the interior finishes of the gondolas. “We just put it in his hands and knew he would do an excellent job. He had the perfect idea and a great vision and we were blown away by his work.” Roustom said.

In just three weeks, the gondola cars were transformed into little dining rooms complete with custom European wood with intricate details and traditional Austrian textiles. In fact, Elli ordered the fabric for the curtains from Austria and made them herself. “Each private gondola cabin embodies the luxurious warmth of an Alpine chalet,” Roustom said.

The gondola cars, affectionately referred to as Hansel and Gretel, have air conditioning and heat so they can be used year-round and have their own lighting system and music piped in.

The gondola cars can fit up to four people for a special dinner or celebration. Guests can choose between two special menus: an alpine menu or chef’s tasting menu. Both menus serve four courses and guests may choose to add wine pairings, or talk to the staff about customizing everything from the menu to the music. You have a dedicated server who takes care of only you that evening, ensuring a special experience.

“Everyone who has dined in the gondola cars so far has been absolutely ecstatic. It is just so much fun and something not seen in the valley before,” Roustom said. “So far we have had multiple birthdays, anniversaries, a couple of marriage proposals as well as just sharing this experience with friends and family.

To learn more and book a reservation in one of the gondola cars, visit www.blueplateavon.com.  

Blue Plate offers delectable ‘Americana’ cuisine

You can call Blue Plate global, or eclectic, or international — it all amounts to the same thing to Chef-Owner Adam Roustom, and he has a different word for it: Americana.

“Almost all the foods that are ‘classic American’ came from someplace else,” he says. “America is a melting pot, and that’s what we are. Blue Plate is Americana.”

And it starts with the chef and his wife, Elli, who manages the front of the house. He spent his childhood in Syria until moving to the East Coast in grade school. Elli hales from Austria. The pair met in Vail, had a brief and feisty courtship, then married and opened up Blue Plate a dozen years ago. And though the concept today is basically what they started with, every year they add a little more, do a little more. Blue Plate is practically a lifestyle.

Summer is a special time at Blue Plate for a lot of reasons — especially the patio seating off of one of the eatery’s two dining rooms. “It’s the only place in the valley where you can sit under an apple canopy or order from an outside bar.” Inside or out, it’s a great time to sample one of Elli’s refreshing teas or lemonades — made fresh daily with all-natural ingredients, including blue butterfly pea flower tea, which brings a vivid hue. Or go for a fruit-forward summer cocktail created by Bar Manager Alex Siles.

And they’ve just opened their gondola seating: cozy up in the newly refurbished Hansel or Gretel cars and enjoy the entirely customized Chef’s Tasting Menu or the Traditional Alpine Menu. With beautiful interior woodwork and seamless service, the gondola cars seat a foursome comfortably, and offer a magical experience that takes you outside of time.

But you don’t have to sit in a gondola car to experience Chef Adam’s culinary chops. Whether you’re heading in for lunch, Happy Hour or dinner, there’s a solid backbone of Blue Plate’s tried-and-trues, embellished with enough new items to keep the chef jazzed.

For a place that has developed a cult following for both meatloaf and schnitzel, there sure are a lot of inventive vegan options “just because.” Case in point, the red lentil Kibbe Nayeh served with fresh mint, chili and onion, the classic set-up for Middle Eastern raw lamb kibbe. “It makes it pop, and the lentils are really reminiscent of raw lamb — it rocks,” enthuses Adam. Or go for his spin on Papas Bravas: “Instead of potatoes we’re using sweet potato tater tots — for me, a tater tot is the epitome of Americana, I fell in love with them in 5th grade when we moved to America.” Doused with a chipotle sauce and served with an almond “vegannaise” instead of the normal aioli, it’s a fun little tapa. Other newbies to the menu include Asian Pork Osso Bucco — braised shanks, panang (red) curry sauce, Asian broccoli and mango — as well as shrimp and scallop ceviche tostadas, topped with guava foam, and Adam’s own take on liver and onions a la the Ottomans, with crispy veal liver, hummus, Syrian cabbage and sumac onions. The menu is truly a wild ride through Adam’s own interests and influences. With his flavors and execution, and Elli’s attention to the details of consistency and hospitality, they’ve cultivated a clientele that will happily follow along.

Loaded Joe’s is an Avon hangout for all occasions

A few boxes need to be checked to ensure the success of a restaurant in the Vail Valley: proximity to community centers, consistent quality and service and killer atmosphere. Loaded Joe’s scores 100 points here and the extra credit goes to the fact that they ARE one of those community centers. I find myself arriving early for coffee and breakfast, staying around for lunch and then passing back through in the evening for a beer and a bite, lingering even longer to catch anything from trivia to open mic night and a game of pool in the evenings. Theoretically, there are only 5 hours in a day that cannot be spent inside Loaded Joe’s, seven days a week.

The cuisine is created with locally sourced ingredients, chosen with intention. Breakfast favorites include their Colorado Lamb Scramble and the truly magnificent lemon ricotta pancakes served with crème fraiche and seasonal berries. Add the award-winning Tender Belly bacon to anything and call it a win. For lunch or a relaxed dinner, try the Castro sandwich — think Tender Belly ham, whole-grain mustard, pickles and whole-grain bread — or the thinly sliced rib-eye French dip.

Make sure to check out the Vail “grab and go” location (underneath 10th Mountain Whiskey on Bridge Street) for a pre-hike coffee and breakfast sandwich, or to grab a pastry to stick in your jacket and then circle back for the whiskey-shot dance party.

When in doubt about where to hang or dine, just look for a swarm of locals — I assure you plenty will be at Loaded Joe’s. 

Red Maple Catering serves exquisite food wherever you’d like

In the kitchen of Red Maple Catering in Gypsum, the team was prepping for an evening event: dishes were packed; incredible smells wafted through the air and the atmosphere was charged with purpose. The conversations between Jason Harrison and Fletcher Harrison, co-owners, were quick and concise — the operation runs incredibly smoothly to create eye-popping and mouthwatering cuisine and cocktails for oh-so-happy clientele.

Red Maple Catering creates experiences for all sizes of groups for all occasions, but Fletcher said that most of their business is focused on private chef events and large, opulent weddings. They’ve perfected the art of creating “weddings in a field,” partnering with both Eaton and Knapp Ranches to create luxury events for “I do”s.

Though they make it look easy, the professionals at Red Maple Catering truly bring restaurant-level quality to all of their events, drawing on years of experience from establishments like Sweet Basil in Vail to the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Red Maple Catering is happy to create unforgettable dining experiences in almost any locale. In addition to wide-open spaces, they’ll bring five-star dining to private residences and even private jets.

“We’ve done five-course dinners on airplanes,” Fletcher explains.

If the idea of feasting on a golden beet salad with fava beans, first snow chevre, Cara Cara orange, crispy quinoa and a smashed blackberry dressing, followed by a Colorado lamb duo with a pretzel-crusted rack and loin carpaccio paired with Olathe corn pudding, heirloom carrots and fennel, makes the thought of flying back to real life a bit more palatable, Red Maple Catering can make it happen.

Menus are customized for each client with impeccable detail, paying homage to local produce and products.

“Our clients are coming to a place where, within 150 miles, we have some of the best game, beef, pork and poultry in the country, as well as artisan cheesemakers and amazing heirloom organic produce growers,” Jason says.

Red Maple Catering even has its own small garden next to their kitchen. Much of the final touches for dishes — pea tendrils for a salad, mint for a cocktail — comes from these beds, picked fresh on the way to the next event.

And when it comes to the libations for these meals, Red Maple has its clients covered. Fletcher has been a sommelier for 15 years and revels in creating custom-crafted cocktails. For clients who have their own wine cellars, it’s not unusual for the chefs at Red Maple Catering to create a menu specifically designed to pair well with the client’s wine — Fletcher described a recent dinner where they paired 30 different wines with 15 courses.

It’s this creativity and the opportunity to design the perfect dining experience for clients that truly sets Red Maple apart. But it’s what they enjoy, too. “I think that’s part of what we love about this business,” Fletcher says. “It’s not the same old, same old. We don’t have to do the same menu every night — we get to change everything every day. We like to be kept on our toes.” 

Blue Plate offers a diverse menu and seating options this summer

You can call Blue Plate global, or eclectic, or international — it all amounts to the same thing to Chef-Owner Adam Roustom, and he has a different word for it: Americana.

“Almost all the foods that are ‘classic American’ came from someplace else,” he says. “America is a melting pot, and that’s what we are. Blue Plate is Americana.”

And it starts with the chef and his wife, Elli, who manages the front of the house. He spent his childhood in Syria until moving to the East Coast in grade school. Elli hales from Austria. The pair met in Vail, had a brief and feisty courtship, then married and opened up Blue Plate a dozen years ago. And though the concept today is basically what they started with, every year they add a little more, do a little more. Blue Plate is practically a lifestyle.

Summer is a special time at Blue Plate for a lot of reasons — especially the patio seating off of one of the eatery’s two dining rooms. “It’s the only place in the valley where you can sit under an apple canopy or order from an outside bar.” Inside or out, it’s a great time to sample one of Elli’s refreshing teas or lemonades — made fresh daily with all-natural ingredients, including blue butterfly pea flower tea, which brings a vivid hue. Or go for a fruit-forward summer cocktail created by Bar Manager Alex Siles.

And they’ve just opened their gondola seating: cozy up in the newly refurbished Hansel or Gretel cars and enjoy the entirely customized Chef’s Tasting Menu or the Traditional Alpine Menu. With beautiful interior woodwork and seamless service, the gondola cars seat a foursome comfortably, and offer a magical experience that takes you outside of time.

But you don’t have to sit in a gondola car to experience Chef Adam’s culinary chops. Whether you’re heading in for lunch, Happy Hour or dinner, there’s a solid backbone of Blue Plate’s tried-and-trues, embellished with enough new items to keep the chef jazzed.

For a place that has developed a cult following for both meatloaf and schnitzel, there sure are a lot of inventive vegan options “just because.” Case in point, the red lentil Kibbe Nayeh served with fresh mint, chili and onion, the classic set-up for Middle Eastern raw lamb kibbe. “It makes it pop, and the lentils are really reminiscent of raw lamb — it rocks,” enthuses Adam. Or go for his spin on Papas Bravas: “Instead of potatoes we’re using sweet potato tater tots — for me, a tater tot is the epitome of Americana, I fell in love with them in 5th grade when we moved to America.” Doused with a chipotle sauce and served with an almond “vegannaise” instead of the normal aioli, it’s a fun little tapa. Other newbies to the menu include Asian Pork Osso Bucco — braised shanks, panang (red) curry sauce, Asian broccoli and mango — as well as shrimp and scallop ceviche tostadas, topped with guava foam, and Adam’s own take on liver and onions a la the Ottomans, with crispy veal liver, hummus, Syrian cabbage and sumac onions. The menu is truly a wild ride through Adam’s own interests and influences. With his flavors and execution, and Elli’s attention to the details of consistency and hospitality, they’ve cultivated a clientele that will happily follow along.

Vin48 serves terrific food, exciting wines on airy patio

Whether you call it a wine bar or a community center, Vin48 is essential to the local landscape of terrific food, exciting wines and convivial hospitality. With a robust Happy Hour that has locals leaving work just a touch early to secure a seat, and a chef who regularly creates specials that might run out after a dozen orders, it’s a hotspot that celebrates the earnest efforts of farmers, winemakers and even guests.

But summer kicks it into overdrive. The dining room’s 35-foot-long wall of windows suddenly disappears, opening up the space to the airy patio that, depending on your seat, sports views of Beaver Creek Mountain, a lovely green area and Chef Charles Hays’ wood-fired grill. The restaurant’s raspberry bushes and chives grow just around the corner, and a busy kitchen can be heard in the distance.

“The best ingredients are usually what you have locally, things that don’t have to travel hundreds of miles. And summer is the most exciting time of year for food,” admits Greg Eynon, who owns and operates Vin48 with Collin Baugh and Chef Hays. Eynon is the “wine guy,” and usually has 40 to 50 wines by the glass on the menu, in addition to bottles. He’s excited to open up his list and invite in fresher, lighter — he would say, even “crunchier” — wines to play alongside the seasonal flavors that are coming out of the Vin kitchen.

And though his list makes a big change by the season — think seafood-friendly reds from fishing communities, slightly effervescent whites from warmer climes — it’s a year-round effort. From the food on the table to the wines that are poured, Vin48 operates according to its values, namely, make things from scratch with people you like. He likes to buy wine from people who do it like they do at Vin: inventively, passionately, with available resources.

Vin48 has developed a backbone of menu favorites that beckon — the Mountain View pork meatballs are little flavor bombs, the mussels with house-made chorizo leave you sopping up every last bit of juice, and the El Regalo Ranch goat tacos are both racy and demure.

But there’s a lot to be said for what’s new. An occasional special, fettuccini carbonara, includes the crown jewel of a fresh duck egg from Edwards — the ducks determine how many orders they can offer in a night. The brined pork chop has been wildly popular, served with horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted baby carrots and a sexy little apple-pork demi. And though Baugh cites the halibut with forbidden rice, coconut-clam broth and sautéed veggies as a bit of a slam-dunk, he’s in love with the deep sea red crab fettuccine.

“There are only five ingredients in it, but it’s awesome,” he says, including the house-made fettuccini as a single ingredient. “We use a really nice olive oil, the way the Italians do it. It’s so delicious.”

Though the food and wine are the lifeblood of Vin48, perhaps the real secret of success is the long-term staff that seems invested in the overall success of both the restaurant and their guests’ experience.

“It is such a personal experience, taking care of your guests,” agrees Baugh. “It’s like inviting someone into your home. You want to empower your staff, and be kind to them.” It’s working.

Beaver Liquors employs three sommeliers to help you pick the best bottle

What makes an amazing liquor store? Is it the selection? The expertise of employees and their willingness to assist? The existence of a wine cellar located 14 feet underground, guaranteed to make wine taste better?

Is it a combination of all of the above?

If you’re looking for a location to purchase beer, wine and spirits for a special occasion or to stock your cellar, head to Beaver Liquors in Avon. For 40 years, this family-owned establishment has been quenching the thirst of imbibers with what is the largest wine and liquor store in the Vail Valley. Wander amongst the selection of craft beer, particularly the Colorado-based options; stroll amongst the spirits and choose your new favorite bourbon or gin. But whatever you do — don’t skip the cellar.

Situated at the aforementioned 14 feet below ground, the wine cellar is a beneficial location to store wine as it keeps it naturally cool.

“Wine is made from fruit and if you put a stock of grapes in the heat and the sun and you keep one in a nice, cool area, after a week, you know what’s going to happen in the one that’s in the sun,” Beaver Liquors Owner David Courtney says. “It’s why we have a huge advantage over everyone.”

But storing the wine in the cellar is not only beneficial for the wine he has — it’s also a selling point for the wine he wants to get. 

“In the wine business there is a lot of wine that is very, very limited,” Courtney explains. “And winemakers, they baby their wine from the vineyards to the barrel to the bottle to the truck. So when they come in and visit our valley (which a lot of them do), and they see that we have a wine cellar, they see that as a sign of respect and they’re comfortable with sending their wine to a place like ours. As a result, we are able to procure wines that other stores can’t.”

Of course, these wines are in are in great demand and Courtney may only receive a case or half case of the coveted vino; he was reluctant to disclose explicit examples. But rest assured — with such an extensive cellar, the experts at Beaver Liquor are happy to help you find your perfect wine. 

In some cases, you may be pairing with a dish; in others, you may be pairing with an activity or planning for après after an activity. If you’re searching for something refreshing after fly-fishing on the Gore or “something to drink after my hike up to Gore Lake,” consider picking up a bottle or two of rosé. Rosé wines started their meteoric rise as a favored style of summer a few years ago and Courtney says that it’s still the style of choice for summer — morning, afternoon or evening.

“Rosés have been so popular in the last five years and (initially) people did stick to the French rosé, specifically from Provence,” Courtney says. “But now that they’re used to it, they’re drinking it all the time now and branching out: They want Italian or Spanish rosés, or rosés from California or Oregon. Ten years ago, we used to have 12 rosés in the summer. This year, we’ll have more than 60 different rosés on the shelves.”

If the idea of choosing from that large of a selection is daunting, have no fear. Beaver Liquors employs three sommeliers so there’s always someone on hand to not only help you pick the best bottle, but also perhaps offer options you hadn’t considered. One of Courtney’s favorite things to do is point out vintners, styles or production areas that may not be as well-known but provide great value.

Another opportunity is to attend one of the special tasting events that Beaver Liquor hosts with Vin48 in Avon. Known as “Vinsdays,” these special events are themed and include sampling various wines paired with cuisine from Vin48. Though the pairings are still being solidified, Courtney says that the rosé tasting (which will include about 30 different rosés) will kick off the summer and the popular “Pigs and Pinot” will also definitely take place. Past themes have included a selection of volcanic wines and a head-to-head blind tasting of wines from Italy, France, South America and the U.S. Priced at around $40 for the tasting, Vinsdays are possibly the best value for vino in the valley.

So whether you have something specific in mind or simply want to wander through the racks for wine, beer or spirits, a trip to Beaver Liquors is bound to be fruitful. 

Maya’s menu reads like a love letter to Mexico

If you want a little panache with your pico de gallo, then just enter the world of Chef Richard Sandoval. Considered to be the “Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine,” Sandoval’s creations are a highlight of Maya Restaurant at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. In fact, The Michelin Guide said of the restaurant, “Maya’s menu reads like a love letter to Mexico.”

Sandoval’s philosophy was to create an “interactive” dining experience.  “Before, people had an appetizer, entrée and dessert and dinner was over,” he told USA Today. “I like to take people on a journey that’s more ambitious. I recommend two to three plates per person and sharing an entrée.

“Now the experience becomes an interactive tasting. You’re passing the plates around, talking about the ingredients and the tastes.”

And so it is at Maya. The food is spectacular across the board. It’s rooted in tradition and, it must be said, intriguing. Nothing tastes as you might expect: It’s better than that.

And it begins with an assortment of more than 100 tequila drinks, inspired by local tequileirias in Mexico. They are refreshingly laced with an assortment of flavors that keep you guessing. One favorite is the Perfect Patrón Skinny Margarita, with Patrón silver, pineapple citronge lime and agave nectar. Another — the Canela Anejo, with Roca Patrón añejo tequila, blood orange and cinnamon. Both drinks make the perfect beginning to an exciting evening of flavors.

And that evening should begin with Maya’s Classic Guacamole. However, adding raw tuna to this dish will leave you wanting more — even after you, perhaps, ordered the Adobo Crusted Shrimp and Calmari with citrus cabbage slaw, as well. It’s a toss up between these two starters. Totally different tastes — both wonderful.

“Chef Sandoval created a standard of how the plates should look,” says Executive Chef Angel Munoz who works closely with Chef Veronica Morales. “From there we can play with ingredients and method of cooking and that’s what engages us. Like adding tuna to the guacamole.”

Morales and Munoz have a very warm working relationship. “This is how we work,” says Munoz, with a laugh. “I’ll say, ‘We need to use this ingredient.’ And she’ll say, ‘Okay, we can do this and this.’ She puts techniques in practice and I’m the one who says ‘We have to use this, I want this.’ Veronica gives soul to our menu”.

And that “soul” shows up in every dish. Take the tacos and enchiladas, for instance. Like everything on the menu, they’re authentic, freshly made and outrageously delicious. Favorites include the Adobo Brisket Tacos and the Tex Mex Chicken Enchiladas; however, the Blue Crab and Shrimp Enchiladas, with salsa verde and spinach, is a must. The array of flavors will leave you quiet, intent upon eating every last bite.

Feel free to wander beyond the tacos and enchiladas, though, to the menu’s appealing Chef’s Table choices. Carne Asada, with fire-grilled vegetables, is served within a fanned circle of black been purée and Coriander Tuna, is seared rare. It’s really hard to choose only one.

An evening at Maya is incredibly delicious and always intriguing. What’s more, you’ll leave wanting more.

Chef Munoz says that this summer’s FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) will be filled with an array of new dishes that he and Chef Morales are busily creating.

Eke out every sip of sunshine at Sauce on the Creek

Summer is fleeting and the opportunities for al fresco dining are limited: Eke out every sip of sunshine at Sauce on the Creek in Avon. A truly family-friendly establishment, Sauce on the Creek has an expansive patio with spectacular views of Beaver Creek mountain that welcomes active children and can arrange tables to fit your 22-person family. And the food? Family style: Hearty enough to satiate your bottomless-pit nephew and diverse enough to accommodate your allergic-to-everything aunt.

Featuring “New England Style Italian” food, the menu is diverse with a wide variety of appetizers (the Brussels sprouts are perhaps the most popular); soups and salads; from-scratch pizza that is also available on gluten-free crust; hearty pasta (with gluten-free and veggie options, too) and elegant entrées. However, it’s not enough to just look at the menu — you have to hear the specials.

“The thing that sets up apart from the other restaurants in the valley is that our chef, Mike Irwin, is creating great specials nightly that are constantly changing,” explains General Manager Ross Cohen. “We always have some kind of meat special, some kind of fish special every evening; sometimes we have a salad special. That’s really what sets us apart.”

These daily specials allow Chef Irwin to be creative with his cuisine, focusing on certain in-season ingredients or utilizing styles and flavors that might depart from Sauce’s roots. It’s a thrill simply to see what he’s created on that particular day.

Though Sauce on the Creek certainly has an affinity for its various edible sauces, there’s another sauce that is front and center at the eye-catching and beguiling bar.

Sauce is known for its extensive wine list and its owners’ affinity for whiskey: It’s home to one of the most expansive whiskey selections in the valley. Though guests are encouraged to whet their whistle on any day of the week, the advent of Whiskey Wednesdays will bring a new level of cheer to hump day. Every Wednesday, everything whiskey is discounted 25%, which gives patrons the opportunity to sample some of the pricier options — like the normally $100 pour of Pappy Van Winkle.

But Sauce has another attractive option for sampling: half pours. At .75 ounces, half pours are perfect for creating your own whiskey flight.

“The whole point of the half pours is to give people the opportunity to try something they might not normally try at a more affordable rate,” Cohen says. Combining half pours and Whiskey Wednesdays sounds like a reason to celebrate mid-week.

For those living for the weekend, Sauce is hosting three special “Saucy Sundays” focusing on brunch, bourbon and beats. On June 23, July 4 and Aug. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., a DJ will be spinning tunes, a special brunch menu will make its debut and the patio will be the place to soak up the sun and have fun with the family.

So grab friends, family or that coworker you’ve been meaning to connect with and head to Sauce on the Creek. The patio is waiting — and so is the whiskey.