Los Amigos offers margaritas, tacos and delivery in Vail

Bar Manager Tyler Jamison puts it simply: “Los Amigos is margaritas and tacos. That’s what we’re all about,” says the seasoned mixologist. “We’re good Mexican food and really good drinks — especially the margaritas.”

He might be biased, but he’s not wrong. Fresh off a three-week trip to Mexico “to make our recipes simpler and taste better,” Jamison is newly inspired and ready for the best of all margarita seasons: summer.

“I think a lot of people in the U.S. try to add too many ingredients, over-complicating something that is simple,” he explained. “You should get a zesty lime flavor, but it shouldn’t be mouth-puckering tart. Good mouthfeel. And you should get all the tastes: orange liqueur, tequila and lime.”

Owner Drew Riley, Jamison and the rest of the staff have been concentrating heavily on the restaurant’s margaritas for quite some time. With a change in local liquor laws — and a Blix delivery bike — Los Amigos now delivers its margaritas as well as other menu highlights to East and West Vail. So it’s easy to kick back at the condo and let dinner and drinks come to you. At the moment, the margaritas are available in half- and full-liter options. And they’re working toward canning them, too.

Los Amigos’ classic house-made guacamole and salsa, the Mi Amigo! Margarita with green chili-infused reposado tequila, the Mole Tequila Old Fashioned and La Fiesta tamarind margarita.
Dominique Taylor/EAT Magazine

Another memento from Jamison’s trip to the Yucatan is a tamarind marg, La Fiesta. In addition to the classic ingredients, they add a house-made tamarind syrup.

“Every single bar we went to had a tamarind margarita,” he said. “It’s smooth with a little bit of a bite to it.”

And Los Amigos’ signature margarita, two years in the making, is the Mi Amigo!, with a green-chili-infused tequila, lime and pineapple. Despite the Colorado-centric green chili flavor, it’s not spicy. Of course, if you do want spice, try the Dragon’s Teeth. Instead of infusing the tequila with fresh chilis, which vary so widely in heat and water content, Jamison has been using dried peppers to make a rather intense tincture.

“You just use a drop. If you want it super spicy, maybe two. It’s giving us a better, more consistent result,” he said.

If you want to branch out from the margarita options, try the Mole Tequila Old Fashioned. “It’s got really good añejo tequila and a mixture of mole chocolate and orange bitters,” Jamison describes. “Served on a big rock, it’s got just the right sweetness and really nice tequila.”

All of the cocktails and other bar treats are best experienced with antojitos like guacamole, queso or nachos, as well as the street tacos. Carne asada, barbacoa, carnitas, mango chicken — there are a lot of fillings. But both Riley and Jamison love the fried lobster option. Lightly breaded in panko, it’s fried and comes with fish taco sauce and mango salsa.

“It’s tangy, crunchy and everything you want in a taco,” promised Riley. Best served on the killer mountainside patio, with a margarita of course. 

Los Amigos

400 Bridge Street
Vail, CO
Los Amigos

À la carte street tacos start at $5; apps and entrées from $4.50-$19.75

Energetic bar and taqueria in the heart of Vail Village

Signature dish
Street tacos, Mi Amigo margarita

Bavarian hospitality in Vail: Pepi’s Restaurant offers warmth and history

Pepi’s was President Gerald Ford’s favorite restaurant in Vail, and it’s easy to see why. Between the Bavarian cuisine, European architecture and hospitality, sitting on the shaded deck transports you to a timeless place, where sipping a fine European wine while gazing at gondola cars dotting the terrain of Vail Mountain seems like all there is.

Pepi’s has always maintained an allure that reaches back to Vail’s origins; Austrian ski racer Pepi Gramshammer fell in love with the budding mountain town — and specifically the ski runs that went “Forever.” He opened his European-inspired restaurant and hotel in 1964. He and his wife, Sheika, infused Pepi’s with warm hospitality, which is part of the legacy.

“It should feel like home, like back in the Austrian Alps, very cozy,” said Executive Chef Helmut Kaschitz. Kaschitz grew up in Austria and brings more than 35 years of experience working at restaurants in Switzerland, Germany and Jamaica. He met his sous chef, Richard Frazer, in Jamaica, and together they make a great team: For more than 15 years, Kaschitz has been bringing new twists to traditional

German and Austrian dishes, while Frazer comes up with completely new recipes. Still, Pepi’s is renowned for its wiener schnitzel and jägerschnitzel, the latter of which features a wild mushroom sauce, so Kaschitz doesn’t dare switch those out. In fact, Pepi’s has garnered such a following with its classic menu that it always keeps 75% of the items the same.

If wiener schnitzel, bratwurst or Hungarian veal goulash don’t happen to be your thing, Pepi’s offers a host of delicious meat entrées, fish dishes, burgers, salads and vegetarian delights.

The tuna crudo is a demure tower of sashimi-grade fish and smooth avocado. With little kicks of pickled ginger relish and juicy orange segments, the fish shines without being overwhelmed. Sriracha aioli and lemon vinaigrette round out the summer dish. The rack of lamb is classically prepared, with a buttery herb crust and roasted in a hot oven. Plated with parsnip puree — an excellent foil for the lamb in both texture and flavor — roasted root vegetables round out the dish.

Pepi’s Tuna Crudo with lemon vinaigrette, avocado, jalapeño rings, orange segments, toasted sesame seeds, sliced cucumbers and shaved fennel slaw.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

Other low-key favorites include a great burger, cooked to order and served on a buttery pretzel bun. Also, the French onion soup features a flavorful broth with a hint of sweetness and small, crunchy breadcrumbs within the melted cheese.

And don’t skip dessert: Pepi’s is known for apple strudel, with its thin and tasty pastry, light whipped cream and generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

No matter what you order, you can taste the quality ingredients; Kaschitz and his team insist on using only the finest products.

Pepi’s open-air bar overlooks the pedestrian village, and they often host live music. The bar features a variety of wines from various global regions and on tap plenty of German beers — as well as a large selection of German and Austrian bottles and cans, American IPAs and other artisan brews. The bar menu, served after 3 p.m., includes big, soft pretzels, smoked salmon, buffalo wings, brats, hummus, salad and an assorted cheese platter. So, go ahead: Immerse yourself in Pepi’s rich Bavarian tradition, located in the heart of the Vail Village.

El Segundo offers creative tacos, craft margaritas and a terrific deck in both Vail and Eagle

The tacos are tasty, the tequila plentiful and the ambience lively. But what defines El Segundo in the summertime? That’s an easy one.

“Best deck in Vail,” said Dimitri Souvorin, chef-partner at the restaurant.

It’s hard to disagree. Overlooking Gore Creek and the Vail Whitewater Park, the lawn below might be filled with kids playing creekside, paddlers putting in and any number of people soaking up the sunshine and mountain air. Steps away is the Children’s Fountain —  “probably the best water feature for kids in the whole area,” said Souvorin. “We get parents on the deck enjoying a margarita, watching their kids playing in the fountain.”

The deck has a prime view overlooking Gore Creek.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

Heading into its fourth year, El Segundo has hit its stride. The globally inspired taqueria and tequila bar serves a wide array of fresh, made-from-scratch food and cocktails that are big on flavors and fun. The menu swings from shareable starters like ceviche and nachos to heaping rice bowls and smothered burritos.

“But the taco list is the heart and soul of our restaurant,” explained the chef. “We love the theme, we love being a taqueria. We love the variation.”

The tacos are large — order two, maybe split an app and you can call it a day. Cruise the list and you’ll see non-traditional offerings such as the Hot Korean, with wagyu beef, Korean barbecue sauce and spicy kimchi, or the Seared Ahi with sesame sticky rice, cashew-ginger relish and tamari slaw. For the Grateful Veg, guajillo-roasted cauliflower and black beans are topped with corn-poblano relish and avocado. But there are also more classic Mexican flavors, like ancho-braised short ribs, citrus-brined pork carnitas and several fish options, from crispy cod to grilled mahi mahi. What they all have in common is Chef Souvorin’s approach to food.

“Fresh, light and from scratch — that’s really the big difference of how we do it,” he said.

And that same philosophy goes for the bar program.

“All of our syrups, all of our mixes, all of our juices are squeezed fresh,” he said. “Herradura Silver is our well tequila. Last I heard, El Segundo sold the second most Herradura Silver in the country.”

With more than 100 tequilas and mezcals, the list is daunting. But Souvorin encourages people to spend a little time with the bartenders, who are happy to put a tequila flight together. While the margaritas are the most popular — try Souvorin’s favorite, the house margarita, or get spicy with a Friend of the Devil — the other cocktails are fun, too. The restaurant puts its own spin on sangria, palomas and other Mexi-style options.

Ceviche with scallops, shrimp, fish and veggies, served with crispy corn tortilla chips.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

“We’ve got a big restaurant and a great crew of locals here,” he said. “It’s energetic, upbeat —this place is absolutely a fun bar-style restaurant. When Cameron Douglas and I opened El Segundo it was important to us, that it be a fun, approachable, family-style restaurant.” In fact, the duo did such a good job with it they opened a second location down in Eagle. Perfect after a day of mountain biking down-valley, El Segundo Eagle’s back deck looks over Brush Creek Park and serves the same menu, down to the fresh-squeezed margaritas and creative tacos. 

Sesame Sticky Bowl with grilled shrimp, toasted sesame sticky rice, tamari-garlic slaw, red radish, kimchi, pickled red onion, cucumbers and toasted peanuts.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

Swirl, sip and savor at the Vail Wine Classic

What’s better than a little wine, a little food and a mountain view? A lot of wine, a lot of food and the Gore Range, of course. Throw in some live music and we’re talking about the Vail Wine Classic, returning to Vail Thursday through Sunday.

Team Player Productions is a group that specializes in experiential events, and they’ve been part of the Colorado scene for several years now. In Vail, they host the Vail Craft Beer Classic in June, the Vail Wine Classic in August and Vail Oktoberfest in September. Though each event has a different focus, they are united in their mission of bringing together people, food, libations and a spirit of revelry.

Vail Wine Classic happens Aug. 10-13.
Ryan James Cox/Courtesy photo

The Vail Wine Classic is four days packed with activities, including a walk-around tasting on the Vail Athletic Fields in Ford Park both Friday and Saturday, a Best of Fest tasting at the top of the Eagle’s Nest Gondola Friday evening, a spate of paired and coursed wine dinners at local restaurants, morning hikes followed by guided wine lunches, and a Bubbles & Brunch finish on Sunday. More than 50 purveyors are represented at the walk-around tasting events on Friday and Saturday.

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“For wine especially, you don’t normally get an opportunity to taste a wide range in one place, and this is a way for people to broaden their palate, and get to know different regions, different varietals,” said Kristen Slater, chief marketing officer and event director for Team Player productions. “We cater to people who aren’t necessarily the ‘wine experts’ —  girls’ trips, couples’ trips. It makes it a fun environment.”

So whether people opt for the festive walk-around tasting, or sink their teeth into a wine dinner, they can leave more educated than when they arrived — and, perhaps, a little buzzy, too.

Two tasting events at Ford Park and multiple wine dinners are part of the Vail Wine Classic lineup.
Ryan James Cox/Courtesy photo

“For the wine dinners we target wineries all over the world, and each one includes someone who is knowledgeable about the winery, the region or the mission of the vineyard,” Slater said. “We have a more robust schedule of paired events in Vail. It’s already such a destination for travelers — Vail is a place people really want to visit.”

Each wine dinner is a unique experience, and is hosted in a variety of locations, including The Hythe, Sonnenalp and more. Master sommelier Sean Razee is hosting a lunch at the Hythe and a dinner at Chasing Rabbits in The Library. The dinner is titled, “Uncorked Narratives,” hinting at the playful yet educational format of the event. Razee has worked with Team Player Productions on several events over the years, and appreciates their approach. While the grand-tasting events are about abundance and trying lots of wines, the dinners are different.

Food is a tasty part of Vail Wine Classic.
Courtesy photo

“I’m going to have a captive audience, so we can give people more of an in-depth experience,” said Razee.

As the director of wine education for Southern Glazer Wine and Spirits, Razee has hosted many wine dinners over the years, often introducing new wines, new regions, new production methods, new styles of wine, new producers — you get the picture. He’s come to know many people who end up traveling for food and wine festivals at a particular time of year, and likes to keep that in mind when he’s crafting a dinner — he doesn’t like to repeat himself.

Vail Wine Classic draws visitors from all over to sample delicious wines in a beautiful setting.
Ryan James Cox/Courtesy image

“I think it’s super important to give people a unique experience,” he said. “I don’t want this to come across as a regular wine dinner with boring wine speak. I try to talk to guests in a way that’s more natural and not pretentious, but at the same time throw in some nuggets, too.”

Razee is always a terrific guide, and it promises to be a fun evening. He has big expectations for the entire festival.

“The location is out of this world,” said Slater, referring to Ford Park’s beautiful view of the Rockies. “It’s really spectacular.” And that’s worth drinking to.

Live music is part of the Vail Wine Classic experience.
Ryan James Cox/Courtesy image
Vail Wine Classic

Where: Ford Park, Eagle’s Nest and various restaurants, Vail Village, Lionshead and Vail Mountain
When: Aug. 10-13
More info: MountainSips.com, VailWineClassic.com, 303-777-6887, info@tppevents.com

Vail’s Gessner Restaurant offers Rocky Mountain flair

Good times and elevated cuisine with simple, quality ingredients: That’s what Gessner Restaurant and Bar revolves its dining experience around.

Executive Chef Pascal Coudouy masterfully fuses cuisine inspired by the European mountains with locally sourced Colorado ingredients whenever possible. Rocky Mountain entrees stand out, like the bison burger with caramelized onion, bacon jam and Swiss cheese, and the Colorado striped bass served with summer succotash, bacon and fava bean puree. Meanwhile, dishes such as cacio e pepe offer an elevated take on the traditional European staple.

Burgers and sandwiches, from natural Angus beef to chicken with smashed avocado, arugula, bacon, brie cheese and naan bread provide a straightforward, yet more sophisticated approach, to the usual fare.

Gessner’s Aspen Ridge beef burger with 8-ounce natural Angus beef, house-made aioli, white cheddar and veggies on a toasted brioche bun.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

Gessner’s menu is meant to be approachable while still offering plenty of innovative variety, from elk loin with a juniper berry and thyme house-made rub to pork chops, salmon and light, summer salads, such as the watermelon and cotija salad dressed with a strawberry-mint vinaigrette.

The menu also caters to vegetarians, with tasty and hearty options ranging from roasted cauliflower steaks or risotto to sweet corn bisque or a portabella mushroom sandwich.

“The whole idea of the menu is to be approachable and comfortable at the same time,” said Chef Coudouy. “It’s elevated, rather than fine, dining. We want to be known as a restaurant that welcomes everybody, where you just have a good time.”

Coudouy’s philosophy involves simplicity, particularly in allowing the fresh ingredients to stand on their own.

“Simple is when you read a menu and you understand what’s on the menu — what you order is what you get; there’s not 500 ingredients,” he said. “Simple is the right cooking technique and less ingredients to let the main ingredient stand out. I’m looking for it to be simple and elegant at the same time.”

Shareable starters encourage gatherings and good times, whether you enjoy the chef’s selection of locally sourced cured meats, cheese, olives and pickles with a honeycomb, or smoked trout dip. A creamy burrata with Palisade peach jam and arugula pesto, deviled eggs or even Colorado elk blueberry and pheasant cognac sausages — there are many options.

Colorado striped bass with summer succotash, bacon, fava bean puree.
Barry Eckhaus/EAT Magazine

A well-curated wine list and a thoughtfully crafted cocktail list round out the Gessner experience within the creekside and mountainside dining room, as well as its welcoming bar. Gessner draws its vision from its namesake, Conrad Gessner, who’s known as the father of modern bibliography, zoology and botany, as it guides diners on a well-curated exploration of globally- and locally-inspired ingredients and cooking techniques. As the Grand Hyatt Vail’s signature restaurant, this contemporary mountain grill is sure to delight and satisfy you with its unique flavors and favorites.

Beyond ice cream at Häagen Dazs Dessert Café

Decades ago, Ivan Almas tasted Häagen Dazs ice cream while visiting New York.

“He went back to Florida where he had his job, and couldn’t find it there, so he flew back to New York to meet with the company,” Ric Almas, Ivan’s brother, said. “He told them he wanted to open a store in Coral Gables so he could eat it.”

And so the brothers did, opening the very first Häagen Dazs ice cream shop in Florida. It was the first of many, not just for the state of Florida but for Ric Almas, too. He opened several more in the Sunshine State, before moving to Colorado, a place he’d fallen in love with on a trip after college. He’s opened multiple shops in the Rockies, but his Häagen Dazs Dessert Café in Lionshead is home base.

“My stores are always dessert cafes, not just ice cream shops,” Almas said. “It’s in the European tradition, which is how Vail is themed so it works well.”

Vanilla ice cream in a waffle cup, topped with warm caramel sauce.
Dominique Taylor/EAT Magazine

In addition to the well-known Häagen Dazs frozen desserts, he also offers coffee sweet treats that are baked fresh daily in limited quantities. And while the baked goods are delightful, in the summer months the ice creams reign supreme. It’s stored and scooped within a very specific temperature window — between 1 and 2 degrees Celsius for optimum flavor and enjoyment.

“The warmer the ice cream gets, the more you actually can taste,” Almas said. “Between 1 and 2 degrees is the perfect temperature. We have to keep it just right to keep it scoopable.”

Year-round the best-selling ice cream flavor is cookies and cream, which debuted 10 years ago. Other favorites include Belgian chocolate and dark chocolate. Dulce de leche took South America by storm, before conquering the U.S., too. And it’s hard to beat the strawberry ice cream and strawberry sorbet.

“Häagen Dazs has its own strawberry fields on the West Coast,” Almas said. “So they only use their own berries.”

Cookies & Cream Dazzler Sundae and the new frozen Raspberry Lemonade.
Dominique Taylor/EAT Magazine

For the first time in years, Häagen Dazs has released a new summer series, a raspberry frozen lemonade made with raspberry sorbet, lemonade and seltzer water.

“It’s blended together, and on a hot summer day it is just delicious,” Almas said.

The affogato is popular, too: a freshly brewed shot of espresso with a scoop of ice cream wedged on the rim of the cup. You can choose any flavor of ice cream, but Almas recommends dulce de leche or vanilla. The espresso, and in fact all the coffee drinks, are a point of pride for Almas, who is quite picky about his coffee.

“I grew up with the real machines, and I wanted Vail to have one,” he said. “So I got one last winter. This is no simple ‘push a button’ machine. These are specialty coffees, and they taste like they’re supposed to taste.”

A dessert café, through and through.

Häagen Dazs Dessert Café

Where: 675 E Lionshead Circle, on the way to the gondola, Vail, CO
More info: 970-476-1441; Häagen Dazs Dessert Café
Ambiance: European-style dessert café
Signature dishes:
Premium ice cream, rich espresso, baked cinnamon rolls

Vail’s Westside Cafe is tried and true

“If you wish to complain to a manager or owner, please write your complaint on a $100 bill and turn it in at the restaurant.” This statement alone points out just what Westside Cafe & Grill is about — casual, friendly and, what’s more — good eats.

The restaurant was founded by Ryan Thompson, Steve Solomon and Mike Dennis who, while working together at Sweet Basil, decided to go out on their own and took over the space in West Vail 20 years ago.

And they’ve made Westside a blend of rusticity and contemporary without being modern. 

“We’ve made some mistakes along the way — and kind of refined — and made more mistakes and refined — and made more and more mistakes — and here we are 2.5 million guests and 20 years later,” said Dennis, who, like his partners, worked and managed several restaurants before opening Westside. His first jobs in the industry include a stint as a stand-up comic as well as a singing waiter who, at times, dressed up as Zorro. Now, however, as an owner/manager, his crazy days are over — in public, anyway. Running a successful restaurant is serious business — and the partners have it down.

Salmon ramen bowl with a savory broth, scallions, mushrooms, pickled veggies and a sunny-side-up egg.
Dominique Taylor/Courtesy photo

The menu lends itself to those who just want a simple meal to the “foodie” who likes a bit more flair.

And it all begins with breakfast. Eggs, pancakes, hash browns — you name it, they’ll make it. Any possible variation of eggs Benedict. Omelets, dirty biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles. It’s yours. Don’t forget a bloody mary.

The lunch menu offers salads, chili — pork green or red elk — plus all sorts of burgers, grilled sandwiches and even combination soup and sandwich plates. The ramen is a favorite.

Veggies are crunchier, fish is fresher than one might expect from an “everyman’s cafe.” In fact, the restaurant is in the process of building an aquaculture setup in Eagle that will provide some of its vegetables and fish. Appetizers are fun, like the freshly cut ahi tuna poke and short rib empanadas. Dinnertime brings a tasty selection of entrees from bourbon jalapeño peach-glazed pork chops or grilled salmon to short rib mac n’ cheese and steaks. Every bit their equal are pastas: bison Bolognese penne simmered in a luxurious wine sauce or shrimp scampi sauteed with white wine, garlic, butter and shallots over linguini.

And leave room for dessert. They’re all so tempting. For kids there are table-top make-your-own s’mores or Pizookie, a pizza-sized warm and gooey cookie. Or, perhaps, a tangy piece of Key lime pie, or perhaps the rich carrot cake.

Make your own tabletop s’mores with all the fixings.
Dominique Taylor/Courtesy photo

“Our theme — what we do — is serve American comfort food with some global inspiration,” explained Dennis. “We have a bit of culinary flair and a great presentation, but we’re still going to have the staples. You know we’ll have meatloaf, but it might be bison meatloaf. We’ll have a couple of nice steaks, but we’ll also have burgers.”

But it’s more than the food.

“We use quality ingredients and classic presentation and technique to give great value and super-warm service,” he continued. “I think that’s what we’ve done from the beginning and what’s most distinguished us. And one of our priorities is to hire nice people, warm people.”

And that’s Westside Cafe’s mission.

Westside Cafe & Grill

2211 North Frontage Road West
Vail, CO
More info: 970-476-7890; westsidecafe.net

Breakfast & lunch: $12-$16
Dinner: $15-$37

Friendly casual cafe serving breakfast, lunch and dinner

Signature dishes:
Eggs Benedict, salads with grilled chicken and fish, burgers, ramen, tabletop s’mores

Vail’s Alpenrose brings gondolas to the street

The world was changed in many ways by the pandemic, but one thing that’s more positive than negative is the creation of unique, outdoor dining opportunities. From globes to literal glass houses, restaurants got creative with ways to increase seating while retaining the spirit and ambiance of the original restaurant. At Alpenrose, the answer was gondola cabins.

Alyssa Thoma, who operates Alpenrose, credits her father with the idea.

“We thought, nobody wants to sit outside — but apparently everybody wants to sit outside; even in the biggest snowfall, many guests sat outside on the porch,” Thoma said. “Having this in mind, we decided to bring over gondola (cabins). My dad went to Italy, got the gondolas, brought them to Austria where we did the interior finish, then we brought them to Germany to do the exterior finish. Then, we flew them over to the U.S. and they found their way to the back patio.”

What started with three gondola cabins have now grown to five. Capable of seating up to four adults comfortably, each cabin is outfitted with cozy furs, a small heater, adjustable lighting and Bluetooth speakers so guests can set their mood. Festively decorated with garland, most of the cabins have a blue scheme. However, the one cabin that’s done up in gold has become a particular favorite: Guests ask for it specifically.

“We have a lot of dates… and last year we had an engagement (in the gondola cabin) so that was really cute,” Thoma said. “It’s a unique setting and I think it’s very, very sweet.”

In the Alpenrose gondolas, cozy in for a multi-course meal.
Joshua Thoma/Special to the Daily

Whether blue or gold, the main attraction is the two-course prix fixe menu. Start with the baked pretzel to share — and perhaps add in an extra salad course — before moving on to raclette (scrumptious grilled cheese that can be eaten with bread) and the main course. Though the space is small, the dinner is interactive, utilizing a raclette grill and fondue combo. This clever device allows you to grill or fondue your beef, chicken, brats, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini and more to your preference.

Alpenrose is known for its desserts so make sure you leave some room for Black Forest gateaux or apfelstrudel. If the weather outside is frightful, cozy up in the gondola cabins at Alpenrose and you can watch the world go by, snug and satisfied in your own little cocoon of alpine ambiance.

A taste of the sea at Montauk in Vail’s Lionshead Village

In a world of revolving food trends and restaurant openings, it’s easy to get lost in ideas about the next new thing. But walk into Montauk Seafood Grill for a night out, and discover why the restaurant, which opened in 1987, has such staying power. It’s rooted in a laser focus on what they are.

“The main thing about Montauk is it is the premier seafood restaurant in Vail, Colorado. It’s that simple. That’s always been important to me,” said chef-partner Dimitri Souvorin. “Our whole menu revolves around showcasing the seafood itself. I love coming up with preparations where the seafood shines.”

As with any restaurant, Montauk’s success is the cumulative effect of getting all the details right: warm and friendly service, quality products, talented chefs, a comfortable and contemporary dining room, and a lively atmosphere filled with return customers. But the heart and soul is the pristine seafood. Souvorin sources the restaurant’s sustainable seafood from around the world. And though the menu changes frequently — people are often surprised to discover fish have seasons, just as vegetables — there are always many seafood selections in the lineup. As for a signature preparation?

“We are Montauk Seafood Grill — so it’s right in the name,” said Chef Dimitri, laughing. “We always offer simply grilled with just salt and pepper. That’s for the purists out there who love to come in and enjoy seafood in its purest form. Everything is available that way.”

Of course, there are many other preparations, too, from seared and sauced to grilled and topped. And Souvorin puts as much love into his steaks and chops as he does the seafood. But one way to get the party started quickly is with the raw and chilled shellfish selections.

“We have the largest raw bar in town,” he said enthusiastically. “Oysters, king crab, lobster claws, caviar. We’re finding all kinds of great options to bring. After a hard day of skiing, sometimes coming in and having a raw bar plate and a couple of martinis is just the classic way to end the day. That is Vail: a fine day of skiing, oysters and champagne.”

To that end, go for it all and order The Tower, with its three amazing layers. The raw bar extravaganza includes abundant Alaskan King crab legs, Alaskan Dungeness crab, Maine lobster, jumbo white prawn cocktail, oysters and lump crab cocktail. And of course, add some caviar.

Montauk was opened in 1987, and Souvorin has been there since 1997. He worked his way up from line cook to sous chef to executive chef. He bought it, sold it, and then came back in as a partner with Cameron Douglas, who has a habit of finding passionate, talented people and offering them an ownership stake in their restaurants. (The restaurant group opened its third restaurant, El Segundo Eagle, earlier this season.) It’s part of the winning formula.

“There’s such a difference between having a job and having a career,” Souvorin said. “Most of my adult life I’ve spent in the hallways of Montauk Seafood Grill. It’s deeply a labor of love for me, and that’s something I’m really proud of.”

And that’s a delicious outcome for everyone else.


Montauk Seafood Grill
549 E. Lionshead Circle
Vail, CO

Starters and Raw Bar
starting at $17;
Entrées: $41 – $84

Seafood grill meets mountain-modern aesthetic

Signature dish
Herb-crusted Alaskan halibut

Vail’s original Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos

Chips with guacamole, queso, jalapeño bean dip and salsa.
Dominique Taylor/EAT Magazine

Los Amigos — it’s not just a restaurant. Sure, it’s a taqueria and bar, with one of the most coveted locations Vail Village. But it’s also an energy, and it’s on the move. Owner Drew Riley has spent the past year dialing in the restaurant’s signature margarita, and now it can come to you. Los Amigos now delivers its margaritas — and more — in both Vail and Lionshead Villages, thanks to a trusty fat tire Blix delivery bike and some changes to local liquor laws. At the moment, the margaritas are available in half- and full-liter options. But in the not-too-distant future, they’ll also be available in cans, just begging to be enjoyed in hot tubs, on hikes or even at home as a vacation souvenir.

And as for that delivery bike, imagine kicking back in the condo after a long day on the slopes and just ordering in, no shoes required. Tacos, burritos, chile rellenos — you get the picture. But back to those margaritas…

“Our Mi Amigo is our flagship margarita,” said Riley. “And we’re still making iterations on that. The more we try things, the better everything is going to come out. I want to finalize the menu and margarita by the end of the winter, and then go into canning.”

Each ingredient in the Mi Amigo has been tried, tweaked and evaluated, not simply on its own but as part of the whole. For consistency’s sake, everything has to be available year-round, meaning no seasonal fruits.

“Pineapple and grapefruit juice are where we’re at, and orange juice and lime juice are already in there,” he said. “Patron Citron, Triple Sec, Cointreau — we’re dialing in the right amount of sweetness.”

And then there’s the spice. They’ve discovered their customers want the merest hint of spice, more as an accent to make the other flavors bloom. And for that, there’s nothing better than Colorado green chiles, giving the Mexican cocktail a local Colorado connection.

“It’s not so much that the Mi Amigo has changed, we’re really just refining what we’re doing,” Riley says. And that goes for the whole operation. No big menu overhauls, no expansive redesigns, but a commitment to simply making it the best, most customer-friendly experience for people.

Fajitas with chicken, steak, shrimp and veggies.
Dominique Taylor/EAT Magazine

It’s still a high-energy hotspot, with views of Bridge Street on the front side and Pepi’s Face out the back. The menu includes classic Mexican-American standards — shrimp enchiladas, carnitas burritos, fajitas — as well as lighter, more contemporary street tacos — mango chicken, lobster, carne asada. Of course shareables like guacamole, queso and nachos work as traditional appetizers or simply apres ski snacks. And a couple of sandwiches, whether it’s the Mexican torta or an American burger, round it out.

Just as important as the food, though, is the service. And that’s where Riley’s engineer’s brain kicks into high gear, plotting efficiencies to make it a better experience for the guest. And so he’s added a shortcut for diners, should they want it. A fairly new father, he’s discovered what parents everywhere discover: When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. When a server brings the check, diners have the option to scan a QR code and pay from their phone.

“We know our customer, we know who we’re catering to,” Riley said. “There are a lot of people who want to just have drinks, be in and out.” And Los Amigos aims to please.  

Los Amigos

400 Bridge Street
Vail, CO
970-476-5847 losamigosvail.com

A la carte street tacos start at $5; apps and entrées from $4.50 – $19.75

Energetic bar and taqueria in the heart of Vail Village

Signature dish
Street tacos;
Mi Amigo margarita