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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 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.

Father’s Day events, farmers markets, fun runs and more: Tricia’s weekend picks 6/14/19

Father’s Day ideas

After celebrating Mother’s Day last month, it’s time to high-five good ol’ dad on Father’s Day this Sunday. According to www.history.com, Father’s Day was inspired by Mother’s Day back in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t deemed a federal holiday until many decades later when President Nixon signed a proclamation in 1972. Rather than getting dad another tie for Father’s Day, check out these different experiences and treat dad this weekend.

Good Eats

  • Maya Mexican Restaurant – On Saturday, bring dad to Maya to taste samplings of brisket, pork shoulder and chicken from their house smoker. Tasty sides will be available as well. Wash it down with free beer from Crazy Mountain Brewery or a 10th Mountain Whiskey Mule for $5. The price is $40 per person with advanced reservations or $50 on the day of the event. Kids age under 12 eat free. Reservations can be made by calling 970-690-5500 or going to www.richardsandoval.com/maya-bc.
  • Game Creek Club – On Sunday morning, bring dad up to 10,000 feet above sea level for brunch. The price is $48 for adults and $28 for kids and that includes the scenic ride up the Eagle Bahn Gondola, complimentary shuttle (or you can hike to and from the location) and a gourmet brunch buffet. Reservations are required. Go to www.gamecreekclub.com for information.
  • Remedy Bar at the Four Seasons Resort Vail – Have an “Old Fashioned” Father’s Day celebration complete with bourbon-molasses glazed pork ribs with sides. Remedy suggests you pair that with a Remedy barrel-select bourbon Old Fashioned cocktail. Available at the Remedy Bar June 14-16.

Daddy’s Girl Tutu 2k

Take dad for a run around Nottingham Lake in Avon on Sunday during the Daddy’s Girl Tutu 2k, a fun run that takes participants around the lake for two laps before coming back to enjoy some snacks. Tutus are mandatory for dads, but dress up the whole family and get some exercise to kick off Father’s Day.

Registration is at the Nottingham Cabin at 9:30 a.m. and the two-kilometer run will begin at 10 a.m. Register in advance through the Avon Recreation Center and pay $5 or day-of registration is available for $10. Tutus will be available for purchase for $20 or make or bring your own. For more information and to register, visit www.avon.org/163/recreation-Center.

Ride the lift

The Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead opened last week and the Centennial Lift at Beaver Creek opens up this Saturday and Sunday and daily operations start on June 21. Some trail closures are still in effect and you may be surprised how much snow is still holding on in the higher elevations. Don’t forget, if you already purchased your Epic Pass for the 2019-2020 ski and snowboard season, you get to ride the lifts this summer for free. For more information, go to www.vail.com and www.beavercreek.com.

Farmers’ Markets

The markets are back in the valley with fresh produce, live music, art and more. The Minturn Market kicks off its 21st season from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays through Sept. 7, while Vail hosts its Farmers Market and Art Show from 10 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Sundays through Oct. 6.

The Minturn Market is the valley’s original market, and some of the vendors have been showcasing goods there for the past two decades. Minturn is a quaint old railroad town that has its own draw, but really comes alive on Saturdays during the market. The Minturn Market still holds true to its roots and offers plenty of seasonal fresh produce, but has also become more of an artisans’ market. Over 85 vendors offer anything from local wines, clothing to handcrafted toys and wedding gifts.

The kids will love the goat petting zoo and a “build-a-bear” station. Everyone can enjoy live music and vendors serving up breakfast and lunch throughout the event. For more information, visit www.minturnmarket.org.

What started out 18 years ago as a small market with a few tents on East Meadow Drive, the Vail Market and Art Show has grown into the largest farmers market in the Vail Valley. The Vail Farmers Market and Art Show now has over 135 vendor tents showcasing products from Colorado and beyond. Find fabulous fresh produce from around the region, but also check out everything from USDA-certified meats to photography to housewares.

You can buy everything you need to have a fresh dining experience at home, or you can let the professionals take care of the details at the Farm to Table dinners held throughout the summer. These dinners will be held rain or shine and you are seated right on East Meadow Drive. Each dinner will be paired with a wine and beer partner from the Taste of Vail.

The Vail Market and Art Show also almost acts as a second home for the Vail Jazz Festival. The Vail Jazz Festival hosts musicians from noon to 3 p.m. June 30 through Aug. 25. For more information about the Vail Farmers Market and Art Show, go to www.vailfarmersmarket.com.

King of the Mountain Volleyball tournament

You may not think Vail and beach volleyball go together, but for 47 years, the King of the Mountain Volleyball Tournament has been offering divisions of play for junior boys and girls, masters/seniors divisions and co-ed divisions.

The tournament has become a Father’s Day tradition since it has been held over Father’s Day weekend for the last 19 years. Each year they host special father/son and father/daughter divisions on Father’s Day.

In addition to the division play, there is also a free juniors’ beach volleyball clinic on Friday. One of USA Volleyball’s greatest coaches and mentors, John Kessel, will be directing the clinic. Kessel was recently inducted into the USAV Hall of Fame and was the recipient of USAV’s highest award, the Frier Award, earlier this spring.

One of the country’s oldest volleyball events returns to Vail Friday-Sunday. Watch the best players in the region compete or take part in the event. For more information, please visit www.kingofthemountainvolleyball.com.

Tabor Opera House shows

2018 was a very successful year for the Tabor Opera House in Leadville. Once known as the “finest opera house west of the Mississippi,” the structure was about to face extinction. The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation has worked hard to secure funds to help preserve this historic landmark, which was built by Horace Tabor, one of the most well known silver mining kings in the West, in 1879.

Oscar Wilde, Harry Houdini, John Philip Sousa, and Buffalo Bill were among the famous entertainers and speakers who performed at the Tabor Opera House back in its heyday. The opera house has been used continuously since it was built in 1879.

This weekend kicks off the calendar of summer events with bluegrass quartet, Chatham County Line and American singer-songwriter and storyteller, John Craigie on Friday night. The Central City Opera performs “En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words” on Saturday night.

Chatham County Line describes themselves as “an Americana band without drums, or a rock and roll band that doesn’t plug anything in.” Be prepared for three- and four-part harmonies along with banjo, mandolin, fiddle, piano, steel pedal and bass.

John Craigie is known for his humorous storytelling and serious folk music. The Portland, Oregon native has recently collaborated with Gregory Alan Isakov on his fifth album, “No Rain, No Roses” and was asked by Jack Johnson to be a part of his summer 2017 tour.

An original one-act opera, “En Mis Palabras/In My Own Words” follows the universal theme of adolescents trying to find their own voice and learning who they are amid parental expectations and peer influences.

Help support a historical landmark by attending these shows. For more information, visit www.taboroperahouse.net.

Bindu Memorial Run

On Saturday morning in Minturn, the inaugural Bindu Memorial Run will be held to honor a beloved teacher, Bindu Sky Pomeroy, who died in a backcountry snowboarding accident this past winter. The Bindu Memorial Run offers a 5k run as well as a 5k walk and is the senior project of recent graduate, Caroline Jones.

Jones had taken a few history classes from Pomeroy throughout the years at the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy (VSSA). She also took mindfulness classes where Pomeroy would teach meditation, yoga and rock stacking on the river.  

“He taught me to find inner peace with myself as well as something called ‘Live Aloha’,” Jones said. “’Live Aloha’ isn’t just a greeting in Hawaii, it means that by having kind, patient, sympathetic, loving actions we can individually and collectively improve our community.”

Proceeds from the event will go to the Bindu Sky Memorial Fund, which will help fund future mindfulness classes at VSSA, help build a memorial in his honor and help fund the Bindu Spirit Award and scholarship, which will be awarded to an athlete who shares Bindu’s spirit.

“He was full of passion and love for the mountains, snowboarding, mindfulness, and especially his students,” Jones said. “Bindu touched the lives of each person he came across and will be forever missed.”

The cost is $26 for adults and $16 for students. The cost will increase by $10 on the day of the event. Online registration closes at midnight on Friday. Day-of registration begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday with the 5k run at starting 10:30 a.m. and the walk at 10:35 a.m. For more details, go to www.bspmemorial.com/bindumemorialrun.

EagleVail’s Hygge Life store just got a caffeinated upgrade

The Vail Valley’s most hygge couple opened a quaint cafe in EagleVail. Alexandra Gove and her husband, Koen van Renswoude, owner of the home goods shop Hygge Life, just expanded the store’s footprint to include a cafe. Hygge Life has a grand opening event for the cafe on Saturday, June 15. Guests can stop in to sip on a $1 cup of coffee or munch on a pastry any time of day.

Hygge Life started out of a van, the Hygge Bus, while Gove and van Renswoude traveled Europe in their early days as a couple. Almost 10 years later, they’ve since launched an extensive online store, hosted their own hygge-inspired wedding up at Tigiwon Community House, opened up a brick and mortar shop and now will offer the community a little more of the ultimate meaning behind their brand.

Hygge (pronounced HOO – gah) is the Danish word for cozy, and now there’s a perfect place to experience it without having to leave the mountains.

“Hygge is a verb in Danish,” van Renswoude, who is from Amsterdam, said. “So you can say ‘let’s hygge.’ Now you can practice it here.”

the inside of the hygge life cafe/store in eaglevail
The Hygge Life store opened in August 2017, but the couple is now expanding on their idea by adding a cafe for guests to sit and enjoy a beverage, chat with friends or just read the newspaper.
Dominique Taylor | Special to the Daily

The space has become a welcoming corner of the Hygge Life shop, and it isn’t designed for guests to hold business meetings or sit for hours on their laptop. In fact, the tables are purposely too low for working on a computer, so guests are invited to sit and chat with friends or spend some quiet time reading the newspaper.

“We were recently back in Copenhagen and Amsterdam and you just see that the culture there is so much more present around a cup of coffee,” Gove said. “They sit and chat and just enjoy the time.”

She also noticed on their recent trip overseas that the cafes use candles all day, every day, year-round.

“Even if the sun is glaring into the windows, the candles are still lit,” Gove said. “It really makes for this warm, comfortable atmosphere. And that is what we are going to do here — we are always going to have candles lit, in the summer and the winter. It’s coffee by candlelight.”

They have also created a south-facing patio to complement the cafe. Sheepskin-covered furniture sets the open-air scene, complete with a window into the cafe for ordering.

“We are sprucing up the patio this summer so that will be a really nice place to hang out and have a coffee. Even if you’re just biking though and you want to stop and get a drink, that’s perfect,” Gove said.

Van Renswoude said they will likely apply for a beer and wine license in the future and they are planning on offering events throughout the year.

Coffee drinks and tea will be served, along with fresh pastries from The Rose in Edwards, including their apple tart and shortbread. The cafe also has a kids’ specialty: the babyccino, a cup of steamed milk. Gove and van Renswoude sourced their beans from Huckleberry Roasters out of Denver, which they’ll pair with a rotating variety of some of their favorite European roasts.

“We have people who come in to the shop just to say hello and hang out for a bit. We really like that and we want people to feel like they can do that more often,” said Gove. “Our bigger dream is to have a hotel and a cafe and shop somewhere. That is the distant dream, so this is like another little stepping stone in that direction.”

If you go …

  • What: Hygge Life Cafe Grand Opening party.
  • Where: Hygge Life, EagleVail.
  • When: Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Cost: As little as $1 for a coffee.
  • More information: Visit hyggelife.com/pages/events.

Fine wining and dining at Vin 48 in Avon

Editor’s note: this story originally ran as a paid feature in EAT Magazine, featuring the best restaurants in the Vail Valley. EAT is available on magazine racks and in hotel lobbies for free.

When Collin Baugh, Greg Eynon and Charles Hays rolled the dice, forged out on their own and opened Vin48, we weren’t sure if Avon was ready for it. A wine bar with shared plates, chic-contemporary décor and a stunning bar set into the curved bow of what is locally known as the Boat Building — it was a brazen move. Eleven years later, Vin 48 is such an essential part of the landscape it’s difficult to imagine a world without Vin.

“We’ve been able to balance appealing to our local community and also getting people to come down the hill from Beaver Creek or even over in Vail,” admits Eynon. “But our main focus is to be a neighborhood restaurant, and that’s why it’s worked.”

With a generous and delicious Happy Hour that attracts a standing-room-only crowd early in the evening, and a lively dining room that encourages mixing, matching and the occasional adventurous play, it’s easy to visit a couple times a week without feeling limited or in a rut. Plus, the menu changes monthly with major overhauls four or five times a year.

Mainstays include the smoked salmon atop fried potato cakes, three demure goat tacos with a bright pasado salsa and the mussels with house-made chorizo and sop-worthy wine broth, among others. But new dishes deserve attention too, such as the Koji-dusted scallops with green harissa, and Vail Valley Creamery beef tartare with pine nuts, egg yolk and Champagne ricotta.

“Chef puts a lot of flavor in the dishes,” says Eynon.

He also puts a lot of love in them — and plain old-fashioned effort. Sometimes he sources beef from a ranch six miles down the road, and veggies from several small farms in Eagle County. And every week a whole heritage hog arrives at his kitchen door from Salida, Colorado, to be broken down into prime cuts and ground meat for various specials, smoked sausages and, say, ravioli filling.

“I don’t think we’re fancy, we just cook correctly,” says Chef Hays. “Everything’s made in house, and we don’t overdo the product. Like the Deep Sea Red Crab — just let the red crab shine. When you get good food, you don’t have to manipulate it too much.”

Sustainable seafood is a consideration, too. The seared Hawaiian yellowfin tuna crowning a smoky tomato broth is a stand out. The semolina linguine and baby bok choy are a perfect one-two punch of fitting backdrop and fresh-tender crunch.

And though unheard-of wines have always been part of restaurant’s wine program, they’ve found a renewed focus in looking at wineries that epitomize what Vin48 is: a little corner of a bigger community committed to doing things well, passionately and sustainably.

“People say it’s eclectic, and don’t recognize a lot of the wines,” Eynon says about the list. “I see that as a positive. We are trying to work with producers who are small, who do it like we do it here. We have everything — classic producers and great vintages. But you can also come in and give us a price point, say $50 to $70, and try something different and interesting that you’ve never had before.”

And though Vin48 is the sort of slam-dunk choice for a special occasion, it’s also a spot that remains vibrant and in flux, perfect for a dinner that is here and now.

Go classic at the Westside Cafe

Ten seconds off the exit ramp in West Vail, Westside Cafe is Vail’s iconic ski town breakfast restaurant. For 17 years, comforting American staples have been served in its cozy space. With a walk-up grab-and-go counter as well as seated dining, it’s a local go-to with something for everyone.

Established in 2002, Westside has served around 2 million guests, says owner Mike Dennis. He and partners Ryan and Steve pride themselves on balancing their efforts to stay true to the Westside roots while embracing opportunities to update. They are continually on the lookout for items to feature on the menu as well as aesthetic touches—recently, barn wood from Leadville was integrated into the space’s frames and moldings. Wooden tables and booths make up the main dining area, with one side a bar and the other a market offering quick options with pastries and coffee bar.

Monkey Bread French Toast, house-baked monkey bread, caramel sauce, cream cheese frosting, berries and house whipped cream, the Bacon Bloody Mary made with bacon-infused vodka, candied bacon and Westside bloody mix.

The warm, inviting atmosphere welcomes guests to gather, relax and gear up before a day on the slopes. Head-sized cinnamon rolls sit in a case near the entrance and next to the counter where patrons can order to-go sandwiches and burritos, perfect for a quick tasty bite on the way to the lifts. With everything from omelets and huevos rancheros to eggs Benedicts and French toast, there are rich and hearty breakfasts and lighter fare options available on the menu as well.

Speaking of eggs Benedict, they’ve got 10 on the menu. Of course there’s a classic version and a Southwestern version, but other variations include “chicken & waffles” and Caprese. Not to miss, however, is the veggie, which consists of polenta cakes, poached eggs, tomato, avocado, spinach and asparagus, all topped with bearnaise and balsamic syrup.

Lunch & Dinner

Though its breakfasts are what put Westside on the map, the restaurant also serves up lunch and dinner. The menus stick to the American comfort theme, but rather than the typical pub fare—burgers and pizza—they range widely, offering ramen, sandwiches, pasta dishes, and more. At lunch, don’t miss the blackened snapper sandwich, which is served on a brioche bun filled with wild-caught snapper, mango cilantro salsa, citrus crema and apple mango slaw. At dinner, winning choices include the short rib mac-n-cheese, oozing decadence and fulfillment, and the grilled salmon ramen noodle bowl with avocado, edamame and spinach—nourishing and delicious.

Seared Tuna and Chili Salad, sesame seared tuna, frisee-cilantro salad with cucumber ribbons, fresno chili and mango slices tossed in a cilantro-ginger vinaigrette.

It’s a commitment to the classic ski town cafe that keeps people coming back.

“We really do our best to take care of the locals, and then the rest just follows because we’re trying to make sure everyone feels welcome, like they belong here,” said Dennis.