Big Bear Bistro
Wines and champagne
by the glass: $5+
Delicatessen/coffee shop/local's hangout
The Masterpiece Sandwich
Oh yeah ...
297 HANSON RANCH ROAD | VAIL | 970.445.1007 | BIGBEARBISTRO.COM
In this resort town known for posh restaurants, jewelry stores and real estate offices, it’s been great to know there’s a casual place where you can just sit outside on a street-side patio, enjoy a nice glass of beer or wine, sink your teeth into a mouth-watering deli sandwich and watch the world go by.
That experience, and a whole lot more, has been on offer at Big Bear Bistro, right on Seibert Circle near the top of Bridge Street in Vail Village, for eight years now, and owner/operator Vidette Gehl says it’s been interesting getting to know her customers.
Some of them — the most loyal and sly — even have menu items named after them.
“A lot of our food is named after people we know,” says Gehl, who opened the Bistro in 2008 with her husband, Mike, in the Red Lion Building. “This place draws people in, and we really get to know each other,” she says. “It’s kinda fun.”
The Pearson sandwich, for example, is named for a loyal customer who used to work in the Village and always ordered the same sandwich with turkey, provolone cheese, roasted red peppers and sweet basil pesto.
“Her last name was Pearson, so we renamed the sandwich after her,” Gehl says, adding the sweet basil pesto sauce has become so popular since then she’s considering bottling it for worldwide consumption.
Other sandwiches — all impeccably assembled within large, warm, fresh-baked-daily, organic ciabatta rolls — have acquired names from people dear to Gehl’s heart, as well, such as The Briggs, with roasted turkey, bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado and buttermilk ranch dressing, named for her daughter Brigitta; and The Mo, a vegetarian offering with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, that famously popular sweet basil pesto and a honey balsamic vinaigrette, for her other, vegetarian daughter, Monika.
With the Bistro being the closest, “reasonably priced” eatery within walking distance of Ford Amphitheater, Gehl says, summer concert-goers and, in winter, elite ski racers training at Golden Peak are regular customers, making renaming menu items an interesting proposition. Gehl says two well-known local speed queens are big fans of The Piglet and The Lumberjack sandwiches.
“Locals love all that,” she says, laughing. “That’s what makes this a real locals’ place.”
Of course, soups and salads abound — the chef salad, with generous amounts of meats and cheeses very popular — along with many gluten-free and vegetarian items.
Looking for breakfast? Italian Lavazza coffees, custom breakfast sandwiches and burritos, even sweet and savory crêpes made by hand on an old-fashioned crêpe maker, are on offer all day long.
“And, if you’re hiking, biking or whatever,” Gehl adds, “this is a great place to pick up a sandwich, chips and a drink for a picnic on the mountain.”
Big Bear Bistro is open every day this summer from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. … 7 p.m. on “concert nights.” They’ll deliver anywhere in Vail Village, too, even to the base of Gondola One.
Maybe you, too, can have a Bistro sandwich dedicated to you.