Big Bear Bistro
297 HANSON RANCH ROAD | VAIL | 970.445.1007 | BIGBEARBISTRO.COM
Want to know where the locals go? Just shimmy off Gondola One and head straight across the Vail Village plaza to Big Bear Bistro on Bridge Street and you can’t get more local than that.
Everything about the little cafe with the street-side après patio seating has a local, homemade touch. From the artwork on the wall painted by Vail Mountain School’s art class to the sandwiches named after the owner’s daughters, there’s nothing but local love flowing from the floor to the décor.
“I’ve been here so long I’ve watched these kids grow up,” says Vidette Gehl, the owner, laughing. “Whatever people walk in with I’ll feature — but I painted the one in the bathroom. That one’s mine.” This owner and artist also happened to create the Big Bear Bistro logo as well.
Framed photos hang in the corner of various famous faces that have enjoyed noshing from the carefully crafted menu of breakfast, lunch and après options.
This casual, low-key eatery is just the type of foodie joint anyone from the U.S. Ski Team-in-training to vacationing celebs-gone-incognito go to get a quick bite and then hit the hill. With such strong ties to the ski community, it’s not surprising that this little sandwich shop also provided over 1,000 sandwiches for volunteers at the World Cup in 2015.
So what can one get from the chalkboard menu? Breakfast and lunch are served at the eatery all day. At breakfast, customizable breakfast burritos and sandwiches, crepes, omelets and French toast are popular items. Add a smoothie if you like. And don’t forget the coffee.
Or, if you’re feeling lively, try the creative wine-based concoctions, such as the apple blossom hot spiced apple cider that is yet awaiting the perfect name. If you have a suggestion for the unnamed cocktail, it just might make it onto the menu. Wine and champagne are also available by the glass or the bottle, along with microbrews and select imports.
If you’re jonesing for a sandwich, Big Bear Bistro is the perfect place. In honor of Vidette’s daughters, there’s a sandwich on the menu to represent each one. Order The Mo, aptly named after vegetarian daughter, Monika, or prepare yourself for The Briggs — a roasted turkey, bacon, avocado and buttermilk ranch sandwich that will make you smile. Any sandwich can be ordered on fresh-baked organic ciabatta bread, whole wheat and gluten-free breads or several choices of artisan tortilla wraps. Order the Bistro’s infamous Masterpiece Sandwich with maple-glazed ham, capicola, salami, provolone, honey-balsamic-glazed arugula, banana peppers and cracked pepper aioli. Daily hot soups are excellent foils to the large selection of salads. Try an arugula salad with berries and goat cheese, or the Mona Lisa with mozzarella, house-made pesto, tomatoes and honey-balsamic dressing. The little shop has many options.
Perched at the top of Bridge Street, Big Bear Bistro is the place to kick back and enjoy the local side of mountain life. •
Big Sandwiches: $10.95
Wines and champagne
by the glass: $5+
Delicatessen/coffee shop/local’s hangout
The Masterpiece Sandwich
Oh yeah …