The dish on breakfast: Morning meal options are on the rise in the Vail Valley

Kim Fuller
Special to the Daily
The Jessica Rabbit is a brunch-specific cocktail with carrot juice, mint and lemon vodka, topped with ginger beer and garnished with carrot, fresh mint and candied ginger.
Lexi Christensen | Special to the Daily |

Listen to the locals

Here’s what some former and current locals had to say on Facebook about the best breakfast in the Vail Valley

• Corinne Schwartz-Ackerman: Cafe 163 for a breakfast burrito, Edwards. And if I really have time to kill, the Little Diner in Vail for absolutely anything on the menu (delicious eggs Benedict).

• Ross Leonhart: Route 6 Café — great breakfast, a lot of times busy, but always worth it. Westside in Vail if we’re feeling fancy, and Northside in Avon for some Sunday football and breakfast after riding.

• Erik Sale: Brunch at Sonnenalp was always a topper, but Vintage I say now has the best breakfast in the valley. Although the old Turntable reopening in January is an all-time staple.

• Chris Dillmann: Northside (Coffee & Kitchen)! Huevos rancheros or the breakfast burrito smothered.

• Susan Swimm: Avon Bakery (& Deli) for bagels. Bonjour Bakery for ham and cheese croissants. (Café) 163 for an omelet My kitchen for the full monty.

• Michelle Metteer: Breakfast burrito from Sticky Fingers Cafe & Bakery is a must! Yum!

• Travis Kale: Stout House (Coffee & Kitche) in Eagle burritos are on point and only $5.

• Luna Annie Richards: Green Elephant Juicery ... a Funky Monkey smoothie (no agave), wheatgrass shot, a Big Green-e juice and some granola.

Mariah Rose: I love Cafe Milano! The Monte Cristo and eggs Benedict are delicious!

• Lauren Glendenning: The German pancake at The Little Diner is the best thing in the world!

• Kevin Banker: Huevos rancheros at Cafe163, quick grab and go English muffin breakfast sandwich from Westside, Northside grab and go for early mountain days and the mix and match Benedicts from Westside. Although the bacon-stuffed waffle at Cafe Milano is pretty legit. Now I want breakfast.

• Sarah John: Cafe Milano biscuits and gravy biscuits are heavy and delicious. Get an extra biscuit with jelly to go for second breakfast.

• Katie Kukar: Sonnenalp — it’s pricey but amazing! Route 6 is also good for mimosas and the Full Monte bene.

Drink your brunch

Jessica Rabbit

From Vintage in Vail Village

1 1/2 ounces Tru lemon vodka

1/4 ounce mint simple syrup

1 ounce carrot juice

3 mint sprigs

Combine ingredients in a pint glass with ice, shake and pour into Collins glass. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with carrot, fresh mint and candied ginger.

Bloody Maria

From Maya at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon

1.5 ounces Aguales Blanco Tequila

3 ounces Maya (or your own) Bloody Mary mix

Combine ingredients in a glass with ice. Garnish with fresh-ground pepper, Tajin rim and cucumber, olive, lime and pepperoncini skewer.

There haven’t always been a lot of breakfast and brunch options in the Vail Valley, but this rise-and-shine meal seems to be moving up on the list of priorities for new eateries in town.

The longtime local favorites are still holding strong, such as the best Bloody Mary around at Westside Cafe in West Vail; a decadent brunch on the Ludwig’s terrace at The Sonnenelp in Vail Village; countertop service at The Little Diner in Lionshead Village; doughnuts and so much more at Northside Kitchen in Avon; and hometown comfort at Cafe 163 in Edwards.

The rookies in town are stepping up to the plate, with full-on brunches offered at Vintage in Vail Village and Harvest by Kelly Liken in Edwards, and Wyld at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch has launched an impressive breakfast, as well. And then there’s Village Bagel, popping up all over the valley to warm your belly with fresh, hand-rolled bagels and homemade smears.

Here’s a taste of what’s being served up to help you break into your day.

◆ Vintage

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This Old World-inspired brasserie serves brunch for what the restaurant calls a “long weekend” — Friday through Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Start with bottomless mimosas for $18, served with orange, cranberry or grapefruit juice.

What makes it brunch? The menu items are served from breakfast straight through lunch, with some extra lunch-style offerings added at 11 a.m. Owner Laurance Broderick, known by most as Brodie, said the main distinction from breakfast is that brunch includes cocktails.

Vintage has a full bar with snazzy libation options such as the Jessica Rabbit, a brunch-specific cocktail with carrot juice, mint and lemon vodka, topped with ginger beer and garnished with carrot, fresh mint and candied ginger.

Some of the most popular brunch items are the BLT Benedict, as well as the chicken and waffles. For the table, order a side of smashbrowns — roasted fingerling potatoes smashed together with bacon, cheddar and chives, as well as a Vintage specialty, the savory puff-pastry galettes.

“The whole concept of our restaurant being ‘vintage’ is that we do things the old fashioned way,” Broderick said. “We put a lot of time and effort and premium ingredients into all of our food. It takes a little bit of time, but that’s the way we like to do things here.”

◆ Harvest by Kelly Liken

Kelly Liken relocated from Vail Village to Edwards with the new concept of Harvest, so foodies on the western half of the valley can now experience what she brings to the table.

Located at the Sonnenalp Club in Edwards, Harvest’s Sunday brunch menu includes freshly baked pastries, as well as signature brunch items such as the Santa Fe toast with avocado smash, crumbled bacon and black pepper. Those with a taste for sweet in the morning can try the pumpkin pie French toast with challah, maple creme and candied pecans.

A wide selection of house-made juices and smoothies are offered, such as the One a Day juice, with tomato, beets, celery, red bell pepper and shishito peppers; and the Pow Pow Power Smoothie, with cacao powder, espresso, banana, flax seeds and agave.

It’s brunch, so order up a cocktail like the Up in Smoke with blue agave tequila, Leopold’s orange liquor, muddled grilled oranges, jalapeno and lime with a Del Maguey mezcal rinse.

Liken knows hospitality and it shows with her whole staff, and her take on creative, hyper-local and seasonal home-cooked style food is delivered without pretense.

“Harvest offers locals and visitors alike a truly unique experience that originates from the love and passion Chef Liken has for both community and cuisine,” said Rececca Cole, marketing supervisor for Harvest.

Brunch at Harvest is offered from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, and the restaurant opens at 6:30 a.m. every day to serve coffee, fresh-pressed juice, pastries and sandwiches from the Pantry.

◆ Wyld

The brand-new concept and renovated space at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is called Wyld — a spot where locals and guests can start their day by parking their skis outside the back entrance to The Ritz and coming inside to get their day rolling. Breakfast at Wyld is served daily from 7 to 11 a.m., with new menus for lunch and dinner to follow.

Wyld offers both a la carte options and a buffet, depending on what’s calling, and every option showcases a display of mountain-inspired cuisine with flair. Try the Wyld breakfast sandwich, served with a fried egg, elk sausage, avocado and cheddar, or go even heartier with the chicken-fried steak, served with bison sausage gravy, two fried eggs and home fries.

The Fire on the Mountain cocktail will warm you right up, morning, noon or night. It’s made with jalapeno-infused Patron reposado tequila, Cointreau, ruby red grapefruit juice and lime juice.

Village Bagel

Take advantage of the only option for locally made, traditionally prepared, boiled and baked bagels in the area. The bagels are made with six ingredients, and founder and bagel master Connie Leaf said the flavor is created over time, through a 24-hour process, rather than the use of dough conditioners, fillers and preservatives.

Village Bagel is now offering “back door bagels” out of the kitchen entrance of Mirabelle Restaurant, located just past the main entrance gate to Beaver Creek.

“We will still be ‘popping up’ around town from time to time, but the freshest way to get Village Bagel will now be directly out of the kitchen door,” Leaf said. “Follow us on Facebook as we announce each morning how many bagels we have and until when we will be there.”

Typical hours are 6:30 to 9 a.m. It’s a short window, but “it doesn’t get any fresher than that,” Leaf said.

Village Bagel also offers door-to-door delivery with 12-hour notice, and you can also find your daily bread at Yeti’s Grind, Sticky Fingers and Flame Restaurant in the Four Seasons. Leaf said she plans to have a traditional bagel bakery by next winter.

“We are East Coasters living in the mountains who understand and respect the importance of tradition and building memories through simple comfort food,” she said.

◆ The Sonnenalp

Breakfast at The Sonnenalp in Vail Village is a true taste of European style. The well-known buffet breakfast on the Ludwig’s Terrace is more like a brunch with the impressive spread of food. The buffet is strewn with regional specialties such as German cold cuts and muesli, as well as American favorites like waffles and French toast.

In the winter, guests can order a freshly made omelet from the omelet station, and every day there is a specialty dish offered, such as a unique Benedict.

Patricia McNamara with the hotel said the buffet has something for every person at every age, and hot chocolate lovers should know that this might just be the best version in town.

Healthy and lighter options are also available at the Sonnenalp breakfast.

“Over the last couple of years, we have added a lot more healthy, gluten-free items,” McNamara said. “We’re staying up with the times with what people want and need.”

◆ Westside Cafe

It’s where the Vail locals go. Westside Cafe is open every day for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with lunch items available, as well, starting at 11 a.m.), serving baked pastries, breakfast sandwiches, cold-brew nitro coffee and more from its grab-and-go station, and the dining room specializes in a variety of eggs Benedict. New on the menu is the chicken and waffles Benedict, featuring sweet potato waffles, fried chicken, chipotle bearnaise and maple syrup.

“We have not forgotten about the lighter side,” said owner Mike Dennis, “with offerings like toasted steel cut oats with fresh berries, cinnamon and Colorado honey.”

As previously stated, the restaurant’s Bloody Marys are more often than not called the best in town. Get a regular, or bacon-infused, and a sidecar of beer is always included. Mimosas featuring tasty variations such as elderflower liqueur, craft cocktails and local beer on tap are also available.

This team never wants breakfast to end, it seems, as they are re-opening a classic diner-style stop in Minturn soon: The Turntable. Stay tuned.

◆ Maya

Maya at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon offers a full brunch buffet every day during ski season from 7 to 11 a.m. The spread includes fresh fruit, pastries, oatmeal, eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, smoked salmon and a variety of cheese and charcuterie. There are always a few items inspired by Maya’s Mexican style of cuisine, including renditions of huevos rancheros, breakfast enchiladas and chiliquiles. The restaurant also serves breakfast cocktails such as Bloody Marias — like a Bloody Mary but made with tequila — and mango mimosas.

Kevin Deloney, director of food and beverage at Maya, said when you can’t decide between breakfast and lunch, brunch wins.

“Usually you can get a few things for breakfast and a few for lunch,” he said. “I think people enjoy ‘brunching’ because it is a more relaxed environment where lounging, relaxing and having a fun drink or two is encouraged. You may not have a cocktail with breakfast or lunch, but most people are open to it during a special brunch.”

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