Vail Ale House offers classic bar with elevated fare
Editor’s note: this story is reprinted from EAT Magazine, featuring the best restaurants in the Vail Valley. EAT is available on magazine racks and in hotel lobbies for free.
There are plenty of restaurants in the Vail Valley that offer elevated cuisine: think foie gras, lobster or steak, complete with white glove service. However, there are times when you simply want good food, elevated. When the urge hits for an experience that will cure what ails you, head to the Ale House Kitchen & Tap in West Vail.
The name might be a slight giveaway, but the Ale House Kitchen & Tap combines a stellar beer list with a menu focusing on burgers, flatbreads, apps and other hearty fare in a warm, welcoming atmosphere with excellent service clad in t-shirts rather than gloves. The space is perfect for large groups and equally comfortable if you just want to belly up to the bar. In short — there’s something for just about everyone.
Let’s start with the beverages. Craft is the word here, with both craft cocktails (martinis, mules and margaritas, to name a few) for sipping and craft beer for sampling. There are about 20 taps to consider with classic brews on the left side — the right side is reserved for whatever takes bar manager Greg Lam’s fancy.
“We usually have one or two kegs and when it’s done, it’s done,” Lam explains. “It’s more seasonal, but we have fun.”
The right side is where the Vail Ale House shines, offering up beers from smaller breweries like New Image, Mockery and Ursula Brewing. From hazy New England-style IPAs to tart and flavorful farmhouse styles, be sure to peruse the chalkboard for your next favorite beer.
Every great beverage deserves a great meal to go with it. The beauty of the Ale House’s menu is that there’s a wide range of fare, from more healthy options like the homemade hummus, four different salads (the Nuts N’ Berries, studded with strawberries and blueberries in addition to candied walnuts, goat cheese and cucumber is a favorite) and even a side of Brussels sprouts to the classically comforting bacon mac n’ cheese, your choice of burger (beef, bison or veggie) or the Southern fried chicken sandwich — “a monster of a sandwich which has become one of the locals’ favorites,” enthuses Lam.
Then there are the favorites like the shrimp tacos, available either grilled or Baja style, and the steak frites: perfectly cooked hangar steak, adorned with chimichurri and splayed on a bed of truffle fries. It’s a generous portion that you could share if you were feeling generous, but you might be inclined to hoard it.
Looking for late-night sustenance? The Ale House Kitchen & Tap has, again, got you covered. From 10 p.m. to midnight, you can enjoy munching on select appetizers, a classic cheeseburger or one of their famous flatbreads. Though Lam says the chicken pesto is probably the most popular, the fig and goat cheese is the most unique. With poached figs, creme fraiche, goat cheese and balsamic onions, dotted with fried sage, it’s a sweet and tangy nibbler that will keep you going into the wee hours. Or any time at all.