Loaded Joe’s in Avon serves up tasty, affordable fare late into the night | VailDaily.com

Loaded Joe’s in Avon serves up tasty, affordable fare late into the night

Caramie Schnell
VAIL CO, Colorado
HL Loaded Joes 1 DT 8-24-12

Any place that serves thick, juicy bacon on a quarter of the menu offerings is OK in my book. Loaded Joe’s in Avon unveiled a new menu the second week of August, and they’re so excited about the Tender Belly’s artisan bacon (the company is based in Denver), they’ve got a menu item that’s nothing but bacon. Man Candy ($6) isn’t just for men, though. Thick slices of bacon are tossed in a sweet-and-spicy glaze made with honey, brown sugar, chipotle peppers and red peppers. It’s not health food, but it sure tastes good.

“The bacon’s flavor is just phenomenal. It’s very multifaceted, said general manager Brandt Olsen, who compared the bacon’s finish to that of a high quality wine: “There are these robust flavors that go on forever,” he said.

The restaurant has always served a few ready-made sandwiches and burritos, but it’s significantly upped the ante by putting in a kitchen and offering food all day. There’s even a late-night menu with a handful of options that are available until 1:30 a.m., hours later than any other Avon (or Eagle County, for that matter) establishment.

“We felt like there was enough room in the market to position ourselves with something that’s a little better than what’s being done, and at a lower price point,” Olsen said. “There’s a need in Avon for good food at a good price. We basically built a menu that all of us who work here want to eat everyday. There are the things that we went looking for and couldn’t find, so we said screw it, let’s do it ourselves.”

Breakfast offerings (available all day) range from apple-cinnamon oatmeal and Greek yogurt parfaits to steak and eggs or lamb hash. The French toast ($7.50) two slices of thick challah bread (baked locally at Michelle’s Bakery) is topped with white peach and fig preserves, candied pecans, 100 percent maple syrup and house-whipped cream. It’s been one of the most popular breakfast options, according to general manager Brandt Olsen.

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“It’s one of the best I’ve ever had,” he said. And I know that’s saying a lot locally, with West Side’s Captain Crunch French toast and all, but this is really good.”

The breakfast sandwich – two fried eggs, sharp cheddar cheese and Tender Belly bacon on an artisan roll – has also been popular amongst the restaurants regulars.

“It’s good and quick – we can do it in like three minutes,” Olsen said. “For the winter time, I think we’ll be struggling to keep up. People will want to grab one on the way to the hill.”

For lunch or dinner, there are five salad options and six sandwiches. The salmon nicoise salad goes light on the spinach and heavy on the other ingredients: hunks of tomato, red onions, fingerling potatoes, kalamata olives and hard-boiled eggs. It’s served with a hefty portion of salmon on top, and a slightly sweet champagne honey mustard dressing.

If you’re a lamb fan, try the Colorado lamb burger. It’s juicy and well-seasoned with plenty of rosemary, and comes with a huge pile of fries. Try the killer rosemary garlic sweet potato fries, but only if your honey eats them too. The pile of fresh garlic on top tastes oh so good, but will give you wicked garlic breath.

For the bar crowd, you’ll find classic finger foods like wings, baskets of fries (there’s also a lemon pepper Parmesan shoestring option) but don’t skip the uber crunchy popcorn shrimp.

“I don’t even really like shrimp, but I like these,” said my friend Katie, as she drug the shrimp through the spicy chipotle ketchup served alongside and popped it in her mouth.

And that brings us to the condiments. Along with the ketchup, there’s a homemade goat cheese aioli that absolutely makes the Colorado lamb burger.

“We fold chevre with garlic, mayo and parsley and lemon juice,” Olsen said. “It’s a phenomenal combination.”

Those thoughtful accoutrements, like homemade condiments and pickles that are brined in house, elevate the dishes, and the restaurant as a whole.

“Almost every dish has a little touch like that, that shows some thought behind it,” Olsen said. “We’re not trying to set any trends here, but we are looking for small touches here and there that accentuate the food and show that we like what we’re doing. It’s a step up from normal bar food.”

High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at cschnell@vaildaily.com.

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