Pair a little adventure with your next Eagle County meal |

Pair a little adventure with your next Eagle County meal

Kim Fuller
Daily Correspondent
Diners soak up the sun on the top deck of Mango's Mountain Grill in Red Cliff.
Special to the Daily |

In the Vail Valley, many people like to play, eat, drink and repeat. There’s something extra rewarding about adding in a little adventure before you house a hamburger or belly up at a bar.

Here are some excursion-to-eat ideas, when the overall experience is actually just as much about the destination as it is about the journey.

An Epic Ride to Mango’s Mountain Grill

Plan what locals consider to be an “epic day” by pairing a mountain bike ride on pavement and dirt to end up truly off-the beaten track at Mango’s Mountain Grill in Red Cliff.

To start in Vail, take a mountain bike up Vail Pass (it’s an uphill battle, gaining 1,831 feet), and then continue up to the right on the pullout at the top of the pass to hit Shrine Pass road. The road will take you all the way down to Mango’s, about 12 miles on dirt.

“We have a lot of people who do Shrine, on ATVs, RZRs, dirt bikes and mountain bikes,” said Mallory Parks, co-owner of Mango’s Mountain Grill. “The Shrine road in the summer is pretty much good for all types of vehicles. What we don’t see are a lot of hikers, but people come up and camp off of Shrine and come in before or after their camping trip.”

Sun soakers love to lounge on Mango’s rooftop deck, which has full service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. There’s a secret ingredient in the Mango’s margaritas, Parks said, which gives them a darker color and stronger flavor.

“We serve eclectic American bar food,” she said. “We specialize in fish tacos, but we offer a variety of food that fit every occasion. It’s just such a casual, laid-back atmosphere here.”

Mango’s serves lunch and dinner, opening at 11 a.m. in the summer.

Vail Valley local Becky Peterson said she did a similar ride a few years ago, but from the top of Shrine to Mango’s and then back to Vail.

“Stick with one marg and one fish taco, not two,” she said. “(I) forgot there was a little uphill on the way down!”

The uphill comes in when you ride out of Red Cliff toward Minturn, on the road. You head up, up, up, then back down into the valley and hit up with the river path to get into Vail. Give yourself a full day to complete the adventure, but if you do have one too many margs up at Mango’s, then call a friend to shuttle you and your bike back home.

Check out for more information on the restaurant, rotating specials and upcoming live music.

Earn Your Eats on Vail Mountain

You can ride Vail Mountain’s gondolas to easily access the restaurants, but hiking and biking to them will turn the adventure straight into an appetite.

“All of Vail’s on-mountain dining locations can be accessed via hiking or biking, including Talon’s Deck, Bistro Fourteen and Game Creek Restaurant at Eagle’s Nest, and Sarge’s BBQ & Deck and the 10th at Mid-Vail,” said Mike Friery, senior director of Vail Mountain dining.

Hike Berry Picker trail up to Eagle’s Nest and hit up Talon’s Deck for amazing views of Mount of the Holy Cross, which is one of Colorado’s well known vistas. Bistro Fourteen, also on top of Vail Mountain at Eagle’s Nest, opens for summer service on June 26.

The 10th restaurant at Mid-Vail opens for summer lunch service Fridays through Sundays, beginning July 3.

“With the option to ride Vail’s gondolas up to Mid-Vail or Eagle’s Nest, there are also many shorter hiking and biking trails or loops that guests can utilize on the mountain before or after dining, including connector trails between Eagle’s Nest and Mid-Vail,” Friery said.

If you don’t want to do too much uphill hiking or biking, then take Gondola One or the Eagle’s Nest gondola up with your bike or hiking shoes, and then head 1.2 miles up to Eagle’s Nest, or down to Mid-Vail, on the beautiful, wooded trail called Upper Fireweed.

Earn every bite of your Sunday brunch with a rigorous hike up to Game Creek Restaurant on Vail Mountain. Trekkers can start in Lionshead or Vail Village and tread up the 3-mile Berry Picker trail, or up the Game Creek Trail, which is accessed from Minturn and slightly longer than Berry Picker, but with far less traffic — imagine winter’s Minturn Mile route, but back up the other way.

Diners can ride up the Eagle Bahn Gondola and take a complimentary shuttle to the restaurant, but every sip of a Game Creek bloody Mary tastes even better after the hike, guaranteed.

The buffet-style brunch is held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., every Sunday in the summer, beginning June 28.

“Guests can take in the scenic mountain views, wildlife and the sounds of nature while enjoying a delectable brunch at Game Creek Restaurant,” said Jen Rizza, Vail’s general manager of fine dining. “Located in the wildflower-filled Game Creek Bowl, Sunday brunch at Game Creek is a feast for all the senses.”

Visit for more details on each restaurant and to arrange your dining adventure.

Horseback up to Beano’s Cabin

A sunset horseback ride to Beano’s Cabin takes guests up to the base of Grouse Mountain, where the original settler, Frank Beinkowski, hung his hat. It’s a dining destination that valley locals and visitors should not miss, and the quaint and illuminated setting of the cabin in the summer has its very own charm.

The vegetable and herb garden, located on the right as you approach Beano’s Cabin from the horse trail, was just planted by chef Bill Greenwood and his team in late May. The restaurant opened for its dinner service in early June.

“Once the vegetables start coming up and growing, we get almost all of our lettuces and herbs from our own garden,” said Lana Gordon, general manager of Beano’s Cabin. “Even if it’s just a garnish, you will see those fresh ingredients throughout all five courses.”

Rides to Beano’s for dinner leave at 4:30, 5 and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday evenings. Hikers can also adventure up to Beano’s and stop in for an evening cocktail.

After about an hour up, guests are guided right to the cabin’s front entrance. The high-beamed space is warmed by an open kitchen, illuminated by its own wood stove and the soft light that shines through floor-to-ceiling windows. Keep your gaze through the glass and you’re likely to see deer, foxes and maybe even porcupine.

Garden-inspired cuisine comes through in every dish, with most courses adorned with beautifully delicate, edible flowers. While the five-course offering will inevitably evolve and change throughout each season, specialties with indigenous ingredients like elk, boar and lamb, locally foraged mushrooms and pine-smoked flavor accents always make their way to the plate.

“Our menu is constantly changing throughout the season with what is available, and what (Greenwood) can get his hands on,” Gordon said.

Guests who ride up on horses can take the shuttle down after their meal. Shuttles start leaving at 6, and continue every half hour.

Visit for more information and to make reservations.

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