The Red Lion |

The Red Lion

The Blue Sky burger includes belly-warming bacon and blue cheese.

Red brick walls and a laid back staff make the Red Lion perfect for families or just kicking back after a long day on the slopes. Owner Phil Long plays live music Wednesday through Saturday on the restaurant’s airy, enclosed deck. People come back year after year to listen to Long and re-live the Red Lion experience.

Chef James Frese describes the all-American menu as traditional pub fare, although he’s always trying to improve on the classics. The barbecued ribs and brisket are house-smoked and served with generous portions of Frese’s just-spicy, Texas-style barbecue sauce. There are options for lighter appetites, including the Game Creek Bowl, greens topped with tender grilled chicken and roasted artichoke hearts, and the mahi-mahi fish tacos. The towering nacho plate with all the fixings or the Vail burger (voted the best in a reader’s poll) topped with mushrooms and bacon will leave you full without breaking your wallet. The kid’s menu and toy selection will keep the younger crowd occupied.

All the bases are covered, from Colorado microbrews to wine to the refreshing and fruity signature drinks. Try the Sun Seeker, a smooth rum blend mixed with an unexpected infusion of banana liqueur. The margaritas are classic, too. Nothing quite says apres like tequila.

Red Lion’s chilis, voted “Best in Vail,” are sure to warm you up on a cold day. The red chili is brimming with beef and tomatoes, and the slightly spicier green pork chili has a little kick that builds up in your mouth but doesn’t overwhelm. The barbecued baby back ribs are perfectly sweet and tender. You’ll be pretty stuffed after the entree, but once you get a look at the avalanche brownie, you’re sure to find room in your stomach. The soft, chocolate-y confection is loaded with vanilla bean ice cream and topped with homemade chocolate toffee sauce.

Red Lion is a true Vail classic” a family of nine opened it as the Red Lion Inn in 1962. Current owners Phil and Jen Long bought the place in 2000, though he’s been singing to the crowd much longer than that.

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