The Vail Valley’s Gashouse: rustic and real |

The Vail Valley’s Gashouse: rustic and real

Shauna Farnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Alexie Catalano/Special to the Vail DailyVail food: The Gashouse is known for wild game, but the fish and seafood - such as fresh lobster - are summertime favorites, especially on the colorful patio.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – Sixty years ago, Vail and Beaver Creek didn’t exist yet and there was very little in the way of buildings in this valley. On one corner in what is now Edwards, however, when Highway 6 was a dirt road, there stood a small cabin that served as a gas station. About 25 years ago, it was converted into a restaurant. The Gashouse has thrived and evolved ever since.

Today it is the only restaurant of its kind, not a new building trying to look old, but genuinely old. The log walls are hung with old license plates, (some dating back to the gas station days), stuffed game (local game has become one of the big allures on The Gashouse’s now-huge menu), antique skis and other artifacts from the rich history of the Rockies.

Though it began as a burger joint, today The Gashouse is famous for offering the best steaks around, as well as fresh seafood, elk, quail and buffalo. Making a point to let the highest quality, fresh meat speak for itself, entrees are not laden with sauce and spice, but are sprinkled sparingly with whatever it takes to enhance natural flavors.

The buffalo ribeye is perfectly cooked to order and so lean and juicy the knife almost falls through it in spite of its thickness. Daily fresh seafood offerings are scribbled on the blackboard (seafood arrives fresh at The Gashouse six days a week and often includes soft shell crab, a rare treat in these parts).

More often than not, the specials feature Alaskan halibut. Whiter than you ever thought any kind of meat could be, the slab of fish is thick, juicy and flaky all at the same time and the succulence is brought to heaven by a small portion of mango salsa piled on top.

In addition to the many natural variations of meat (New York Strip, baby back ribs, lamb, duckling … pretty much whatever your heart desires), Chef Fred Nordstrom has perfected some specialties to make for an even longer menu selection, including his buttermilk-battered fried chicken, fettuccine Alfredo, and The Gashouse’s gigantic crab cakes, which resemble large burgers made purely from fresh lump crab meat.

The food menu isn’t the only thick book on hand in the cabin. The Gashouse’s beer and wine menu goes on for many pages and the restaurant showcases one featured beer and two featured wines twice a month. Also, any bottle that catches your eye is available by the glass as long as you order two glasses. And the martinis are cold, simple and strong – just as they should be.

While the crowds are generally wall-to-wall in the winter, there’s more space to breathe in the summer and The Gashouse patio is just as rustic but brighter than inside the house. Don’t be surprised to find four-legged friends underfoot on the patio on Tuesdays for Doggie Happy Hour and put Mondays on your calendar for $5 burger night.

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