Vail Dining: One Marketplace, many parts |

Vail Dining: One Marketplace, many parts

Wren Wertin
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyCrispy fried calamari with a cucumber cantelope martini by The Market Place on Meadow Drive in Vail, Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –The Marketplace on Meadow Drive in Vail, Colorado is a long, skinny building that occupies a spot that can only be described as in the thick of things. People dash through on their way to the mountain and Gore Creek, looking for “pocket food” and snacks; they wander by on a lazy stroll, stopping to have a glass of wine and some cheese on the patio; they rush in with a group of kids and fill up on pancakes, pizza or panini, depending on the time of day; they pop in on their way home, grabbing some ready-to-go food that needs only a quick zap in the microwave. It’s many things to many people, and that’s no accident.

Take a wander from one end to the other, and it will seem like entirely different establishments that happen to be lined up together. Even the music, flooring and decor changes from space to space. Broken down into its components, there’s the Tavern, Bistro, Creperie, Market, Wine and Cafe. And though each area is a world unto itself, folks can mix and match items from each area (except for the wine shop, due to liquor laws), and pay for them all in one fell swoop.

“We’re working with a unique, convenience-based concept,” says Michael McNichols, the manager. “It’s a family-oriented place.”

Parents can bring their kids in and turn them loose to pick out a treat, be it a gourmet chocolate bar, a decadent ice cream-stuffed crepe or a scoop of the fancifully flavored gelato. (The grapefruit-campari is a palate cleanser, the chocolate-passion fruit sorbet is spot on and the Rice Krispie treat uses marshmallow gelato as a base.)

The Bistro has an inventive tapas menu that runs from $4-$11, and includes Spanish flavors like mussels in a fennel-chorizo broth, halibut ceviche served in crispy wonton four-bite bowls and freshly cooked empenadas. The recent BBQ Bonanza in Vail sent Marketplace home with two first-place honors, both from the menu, one for best beef (brisket sliders) and the other for best pork (baby back ribs). But it’s the pizza’s siren call that must be heeded. The thin crust, bubbled from heat, keeps its integrity with chewy components and crisp ones. Go for the Zesty Pesty, which includes basil pesto, smoky bacon fragments, grilled chicken breast, fresh tomatoes and curls of lemon zest. They’ve made a name for their inventive cocktails, but McNichols’ passion for beer, and Colorado brews especially, deserve some investigation. The Oskar Blues Gordon is roasty, hoppy deliciousness.

The Cafe is home to Vail Cabaret Nights. All summer long after every Bravo! concert at Ford Amphitheater, singing waiters and waitresses deliver drinks and tasty morsels to Cafe patrons. It’s an energetic hodgepodge of talent and charisma. Reservations aren’t required but are recommended.

One Willow Bridge Road


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