Where to grab breakfast before you hit Vail or Beaver Creek’s slopes
Apres can be such a showoff.
And, admittedly, it’s for good reason. The apres scene is all about drinks, food and good company, only two of which should be cheap. It’s the ski town happy hour, and it’s a damn fine reward after a day of charging powder.
But what about breakfast? Sure, a quiet bistro doesn’t have the same allure as a sun-drenched patio, but without a breakfast that’s on par with your apres, good luck making it from the slopes to an afternoon beer. A diet of granola bars and Gatorade is hardly enough to pull you through morning groomers.
The villages in Vail and Beaver Creek are teeming with breakfast restaurants made for long, leisurely brunches come Sunday morning. But if first chair is calling your name, you need a little something that’s more in line with the apres scene. Think of it as the sunrise happy hour, with affordable grub, a ski-town vibe and stellar drinks, from locally roasted coffee to Bloody Marys. Good morning, indeed.
RIMINI, BEAVER CREEK AND LIONSHEAD
The sign at Rimini may say chocolate and gelato, but when the sun is still creeping in the east, the Italian eatery is known for crepes.
From 8 to 11 a.m., the locations in Lionshead and Beaver Creek boast a fresh, parred-down breakfast menu, inspired by European staples like fresh fruit, cured meats and those scrumptious crepes. The breakfast crepe ($9) is a nice alternative to a burrito, made with egg, cheese (cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella or brie) and bacon or sausage. If you prefer the fixings unadorned, try the European plate ($10), featuring a selection of meats and cheeses with whole grain bread.
Now, just because it’s morning doesn’t mean sweets are forbidden — Rimini is still a gelato shop, after all. Kids adore the house-made hot chocolate ($5), a sinful creation made with whole milk, a custom spice blend and white or dark European chocolate. And don’t worry, parents: the bar has whiskey, rum and liqueurs for a touch of adult-friendly decadence.
❱❱ WESTSIDE CAFe, WEST VAIL
Whether or not you hit the town hard last night, there’s a simple truth in the culinary world: Many of the best breakfast dishes begin as hangover remedies.
When Mike Dennis of Westside Cafe was working beachside at Hennessey’s Tavern in San Diego, late nights and early services led to the first iteration of Captain Crunch French Toast ($6.99).
Dennis has tweaked the dish since then, turning it from a back-of-the-house secret into one of Westside’s signature eats. Thick-sliced French bread is dredged in the restaurant’s delectable batter — milk, vanilla, cinnamon and a touch of orange juice — then rolled in fine-crushed Captain Crunch and finished on the flattop. Like any hangover meal, it’s not for diabetics, dieters or folks with high blood pressure, but then again, neither is heavy drinking the night before. Just order a mimosa and enjoy.
Along with inventive hangover cures, breakfast joints constantly vie for the best eggs Benedict, or at least the funkiest recipe. At Westside, the Monster Truck ($14.99) makes a good case for either title. It’s a full meal, with poached eggs, pulled pork, fried chicken, chipotle bearnaise and barbecue sauce over scratch-made cheesy biscuits rather than English muffins.
The Monster Truck and roster of nine seasonal benes (including veggie and gluten-free options) go perfectly with one of the joint’s Bloody Marys ($9.95), a house recipe made regular, spicy or bacon-infused and served with a sidecar of Fat Tire. You may not even make it to the mountain.
❱❱ POWDER 8 KITCHEN & TAP, BEAVER CREEK
For Beaver Creek regulars, McCoy’s Restaurant at the base of Centennial Express was like a vintage Burton Elite 150: Sure, both ’80s relics are fun every once in a while — usually on a spring patio day — but when something newer and better comes along, they’re easy to forget. McCoy’s was nice enough for an apres beer, but few folks gave it a second thought at breakfast, including locals.
All that changed in time for 2015. McCoy’s is now known as Powder 8 Kitchen & Tap, and the upgrade is more than welcome. It’s a more modern, inviting space now, with a slew of lunch items, a stone-hearth pizza oven and a revamped full bar. (Yes, it’s also open for Bloodys and mimosas on the weekend.)
As McCoy’s became Powder 8, the restaurant owners knew they had to take full advantage of its coveted spot at the base of the resort’s main lift. Of course, for early-morning powder hounds and ski race spectators, that means breakfast. And not just the cafeteria-style items McCoy’s had before. Grab-and-go bites like fruit, granola bars and Gatorade are still available, but they’re now paired with a full menu: a Belgian waffle on a stick ($8) for kids, made-to-order omelets ($10) for adults and a sausage biscuit sandwich with egg ($10) for, well, everyone.
❱❱ LES DELICES DE FRANCE (THE FRENCH DELI), LIONSHEAD
Sometimes, comfort food is all you need to make it through a long, snowy, blistering cold day on the slopes.
At Les Delices De France, a cozy little eatery within sight of Bart and Yeti’s in Lionshead, you won’t find an all-American dish like biscuits and gravy, but the breakfast menu is just as simple and just as satisfying. The egg sandwich ($7.50) is easily the most popular, made to order with a choice of meat (bacon, sausage or ham) and cheese (American, Swiss or brie). The original is served on a French baguette, but for $1.50 extra, upgrade to the croissant. It’s flaky, buttery and oh-so-delicious, even when you’re forced to take breakfast on the gondola.
The deli has a knack for straightforward dishes, from scrambled eggs with potatoes and toast ($8 and up) to the salmon plate ($14.50), with smoked salmon from Gypsum, capers, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cream cheese, all served on the side with a choice of bagel or other bread. It’s a nod to New York City comfort food, especially when paired with a $2 cup of coffee. And be sure to let the cashier know if you’re a resort employee — lifties, ski instructors, hotel bellmen and the like are privy to a breakfast discount.
❱❱ GOLDEN PEAK GRILL, VAIL
Starting in early December, Golden Peak Grill is back in business for breakfast, and the future Olympians with Ski & Snowboard Club Vail couldn’t be happier.
Located on the ground floor of Golden Peak Lodge — just steps from Chair 6 and the SSCV clubhouse — the grill is made for powder junkies with an appetite. The portions are large, the price is right and the lines are non-existent.
From 8 to 10:30 a.m. daily, hungry teens (and anyone else) can find bagel sandwiches, bagels with cream cheese, croissant sandwiches and, of course, breakfast burritos, all for between $4.50 and $8. The burrito is a monster, filled to bursting with eggs, cheese, meat and a slew of optional add-ins, like potatoes or green chile. It sounds unwieldy for the chairlift, but it’s just large enough to warm your belly and hands before unloading at the terrain park.