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Woody’s Bar and Grill: an Edwards gathering place

Wren Wertin/Vail Daily
Kristin AndersonWoody's Fish and Chips are delicately browned. They come with apple slaw and tartar sauce.
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If you’ve been in town longer than a couple of days, it’s virtually impossible to go to Woody’s without running into someone you know. Before it’s a restaurant, it’s a gathering place. Ski patrollers, doctors, handymen and more cozy up to the bar and drink to each other ” or to their team playing on one of three screens. Sometimes people wander in with a deck of cards and a friend, and spend the duration of the evening sitting at a high-top, dealing hands and throwing back beers. People staying at the adjacent Riverwalk Inn gravitate toward the hubbub.

On Thursday nights, a band sets up shop and gives patrons something to move to; every other week it’s Laughing Bones. And there’s always the hum of people greeting each other, over and over again, as nobody’s a stranger when they arrive ” or at least not for long.

Woody Brackeen, who owns Woody’s with Cassie Desmone, has been a bartender for 20 years. He calls Cassie the brains of the operation, and he’s the experience. And in his vast experience, friends and beer go hand in hand.

“I like to say that everybody knows somebody,” he says. “I like the feeling that all my friends are over at my house, but I don’t have to clean up after them.”

“I love it here,” says Bellyache resident Alex Barcza. “I like to come on Thursdays because they always have a great band.”

They have a fairly standard beer selection, with little stars like the Deschutes Mirror Pond on tap.

The menu is ideal for meeting friends for a couple of drinks. The list of appetizers includes longtime favorites Chicken Wings with Honey-Bourbon Sauce, sticky-sweet with a whiskey kick. The Fried Ravioli was born to be finger food. Sporting a spinach-and-artichoke filling, the creamy tomato-vodka sauce is good scooped up with the crisp squares. The seared ahi salad is enormous. A pile of greens is embellished with a serious cut of sushi-grade tuna. Tossed with a citrus dressing, it will keep you occupied for a long time.

There’s no shame in eating a sandwich for dinner, and they range from sliced prime rib to grilled chicken breast with avocado and bacon. The Yinzer is something the restaurant inherited from its previous owners, and includes a pile of barbecued pork, apple slaw and french fries stacked between two springy pieces of bread. But my favorite is the fish and chips. Delicately breaded and fried, the fish is filet-sized and cooked perfectly. Despite its size it’s neither over- nor under-cooked. Indeed it’s a comforting, hearty dish that needs only a glancing blow of malt vinegar or a healthy swab of the tasty tartar sauce. “We like giving people a value,” says Woody


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