Welcome to EAT THIS CITY, your weekly tour of the best restaurants in one of our favorite cities, as chosen by world-class chefs.
This week we jet off to Vail, Colorado. Known for its world-class skiing, Vail is also a gorgeous summer destination, offering hiking, mountain biking, rafting and kayaking, and most importantly — come on, this is Eat This City — food. Taking us on our culinary adventure is Chef Kelly Liken of Vail’s eagerly anticipated, newly opened Harvest.
If Chef Liken looks familiar to you, it’s probably because she’s a former competitor on Iron Chef and Top Chef D.C, as well as a James Beard nominee for Best Chef Southwest in 2009, 2010, and 2011. She’s been featured in Food & Wine and Bon Appétit, and participated in the James Beard celebrity chef tour. But while she’s garnered national acclaim, she is proud of the Coloradan roots she’s sown, and of the role Harvest fills in Vail’s food community.
Says Chef Liken:
We believe that people want good quality food, creative food, at an affordable price point where the whole family is welcome. A true neighborhood gathering place where we can enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed atmosphere.
I am passionate about local, fresh produce and the seasons as they ebb and flow. All of my menus reflect that, whether fancy fine dining, or neighborhood casual.
Appetite whet? Let’s check out Chef Liken’s fifteen can’t miss food experiences in Vail!
Vendettas has the best pizza in Vail. It is perfectly greasy and the crust is just the best. It is perfect after a long day at work.
Loncheria Primabere in Eagle. It is a drive-up Mexican joint. You can walk up to the window and order. They have pozole and on weekends they have sopes, tacos, and roast chicken; just the best.
Osaki is by far the best. It is a tiny sushi place in Vail Village. It is owned by Takshi Osaki, a third generation sushi chef. It has 20 seats, tops, and is amazing. Omakase menu! Whatever they choose to serve, eat it! It’s awesome!
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The best street food I have ever had was in China. I tried Shanghai soup dumplings and they blew my mind. As far as a hole in the wall in Vail is concerned, The Little Diner is the best hole in the wall breakfast place. If you don’t get there early you have to stand in line to get seats, there are only a handful and the food is excellent!
Rimini Gelato is in Lionshead and Beaver Creek. They have homemade gelato and it is amazing. It is a great place to go with a family. I take my daughter to get their hot chocolate after skiing.
Grouse Mountain Grill in Beaver Creek is the best fine-dining restaurant. It has been there for over 20 years and seems to get better every year. The goat pasta is to die for! All of the salads are inventive and I love anything lamb!
Bob’s Place in Avon is the best for a casual, fun night out. They serve bar food, but it is the best bar food in town. They also have excellent breakfast.
The Rose in Edwards is the closest thing we have to a vegetarian place. While they are not strictly vegetarian, they really understand dietary concerns and choices and their menu reflects it. They serve veggie heavy food and it always tastes good.
The Grand Avenue Grill in Eagle is an awesome family restaurant that has delicious brunch and equally delicious Bloody Marys.
ICONIC FOOD OF THE CITY
The Vail Valley has so many different cuisines that it would be impossible to mention just one as an icon. However, as crazy as it seems, Moe’s Original BBQ is the staple of the valley. It was started by three guys from Alabama who came to Vail and started the most iconic BBQ joint around.
ODD CULINARY EXPERIENCE
This is the oddest culinary experience I’ve had anywhere, just not in Vail. The weirdest thing I ever ate was a 100-year-old egg in China. I’ll try anything once, but I reserve the right to never eat it again. I would never that eat again. It was a chicken egg that when it is raw is placed in ammonia and cured, so it cooks in the cure. It is the texture of a hardboiled egg, but the white is black and clear, and the yellow is oozy.
Anywhere I can get real hand-cut potato french fries with mayo! Grand Avenue Grill has some stellar ones and I am serving them at Harvest.
Fiesta’s, located in Edwards. They have the most cheesy, saucy and spicy Mexican food, which is ideal for a hangover.
Boxcar in Avon is fun and delicious, and the atmosphere is awesome. The roasted cauliflower with black garlic and their burger are my faves.
RESTAURANT RUN BY A FRIEND
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I got really brave tonight and 1⃣ ordered fish (I'm new to this whole liking seafood thing) and 2⃣ ordered a fish I've never even heard of! @megtherhn made me do it and I'm soooo glad. This was macadamia crusted barramundi and it's now my new favorite fish. #paleo #vail #realfood
Terra Bistro in Vail Village. Run by my friend Kevin Nelson, the restaurant is innovative and focuses on health while still being delicious and decadent. Sprouted quinoa lettuce cups are so yummy and inventive, but you can’t go wrong with any of their healthier options.
Thank you Chef Liken for taking us on a culinary tour of Vail!
Stay tuned for more EAT THIS CITY — where each week we’ll feature a premier chef in a different city sharing their insider eating tips! Missed a week? Check out Lexington, Bentonville, San Antonio, Warsaw, Kansas City, NYC, Washington DC, New Orleans, Cleveland, Miami, Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Sydney, Portland, Chicago, Austin, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Providence, Memphis, Orange County, Boston, and Detroit.
See you next week!