29 Mar 2013, 9:40am
Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride The Rockies Vail:
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Favorite Restaurant Picks for Frisco, Vail, Beaver Creek and Telluride

Bountiful Bagalis

Ski season might be winding down, although there’s little letting up on the wining and dining scene in Colorado’s top mountain destinations. To the contrary—with the window of prime skiing narrowed down during most spring days—it seems like visitors and locals alike allot even more time for socializing off the slopes during this fair weather season.

Housebaked Bread at Bagalis

If you’re anywhere near Summit County, be sure to put Bagalis in Frisco at the top of your list. I love the warm, inviting decor of this chef-owned and operated restaurant. Chef Michal Ulehala and his wife, Joyce, opened this fine Italian restaurant two years ago and the accolades have been growing ever since. Copper-topped tables, subdued lighting, wood beams and lots of style-y touches such as rectangular white plates come together to create a look that feels like old mining town meets Euro lounge. A large communal table serves as center stage for diners looking to mix and mingle, however, you might want to tuck yourself into one of the more quiet corners of this handsome restaurant. Plan to while away a good amount of time here over beautifully prepared antipasti such as an olive and meat plate comprised of the finest products sourced with care. Indeed, Chef Michal and his team are proponents of the Slow Food Movement and here everything they serve—from shrimp polenta to artisan pizzas to housemade desserts—is made from the finest ingredients, many of which come from local purveyors. Expect an excellent price/quality relationship on all, including their wines by the glass and the bottle—all of which have been selected with great expertise. Bagalis also opens for lunch, offering the perfect time to enjoy their outdoor patio beneath sunny Colorado skies.

The Outdoor Patio at Bagalis

dish in Edwards

Love Their Dishy Decor

dish’s Signature Sprouts

Anyone traveling anywhere near Vail, must plan a stop at eat! drink! Edwards and its sister restaurant, dish. Many know that eat! drink! has been on the scene in the Vail Valley for close to a decade. They’re well known for their finely curated selection of wines, cheeses and other sweet and savory gourmet items. Stop in for a glass of wine and a simple cheese plate or stock up on a week’s supply of provisions for your condo. Those looking to delve into more of a full-on drinking and dining experience must secure a table upstairs at dish restaurant & bar. Here, amid an abundance of votives, you can delve into a sultry evening where each tapas-styled dish and its accompanying drink (specialty cocktail or fine beer or wine) tantalizes your senses. Start with Spanish Serrano ham wrapped around artisan Manchego cheese that you dip in a glass of super dry sherry. Then try their crispy sprouts, brussels sprouts superbly prepared with Asian sweet and sour sauce and togarashi crisped rice (kind of like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies). If you’re not already a lover of this often misunderstood vegetable, you’re sure to become one with this dish. If you’ve skied or hiked hard, order the Vail steak, a shoulder tenderloin served with chimichurri and sweet potato fries. For dessert, I ordered the olive oil cake, an exquisite treat drenched in olive oil, a confection that I’ve been in search of ever since I had my first olive oil cake in the south of France many years ago. Thankfully there’s a six-course tasting menu offered here at a reasonable price that provides the opportunity to try many of the delectable dishes offered at dish.

One of Many Views from the Outdoor Deck at Cima at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain

Cima’s Scintillating Interior

Cima Cocktail

Now that the days are longer and warmer, après ski is best enjoyed outdoors. The deck at Cima at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek offers the finest views and one of the most happening scenes in the whole Vail Valley. The festive ambiance builds throughout April in Vail/Beaver Creek, so there’s still plenty of fun to be had on and off the snow. As the air chills, head inside to experience Cima’s swanky decor and contemporary Latin cuisine. One of some thirty Richard Sandoval restaurants around the globe, Cima distinguishes itself with a unique menu that ranges from Latin-Asian to Pan-Latin to authentic and modern Mexican cuisine. Their bread service, composed of Spanish-styled corn muffins, Brazilian cheese bread and crispy crackers will woo you from the get-go. Specialties include seafood ceviche, flatbreads and entrées such as Bay of Fundy salmon, a salmon prepared with chile lime yams, kale, yuzu cured roe and black garlic. Rhythmic Latin music accompanies all this and more as smoothly as the wines amply poured by the glass. Many come to sample Cima’s innovative cocktails although their wine list is equally impressive, well-balanced, representating fine wines from all over the world. Sit back, relax and indulge. You can always spend the night in one of the upstairs rooms at this fashionable resort.

New Orleans-Inspired Cuisine at Flavor

Here in Telluride, you might want to check out Flavor, one of the more recent additions to our vibrant dining scene. I like the fresh, clean look of this New Orleans-inspired bistrot; cream-colored walls serve as the backdrop for an array of famous music festival posters for which T-ride is famous and blond wood tables and chairs add to the light and airy feel of this intimate space. Chef-owner Eric Eckert offers a select menu representative of his Louisiana roots as well as his love for Colorado. Whether you choose fried oysters, Colorado lamb chops or poisson Provençal, you can bet that all will be skillfully prepared with the finest ingredients, many of which have been sourced regionally. Other specialties include P.E.I. mussels served up in a steamy broth of fennel, garlic, fines herbs, Pernod, a touch of cream and house-smoked tasso lardons (a Cajun-spiced pancetta), accompanied with grilled crostini-fabuleux! Beef lovers will enjoy the reasonably priced Kobe cheeseburger which consists of a half pound American kobe beef patty from a purveyor in Idaho. Be sure to save room for Flavor’s pumpkin chiffon pie, dressed with pumpkin seed brittle and homemade marshmallow brulé-yum. Good news, too:  Flavor also serves breakfast and I can only imagine that it’s New Orleans-styled mighty fine.

Sweet Endings from Flavor

Bagalis, 320 East Main Street, Frisco, 970-668-0601

eat! drink! dish, 56 Edwards Village Blvd., #104, Edwards, 970-926-1393

Cima at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, Avon, 970-790-5500

Flavor, 122 S. Oak Street, Telluride, 970-239-6047

Check out Great Rocky Mountain Decks:  Spectacular Views Year-Round for more news on places to best enjoy spring in Colorado’s mountain resorts.

Keep in mind that off-season closings may occur at some locations mid to late April, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm opening times and/or to reserve.

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