30 Jul 2014, 11:17am
Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Telluride Vail:
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Summer Dining Picks for Vail, Beaver Creek and Telluride

Fabulous Grilled Chops from Elway's Vail

Fabulous Grilled Chops from Elway’s Vail

Wow, Colorado’s mountain towns are going off right now. Every year the summer tourism scene seems to grow as people realize that Colorado’s resort towns are the place to be to have fun, cool off and enjoy terrific dining. There’s so much to choose from, often your toughest decision is where to go. And it should come as no surprise that the culinary scene of our swanky mountain towns rivals the dining options offered in the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.

In this story, I’ve outlined  some of my suggestions of where you’re sure to enjoy a delicious meal in a great setting. These are the busiest weeks from now through Labor Day, so I suggest you plan ahead and reserve as much in advance as possible at these and other fine restaurants.

Elway’s Vail

I had been to Elway’s Cherry Creek and Elway’s Denver before, so I knew I was in for a superlative dining experience here at Elway’s Vail. Just like at those other Elway’s dining establishments, here you’re seduced from the get-go by a subdued, sophisticated decor that will make you glad you dressed up a bit. Don’t worry though, there’s no stuffiness within their blond wood interior, reminiscent of a boat with an atrium-like bow that juts out into a garden. Settle into your beige leather booth and enjoy one of the best steaks in the Vail Valley.

Elway's Lobster Cocktail

Elway’s Lobster Cocktail

An Elegant Dining Scene at Elway's

An Elegant Dining Scene at Elway’s

Start out with their yummy deviled eggs which they thankfully keep on the winter menu, or perhaps an asparagus soup served with crab toast. My steak tasted so succulent that I didn’t use a dab of one of their many sauces. (Most of their meats are seasoned with a special rub that caramelizes when grilled. You can buy it here and I suggest you do, since it’s a must whether you’re grilling meat, fish, seafood or vegetables.) At Elway’s, they serve only USDA prime and they hand cut all of their own steaks. Fish lovers will revel in one of their excellent pieces of Ahi tuna. As in any good steakhouse, you may order a range of sides such as wild mushrooms and potatoes au gratin. Their sorbets taste like real fruit and if you’re feeling decadent, you can have them add a cookie baked to order on the side.

The Entrance at Maya at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain

The Entrance at Maya at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain

Maya's Bar

Maya’s Bar

My Watermelon Margarita

My Watermelon Margarita and Other Mayan Delights

Maya at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain

If you haven’t heard of Richard Sandoval, Maya would be a good introduction to the creative genius behind this chef/restaurateur’s thirty-five dining establishments across the United States and abroad. If you’ve been to a RSR before, this vibrantly colored restaurant will dazzle you with its decor and unparalleled views before you even order up your first margarita. I dined here alone last August on my birthday and the food, ambiance and waitstaff gave me the impression I was being fêted by my ten best friends. I began with a gorgeous watermelon marg, made from fresh fruit and freshly-squeezed sour mix, a sweet beginning that made me feel as young and upbeat as the latino music that played throughout the dimly-lighted, Mayan temple-inspired interior of Maya’s lounge and restaurant.

Mahi-Mahi Tacos

Mahi-Mahi Tacos

Maya's Tequila Locker

Maya’s Tequila Locker

My Birthday Cake

My Birthday Cake

Me at Maya on my B-day

Me at Maya on my B-day

Start your munching with their table side guacamole, a RSR trademark, and then order some modern Mexican cuisine selections such as crab and shrimp enchiladas, smoked brisket tacos and other innovative dishes for which Maya is known. Just like most everything else, the tortillas are made on the premises and the emphasis on all the dishes is quality not quantity. You’ll revel in the extraordinary combination of flavors in this fun, happening restaurant and if you’re a tequila connoisseur, you’ll be in awe of their selection of almost 140 different brands. Regulars enjoy having their special bottle at hand in the tequila locker, a tradition widely practiced in Europe.

Whether you go big or not, you can valet your car at the entrance or stay right on the premises at The Westin. Maya’s Friday Afternoon Club (FAC), considered the best happy hour in the Vail Valley, really goes off, so you might want to to do just that!

Quel Plaisir:  A Delicious Sangria Poised on a Map of Paris at The Village Table

Quel Plaisir: A Delicious Sangria Poised on a Map of Paris at The Village Table

The Village Table, Telluride Mountain Village

It’s always nice meeting the chef/owner of the restaurant you’re experiencing and at The Village Table that’s tout à fait possible because John Gerona has been there most every day since the restaurant opened early last summer. Or perhaps you might meet his wife, Janice, or one of their two lovely daughters. In the best of European traditions, this brightly-colored dining establishment embodies the cuisine, flair, savoir faire and warmth of a family-owned and operated bistrot the likes of which you’d find in France, Italy or Spain. That comes as no surprise since Johnnie speaks all three of those languages as well as his native English.

His light, flavorful cuisine exudes the freshness and flavor of these sun-drenched lands and draws upon the many experiences he has acquired since his first stint working in a French restaurant in New York City at the age of sixteen. “I learned my zesty lemon pasta dish with shrimp from those days,” Johnnie told me. “And my tarte tatin recipe comes from Paul Bocuse,” he adds. “I worked with him in the kitchen as well.”

An Extraordinary Selection of Olives

An Extraordinary Selection of Olives

More Tapas

More Tapas

One of The Village Table's Fresh Salads

One of The Village Table’s Fresh Salads

I suggest you start your meal with The Village Table’s white sangria, a refreshing mélange of Pinot Grigio and fruit which has been macerated overnight. From there, order up some tapas, one of the restaurant’s specialties which include a choice selection of olives, Serrano ham and other savory offerings. Then perhaps split a salad—-Johnnie’s Niçoise is the real deal—-so that you have room for the paella, the chef’s signature dish. Take your time—-the European way—-and enjoy the relaxing decor of this global bistrot. Don’t pay attention to the time on the walls, since those clocks are likely to be set to the time of a faraway destination in any event. If you’re lucky, you might be serenaded by some flamenco guitar which will further transport you to the other side of the pond. Bon appétit!

The Village Table Paella

The Village Table Paella

John Gerona and Family in Telluride

John Gerona and Family in Telluride

For more on The Village Table and to listen to an interview with Chef John Gerona, check out The Village Table:  Bringing Global Soul Food to Telluride.

All of the above restaurants have outdoor seating, weather permitting, and most are open daily throughout the season. Elway’s and Maya open mid afternoon for happy hour in addition to their regular dining hours; Maya is also open for Sunday brunch. The Village Table is open for lunch, afternoon tapas and dinner.

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