I usually advise against spending money up in the mountains. Between gas, tickets, gear and the many other expenses associated with winter sports, there’s just not a whole lot of money left to even be spent.
However, if you don’t bring any grub up with you, and are in need of a meal, you’d better go to the right place and get your money’s worth. Here are a few of my favorites for each mountain included on the Epic Pass (Keystone, A-Basin, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek).
Keystone / A-Basin
253 Summit Place Shopping Center, Silverthorne
Hours: 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
Despite an overwhelming collection of fast food establishments in Silverthorne, Blue Moon Bakery is one of the town’s greatest staples. This is an ideal stop for a quick, order-at-the-counter, morning bite at a low price.
Whether it be one of their famous Blue Moon Specials (one egg with cheese, bacon, ham, sausage and tomato or avocado on a toasted English muffin) for just $2.75, or a classic pile of French Toast (three thick slices of homemade bread, egg battered and topped with maple syrup) for $6.50, it’ll hit the spot before a long day outside. They also have some delectable pastries made in-house that are perfect to stow in your jacket pocket.
La Cima Mall, 500 South Main St., Breckenridge
Hours: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. daily
Nothing tops off a big day on the hill better than a burger, and Empire Burger happens to have some fantastic ones right on Main Street. Their prices aren’t bad, either—especially for a mountain town. The Classic Burger (lettuce, tomato, onion and thousand island dressing) is $7.25, and their crazier ones, like the $9 Kona Burger (swiss cheese, ham, pineapple ring and firecracker Sauce), are still comparable to upscale burger joints in Denver.
Just a quick walk across the street from the mountain will get you there, and even the infamous I-70 traffic might seem a little better than usual with a satisfied stomach.
297 Hanson Ranch Rd., Vail (accessed by foot in the Vail Village)
Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday – Thursday / 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Friday – Saturday
Vail is jam-packed with high-class restaurants with high-class guests. Avoid that scene and head to Big Bear Bistro, a cozy little sandwich shop situated right on the riverbank. Despite being in Vail Village, this is a perfect place to grab a quick but really delicious meal.
Prices are a little steep, as expected in Vail, but still the best deal you’ll find in town. All of their main sandwiches go for $9.50, like the Phoenix (roasted turkey, monterey jack cheese, sprouts and chipotle aioli), Piglet (maple glazed ham, bacon, cheddar cheese and honey dijon mustard) and Tree Hugger (hummus, monterey jack cheese, arugula, sprouts, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers and maple cider vinaigrette). However, they’ve got a couple more affordable items too, like a Chicken or Tuna Salad sandwich (on a croissant with lettuce and tomato) for $6.99.
20 Nottingham Rd., Avon
Hours: 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
Beaver Creek is also a tough place to find a decently affordable meal, but Northside Coffee & Kitchen is your solution. It’s still relatively upscale, but you can find breakfast, lunch and dinner there that will be easily memorable.
On the breakfast menu, you’ll find items like the Pulled Lamb Shank Hash (tender chunks of lamb shank, tossed with shredded potatoes, peppers and onions, griddled and topped with three all-natural cage-free eggs) for $13.95. For lunch, try the Roast Beef (homemade, hot and rare roast beef piled high on house challah bread with creamy horseradish sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion) for $9.95.
Dinner is quite pricey, so I would suggest avoiding that costly mistake. The mouthwatering menu makes this place a contender even to Denver’s cuisine.