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Vail sounds like a very expensive town, and if you judge based on the walk-up lift ticket rate or the price of some of the higher end lodging, it is. However, it doesn’t have to be that expensive when it comes town to eat. Here’s a look at some family-friendly cheap eats in Vail, as well as some very worth-it splurges for a nicer meal out on the town…
Coming off the heels of a trip to St. Kitts where meals for two started at $50 – $100, I arrived in Vail for a weekend ski trip ready to again be assaulted by painfully expensive meals given the town’s pricey reputation, but that ended up not being my experience at all. I may have been grading on a curve after our St. Kitt’s mealtime sticker shock, but when a mountainside lunch can be had for $5, there is no denying that there are affordable eating options in and around Vail.
The $5 Mountainside Lunch in Vail
First things first, let’s look at this almost too-good-to-be-true $5 lunch that can be found from 11AM – 2PM daily at Blue Moose Pizza. Blue Moose Pizza is next to the ice rink in Lionshead, just steps from the base of the mountain. This $5 lunch deal includes a one-topping slice of pizza and a soda, which was just the right amount to get me from breakfast to dinner. If you are still hungry, for another dollar they will throw in a cookie.
There have been times that my on-mountain lunches at other mountains have rung in at north of $20 per person, so being able to fill up right next to the mountain for $5 plus tax and tip put a smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon. If you have kids in ski school, be aware that some ski school classes head here for lunch, so you may get to say hello to your little skier!
$5 Cup of Award Winning Chili in Vail Village
The next day, my daughter and I were in the mood for some warm chili during a pretty intense snow storm, so we retreated into The Red Lion in Vail Village. The cozy Red Lion has been around since 1963 and has a very homey, welcoming, and retro feel with some pretty fair menu selections. While you can order a cup of chili for just $5, since my daughter and I were sharing, we went for the $8 bowl of award-winning red chili.
Served with a side of tortilla chips, the bowl of chili was plenty of food for my eight-year-old and me to refuel before heading back out into the snow. Her child soda rang in at an additional $1.25, and service at the Red Lion, just like at Blue Moose Pizza, was incredibly warm and prompt.
Splurge on European Charm at Almresi
The child’s menu at the very well rated German restaurant, Almresi, in Vail Village actually starts at just $5, but we didn’t come here to save a few bucks on dinner. We came here to experience a delicious German meal in a charming European setting right in the middle of Colorado ski country.
Here we splurged our calories and a little of our budget on a fresh-baked German pretzel with horseradish mustard and a worth-every-single-penny $24 entree of potato pancakes, smoked salmon, and farmers cheese that I have been craving ever since that night!
Not only was the food here absolutely outstanding, but the staff from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, who were dressed in traditional attire, made the entire experience feel very authentic and special. There’s no way I will return to Vail without making another visit to Almresi as it was that good and that fun.
Food prices in Vail were not nearly as painful as I was expecting based on the cost of lift tickets and the area’s reputation. Compared to restaurant prices we experienced near the mountain in Whistler, we found the Vail area to have very affordable food options, in addition to a couple worthy splurges!
Where are your favorite cheap eats and worth-it splurges while skiing in Vail?
If you are interested in learning more about our ski trip to Vail, check out this post:
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