The dining scene in vail, co is substantially focused towards high-end, fine dining which makes sense as this mountain town caters towards a major tourist population. Yet, some nights, you just want to kick off your ski boots and have a tasty meal without breaking the bank (relatively speaking as we are still talking about a tourist destination). Enter tavern on the square. This approachable but classy spot has high-arched ceilings and dark wood trim to bring some sophistication to the space. However, the flat-screen tvs, smattering of high-top tables and kid menus aplenty, shows that this dining scene is made for the masses.
Steps away from the eagle bahn gondola inside the arrabelle hotel, diners will find typical bar fare such as chicken wings, a handful of burgers and a couple higher priced items like steaks and chops. The burger options range from a traditional cheese burger with all natural angus beef to a black label burger with honey mustard on a pretzel roll to, my personal favorite, the ahi tuna burger; lightly seared and topped with creamy avocado, wasabi mayo and peppery arugula. Sadly the kitchen had some inconsistencies with their grilling skills as the beef and bison burgers were all pretty dry and leaning towards well-done. Not my favorite when you are craving a juicy, drip down your hand kind of burger.
Tavern on the square does offer more diverse menu selections through their starters. Options range from pork belly sliders, baked brie with a huckleberry jam, lobster mac n cheese and the crowd pleasing chili con queso. The queso has a hint of heat with the addition of spicy chorizo and is served with doughy pretzels and also crispy tortilla chips. I feel like this could be the perfect location for an après-ski scene where skiiers could congregate for a frosty cold beer and a few shared snacks.
When it comes to amicable, low-key and budget conscious fare, tavern on the square is a great option if you are coming in from a day on the mountain or looking for a understated evening out. The menu offers conventional options that are sure to please the masses and great noshes for sharing. Hopefully the kitchen can get their cook-times in order to better the consistency of their food. Though, I don’t think diners will mind much as they are just looking for a causal meal without the pretentiousness many vail restaurants have.