A Day in Vail
It's hard to believe it's been a year since Don and I joined our kids in Colorado. I'm thinking back to a wonderful lunch we had in Vail, with our son and daughter-in-law.
We spotted this corner restaurant, when we first hit the touristy town. We'd never been to Vail before, so we were going with the outward appearance. I was game to dine a place that looked like a cute little Swiss chalet, tucked into the mountains.
The interior was pretty sweet, too. The door was propped open to let in the fresh mountain air.
Soft lamps hung down from the pretty wooden ceiling.
There were shelves with copper knickknacks and framed paintings, that reminded me of "Heidi's" grandfather.
I made Scott and Chali pose with the menu and the painting on the wall.
Scott looks a little young to be the storybook grandfather, but his beard fit the part.
The Gramshammers from Austria
We learned a little about the owners, by reading the back of the menu.
Pepi was an international ski racer and a member of the Austrian "Super" Ski Team from 1955 to 1960. He's pictured with his wife Sheika, who was once a dancer and model. They came to Vail in 1962 and opened Pepi's, two years later.
Pepi is in the House
As we studied our menus, I happened to notice a fellow in a purple shirt and gray vest. He seemed to be getting quite a bit of attention as he headed out.
I asked our server and she said that was indeed Pepi. He was 87, I believe and had just finished his lunch.
Luckily, we were are all fans of German/Austrian food! We were starved.
Don and Chali ordered the mussels and were both happy.
Scott and I got Jagerschnitzel and Hungarian Veal Goulash... or was it Wiener Schnitzel!!? Why do I let a year go by before posting?
I do remember the Spatzle was smooth and buttery and red cabbage was tangy good. We were mighty content on that day in late May.
This is the room where Pepi had enjoyed his lunch. I believe we were told that the Gramshammers live in the hotel above.
The bar was empty when I passed through in search of the restroom.
I got sidetracked for quite a while, studying the walls of photos.
Pepi and Sheika evidently met a lot of famous celebrities over their years, hosting guests at their hotel and restaurant. Sophia Loren, Cary Grant, Dustin Hoffman and Leonard Bernstein...
I didn't get a photo of the Gramshammers with President Ford, but there's a photo with Arnold! The Fords spent a lot of time in Vail and Pepi and Sheika were frequent guests at the White House.
So we are staying close to home this Memorial Day weekend. No travels or dining out, due to the pandemic.
We're just thinking about some of the fun places we ate and visited a year ago.
Here we are heading back to our car after our feast. I believe those may be leftovers that Scott is carrying.
Sadly, I did a little internet search just now and learned that just a few months after our visit, Pepi died. He passed away on August 17 at the age of 87. We were so very lucky to catch a glimpse of Pepi. May he rest in peace.
Old Cafe, Old Sign
I spotted this yellow sign, as soon as we hit downtown Gunnison. An old cafe with a vintage neon sign. How could we resist?
It was the beginning of June, the day we returned. The trees were full of blossoms on Main Street. When the wind blew, it snowed.
We parked around the corner and passed some colorful hanging baskets. The door was open again, but there was no note.
The diner was between rushes, when we arrived. We had our pick of about 8 booths, all cozied right up to the shiny-rough, pine wood.
We sat beneath one of the many nostalgia shelves.
But the entire day ended at 2:00, so we were glad we got there before noon. We placed our orders and got ready to chow.
I look a bit insane in this ready-to-eat pose. Maybe I had too much coffee. I don't usually have coffee with lunch, but Charlton asked if I wanted some and I couldn't say no. He was too sweet and he put my diner mug down on a doily!
Our waitress was a more typical, all business, server. She brought our orders pretty promptly.
My half-order special, was pretty huge for $8.99. Hot open face turkey sandwich, with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce... and a container of cranberry sauce.
Don got the daily breakfast special, of Huevos Rancheros with hash browns. Both were nice and hot and flavorful. There was no doily for the china to rest on, but I kind of liked the retro texture of the naugahyde table cover. Or was that oil cloth?
Don did his pose for me. I made sure to include a little peek of the room behind him. The teenagers at the table in the far corner were having a good time.
Treasures on the Wall
I of course had to wander a bit, to check out all the stuff on the shelves.
When the teen table emptied in the back, I headed over to have a look at the best corner. I love kid related antiques.
Charlton was busing tables and I asked him about the child's western attire, displayed on the wall. "Oh, that was my brother's!" he said, pointing ( I believe) to the shirt and boots. He said the chaps belonged to his grandfather or great grandfather. He wasn't sure which. He said the elephant marionette was very old.
Charlton seemed extra excited when he heard we were from Texas. He had family in Amarillo and Bandera. I thanked him so much for sharing with me and asked if he'd want to be in one of my photos. "Oh, probably not," he smiled. "I'd be too shy." I said I understood and thanked him so much for keeping my coffee nice and hot, because he really had. I wish I had a photo of Charlton. I wonder if he was named for the actor?
What's With the W?
I never found out what the "W" was for, in W Cafe. I should have asked the nice man, dining by himself near the front window. Before heading off, I asked him about the sign on the wall, over his head. "I've been coming here since 1973, " he said. "That sign's been here forever."
I never found out the age of the cafe, although I did read that they had a full remodeling in the mid-fifties. That's old! Even older than me. We were a good fit!
Usually when we're on the road, we search for quirky small town cafes or curious roadside diners. But last June, we gave ourselves a lunch treat at the lovely Broadmoor Hotel.
A man named Doug, popped his head out and welcomed us. He encouraged us more, when he mentioned free valet parking. I asked him if we could pull over before heading to valet parking... to tidy up and change shoes. He thought that was funny.
Quite the Valet Area
There were 8 valets in full uniform when we pulled up. I climbed out and grinned at all the loveliness surrounding us. Just in the carport area (which of course would never be called that) I spotted brass cherubs and God-like faces, two mounted buffalo heads...
...and a lovely green, Broadmoor Rolls-Royce, sitting out by the fountain.
Lunch at La Taverne
There are something like 18 restaurants, in the sprawling resort complex. We were just interested in the original hotel from 1918. We entered the the glamorous, pink stucco building and found our way to La Taverne.
The legendary Tavern steakhouse (originally no "e" after Tavern) was added in 1930, to celebrate the end of prohibition. The decor included lots of wine bottles... in chandeliers and sconces. I failed to get a photo of the original Toulouse Lautrec posters, that decorated the walls. Not sure when they were added.
We passed the curving bar in the main room and then a dining counter, with a chef at work. All looked wonderful, but a little too quiet and empty. Where was everyone?
It seemed that most of the people were dining outside in the atrium, surrounded by lush growth, with a 16-foot chandelier hanging above.
I didn't spot any live flamingos wandering about, but there were some, back in the day.
Mid-Century Modern Lingers
We were seated at a table between the main dining room and Le Jardin. Evidently this area was added in 1939 and called Tavern Lanai. They likely served tiki cocktails, while Hawaiian music played. In 1953, there was a new theme and the space became the Mayan Room.
There was a lot of geometric fun with all the wall angles and squares of light wood. I wonder if these little faces and designs were part of the Mayan theme?
The service was excellent. In fact our server, Matthew was so quick to whip my napkin into my lap, I was jolted. When he wasn't looking I put it back and snapped my pic.
Oh my, the bread was heavenly! I was so happy with warm bread and soft Tavern butter.
The food was fabulous and not overly priced! Don had chicken salad, on retro Tavern china. The salad had a little zip and zing to the flavor, that made the cool melon and zucchini bread, taste extra nice.
Matthew was so pleased when I ordered the chicken pot pie. He said it would be the best I ever tasted... but to not tell my grandmother! It was delicious and it looked like a sweet little boat. The hole in the top let out a blast of yummy steam. The piping hot chicken, pearl onions and peas looked like they were trying to escape!
A trip to the restroom was extra fun. First of all, I loved the door with its title, "Retiring Rooms". On the way to the very elegant Ladies Room, I enjoyed glancing at about 1,000 dusty bottles of wine and liquor.
I heard that Spencer Penrose, who built The Broadmoor in 1918, was not too pleased about prohibition. He hoarded and collected and hid massive amounts of liquor in preparation. He also drank what he'd collected. I read that most of these empty bottles were enjoyed, during prohibition.
I love nothing better than going on a walk, after a huge feast or just a tasty lunch. We did just that, inside the beautiful 101 year old building.
While peering out of a few upper windows, we realized we were really missing the best walk of all. We headed out to enjoy the gorgeous weather and the grounds, that were designed by the same man who created Central Park!
We barely scratched the surface, of experiencing this historic hotel! I took in what I could as we wandered across the bridge for a rear view of the hotel. I pretended I was a hotel guest, not a lunch guest. I don't think I fooled anyone.
They're going to have to drop their hotel prices before we can stay a night and add Broadmoor to my 90-Notable Nights Blog!
First Stop - The Ouray Brewery
In June, Don and I spent one night in the sweet little Alpine town of Ouray.
We were staying right on Main Street, at the Beaumont Hotel. That meant we could pretty much walk to everything. At 5:00, we headed for the Brewery, with its rooftop sitting area.
Beer and Views
We grabbed two stools, ordered beer and took in the sights. Obviously, the mountains were stunning.
The slow parade of traffic on Main Street was equally entertaining. The non-stop flow of dusty trucks and Jeeps was downright comical. Where were these vehicles going, in this town of 1,000? Watching the wandering locals and tourists, was an added plus.
Mr. Grumpy Pants
We made one more beer stop at The Ourayle House... because Don likes beer. I don't love beer, but I like entertaining places, even when they have intimidating signs.
The owner was more quiet and expressionless, than grumpy. He pretended to be annoyed when a young woman asked for a beer sample. He looked like he was suppressing his smile, when he handed it to her in a baby bottle.
I was amused by the sliding chair that Mr. Grumpy used, to whizz down from one end of the bar to the other. I was surprised when he allowed me to take his photo. When I asked what you had to do to earn a ride on that thing, he pointed to the wall. There were photographs of all the people who had paid for a ride, by doing the splits on the bar.
"Any men?" I asked. "Just one." he answered, pointing to a photo of a smiling man, performing the stunt with the help (or without the help) of his prosthetic legs.
Time For Food
The sign also attracted and amused me. I love a little mix of old west saloon and mid-century cocktail lounge. The Outlaw name was given to the restaurant/bar in 1969. That was the same period when John Wayne was in the area, filming "True Grit". He was a visitor to The Outlaw and his hat is on display behind the bar. I failed to get a photo!
I took in the scene as we entered. Right away, I noticed the shake shingles on the upper walls. I couldn't really read the writing, but I learned they had been signed, by local miners and cowboys.
The long wooden bar and hanging wagon wheels made me think saloon. The stools made me think of a soda fountain. The folded cloth napkins made me think of dining, which was just what I wanted.
A friendly man with dark hair greeted us and ushered us to a great table in the back. I had a nice view of the bar and tables, to do a little people watching.
A child sitting on a nearby stool was greeted by lots of staff. One happy table celebrated a birthday. A young man played for tips on a honky tonk piano. A couple had an intense conversation for much of the evening, but stopped after each song to applaud the piano player, like proud parents. I'm guessing everyone was local.
Everyone who served us looked related, with dark hair and friendly dispositions. Could these be members of the original Bonatti family, who immigrated from Italy years ago? I guess not. The Bonatti family sold to the Chaotes in 2009 and there were lots of different folks running the biz, in between.
My huge Greek salad made me smile too. It was packed with all the good stuff.
Out of Outlaw, by 8:30
It was still light when we stepped outside after our meal.
It's fun to imagine John Wayne coming here in 1969. Now I can add The Outlaw to our fairly long list of restaurants, bars and hotels that we AND John Wayne have enjoyed. Hmm? Maybe I need to make a new John Wayne category.
Ending the Evening
All dining adventure's are better enjoyed when they don't involve a car. It was wonderful walking back to our hotel while the skies darkened.
I ran up to the second floor of the Elks Club, to see if the Bingo happenings were still underway. They were indeed going strong, but we figured we weren't excited enough to pay $15. a card. We headed back to our fabulous hotel and enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Yippee for enjoying some good food and drink and strolling, in Ouray!
Tiki Break in Breck
Don and I arrived a few days before our kids joined us. We decided to locate the place early, so we could do some celebrating with the youngin's later. They love tiki adventures, too.
We walked over from our condo and found Tiki Mana, in the lower level of a hotel. The place wasn't open, but we could see some tropical decor through the windows. The patio faced the creek and looked pleasant in the sunshine.
Memorial Day Weekend Weather
We hadn't exactly expected snow for our visit. By the time we were gathered with our kids and their spouses, we were ready for a warm escape, to a tropical environment.
Tuesday Tiki Time
We concluded the bar/restaurant was open on Tuesday afternoon. We headed over for Happy Hour, at 4.
The entrance by the creek was much more festive than entering through the hotel. There was a cute little gathering space, right inside the door.
We stepped into the main bar and dining area and I was surprised with the bright lighting. Usually my aged eyes go into shock, when I enter dimly lit, tiki bars.
On a chilly Tuesday at 4:00. I wasn't too surprised that we were the first. It gave me a chance to peek around and snap a few pics.
There were cozy booths and thatched roofs.
There were bamboo walls and plants and windows. I'm not sure I've ever been to a tiki bar that had windows.
There were lots of Aloha Girls in the art and carved faces.
And carved Polynesian masks...
Our group of 6 could have fit into this sweet booth with seaside pillows.
Menus and Water
You know you're visiting a high altitude Tiki Bar, when the bartender hands you big glasses of water with your menu. He did not give us the leis.
I packed the leis, because I am always prepared with props, for dining or tiki adventures! Luckily the kids went along with my silliness.
The Tiki Gang
Only two of us were willing to brave the cold and wear a tropical shirt, for our outing.
I failed to get close ups of our tiki cocktails. Besides the colors, they weren't really all that exciting to look at. I guess I had my hopes up, because we were sitting at the bar staring at some typical tiki cups. Oh well, we did enjoy our Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians. We had a few toasts, while flurries blew outside.
There were some decent appetizers on the Happy Hour menu. We had Tiki Poppers and Coconut Shrimp, Lava Edamame and Lava Wings, for $5 each.
Our tiki time was brief and then we were off, to other things.
Mana Tiki just was not cozy enough. It needed better music and a happier bartender... which would have brought more customers and a better vibe. Maybe Breckenridge needs to stick to the mountain theme that it does so well.
Hmm? A Yelp search says that Mana Tiki has closed. Not sure.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.