When I look back over a spectacular summer of dining, three dishes immediately rise to the top—and all are from Vail’s Restaurant Kelly Liken.

Chef Liken, who owns the eponymous restaurant with her husband, wine director and general manager Rick Colomitz, is perhaps best known as a Top Chef Season 7 finalist. She’s also a James Beard nominee and one of Bon Appétit’s “female chefs to watch.” But it’s the 33-year-old’s exceptional seasonal cuisine that keeps fans like me clamoring for a table.

Liken shows off her considerable talent night after night with beautifully executed dishes such as a grilled watermelon steak topped with crispy-skinned, braised pork belly, surrounded by cilantro chimichurri and pickled rhubarb. Another high note: The tender veal chop with locally foraged chanterelles, baby corn shoots, and natural jus, served with an Olathe corn-Yukon Gold gratin and sautéed beet greens. Lastly, the must-order sticky bun sundae (a dessert that’s been on the menu since the beginning) comes with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, warm pecan-studded caramel, house-spun sugar, and nuggets of cinnamon sticky bun.

Bonus: Check out Liken’s website for updates on her culinary vacations, like a cooking and Pilates adventure in Piedmonte, Italy.

12 Vail Rd., Vail, 970-479-0175