Should you find yourself in Vail for Spring Break (or ever) don’t miss the opportunity to dine at Mountain Standard. Go for lunch or go for dinner, but don’t skip over the kale salad. The description sounds rather benign: winter squash, baby kale, walnuts, Taleggio cheese, and miso vinaigrette but the combination is anything but. In fact, on a recent visit to the valley, it was the single best dish I ate in a list of restaurants that also included Matsuhisa and Restaurant Kelly Liken.

Now, I’m a sucker for a kale salad (see this and this) but Mountain Standard’s creation defies the archetype. For one thing, the starter doesn’t pretend to be a healthy choice. Instead, the kale takes a backseat to the meaty bits of squash and walnuts, tangy pickled onions, and crisp apple slices. Pieces of Taleggio—already soft and aromatic—are melted so as to incorporate the cheese’s buttery richness into most every bite. The kicker: The miso vinaigrette is warmed with brown butter before it’s tossed into the mix. If there were ever a kale salad that ate like a meal, it’s this one. And if I lived in Vail, I’d order it weekly.

193 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, 970-476-0123

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Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.