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“Simply excels at being what it is: a diner!”
Review of The Little Diner

The Little Diner
Ranked #1 of 124 Restaurants in Vail
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $8 - $15
Cuisines: American, Diner, Cafe
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine, Families with children
Dining options: Breakfast, Lunch
Description: Our remodel is in full swing and our new tentative opening date is September 15th. Sorry for the delay. Be sure to check out our progress on Facebook. We hope to see you soon! Vail's Legendary Breakfast Spot! Open daily from 7:00 'ish' PM To around 2:00 PM. The Diner specializes in traditional favorites and regional specialties using family recipes and the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Come by and try the house specialty German Pancake, a sweet crepe, homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, corned beef hash, or fall in love with the Eggs Benedict the owner's father "wooed" his mother with.. Serving up fast, fresh, scratch-made food to nourish your soul. Breakfast all day & Lunch after 11:30. Locally owned & operated. At the West Lionshead Plaza bus stop. The best breakfast in Vail!
Reviewed May 1, 2013

How do you give a diner, with only 18 bolted-to-the-floor seats, a 5 star rating???

Very simply… they did everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING right.

We (Mrs. Gardiner, Kiddo and I) headed in here for lunch on our “off day” from skiing. We’d seen the TA reviews, and were intrigued how a diner could rank so high.

Yes, it’s hidden away. Yes, it’s a small place. Yes, I only counted 18 seats, and those truly were bolted to the floor. You’re not squeezing in extra seats here. We sat in the back left corner as you enter. Didn’t know it, but this gave us a ringside seat for what turned out to be a celebration of fresh, fresh cooking. From our seats, we had a full, clear theatre view of the prep area, the cooking area AND the back storeroom. We were delighted!

The gentleman running things in the prep/cooking area was apparently one of the owners (guessing it’s a husband/wife thing). I watched:
>Onion rings: He pulled raw onions out of a tub, soaked them in a milk/cream sauce, then hand breaded them, then fried them. Fresh.
>Burgers: He pulled enormous (very likely half pound) burgers and cooked them himself. Cheese? I counted him putting on THREE slices of cheese.
>Omelets: I watched the other chef make the most gorgeous, overflowing omelettes on the gas burner side of things.
>Pancakes: Someone had ordered blueberry pancakes… I watched the chef/owner pour the batter carefully onto his grill, then he pulled out a tub of actual blueberries, and hand-placed about 20 blueberries into the still-cooking batter. Fresh, real, blueberries!
>Iced Tea: Mrs. Gardiner and I had ordered iced tea… watching the storeroom, we learned that they actually brew their tea there at the restaurant, then ice it themselves… no pre-mix, no bottles. Fresh.

Now, all this said, I can’t recommend this as a “hit it every day for breakfast AND lunch” place. Looking at the menu, your health would dictate many of the menu items are purely guilty pleasures. Fresh stuff? YES. Well prepared? YES. Is everything on the menu a cup of fruit yogurt? Eh… not so much.

(Let’s just say that every time The Little Diner opens, the Colorado Association of Cardiologists breathes out a collective “ka-ching”. This is not the menu at a wheatgrass, soymilk, Vikram-yoga health spa… let’s be clear about this.)

So, I was wowed by the fresh ingredients used, yes. BUT, the friendly and fast service, and delicious prep eclipsed that for us… the personal touch of having one of the owners in the kitchen truly made the meal. Choose your menu items wisely, though, and if you don’t choose wisely, at least up your Zocor dosage, ok?

Yes, I (and the Gardiner family) will happily be back, but only once a year. (AND… if any of you tell MY cardiologist about this, I’ll defriend you faster than the Diner can serve you hot toast. (that’s also fast, by the way…)

It is a diner, and that’s what it wants to be. In this, it truly excels.

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4  Thank Chauncey_Gardiner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 21, 2013

Ate at Game Creek the night before, and Little Diner next morning. Little Diner was far better, 1/5 the price, and we did not leave hungry. Zacks and Little Diner were the hightlight meals of the week.

1  Thank R J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We have been to Vail many times but discovered The Little Diner on a recent trip thanks to the many positive reviews on Trip Advisor. We were not steered wrong, great breakfast at a reasonable price, something hard to find in Vail. The staff was great and kept up with the crazy pace. The owner/chef, Brian Little was very friendly and will chat if you get a seat near the grill as he is frantically working. He actually was giving a quick cooking lesson to the couple sitting next to us. Be prepared to wait but the turn over is quick and the wait was about 20 min on the days we ate there. The wait is due to popularity and size, the place is little besides being owned by Little. Didn't get to try Lunch so I can't comment on it, maybe next year. A must stop if you want a big breakfast that will let you skip lunch and keep you going on the slopes.

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2  Thank BobD974
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 17, 2013

Great little place, the owner was real cool and the help was great! Just got to say a few things I tried were a little salty for my taste. I would still go back though.

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Thank fake_usa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 11, 2013

super tiny locals joint, seting for twenty people max. so not necessarily the best if you are in a hurry, with a group, etc.
food is decent, typical greasy spoon kind of stuff. I got lunch, the reuben was good but not great. burgers not too good.
price is good, especially for a place as expensive as Vail, but know what you are going for.

Thank AdamK119
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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