Savory Slopes: Where to Eat Near Top Ski Slopes

Eat well on and off the slopes at these top American ski mountains.

Photo By: Vail Resorts

Photo By: Deer Valley Resort

Photo By: Sunday River Resort

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The Skiers' Guide to Fueling Up

Skiing is a favorite winter pastime, but for many snow bunnies, the apres-ski dining is as important as the run itself. Whether you’re looking for frothy hot chocolate, cheesy fondue, over-the-top s’mores or savory apres-ski snacks, here are the best places to refuel on and off major ski mountains in the United States.

Deer Valley (Utah)

On the mountain: Consistently ranked among the best restaurants in Utah, Mariposa serves tasting portions ideal for diners eager to try as many dishes as possible. Choices include pan-roasted scallops, fried green tomatoes and other savory dishes. Gluten-free diners and vegetarians will also be well taken care of in the relaxed ski-lodge setting.

Off the mountain: Deer Valley Grocery Café has plenty of grab-and-go items but also the perfect pre-ski breakfast menu for pretty much any diner. Wake up to breakfast panini with Niman Ranch sausage, scrambled eggs and Cabot white cheddar or avocado, and beet toast with beet hummus, avocado and goat cheese. Lunch and dinner, with their assorted housemade desserts and hot sipping chocolate, lure crowds.

Sunday River (Maine)

On the mountain: Chef Harding Lee Smith, a leader in the Portland  food scene, is known for his various "Room" restaurants. The latest, The Mountain Room, is located mid-mountain on Sunday River. Open currently only for appetizers, salads, sandwiches and drinks (a phase-two project next year will open the full restaurant), the restaurant serves toasts such as whipped ricotta with Maine sea salt, and the Pork of All Sorts sandwich, filled with n’duja, bacon and pork belly and topped with ricotta and quince.

Off the mountain: Roaming around the base of the mountain and throughout the town is food truck Maine-ly Meatballs, a favorite skier pit stop for handcrafted meatballs in Asian-, Swedish- and American-inspired flavors. Other creative selections include Maine lobster balls with lemon cream sauce, and cheeseburger balls.

Vail (Colorado)

On the mountain: Ski into lunch at the mid-mountain restaurant The 10th and trade your skis for slippers before a meal of elk chili with whipped goat cheese and black-eyed peas, or pot pie studded with chunks of chicken, pheasant and winter vegetables. The dining room has a mesmerizing backdrop of the Gore Range, home to some of the more challenging ski trails.

Off the mountain: Expect there to be a little wait at The Little Diner, where the dining space is as petite as the name suggests (it’s also the owners’ last name). The 20-seat horseshoe counter puts diners in the center of the action as chefs whip up grits, scrambled eggs and German pancakes inspired by Grandma Dot. A perfect place to fuel up pre-ski, the diner makes nearly all of the ingredients for its family-sourced recipes in-house, including the bacon.

Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows (California)

On the mountain: The Chalet is the perfect mid-ski break at this Lake Tahoe resort, offering a Bavarian beer garden with a view. Order panini or raclette. Those planning not to ski away should opt for a Bierstiefln — a plastic boot brimming with beer.

Off the mountain: PlumpJack at the Squaw Valley Inn, a sibling of the famous Napa winery, is a favorite for its twists on familiar flavors at both lunch and dinner. Popular choices include the seafood poke cones – wonton cones brimming with raw seafood, seaweed, chiles, ponzu sauce and macadamia nuts — and Buffalo chicken soup with Point Reyes blue cheese.

Sun Valley (Idaho)

On the mountain: An iconic part of Sun Valley since 1939, The Roundhouse on Baldy Mountain is ideal for those who ski or ride a gondola in. Start the meal plunging crusty bread or crisp apple slices into savory cheese fondue by the fire. From there the meal can go casual — with sandwiches like a salmon Reuben — or toward a more sophisticated prix-fixe option. Those who’ve chosen the gondola should wind down over warm cocktails before heading back down to reality.

Off the mountain: For pastries and apres-ski bites, the Alpine-inspired Konditorei – which means “cake shop” in German — is the place to go. Much of the menu reflects the Austrian influence found throughout Sun Valley, including pork schnitzel, goulash spatzle and bratwurst. Cozy up by the fire with Old-World hot chocolate, fair-trade coffee and plenty of sweet snacks.

Breckenridge (Colorado)

On the mountain: For apres-ski fun right on the mountain, T-Bar specializes in fried appetizers and the best beers to pair with them. Gather a group for pretzel bites and tortilla chips with bacon jam and charred poblano queso or beer-poached game sausages with housemade IPA mustard sauce and pickled vegetables.

Off the mountain: Head to Breckenridge Brewery and Pub for brews with a view of Breckenridge and the vast Tenmile Range around it. Beers are made on-site, so the best and most-enlightening seat is at the bar, where the brewmasters chat about their tequila-barrel-aged beers or their on-trend pumpkin spice latte beer. For food, build your own elk burger or get messy with the St. Louis-style pork ribs glazed in the house Avalanche Ale and barbecue sauce.

Telluride (Colorado)

On the mountain: For dinner at soaring heights, Alpino Vino is the place to be. At 11,996 feet in elevation, it is the highest-elevation fine-dining restaurant in the country. Reward yourself for the trek up the mountain with overflowing antipasto platters and rich tomato-gorgonzola soup served to diners perched on furniture made from reclaimed wine barrels. On pretty days, head out to the multilevel deck, which is perfect for soaking up the mountain views.

Off the mountain: Savor a sleigh ride? Book dinner at Telluride Sleighs. The sleigh-centric dinner experience offers family-friendly and adult-only options. The evening starts with a visit to a sprawling ranch, where diners hop aboard an open sleigh for the ride to dinner at an authentic sheep camp. The meal is served under a heated tent. Adults start with cocktails and tapas, and both dinner menus are Spanish-inspired, with entrees like Basque lamb stew and stuffed acorn squash with shareable sides of crispy Brussels sprouts and fried potatoes. The meal ends with a sleigh ride back to the ranch.

Beaver Creek (Colorado)

On the mountain: An open sleigh ride is the way to get to this log cabin atop the mountains with panoramic views of Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl (or you can ski or snowmobile, if you prefer). Beano’s Cabin warms visitors with an open fire, slippers and hot chocolate, along with wafting smells of venison and Berkshire pork as they roast over an open fire. The prix-fixe menu includes dishes like black truffle and potato ravioli alongside Colorado lamb with chimichurri.

Off the mountain: What started as a counter pizza joint became a full-service spot, perfect for skiing families or friends who want to indulge in some post-ski pie. Blue Moose Pizza isn’t doing anything monumental; it dishes out quality New York-style pizza, with its own secret recipe for the perfect crust. The toppings include classic pepperoni as well as chicken, bacon, ranch and the cremini mushrooms, truffle oil and goat cheese that crown the Autumn Pizza.

Taos (New Mexico)

On the mountain: The Bavarian Lodge is both a traditional German restaurant and a tranquil, slopeside hotel. The menu is full of Bavarian classics like wiener schnitzel, spaetzle and sausage platters, all served in a chalet setting.

Off the mountain: Make your way into Santa Fe for the farm-to-table experience at Radish & Rye, which has a menu full of dishes made from ingredients sourced from local farmers and independent producers. The constantly changing menu could include fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and chile threads, or pan-seared salmon with garlic beurre blanc.

Mammoth (California)

On the mountain: Indoor and outdoor fireplaces, steins of beer aplenty and giant Bavarian-style pretzels help set the scene at the Yodler Restaurant, perfect for a European apres-ski experience. Kids are welcome at this mountainside chalet — spaetzle-style mac and cheese is a favorite among the youngsters.

Off the mountain: For skiers with a sweet tooth, Mimi’s Cookie Bar serves all-natural and organic desserts, with a focus on cookies. Traditional French macarons, super-thin caramel Florentine cookies and even dog biscuits are among the treats available at the shop. Mimi, an avid snowboarder and healthy eater herself, creates options for paleo, gluten-free and vegan cookie fans, too.

Keystone (Colorado)

On the mountain: Arrive by gondola to Der Fondue Chessel, a fondue-lover’s dream. The cozy restaurant serves a traditional Alps-inspired fondue meal, starting with a choice of cheese fondues that can be enhanced with add-ons like white truffle oil with wild mushroom duxelle or basil pesto with cognac gastrique and fresh basil. The second course is a tableside Caesar salad followed by raclette, where diners cook their choice of protein in scorching oil. Since a fondue experience wouldn’t be complete without chocolate fondue, Der Fondue Chessel serves six varieties, including flaming turtle with caramel, almonds and whipped cream, flamed tableside with a shot of rum.

Off the mountain: What was once a 1930s working ranch and homestead is now Keystone Ranch, a restaurant known for its steaks and local delicacies like pumpkin croquettes with Colorado chevre, and bison tartare.

Mt. Alyeska (Alaska)

On the mountain: A truly luxurious experience, Seven Glaciers at Alyeska Resort serves decadent dishes with local flair 2,300 feet above sea level. A tram takes diners up the mountain to a dining room with views of the nearby glacier and ocean. The menu includes locally sourced seafood for dishes like Alaska paella, full of Alaskan shellfish, seasonal fish and local pork. The signature dessert is the Baked Alyeska, Seven Glaciers’ version of the famous meringue dessert Baked Alaska.

Off the mountain: After a hard day of skiing, you’ll be glad to know that Sitzmark Bar and Grill awaits with beer, typical bar fare and live music. The real wow is in the ceiling: This place’s “Sitzstine chapel” is a modern take on Michelangelo’s creation, with eight ceiling panels that follow a ski theme full of blacklit paint and interpretations of the Northern Lights and local skiers.

Heavenly (California)

On the mountain: For a midday mountain break at this South Lake Tahoe resort, Booyah’s Exotic Burgers and Brews offers eight different burger types — including Angus, elk and veggie — topped with 22 different condiments, 10 cheeses and 29 toppings on seven types of bread. The choose-your-own burger options are accompanied by 97 different beers — one for each ski run at Heavenly.

Off the mountain: Heavenly Donuts, a little doughnut shack at the bottom of the gondola in Heavenly Village, serves freshly fried mini doughnuts, the perfect snack for a stroll around the village or for the gondola ride up the mountain. An order presents six minis topped with sweet combinations, including marshmallow sauce with Oreos, and rainbow sprinkles with strawberry sauce. The outdoor stand also whips up its own candied nuts and giant colorful shaved ice cones.

Aspen (Colorado)

On the mountain: Its name may be Cloud 9, but this restaurant is 10,000 feet up, with picturesque views of the Maroon Bells, the most-photographed mountain peaks in the U.S. Inside, there’s a party-like atmosphere, where people dance on tables and buy champagne just to watch it spray. The scene is no reason to bypass the food, which takes a cue from the Alps with plenty of fondue and raclette.

Off the mountain: Ajax Tavern is the place to see and be seen, with great mountain views and the occasional celebrity sighting. Its truffle fries tossed with Parmigiano Reggiano have developed a cult following, as has the French onion soup, which is cooked for 48 hours to draw out the flavor before it’s topped with a crust of bubbling Gruyère and provolone. Head here for lunch, apres-ski refueling or snacking while people-watching.

Snowmass (Colorado)

On the mountain: To view Snowmass in all its glory, head up the mountain in a snowmobile to the rustic, Western-inspired 1900s log-cabin-turned-restaurant Lynn Britt Cabin. Live music keeps things festive as diners tuck into true Rocky Mountain fare, including Colorado trout, elk meatballs and bison meatloaf.

Off the mountain: Dog sledding and dining don’t usually go hand in hand, but at Krabloonik, the pairing just works. This backcountry log cabin, nestled among the Snowmass mountains, offers diners a front-row show of dogsleds going by (inspiring many to reserve their own pup-led ride). At the restaurant, signature dishes include a wild mushroom soup with creme fraiche and truffle oil, as well as Colorado-centric dishes including grilled Colorado lamb, wild boar scallopine and macadamia-crusted trout with beurre blanc.

White Mountains (New Hampshire)

On the mountain: The Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train is a moving dinner train that travels up the western part of the White Mountains, giving bird’s-eye views of the mountain terrain, the river and the woods. All of the food is cooked on the restored rail cars and served as a five-course meal with dishes that include prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with chorizo and mascarpone, and a vegetable Napoleon in which fresh vegetables are layered with cheese, farro and roasted vegetable sauce.

Off the mountain: For a true taste of New Hampshire, head to the White Mountain Cider Company, where ingredients come from the Granite State wherever possible, including fresh-pressed cider and doughnuts, and panini made with local North Country Smokehouse meats. In the main dining room, entrees include butternut squash ravioli with roasted shiitakes and apple cider soubise, and a sandwich stuffed with marinated braised short ribs, pickled daikon and sriracha aioli. Pair the food with a craft cocktail – many are made with the house cider.

Steamboat Springs (Colorado)

On the mountain: Head 9,716 feet above sea level to the bustling Four Points Lodge, where an expansive back patio is perfect for soaking in the mountain views while sipping a signature Wasabi Bloody Mary. To warm skiers up, Four Points serves a hearty turkey pot pie, salmon piccata and homemade soups.

Off the mountain: People may be drawn to Winona’s by the aroma of its massive, decadent, heavily frosted cinnamon rolls, but they stay for the homey feel and wide array of breakfast options. An overstuffed carnitas burrito and corned beef hash are ideal for filling up before a day on the slopes.

Jackson Hole (Wyoming)

On the mountain: On top of Rendezvous Peak sits warm and cozy Corbet’s Cabin, with creative waffles at an altitude of 10,450 feet. Grab a Gateway, with warm peanut butter and crispy bacon, or the tangy Englishman, with lemon glaze, powdered sugar and whipped cream, then sit on the outside deck and enjoy the views, or grab it to go for a snack on the scenic tram back down.

Off the mountain: There are plenty of places for exquisite meals in Jackson Hole, but to get a true feel for this Western town, stop at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. This knobby-pine ode to the Wild West is full of cowboy memorabilia, setting the scene for live country and western music and free Thursday dance lessons (specialties: the western swing and Texas two-step). Downstairs, the basement has been transformed into an upscale steakhouse with choices like bone-in buffalo rib eye, A5 Wagyu and Brussels sprouts with lamb pancetta vinaigrette.

Park City (Utah)

On the mountain: A true taste of Nordic culture, The Viking Yurt offers a four-hour dinner experience that begins with an open sleigh ride up 8,700 feet to the traditional yurt, an enclosed tentlike structure built to accommodate 40 people. Live piano music accompanies the meal, which starts with a hot cup of nonalcoholic Swedish glogg, spiced with cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon. The multicourse dinner includes soup, salad and short ribs with Jarlsberg mashed potatoes and lingonberry jus.

Off the mountain: For most people, “snow-day treat” means hot chocolate, and Murdock’s Café has seven fun selections to choose from, including the Sandlot, with graham cracker dust and toasted marshmallows, and Mogul Mint, made with peppermint hot cocoa, peppermint whipped cream and crushed peppermint.

Killington (Vermont)

On the mountain: It’s hard to replicate the experience at The Motor Room. The original drive terminal of Killington’s first four-passenger lift, The Motor Room is now a mini-bar with much of its equipment still in place. Vermont-proud cocktails and bites — including those made from Vermont artisan cheeses such as Grafton clothbound-cheddar fondue, and charcuterie — are served alongside cocktails in a small space with floor-to-ceiling windows showing off the breathtaking mountain views. A snowmobile shuttle provides the transportation through trails that aren’t often traveled by the average skier. Only 10 people are allowed per excursion, so it’s a very exclusive way to experience Killington.

Off the mountain: Assembled from pieces of 10 different barns across New England, The Wobbly Barn has been a Killington institution since 1963. Part steakhouse, part nightclub, the barn is known not only for its structural elements, but also for its soup and salad bar. Transportation is provided via shuttle to and from local resorts – making this a popular place for apres-ski relaxing well into the night.

Big Sky (Montana)

On the mountain: A burrito may not leap to mind as the obvious best choice of meal at 9,160 feet, but on the slopes in Montana, Black Kettle Burritos is a popular choice among hungry skiers looking to fuel up. The fillings of the small-batch burritos change at the chef’s whim (and also run out quickly); the tamales are a big hit as well. The entire experience is framed by a background of the surrounding mountain peaks.

Off the mountain: For a snack or a quick lunch off the mountain, head to Yeti Dogs, an atypical hot dog stand. Creative dogs include the Ono, with barbecue sauce, pineapple and bacon, and the Lifty, with the signature zingy mayonnaise-based Yeti sauce, plus shredded cheddar and bacon. Booze and the occasional DJ make this an even more fun place to hang and chill for a bit.

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