Ski season is upon us, which means fresh powder, hot cocktails, and playing hooky from work. While it’s often easy to just throw some protein bars in your pack and call it lunch or dinner, there are better ways to eat near your favorite slopes. Ski towns have it all, from excellent craft beer to the kind of dining culture you might associate with a larger, lower-lying city.
The destinations with the best dining will make you truly unwind, extending your trip for maximum ski time, bookended by memorable meals. There’s an adventure in eating, as these dots on the map and their esteemed restaurants, bakeries, and bistros suggest.
Here are the best ski towns in America for all the foodies out there.
Set pristinely in the high desert of central Oregon just a short trek from Mt. Bachelor, Bend is a winter paradise. Diners have so many directions to go in this town of about 90,000, from the New Orleans-inspired cuisine of Zydeco Kitchen and the worldly street food of Spork to the excellent steaks at 900 Wall and the creative flair of Ariana. Morning people are wise to make Sparrow Bakery their first outing of the day for some caffeine and standout baked goods.
Durango is a beautiful western town perhaps best known as the backdrop for much of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. It’s also a wintertime gem, with three ski resorts within a 30-mile radius. Better still, there are great meals to be had, from great pies at Fired Up to the seafood and fresh game of Primus. If you’re feeling like something way out of the ordinary, check out the Tibetan cuisine at Himalayan Kitchen.
The home of the 1980 Winter Olympics remains a quality ski bunny hangout, among the best ski towns on the East Coast. It’s also foodie-friendly, with places like Salt of the Earth turning out hearty post-ski fare like stews and grilled pork chops. Also of note is the barbecue and general feel-good atmosphere of Smoke Signals as well as classic pastas at Eleanor’s.
For a town of just about 8,000, Aspen has a lot going for it culinarily speaking. It’s home to a great annual food festival as well as scores of fine dining establishments. Check out Poppycock’s for a stellar breakfast (including legendary pancakes), White House Tavern for a remarkable burger and cocktail, and Matsuhisa for world-class sushi and Japanese fare. If you want something more along the dive spectrum, pop over to Woody Creek Tavern for some simple fare and stiff drinks. It’s what the late Hunter S. Thompson often did.
Jackson is a triple threat, an ideal spot for local beer, amazing eats, and tremendous snow. Head over to Orsetto for Italian-inspired fare or Bin 22 for wine-centric small plates. If you want some quality Americana, visit The Million Dollar Cowboy, especially during happy hour. Persephone Bakery is a great start to the day, and has the James Beard recognition to prove it.
Yep, you can ski the rugged Rockies all the way as far south as New Mexico. Taos rests in the thick of it all, with quality cuisine to boot. The Love Apple is a must, housed in an old chapel and responsible for some fine regional dishes. Do as the locals do and fill up on a hearty breakfast burrito at Mantes Chow Cart. Later, on to Orlando’s for traditional Mexican fare and a Margarita to wash it all down.
Mammoth Lakes is the spot if you’re looking for snow in Southern California. It’s also home to a small but growing culinary scene. We like the contemporary alpine food at Skadi along with the satisfying American of The Stove, which has been humbly doing its thing for more than half a century. Get your Cuban fix at Dos Alas or an energizing breakfast at the aptly named Warming Hut.
Detecting a theme, are you? Colorado is perhaps the best state in the country to take in both great snow and great grub. Vail is in the mix, with everything from roll-your-sleeves-up barbecue to white table cloth experiences. Trek over to Moe’s Original for all of the meaty goodness or Swiss Chalet for the real fondue and schnitzel scene. Also, stop by the Ritz and dine luxuriously at Wyld.
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