As one year turns into the next, the snow tends to pile up in the higher elevations. Yes, we’ve entered ski season, which means it’s time to dust off goggles, ready snowsuits, and hit the slopes. Chances are good that you’ll work up quite the appetite while playing around in the powder, so you might as well eat well.
This ski season, do it right. Embrace the après-ski culture, try out some of the best ski resorts in America and their nearby ski towns, and treat yourself to some of the amazing restaurants and eateries along the way. You’ll refuel with the best dishes available, whether it’s a seasonal cocktail, hearty dish, or some combination thereof.
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.
The first of the foodie towns on the list is 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. For some incredible vegetarian options (and an amazing rooftop bar, when the weather allows), head over to SCP in nearby Redmond.
Durango is a beautiful western town perhaps best known as the backdrop for much of the movie 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. If you’re there at the end of January, make sure to check out the Snowdown Celebration, a costume party that has been going on for over 40 years.
The home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, best known for the thrilling “Miracle on Ice,” where the USA hockey team beat the heavily favored Soviets, remains a quality ski bunny hangout over 40 years after the Olympics, and it ranks among the best ski towns on the East Coast. It’s also foodie-friendly, with places like Salt of the Earth Bistro 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 the early risers, check out Origin Coffee or the Big Mountain Deli and Creperie.
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, the Aspen Food and Wine Classic, as well as scores of fine dining establishments. Check out Poppycock’s for a stellar breakfast including the cafe’s legendary pancakes (you can even get a bag of pancake mix to recreate them at home), 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 Hole is a triple threat, an ideal spot for some incredible 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, a bar and entertainment venue featuring local and national acts, that has been around since 1937, check out the website to see who’s playing while you’re there. For the morning people, 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 match the awesome skiing and snowboarding. 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 head over to Orlando’s for traditional Mexican fare and a margarita to wash it all down. Spend some time in Taos, and you’ll see why we named it one of our hidden gems for skiing in North America.
Mammoth Lakes is the spot if you’re looking for snow in Southern California. The town is the home to Mammoth Mountain, which features the highest chairlift-serviced peak in 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 or hearty lunch at the aptly named Warming Hut. You can get your coffee fix at Black Velvet Coffee and the Mammoth Fun Shop has ice cream and rootbeer floats to enjoy while you’re shopping.
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 tablecloth 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-Carlton Hotel and dine luxuriously at Wyld. If you’re looking to check out a game while enjoying a beer and pizza, check out 7 Hermits Brewing Company (they’re even open for breakfast with a selection if crepes on the menu).
A small town of about 6,000 people, Hudson has an abundance of snow, a number of great ski areas close by, and some great eats. Check out Cafe Mutton for some filling house-made meats that will power you through your ski weekend. The place specializes in brunch along with things like pate, pork belly, sausages, and some Italian-inspired fare. Check out Kitty’s for great snacks to-go or some quality breakfast and don’t miss Lil’ Debs for some self-described tropical comfort food. Think soul-warming dishes like empanadas, yuca fritters, and braised goat shoulder. Hudson is only about 120 miles from New York City, so it’s a fairly easy weekend getaway.
Nestled in northern Vermont, Stowe is about as scenic as ski towns come. There’s a cool ski and snowboard museum here along with lots of great dining options. Check out Ranch Camp for the tastiest burritos in town (and great local beers and bike repair to boot), Harrison’s for cozy fare in the heart of Stowe Village, and Alpine Hall for great cocktails to wash down dishes like trout amandine, bucatini and meatballs, and coq au vin. For a fine dining experience, check out the Trapp Family Lodge. If the name sounds familiar, it should, it was founded by the Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame. In fact, Maria Von Trapp, who was played by Julie Andrews is buried in the family cemetery on the grounds of the lodge.
Like Lake Placid, Park City, Utah is another former Winter Olympic town (it hosted in 2002) with a great food scene. In fact, Travel Channel named it one of the best foodie ski towns in North America. It’s also the home of High West Distillery, the first legal distillery to open in Utah since 1870. Once you sample the whiskey at High West, go for a fine dining experience at Edge Steakhouse. If you’re in the mood for steak, but looking for a more casual spot, Grub Steak has an extensive menu, including traditional steaks as well as more exotic wild game cuts like bison tenderloin and elk sirloin.
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