Hearty food seems to be the norm when it comes to menus at ski resorts. It’s frickin’ cold out there, and you are burning some serious calories blazing down the slopes on your newly waxed skis or snowboard. So, something hot and filling (a carbo-load of sorts) usually fits the bill when you get hungry after hitting the slopes. North American ski resorts and ski areas, in general, offer a plethora of dining options, with everything from bomb-bomb burritos to fine après cuisine. Check out these popular winter spots that are known to have good food, not to mention lots of fresh powder.
1) Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia
The combined resort areas of Whistler and Blackcomb are soon to be overrun with people flocking to this western British Columbian resort community for the 2010 Winter Olympics–to take place next month. This skiing/snowboarding hotspot, not far from downtown Vancouver, is famous for its crazy vertical runs, but the area also is known for its good grub. Here you will find everything from contemporary Northwest to Greek to Chinese to fancy French fare, and every other cuisine in-between. Dining at Whistler happens in seven different areas, including Whistler Village, Blackcomb Mountain, Village North, and Creekside, to name a few. Check out Araxi and Bearfoot Bistro at the bustling Whistler Village. Each fall the area holds a food and wine festival, called Cornucopia, so it’s safe to say that foodies abound in this place.
2) Deer Valley, Utah
Deer Valley is a baby compared to many other ski resorts in the Mountain West region. Conceived during the 90’s, this burgeoning ski resort near Park City, Utah, has quickly become a popular spot for skiers of all ages. But snowboarding is not allowed on this mountain. Skiers can try their luck on the remnants of the 2002 Winter Olympics, on the alpine slalom and freestyle mogul runs. Food is hardly an afterthought at Deer Valley. This glitzy resort, known for its polished service, has many dining options, including the Seafood Buffet, Empire Canyon Grill and The Mariposa, a fine dining restaurant that specializes in multi-course and tasting menus, paired with an award-winning wine list.
3) Aspen, Colo.
Aspen is home to one of the most famous food and wine festivals in North America, which takes place each June. So, it only seems logical that the area should have a bevy of good restaurants to compliment such an event. Besides in the city of Aspen, many great establishments exist in this beautiful Rocky Mountain ski town, especially at the local ski resorts. Snowmass is the largest resort (skiers and snowboarders allowed) in the area. Snowmass Village is a great place to carbo-load after a serious day of ripping it up. Il Poggio has hearty pizzas and pasta; The Village Steakhouse boasts the largest salad bar in the area; The Artisan dishes up farmstead cheeses and pours wines from around the globe. Sage turns out regional fine cuisine with modern flair. As you can see, Aspen has no shortage of restaurants, and that’s only scratching the surface of what’s available in the area.
4) Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley has a fabled history. This central Idaho ski resort has long been a playground for the Hollywood elite and other famous types, like Ernest Hemingway. The European-inspired resort was built in the late 30’s, by rich railroad moguls–not to be confused with ski hill moguls. The main lodge is the epicenter of activity in terms of lodging and dining. And there’s even an outdoor skating rink. “Hey! Was that Dorothy Hamill skating by?” It probably was. While Sun Valley is a relatively small resort, compared to the larger ones in Utah and Colorado, it has all the posh amenities you would ever need after a long day of hitting the slopes. Hungry skiers and boarders can dine at Bald Mountain Pizza, The Ram Restaurant (in the Sun Valley Inn), Gretchen’s, and the Lodge Dining Room, an opulent restaurant with contemporary French cuisine and an extensive wine list. The nearby towns of Ketchum and Hailey also have lots of great restaurants.
5) Mt. Bachelor, Ore.
Mt. Bachelor has a good reputation for its killer powder and long runs, but this central Oregon ski area hasn’t always had a reputation for serving good food. All this has changed in recent years, though, with many dining upgrades recently added to Mt. Bachelor’s food-service programs. Skiers and snowboarders flock to the Rock Bar at the West Village Lodge for upscale pub grub, like spicy chicken wings, crab Rangoon dip and assorted hot sandwiches. Scapolo’s at Pine Marten serves hearty Americanized Italian fare such as brick-oven pizzas, entrée salads, and lasagna. Just down the road, skiers can find lodging and dining at Seventh Mountain Resort (aka, Inn of the Seventh Mountain). This stylish mountaintop resort offers several dining options, including Rimrock Bar, Big Eddy’s (diner fare) and Seasons, a posh restaurant that serves contemporary Northwest cuisine. Diners can also find excellent food in nearby Bend, at the Deschutes Brewery (the home of Black Butte Porter) and The Blacksmith Restaurant.
6) Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
Mammoth Mountain Ski Area doesn’t have a profusion of dining establishments like at so many other ski mountains in the West. But this central California ski area, nestled in the snowy Sierras, has a bona fide French chef running the show. Chef de cuisine Frederic Pierrel puts out incredible Cali-French cuisine at the Lakefront Restaurant at Tamarack Lodge. The stylish dining room boasts panoramic views of Twin Lakes, making it a great place to dine after skiing. Order a bottle of Bordeaux and work your way through the contemporary French menu. Expect to find classic Burgundy-style escargots, elk medallions in juniper-blueberry sauce and perfectly seared scallops in a pan-Asian manner. Mammoth also offers Parallax Snowcat Dinners, where diners are treated to a tasting menu (Champagne included) at 9,600 feet.
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