With more skiing than any other American mountain town, Park City, Utah is home to two very different but one-of-a-kind destination ski resorts. Thankfully, the town has more than enough breakfast, lunch, après, and dinner options to satisfy all its hungry skiers.
Deer Valley, just outside the southern edge of downtown, is perhaps the nation’s chicest resort, famed for white glove customer service, lavish dining (even in cafeterias), impeccable grooming, and for being one of the world’s only mountains that voluntarily caps daily lift ticket sales to prevent crowds and lines. To the adoration of some and loathing of others, it is also one of only three resorts in the nation that still bans snowboarders.With three base areas, two in town – including right on Main Street – and one in pedestrianized Canyons Village just north of downtown, Park City mountain is the nation’s largest ski resort, with 7,300-acres of skiable terrain, 14 bowls, 300-plus trails, 38 lifts, and 17 on-mountain restaurants. With free buses and ski lifts at every turn, the historic Victorian mining town of Park City is one stop shopping for skiing and dining, with notable choices at the base of Deer Valley, in the Old West downtown, and out at Canyon Village.
Breakfast: Some 45 years old, the aptly named Eating Establishment on Main Street claims to be town’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. Very popular with locals, but easily accessed by visitors, it serves up traditional diner style fare: big plates of pancakes, waffles, eggs & meat & potatoes, all in a spacious, welcoming, atrium setting. Town’s most interesting choice is the offbeat Bridge Café & Grill, an all-day eatery (conveniently located right next to the Town Lift) with Brazilian theme that specializes in breakfast: offbeat specialties include the Brazuca Latin omelet and the Cristo Redentor, a French Toast take on a Monte Cristo. Near the base of Deer Valley, the overlooked insider pick is the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe, a grocery store with old school counter service in the back with great breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Canyon Village lacks a standout casual choice, but Powder in the Waldorf Astoria has a lavish daily skier’s buffet, along with off-the-menu specialties like chilaquiles, a delectable form of breakfast nachos.
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Lunch: The standout choice in town in the High West Distillery, which sits right on the snow at the edge of downtown in the shadow of the Town Lift and makes a very believable claim to be the world’s only ski-in/ski-out distillery. It is Utah’s first distillery licensed since the Prohibition Era and also a great choice for après and dinner, but gets very crowded for both, making lunch – or a late lunch into après – the power move. In any case, this is downtown’s must-eat spot. It serves an array of award-winning collectible whiskies made on site, as well as whiskey cocktails, but the food is great too, from addictive bar snacks like fried macaroni cheese bites and BBQ dusted house-fried kettle chips to house-cured charcuterie platters, local trout and braised short ribs. The High West burger is the best in town, a bison and beef blend with gruyere, bleu cheese, and fried shallots.
Over at Deer Valley the decadent daily lunch buffet at the 5-Star Stein Eriksen Lodge is such a rite of passage that many regulars come back as much for lunch as skiing – reservations are a must, this is wildly popular, and one of the most acclaimed meals in American skiing. The array changes but signatures include rich meaty game chili, a made-to-order omelet and waffle bar, cured meats, fish and cheese, sushi, several hot entrees, and a bakery’s worth of calorie-laden cookies, pies and cakes. Bloody Mary and wine flows and few make it back out on skis after lunch, but it is Deer Valley’s signature meal.
In Canyon Village, the new dairy-free Bistro Kosher Deli, in the Silverado Lodge, claims to be the country’s only truly kosher restaurant at a ski resort, and serves up a mean pastrami and rye, as well as open face turkey or roast beef sandwiches smothered in brown gravy, along with larger entrée options. You don’t have to be kosher to appreciate the antibiotic and hormone-free meats and 100% organic produce, but don’t try to eat here on Saturday.
Après Ski: Wasatch Brewery was Utah’s very first, and its original Main Street brewpub remains popular 31 years later. Wasatch accompanies its indignantly named beers – like Polygamy Porter – with upscale takes on pub favorites, like a buffalo burger topped with Utah’s famous Beehive cheddar, while sloppy joe and shepherd’s pie both feature naturally raised Niman Ranch beef. Wasatch works for lunch or dinner too, but is especially popular après.
In Canyon Village, the glass-enclosed Umbrella Bar sits smack in the middle of the main pedestrian village, and has an old-school ski bum feel, where you can watch the world go by while sipping from cans of everything from Budweiser to Utah craft beers by Moab, Park City and Uinta Brewing. They also have local beers on draught, a deck, and limited food menu, but this is more of a true post-skiing beer spot than place to eat.
There’s not much to talk about in the dated plaza-style third base area of the mega resort, a few blocks above Main Street, which used to anchor the independent Park City Mountain Resort. It’s mainly used as a drop off point for shuttles, the fastest way to get from town to the best skiing, but one notable exception is the Corner Store, the enduring local’s classic après dive bar with cheap drink specials, a large patio for sunny days, and live music or DJs.
The après scene at Deer Valley is more subdued, and skews towards champagne back at your villa, but one notable exception, especially for families, is Daly’s Pub in the luxury Montage Hotel. A unique family sports pub-cum-arcade, it lets adults be adults while kids enjoy table top shuffleboard, video games, arcade fun, and even a bowling alley. It’s best of both worlds, with surprisingly good upscale bar food, like flash fried shishito peppers, burrata, deviled eggs and pork confit “nachos.” There’s also a full children’s menu.
Dinner: While most ski towns have great local breakfast and lunch spots, Park City really shines at dinner with a host of fine dining options. Several Main Street spots offer reliably tasty fine dining, including River Horse on Main, Wahso, Chimayo, and Purple Sage, while over at Deer Valley, the Mariposa is the gourmet favorite. Any of these will more than satisfy your need for a nice fancy dinner, but there are some more distinctive local options to consider.
Every Thursday through Sunday night, Deer Valley converts one of its base lodges into the lavish “Seafood Buffet,” a legend in the ski world – you might see local resident and Olympic Champ Ted Ligety, a regular, here. This decadent array features seafood in every form, from sushi to poke, raw bar to shrimp to crab claws – Dungeness and King, along with creative options such as calamari in green curry sauce. Chefs will sear tuna to order or pan-glaze sea scallops in front of you. For variety there are plenty of non-aquatic choices such as hand-carved prime rib utilizing locally ranched beef, free-range duck breast, empanadas, baby back ribs, lamb chop “lollipops” and much more – including a mountain of dessert options.
Deer Valley prides itself on such experiential dinners and another is Fireside Dining, Wednesday to Saturday, where all courses are cooked in fireplaces or over open fire in a series of rooms, with raclette, fire roasted leg of lamb, and dessert fondues. Kids love the fiery fun, and the food is pretty good.
The Viking Yurt at 8700’ on the slopes of Park City mountain is truly unlike anything in skiing. The tent holds 40 guests for one nightly four hour, Norwegian style gourmet feast, complete with sled ride, live music and roaring fire – the King and Queen of Norway ate here during their visit.
For the most casual ski town dinner, do not miss the boisterous No Name Saloon, a Main Street institution whose colorful slogan is “Helping People Forget Their Names Since 1903.” There is a sea of random objects hanging from the ceiling, everything from Christmas lights and toy cars to full size motorcycles and snowmobiles, even an antique high wheel penny farthing bicycle. It’s divey with food served in plastic baskets, but the signature is excellent bison burgers – there is no beef here – in several distinct styles, all with “buffalo chips,” very good house made kettle-style potato chips. Like High West or Wasatch Brewery, you can also try No Name for lunch or après.
If there is one restaurant not to miss, it is also the best kept secret, a local’s gem – except it was on Guy Fieri’s TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The Silver Star Cafe sits in a small retail plaza serving a condo community at the base of Park City’s Silver Star lift and you wouldn’t stumble across it without seeking out – you should, because the food is great. It’s comfort mountain fare with culinary finesse, thought out flavor combinations, and top notch ingredients. The tender, meaty, rich and succulent slab bacon appetizer, a pretty standard steakhouse offering, is braised here for perfect consistency and uses heritage breed duroc pork. The exceptional fried chicken hails from Colorado’s all-natural Red Bird Farms and is soaked in buttermilk and coated in rice flour before frying – the restaurant has a separate fryer only for this dish. Desserts are fantastic and come in “mini size” so you can try them even when you don’t have room. Worth the very short trip!