As all avid skiers and snowboarders know, one of the most exciting parts of a long day on the mountain happens when riders shed their gear and head to town for relaxing, drinking and eating. While Europe is notorious for the après-ski scene, North America has many spots that match or even rival the most historic post-mountain ski spots.
View of Ajax Mountain from Ajax Restaurant | Image Courtesy of The Little Nell
Aspen’s premiere mountainside patio, Ajax Tavern, is perfect for a fast lunch before an afternoon on the hill or a post-ski snack session. The location next to the Silver Queen Gondola not only makes this establishment the perfect pit stop but also endows diners with a stunning view of Ajax’s jaggy mountains. It epitomizes casual fine dining by serving the town’s best truffle fries and double cheeseburger, as well as having an impressive wine and beer menu.
Bag and Kettle Restaurant | Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Having been in business for more than 40 years, Bag and Kettle has mastered traditional American bar food. Even though the establishment feels like an old English pub, it prides itself on noted hamburgers, cold beer and good wine. Located in the Sugarloaf ski area, Bag and Kettle serves a post-slope crowd that come for drinks, but stays for food. Try the grilled-to-perfection bag burger, or choose from its après-ski menu while relaxing after a long day of exercise.
While abundant skiing and cold weather may seem like a foreign concept to New Mexico, the small town of Taos Ski Valley is home to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Bavarian Lodge and Restaurant. This nationally acclaimed restaurant sits at the base of Taos Ski Valley, offering diners and lodgers sweeping views of a secluded mountain oasis. German specialties are served by traditionally dressed waiting staff – think lederhosen – making the Bavarian restaurant feel like a peaceful, international escape.
Situated at the base of Lionshead Village is Vail hotspot Garfinkel’s, a typical American restaurant that serves a range of classic bar food and a long list of cold beer. Its large patio, which overlooks the mountains, is popular in both the summer and winter with après-mountain crowds that wish to relax after activities. Stick around long enough to see a rowdy evening crowd abuse Garfinke’s infamous shot wheel.
Another cornerstone of North American après-ski is Le Chamois & The Loft Bar near Lake Tahoe in Squaw Valley, California. Founded in 1969, its wildly popular ‘buddy passes’ make drinking beer easy – $50 gets a group 20 pints of good, old-fashioned Budweiser. These drinking deals, combined with a variety of pizza and wings as well as retro ski décor and California sun, make leaving Le Chamois harder than getting up the next day to hit the slope.
Established in 1967, the Mangy Moose is one of North America’s most famed après-ski destinations. Sitting at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, this rustic establishment is known for spicy margaritas, a large selection of beer and live musical acts. Enjoy a cold brew, a slightly rowdy crowd and a beautiful mountain view as Mangy Moose caters to its post-slope crowd with a special menu and four floors of foods, drinks and merchandise.
In Whistler’s Upper Village, at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, sits Merlin’s Bar and Grill, a relaxed establishment known for sky-high nachos, live music and flowing beer. Local rockers The Hairfarmers can be found playing here most days of the week, imbuing Merlin’s with a small-town local vibe, which is further augmented through its laidback cabin aesthetic. Tourists and regulars continue to frequent this well-known Whistler restaurant due to friendly waiting staff, good food and a welcoming atmosphere.
The small town of Breckenridge has a slew of après-ski options. While popular lodges exist at the base of each peak on Breckenridge Mountain, many riders prefer to go into town after a day on the mountain. Stop by Mi Casa for a delicious margarita, endless chips and salsa and other Mexican favorites that are guaranteed to fill you up until dinner. Luckily, due to Mi Casa’s central, in-town location, travelling to other bars or restaurants in Breckenridge proves easy.
In the middle of Park City’s historic Main Street sits No Name Saloon, a rustic red-brick bar that offers juicy bison burgers, cold beers and an impressive whiskey menu. The games and revelry continue off the mountain as locals and tourists vie for a spot on the shuffleboard table or a seat in front of the fire. When the crowd thickens, pop out onto its outdoor upstairs patio for a quintessential Park City view.
Since opening in 1963, the Wobbly Barn has earned many accolades from locals and tourists who laude this establishment as a fine-dining restaurant with après-ski. Constructed from repurposed New England barns, the Wobbly Barn, located on the main Killington thoroughfare, is a steakhouse serving chops, seafood, soup, salad, and bread in addition to offering a lively nightclub and bar scene.