Park City, Utah, is just a 40-minute drive into the mountains from Salt Lake City International Airport. If you’re not staying in Salt Lake, Park City is home to three sublime ski areas: Park City Mountain Resort, which can be reached via a convenient downtown chair lift, as well as Canyons and upscale Deer Valley. In addition to fabulous opportunities for outdoor winter fun in the mountains (not only skiing, but also dogsledding, snowshoeing, and tubing), Park City offers a multitude of excellent dining options.
The restaurant scene is especially fierce along Main Street in Park City’s historic downtown area. During my recent stay at the sophisticated, intimate Washington School House Hotel, a block from Main Street, I ate and drank my way through a handful of nearby eateries and upbeat bars. Here’s a rundown of where I recommend visitors break for a meal or celebrate a successful stint on the slopes with a cocktail.
High West Distillery & Saloon
When High West Distillery & Saloon opened in 2009, it was Utah’s first new distillery since the 1870s. Even cooler, since it’s located at the bottom of Park City Mountain Resort’s Quittin’ Time trail, High West is the world’s only ski-in distillery. Tours of the working distillery take place three times daily; reservations are recommended. Or, plan on a meal at High West, where you might be seated in a cozy house built in 1914 or a cavernous, barn-like room that was once a livery stable and then a gas station and garage. (The “garage’s” interesting mason-jar wall decor is pictured above.) Delicious comfort food here includes three-onion soup, cheese fondue, whiskey-braised short ribs, and chicken pot pie. Servers are well versed in which whiskey best matches each food item, and you can also sample small pours of High West spirits with a tasting flight.
The seasonal menu at Silver features American favorites with sophisticated flair: Wild boar pappardelle flavored with bourbon, lamb strip loin with mustard potatoes, and cobia and black rice. But it’s the sexy and sophisticated scene that’s most fun to experience. The second-floor bar area is especially lively when a weekend DJ starts spinning tunes for the small dance floor. Restaurant decor includes large chains hanging against a brick wall, shiny silver chairs, and a blue-lit wine-bottle display. In fact, the restaurant has a 3,000-bottle wine list, and the craft cocktails are fun. Try a whiskey-based Clean Shave or the gin-centric, honey-flavored Beehive Fizz. Of course you can opt for Bartender’s Roulette: pick your liquor base and whether you prefer sweet, sour, or bitter, then take your chances on a drink made just for you.
Opened by Robert Redford nearly two decades ago, Zoom is so named for a camera lens, honoring the Sundance Film Festival Redford founded in the 1980s. Celebrity photos from the annual Park City event adorn the walls of the historic building that formerly housed the 1886 Union Pacific train depot. A roaring fire, long copper bar, open kitchen, and rough-hewn floorboards set a casual, welcoming scene here. The lunch and dinner menus feature hearty items such as wild game chili, wood-grilled steak sandwich, seared Utah trout, and wild mushroom risotto. The rich truffle mac-and-cheese with herbed bread crumbs and bacon was some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Savory thin-crust pizzas at Vinto
Thin-crust, wood-fired pizza is the name of the game at Vinto, an Italian restaurant that has a modern, airy feel with its high ceilings, curved booths, and blonde-wood tables. I sampled three different types of pizza—margherita, sausage and caramelized onion, and vegan vegetable—and deemed them all excellent. Celiac sufferers will find nice options here, including gluten-free linguini that can be swapped in for any pasta option (I recommend the fettuccini with mushrooms, herbs, and diced artichoke hearts). Rounding out the menu are salads (including a hearty one with quinoa and butternut squash), plus flatbread sandwiches, Italian sodas, and housemade desserts, such as molten chocolate cake and ultra-flavorful gelato and sorbetto.
No Name Saloon & Grill
This laid-back joint serves lunch and dinner in a well-worn, rustic setting, but it’s known for its late-night scene. Indeed, when I popped in at 10 p.m. on a Friday during the height of ski season, it was packed with a young crowd. The decor at this locals’ bar is eclectic; when I visited, there were snowmobiles, surfboards, and outboard motors suspended from the ceiling. With a motto of “Helping people forget their names since 1903,” visitors go to No Name Saloon for drinks and a good time, not necessarily the bar food. (Though I’m told the buffalo burgers are among the best in town.)
The above list only skims the surface of the eating and drinking options in Park City. Further afield, Fireside Dining at Empire Canyon Lodge near Montage Deer Valley comes highly recommended by a friend who visits the area often. And the general manager at the Washington School House Hotel often sends guests up to the J&G Grill at The St. Regis Deer Valley for cocktails or dinner. Those two spots are on my list for my next visit to Park City!
What do you seek in a ski-town restaurant?