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What’s Cookin’ This Season

by Amanda Faison
skier, ski mom, lover of slopeside cuisine


SOMEWHERE IN COLORADO SKI COUNTRY USA – There’s so much more to skiing and riding than just swooshing down the slopes. It’s a lifestyle—the camaraderie in the parking lot and in the lift line, the hoots and hollers heard from the chair on a powder day, the well-earned beer at the end of the day. And, in the middle of all that fun, the need to refuel. For some, that might mean a pocket PB&J eaten between runs, but for many others, the hunt for good eats is just part of the adventure. We’re happy to report that, this winter, there are some big openings and a number of favorites to revisit while you’re out and about.

New & Notable
As of this season, Steamboat’s old gondola building has been replaced by The Range Food & Drink Hall. Constructed as part of the new base along with Skeeter’s Ice Rink, the airy space has gobs of indoor and outdoor seating and four food stalls—Pioneer Pie, Sunshine Bowl, Twister Tacos, and Why Not Sandwich Shop—effectively covering all the major food groups. (On a cold day, we highly recommend the crispy pork belly ramen from Sunshine Bowl.) There’s also a bar on each of the two levels, and the names of the eateries tie into some of Steamboat’s most beloved runs.

The season’s most exciting opening has to be The Aerie at Copper Mountain, which replaced Solitude Station at mid-mountain. Riding up American Eagle, you can’t miss the gorgeous, modern lodge crafted from polished wood and glass. The Aerie cleverly offers two distinct experiences: a food hall with five stalls (don’t miss the furikake fries from the ramen spot), a hot chocolate bar, and grab-and-go on the bottom level, and full-service restaurant up top. Chef Brian Duncan oversees Forage & Feast, which is wrapped in floor-to-ceiling windows showing off stunning, 270-degree views of the Gore and Ten Mile ranges. The menu is composed of large plates, shared plates, and salads, and sides. The French dip—called an Italian dip here because of the fantastic addition of house-pickled giardiniera—is sure to satisfy even the hungriest of guests. (You can eat at the bar or in the restaurant itself, in either case, sip on a Mountain Mist, the Aerie’s gussied-up version of a gin and tonic.) The restaurant also offers special-occasion dinners (called Forage & Feast Candlelight Dinners), where guests ride up American Eagle, enjoy a multi-course meal paired with wine and live music, and then depart by gondola under the stars.

Also new this season, Winter Park has launched four Outposts, each with a different menu, around the mountain. The idea is ski-specific food that’s easy to grab and perfect for refueling. Look for quesadillas at The Olympia Outpost (bottom of the Olympia lift), grilled cheeses at the Wild Spur Outpost (top of the new Wild Spur Express), cheese steaks at Mary Jane Outpost (near the Super Gauge lift at the base of Mary Jane), and taquitos at the Lunch Rock Outpost (outside the Lunch Rock day lodge). Take your pick, grab some napkins, and be on your way. Also, after crushing bumps on Saturdays, swoop into Mary Jane Café for après from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. Grab a beer and $4 tacos before either heading up for another couple of runs or calling it for the day. Savvy Skier tip: if you find après at the Sunspot a little too bustling, this kicked-back vibe might be just your style.

Trucks ’n Huts
There’s something inherently thrilling about sidling up to the window of a food truck or the counter of a food hut. The undercurrent is that good things await, and that’s certainly the case at these slopeside spots.

The Pow Pow Donuts truck at Winter Park’s base proves that the lure of a good donut extends well beyond the breakfast hour. Hop in line (better yet, order on your phone while riding up the chair) for a half bag or full bag of mini treats topped in a variety of ways. Plain, cinnamon sugar, and powdered sugar are classic, but you can up the ante by adding frosting, sprinkles, and even toppings like M&Ms, crushed Oreos, or Andes Mints. And what’s the other half of a perfect donut order? Coffee (or hot chocolate), of course!

As they say at Monarch Mountain, if your pocket is big enough, you can buy a burrito for later. If not, order at Flyby Burritos’ window, choose your vehicle (burrito or bowl), filling (steak to peppers and onions), salsa, and add-ons (guacamole, sour cream, etc.) and find a seat on the deck of the main lodge. If it’s been a particularly awesome day of shredding, celebrate with a shotski from Elmo’s Bar.

If it’s a bluebird day and you’re skiing Steamboat’s Sunshine Peak, be on the lookout for the Taco Beast idling outside of Rendezvous Lodge. This is no ordinary food truck; it’s a taco truck built onto the back of a snowcat. Choose from four kinds of tacos, but don’t miss the side of Mexican street corn, plus Mexican sodas and cerveza.

Across town at Howelsen Hill, those in the know clip in for Lunch Laps. Monday through Friday, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, the adorable and historic Outrun Snack Bar at the base offers the mid-day meal (any sandwich or hot dog, chips, fountain drink) for a mere $12.95. Snap a pic, post on social, and you might win extra swag.

The Sundance Chili Hut at the top of Winter Park’s Wild Spur lift is so beloved that we have a friend whose daughter once penned an ode to it for a school paper. The kiddo wrote that if she won the lottery she would buy it and extend the hours so it was open snow or shine. Just what instills such a deep-seated love? The hut itself is adorable, but the real draw is, of course, the cozy bowls of chili—white, beef, or veggie—topped with mountains of melted cheese.

We have to applaud GR Eats, the food truck at Granby Ranch (at the base of Quick Draw Express), for its small but mighty menu. There are tacos, yes, but there are also loaded brisket barbacoa fries with chipotle ranch; mac and cheese bites with smoked gouda and bacon; and crispy taquitos with Hatch chile. And leave room for dessert: just-baked chocolate-chip cookies, Bavarian cream-filled churros, and funnel cake.

Flyer’s, which sits at the top of Copper Mountain’s American Flyer lift has something of a cult following. Its selling point: elk cheddar-jalapeño brats and hot soups, all serviced by a small, stocked bar. There’s nothing fancy about it, but the ski-in, ski-out location and quick turnaround renders it a favorite.

Never enough nachos is a ski day mantra—and thanks to Thunderbird Taco Truck at Powderhorn, the craving is answered. Each standard order includes a mound of tortilla chips layered with queso, and you can add on from there. Choose from ground beef, chicken, pulled pork, or jackfruit, plus guac, sour cream, and salsa. For non-nacho eaters, there are also tacos (one order includes three), burritos, and quesadillas.

Bradley’s, which is housed in a refurbished shipping container at the base of Winter Park, is half truck and half hut. The spot dishes up all things chicken, including super crispy chicken tenders, chicken skewers, and a fried chicken sammy. There’s also a salad and a hummus and veggie wrap.