8 Iconic Winter Dinners Along the Wasatch
Winter in Utah is a magical season, and while the holiday season gets all the attention, the final months of winter are ideal in my mind. Milder temps, more sunlight, and still plenty of snowstorms, there are no shortage of things to do. Or eat for that matter. Whether you’re a city dweller or avid skier, these eight restaurants offer, memorable winter dining that’s worth experiencing before the season ends.
So, don your favorite ski sweater—the one you wore it all day on the slopes is perfect—or anything cozy for that matter. Each restaurant can be defined as alpine casual, and they are great places to refuel after burning calories skiing, snowshoeing, or whatever your favorite outdoor pursuit may be.
1. The Yurt at Solitude
Food ALWAYS tastes better when you work for it. Case in point, that Peanut Butter & Jelly at the top of a long hike versus that same sando in your kitchen. It’s not even comparable. But fear not, the “work” at Solitude’s famed Yurt is a short 15-minute guided snowshoe from the bucolic village to a cozy yurt. Just enough to work up an appetite!
The most difficult part of this experience might be snagging a reservation—make them far in advance—or reserve the entire space for a group outing. Limited to two communal tables that seat about a dozen people at each, the Yurt is an experience in all sense of the word. Chef Craig Gerome prepares a five-course meal in front of your hungry eyes while the guides keep your wine glass full.
The menu changes daily but highlights local products when possible. Earlier this winter Gerome’s menu covered an incredible range, starting with a celery root bisque and a roasted beet and burrata salad. The two “main” courses were a poached and seared halibut, and an herb-roasted wagyu beef with potato purée, foraged mushrooms, and glazed romanesco. A mountain berry galette ended the evening before a much needed refreshing walk back to the winter wonderland of Solitude Village.
2. Fireside Dining at Deer Valley
Imagine this: four stone fireplaces, each flaming a different part of the adventure…er meal. The main dining area features raclette, a traditional Swiss delicacy made using the heat from the fireplace to melt cheese off a wheel and onto a plate. It can accompany anything from potatoes to charcuterie or fresh-baked bread. It’s heaven; I usually have at least three servings. Two additional fireplaces are tucked away in separate rooms, offering a sense of discovery for eager diners. Leg of lamb delicately roasts over an open flame in one while stews simmer alongside rotating alpine favorites such as elk, short rib, or osso bucco at another fireplace. I did notice a salad once upon a time as well—if that’s your thing.
Save room for dessert; there’s also a fondue fireplace. My wife chooses to start her evening with these chocolate and caramel desserts, which can also include pies and pudding. Once you are satisfied, horse-drawn carriage rides under a winter sky of stars or snowflakes await outside. A magical finish to an indulgent evening.
3. Firewood on Park City Main Street
Let’s keep with the flame theme here. While Fireside is a relative newcomer to the Park City dining scene, Chef John Murcko is not, having spent over two decades opening restaurants in Sun Valley and Park City. Whether you are coming off the slopes or spent the day window shopping on Main Street, Firewood is an ideal way to spend a Park City evening.
Reclaimed bricks and timber bring the alpine feel to life, along with the sight of an open flame through a wall of windows peering into the kitchen. Cooking over a custom-made grill—one of only four of its kind—Murcko rotates fresh, local ingredients to create a “multi-sensory culinary experience” for a menu that changes nightly. The menu included wild game, such as elk, as well as more familiar cuts such as lamb chops and New York Strip, plus several seafood options the night we dined there.
4. Bambara in Downtown Salt Lake
Downtown Salt Lake City bustles with activity on winter nights. The streets glow from lit trees, theater-goers arrive in droves for shows at Capitol Theater and Eccles Theatre, and fans pour out of the arena after a Jazz game. Hey, we can’t ski and board all day and all night, too. Right? There’s no better place to take it all in than from the warm confines of Bambara, located on Main Street at the Hotel Monaco.
The Monaco is probably the most popular downtown hotel for skiers, and the lobby resembles a ski lodge more often than not with boot bags and ski bags being loaded and unloaded at rush hour. If you need a hearty snack after a powder day, pop in and order the bleu cheese potato chips—they’re an absolute classic.
5. Log Haven in Millcreek Canyon
I used to take my black lab for runs up Millcreek Canyon. I would don cross-country skis and he would run circles around me for miles on end up the snow-packed road. Tucked into the trees a few miles up the canyon is Log Haven, and I would often return later those same evenings for a cozy meal that always reminded me of a New England cabin.
Years later, after no longer having a four-legged member of the family, Log Haven fell off my radar. Shame on me. There are few better places to enjoy a quiet dinner in the mountains than here. Chef Dave Jones has been at the helm of the kitchen since Log Haven opened in the ‘90s, serving a menu in tune with the scenic surroundings. The structure traces its history back nearly a century, and it’s worth a Google to uncover its fascinating past.
After an evening snowshoe or cross-country ski up the canyon, the grilled bison and elk striploin hit the spot. Conversely, Chef Jones offers a three-course dinner that comes in under 700 calories and just $43.
6. The Aerie at Snowbird
Snowbird’s flagship restaurant atop the Cliff Lodge has changed by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Gone are the sushi and oriental rugs, replaced by modern-American fare, one of the state’s most extensive wine lists, and a chic setting. The 10th-floor views of Snowbird steeps, thankfully, remain the same.
The Aerie feels like a buzzing city restaurant buzzing, it just happens to be inhabited by smiling goggle-tanned faces in Laprès ski outfits. The menu is perfect after a day on the slopes: lobster mac and cheese, elk meatloaf, hearty burgers, as well as steaks, chops, and seafood entrees.
Mark your calendar for one of several wine or whiskey-paired dinners, or try to time a big snowstorm and potential road closure. I can’t think of a better way to spend 24 hours than with a dinner at The Aerie, a night at the Cliff, and first Tram when the road is still closed on a powder day.
7. High West Distillery in Park City
The country’s first (and only) ski-in/ski-out distillery is located steps from the Town Lift in Park City and features stellar cocktails and one of the best charcuterie boards around. Point your boards down the Home Run ski run and grab lunch or an après ski cocktail hot toddy to warm up on a cold day.
8. Grappa in Park City
Does anything smell better than marinara sauce on a winter evening? Of course not; and Grappa smells, looks, and feels like you are in the Italian Alps. Bill White’s flagship Italian restaurant blends an alpine villa feel with hearty Italian dishes and a warm interior that’s a cozy place for a big, hearty meal.