Utah—Best Restaurants in… Park City

Deer Valley Resort

Snow Business meets Show Business in Park City. Headquarters for the Sundance Film Festival each January, this one-time mining town is where gold-medal Olympians mingle with Golden Globe winners, and moguls (of the Hollywood kind) take off on moguls (of the snow-packed persuasion).

Peter Schroeder

Located just 35 miles east of Salt Lake City, Park City is home to two ski destinations: Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort. For the 2002 Winter Olympics, the areas hosted the alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping, bobsled, luge, and skeleton events. Today skiers and boarders can test their skills on the same champion runs.

The 19th-century miners first brought skiing to Utah, carving spruce logs and sharpening barrel staves to get through the snowy Wasatch to their claims.

Park City Mountain Resort / Peter Schroeder

Remnants of old trestles and mine shafts still poke out among the aspens and pines at Park City Mountain, which is part of Vail Resorts. The largest ski and snowboard area in the U.S., Park City offers 7,300 acres of terrain.

Peter Schroeder

Double-black-diamond hunters will want to bag the deep-powdered chutes off 9990 (“Ninety-Nine-Ninety”) while cruisers delight in blue boulevards like Sunrise and Prospector (Park City side) and Boa, Cloud Nine, and Doc’s (Canyons side).

At Deer Valley, the peak experience goes over-the-top luxurious. Ski valets help unload equipment from the car. Washrooms are trimmed in marble, and buffets at the on-mountain lodges include tidbits such as wild-boar pot pie. However, Deer Valley is more than a pretty place. Its four mountains also plunge into palpitating pitches, especially the chutes and glades of Empire Canyon.

Deer Valley Resort

Skiers who want to track Olympic gold can swoop down Champion (venue for freestyle moguls) and Know You Don’t (slalom). Notice we said “skiers”–the resort remains just one of four in the United States that does not permit snowboarders.

For more Olympics buzz, visit Utah Olympic Park, setting for the Nordic jumping and sliding sports in 2002. Want to hurtle down a bobsled track at 70 mph? For $195, you can ride the actual Olympic course with a professional driver.

Peter Schroeder

Chic restaurants cater to both cliff-hucking Olympians and A-list celebs.

Chimayo With a culinary outlook sweeping from Mexico’s tropics to America’s Southwest, Chimayo scintillates with vibrant flavors and ingredients. Suggesting an elegant hacienda, the dining room is accented by wrought iron, red tile floors and colorful textiles. Chimayo is part of Bill White Enterprises, which operates several restaurants in Park City.

Latin America favorites take on tasty twists, with starters like chile relleños stuffed with mozzarella and goat cheese, or an elk skewer with chipotle crema and avocado salsa.

Chimayo / Peter Schroeder

My go-to entrée is the duck enchilada, a medley of tortilla-swathed honey-roasted fowl plus a confit leg attaining verticality over white-bean relish, grilled onion and peppers. The buffalo flank steak spices things up with chile-spiked scalloped potatoes.

Expand your margarita horizons with versions mixed with serrano chiles, pomegranate juice, or ruby grapefruit.

Shabu Chefs love to ski and skiers love sushi, which sets up bluebird conditions for this Asian-fusion hotspot. The restaurant is co-owned by two brothers: Chef Bob Valaika, who trained under superstar Nobu Matsuhisa; and Kevin Valaika, who runs front of house. The duo provide a creative collage of stylistic familiars (a sushi bar, restrained natural-wood aesthetics) with inspired improvisations (sake martinis).

The menu lives up to its moniker of “freestyle Asian cuisine,” melding global influences. Yellowtail sashimi gets zing from jalapeño and cilantro, while sizzling scallops cavort with sweet chili/plum huckleberry sauce. For DIY types, opt for the hot-rock cooking, searing plump morsels of Wagyu beef on a fiery chunk of local granite. Another don’t miss: Firecracker Shrimp, tempura-coated and served with spicy aioli.

Grappa The restaurant name honors the brandy made from grape pomace in Northern Italy, near ski areas such as Cortina d’Ampezzo and Courmayeur. Set in a 100-year-old building (at various times, it housed a brothel, bed and breakfast, and a bar), the restaurant serves regional Italian food, spanning from the Alps to the tip of the boot.

With dining areas set on three stories, Grappa feels intimate and insider-ly, a feeling enhanced by the impeccable service. As an appetizer, fried calamari is a perennial favorite, with duo dipping sauces of marinara and lemon aioli. On snowy days, warm yourself up with wild-mushroom soup accented by truffle oil.

Pasta aficionados crave the bolognese bianca (white Bolognese sauce), a savory mound of tagliatelle, roasted mushrooms, beef, and rich lamb and pork ragù. For pescatarians, specialties include roasted branzino (sea bass) with romesco sauce.

Credit: Riverhorse

Riverhorse on Main Set in a 1908 building (the onetime Mason Hall), Riverhorse brings a downtown vibe to the mountains with its metal columns, tall windows, and arcing skylight. The sophisticated feel is upped by a power-hitter wine list that globetrots from Napa to New Zealand, Burgundy to Lebanon, with good selections of half-bottles, magnums, and wines-by-the-glass to boot.

“I cook simple foods in ways that taste good and look good. It’s what I would want to eat,” said Seth Adams, the executive chef and co-owner, in a recent interview.

Some dishes on the “eclectic American” menu have been stalwart classics for years, such as the macadamia-nut-crusted Alaskan halibut and the trio of wild game, a round-up of buffalo, venison, and elk. Adams exercises creativity with his seasonal specialties, which might include sweet pea and ricotta pierogis, or buffalo short ribs with mushroom pappardelle pasta and gremolata.

350 Main Lots of comfort, lots of class—that describes 350 Main, which strives to highlight ingredients grown or made in the Wasatch Mountains.

The menu takes contemporary American cuisine beyond the cliché. Appetizers include a mountain-favorite raclette spiked with locally distilled Alpine Ange Vert liqueur as well as antelope carpaccio seasoned with North African spices.

Main courses reflect similar inventiveness, such as herb-rubbed rare tuna with lavender-saffron vinaigrette and corn and red-chile gnocchi with wild boar confit. Of course, you can keep life uncomplicated with a perfectly grilled New York strip or crispy fried chicken.

The thoughtful wine list includes hundreds of selections. 350 Main also deserves a shout-out for their children’s menu, which includes mac ‘n’ cheese as well as (this being Park City) Wagyu top sirloin medallions.

Goldener Hirsch Inn Blink and you’ll think you’ve been transported to the Alps at Goldener Hirsch, a luxe alpine lair where the antique hearth, painted ceilings and carved wooden chairs hark back to Old World Europe. Tucked slopeside at Deer Valley, the restaurant is part of the recently renovated and expanded namesake boutique hotel. The property is managed by the gilt-edged Auberge Resorts Collection.

The menu puts a Rocky Mountain spin on alpine specialties. Local Utah lamb shares its rosy glow with lingonberries. Crispy-juicy chicken schnitzel and wiener schnitzel come with herb spaetzle. There’s always a nightly fish, which might be salmon served with quinoa and ratatouille.

Perched alongside the pistes, Goldener Hirsch makes a cushy lunchtime retreat. Keep things classic with raclette-bacon burger or the four-cheese fondue (components include Appenzeller, Emmentaler, Vacherin, and Gruyère, with a de rigueur shot of Kirsch).

 

Credit: Courchevel Bistro

Courchevel Bistro Named for Park City’s sister city in France’s Les 3 Vallées, this restaurant matches its counterpart in both chic and mystique. Set in an historic building on Main Street, Courchevel is an outgrowth of Talisker Club, a private club community in Park City. The restaurant is open to everyone, not just club members.

Both the décor and the menu follow through on the restaurant’s French connections. Brick walls, a pressed-tin ceiling, tall windows, and gleaming wooden floors convey a modern, yet cozy bistro feel.

Francophiles will delight in classic dishes: from onion soup, trout rillettes, and moules frites among the appetizers to entrées like steak frites, short-rib beef parmentier, and roast duck with potato gratin dauphinois.

“Courchevel Bistro’s dishes are those that I grew up with and enjoy eating in my hometown in the French Alps, says executive chef Clement Gelas.

Firewood Fire—the most ancient and elemental of cooking methods—ignites elegant, innovative cuisine at Firewood. Everything on the menu—from starters to desserts—takes its turn over the glowing embers of a wood fire.

Chef/owner John Murcko got his inspiration from his mode of cooking at a remote family cabin in southern Utah. Thanks to the open kitchen and 14-foot-long wood stove, diners can observe the full repertoire of techniques that mobilize baskets, cast-iron pans, Dutch ovens, and more.

The menu emphasizes the Mountain West. Appetizers might include crispy pork belly with blue-cheese mousse or trout toast accented by maple bacon. In winter, popular main courses feature local lamb loin in an herb crust; and elk tenderloin with a juniper-coffee rub. Inventive desserts might proffer mini doughnuts (made from wood-smoked sweet potato) dipped in butterscotch sauce.

The turn-of-the-19th-century industrial design incorporates warm touches such as leather chairs, reclaimed hardwood, and blacksmith-forged lighting. Check out the Nickel Bar downstairs, inlaid with hundreds of coins. If you can find the Indian-head nickel, you’ll win a round of drinks.

Twisted Fern Clean lines, light wood furnishings, and exposed ductwork create an airy Scandinavian-ish feel at Twisted Fern. This off-the-beaten path is a local favorite, serving high-flying food at more down-to-earth prices than most top Park City restaurants. Entrées run $17 (burger) to $38 (elk loin)… not cheap but not a big-spender splashdown like most dining spots around town.

Happy regulars like the fresh and varied menu that satisfies eaters of all persuasions, with dishes helpfully marked out as V (vegetarian), PB (plant based), and GF (gluten free)… That burger also comes in vegan-friendly black-bean lentil version. Flavors from chef/owner Adam Ross are lively and he makes practically all his dishes from scratch.

Among the appetizers, braised carrot with lamb comes with cumin-mint yogurt while blackened octopus gets oomph with a charred Anaheim pepper mignonette. The main-course “double wide” pork chop lives up to its hefty moniker, aided and abetted by blueberry bacon jam, while the seared trout teams up with citrus-poblano slaw.

MORE TIPS

Utah Liquor Laws “We don’t have weird liquor laws in Utah,” my local friends say in a snit. Oh really?

Peter Schroeder

There still remain kinks in getting a drink in Utah, where 60% of residents (and 86% of state legislators) belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), a faith that abstains from alcohol. Here are current quirks.

  • You can’t find beer stronger than 5% ABV on tap in any Utah bar—but higher strength brews can be offered by the bottle.
  • The legal maximum pour is a metered 1.5 ounces—but a mixed drink can hold 1.5 ounces primary liquor PLUS additional extra full ounce of “flavoring”—which can be high-octane brews like gin, bourbon, or tequila. This mix ’n’ mingle loophole makes cocktail culture HUGE in Utah.
  • Some restaurants can serve drinks only to people who order food.
  • Yes, they even card old people. Carry your ID in case the manager won’t give you a pass.
  • Minors (under 21) must be seated 10 feet from the bar area—a zone quippily called “the Zion moat.”
  • The most important thing to know: Utah has the strictest DUI law in the nation, limiting blood alcohol level to .05%. A 200-pound man can surpass that limit with two drinks, and a 140-pound woman with just one. If you’re imbibing, best get home with a ride-share service or use the absolutely awesome—and free—Park City Transit system. You’ll reduce emissions and roadway congestion, and save a lot of hassle.

“The Bar-muda Triangle” Main Street between 4th and 5th streets has earned this nickname because of its plentitude of pubs and clubs. Always packed to the rafters, the No Name Saloon has an eclectic decor that includes a baby carriage and a carousel horse. A favorite with locals, O’Shucks conveys the proper dive bar vibe, complete with brews on tap and peanut shells on the floor. The Spur features live music every night, with genres ranging from rock and country to Celtic and bluegrass.

High West The world’s first and only ski-in gastro-distillery, High West Saloon sits next to the Town Lift at Park City Mountain Resort. Set around a 100-year-old livery stable, the Saloon offers pub grub (from smoked and jerked chicken wings to fish ‘n’ chips, tacos, and prime rib) carefully curated to pair with their aged whiskeys. “I liked whiskey all my life and a light bulb went on in my head,” says David Perkins, High West’s proprietor and distiller, who founded the brand in 2006. A former biochemist, he learned his craft from master distillers in Kentucky and Scotland.

— Risa Wyatt