Lots of restaurants in Colorado boast inspired cuisine, international wine lists and impeccable service. But when you get it all above 10,000 feet in the midst of the magnificent Rocky Mountains, dining out just doesn’t get any better than this.
Whether you ski in for a sit-down lunch or ride a snowcat, gondola or horse-drawn sleigh up for a romantic dinner, you’ll find dining at these mountaintop eateries to be an unforgettable and unique experience and, yes, even an adventure. On-mountain restaurants feed you the most spectacular eye candy in the state. They are the ultimate treat for a holiday vacation or special occasion. Night time is the best time, when fires glow in the fireplace, candles flicker on the table and lights of the resort twinkle far below against a black sky. Plan to spend some bucks and be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Game Creek Restaurant at Vail
Mountain clubs are ski resorts’ answer to golf clubs. At Vail, Game Creek Club is such a place. But non-members can taste the good life—or shall we say the good food—at the club’s Game Creek Restaurant, for dinner at least. In the richly appointed main dining room with upholstered chairs, savor wild game and fresh seafood dishes served with award-winning wines. The restaurant is hidden in Game Creek Bowl. From Lionshead, ride the gondola to Eagle’s Nest from where you’ll be shuttled by snowcat to the glowing lights of the lodge. 970-754-4275; www.vail.com
Alpenglow Stube at Keystone
This gastronomic escapade begins with two gondola rides over the slopes of Keystone to The Outpost atop North Peak, the massive timber home of Alpenglow Stube at 11,444 feet. Inside North America’s highest fine dining restaurant, trade your boots for comfy slippers before entering the Swiss-style dining room. Under the eye of Executive Chef Skip McCarthy, award-winning chefs prepare exquisite (and expensive) seven-course prix fixe dinners. Or choose from the a la carte menu of the chefs’ favorite creations. Finish it off with cognac or port in front of a roaring fireplace. 970-496-4386; www.keystoneresort.com
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro at Aspen Highlands
In a gorgeous mid-mountain spot with a clear panorama of Aspen’s 14,000-foot Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Bells, this bistro is reminiscent of the old huts made into restaurants found in the Alps. This one used to be Highlands ski patrol headquarters. The cuisine is European alpine as well, with different daily lunch specialties. Thursday nights, ride the snowcat for an intimate gourmet meal. Watch the sun set over the Bells while sipping a signature hot drink; then indulge in a traditional Swiss Raclette and fondue meal in a Gemuetlichkeit ambiance. Top it off with a heavenly strudel before riding the snowcat back to the village. 970-923-8715; www.aspensnowmass.com
Allred’s at Telluride
The timber and stone building housing Allred’s perches on a cliff 1,800 feet above Telluride. To reach it, board the gondola, the historic town’s umbilical cord to chi-chi Mountain Village. As you rise upward on your ride to the midway station, the twinkling lights of the tiny town become distant as the snowy 13,000-foot San Juan Mountains engulf you. Inside, cozy up for the night with small plates and cocktails or enjoy fine dining from the à la carte menu. More than 250 wines from around the world complement the gourmet food. 970-728-7474; tellurideskiresort.com
Zach’s Cabin at Beaver Creek
Zach’s joins Beano’s and Allie’s Cabins at Beaver Creek as elegant yet rustic romantic sleigh-ride dinner destinations. This one is named for Zach Allen, father of Beaver Creek’s first female resident Allie Townsend, for whom Allie’s is named. With vaulted ceilings, a massive stone fireplace and huge windows for dazzling views of the Gore Range, 13,000-square-foot Zach’s is hardly a cabin. But its secluded location in an Aspen grove between Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch give it a cozy cabin feel. Sleighs leave from the Ritz-Carlton for dinner Thursday-Saturday. 800-608-4849; www.beavercreek.com
Hazie’s at Steamboat
The Werner family brought fame to Steamboat with three Werner kids sharing Olympic glory. It is fitting, then, that their mother Hazie is immortalized with a restaurant named in her honor. The alpine bistro sits halfway up Mount Werner in the Thunderhead Lodge. Ride the gondola, watching the twinkling lights of the Yampa Valley grow smaller as you reach the top. The dreamy ambiance temporarily fades walking through the terminal building—until you sit down for dinner. The set-priced Continental meal is as romantic as the ride. 970-871-5150; www.steamboat.com