On-Mountain Eateries That Fill More Than the Hole in Your Stomach

by Dan Giesin | November 27, 2023

You’ve spent all morning busting pow, bashing the bumps or carving the corduroy at Mt. Wannabe and your stomach is growling and your hypoglycemic levels are red-lining.

You need sustenance pronto, but you’re craving something with a bit more pizzazz than Mom’s chili or Pop’s grease burger at the base lodge cafeteria.

You want something that fills the soul as well as the tummy.

The following is a selection of mountain-top eateries that will leave you satisfied in both departments.

Il Refugio

This recently refurbished European-style bistro at Arapahoe Basin features wine-and-charcuterie pairings and flatbread pizzas. It also has the honor of being the highest restaurant in North America, at an altitude of 12,456 feet, and provides sweeping views of the Continental Divide that stretches for nearly 100 miles. 

Eagle’s Eye Restaurant

Perched at the top of the Kicking Horse gondola, more than 4,000 feet above the base area and at an elevation of 7,700 feet, this fine-dining establishment is the highest restaurant in Canada and offers stunning views of Purcell range.

Alpino Vino

The title of the second highest restaurant in North America goes to this Telluride favorite, which sits at 11,966 feet, and serves up a fine menu of Italian-style alpine comfort food and features an extensive wine list.

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro

If Swiss-inspired mountain food — think raclette and fondue at 10,900 feet — tickles your palette, then head to this Aspen Highlands establishment, which is perhaps most famous (infamous?) for its daily mid-afternoon “Champagne spray”.

The Summit House

Locally sourced and sustainable Pacific Northwest cuisine —  the Pike Place clam chowder is a good call — dominates the menu at this Crystal Mountain establishment (pictured above), while neighboring Mount Rainier, which rises 7,500 feet above the 6,872 foot-high restaurant, dominates the view.

Cliff House

Serving American cuisine with a Vermont flair, this long-time Stowe favorite is located at the top of the gondola on a shoulder of 4,395-foot Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. The restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular views of Green and Worcester ranges and intervening valleys.

The Nest

Located in the Sky House at the summit of Schweitzer, The Nest features local brews (both coffee and beer) and small plates that vary with the season. It also has 360-degree views of the surrounding Selkirk and Cabinet ranges and sprawling Lake Pend Oreille, some 4,300 below.

The Observatory

Upscale dining that showcases British Columbia’s best seasonal ingredients is what you’ll find at the Observatory in the Peak Chalet at the top of the Grouse Mountain tram. And how about a spectacular view of the city of Vancouver spread out some 3,700 feet below for a main course?

Peak Lodge

You might come to the top of Killington’s K1 Gondola for the seasonal menus and fine wines, but you’ll stay for the stunning vistas on display at Vermont’s highest finished structure. Located at an elevation of 4,241 feet, Peak Lodge provides a glimpse of five states, a part of Canada and three mountain ranges.

The Roundhouse

In operation since 1939, The Roundhouse, an octagonal structure located at the top of the Sun Valley gondola, offers more than a piece of ski history and its signature fondue by the fire. It overlooks the town of Ketchum and the Sun Valley Lodge complex some 2,000 feet below, with the Pioneer and Boulder ranges serving as a backdrop.

Whitehorn Bistro

Located near the top of the Lake Louise gondola, the Whitehorn Bistro has an alpine-themed contemporary menu served with a garnish of stunning views of the main Rocky Mountain crest and Lake Victoria across the valley.

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