Nothing builds up an appetite like skiing or boarding in Colorado’s high country. This year, many of the resorts have made major renovations and added services like snow cat dinners at the top of the mountain and even helicopters to get you to and from the resort in time for dinner. Each of these resort restaurants offers a unique experience that should not to be missed.
(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Mountaineer Square Courtyard
620 Gothic Road
Mt. Crested Butte, CO 81224
(970) 349-7574

Crested Butte is known for fine restaurants and Django’s is one of the best. Chef Kate Ladoulis spent the fall preparing for a James Beard dinner in New York. Colorado skiers will be privy to tasting items New Yorkers raved about. Try the roasted Brussels sprouts with Fuji apple and cider reduction and the oh-so-lovely cocoa-butter seared Diver scallops. Look for for the pomegranate-glazed Bandera quail with curried onion-arugula. Sit at the bar or make reservations for a table.

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Entrada Restaurant
Gateway Canyons Resort & Spa
43200 Highway 141
Gateway, CO 81522
(970) 931-2458

For the ultimate après-ski experience, check out Gateway Canyon Resort’s ski helicopter. Fly to Telluride in less than a half hour for a day of skiing and be back in time for dinner. Gateway Canyon Resort, owned by John Hendriks, founder of Discovery Television, is all about adventure and a new helicopter pad is just part of the experience (prices are surprisingly affordable, call for details). Executive Chef Ron Rhiver brings his southern charm to southwestern cuisine with dishes like blackened shrimp with creamy truffle grits with a chipotle demi or local wild game sausage with Spanish chorizo and peach sauce.

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

The Saloon
Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa
3530 County Road 83
Tabernash, CO 80478
(970) 726-5632

The Saloon is home to the original homestead of Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa. And though it dates back to 1937, it’s far from homespun. Chef Evan Treadwell’s menu is an elegant dining experience featuring elk, trout and duck with local spinach, hand-crafted mozzarella and charcuterie meats. Treadwell moved to Colorado from the Pacific coast, so his mastery of abalone and seafood is like no other chef in the area.

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Eight K
Viceroy Hotel
130 Wood Road
Snowmass Village, CO 81615
(970) 923-8000

Chef Will Nolan, one of Food and Wine magazine’s top chefs for 2012, loves cooking almost as much as he loves snowboarding. He understands apres-ski hunger pangs. Look carefully at Chef Nolan’s winter menu and you will see he likes to play with his food. How can these dishes not make you smile? Nolan’s southern pedigree shines with country grits, creole barbecue sauce with shrimp and braised lamb shank with black-eyed peas hoppin’ john, cipollini and rosemary.

Elk Camp
Top of the Elk Camp gondola
Snowmass, CO
(970) 923-0450

The newly opened Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass Mountain will make you want to stop skiing for a bite to eat. The 14,0000-square-foot space is enclosed in floor-to-ceiling windows that frame the breathtaking views—it’s almost as good as being on the slopes. For skiers who are tired of the same old fare at ski resorts, Elk Camp is a different beast all together. Rotisserie meats and roasted chicken on French baguettes are reminiscent of ski resorts in the Alps. For real food lovers, there are fresh and healthy options like salads, freshly made pastas and sandwiches. Pizzas include wild mushrooms with truffle oil.

Alpino Vino Wine Bar
Telluride Ski Resort
At the See Forever ski trail
Telluride CO
(970) 728-7474

For an adult-only après ski night to remember, climb aboard with snow coach to the Ski Forever trail to the restaurant’s front door. Snuggle up under a sheepskin throw on the panoramic deck with a glass of wine while you watch the daylight disappear from the Wilson Range. Once inside, a five-course Italian meal will be served with optional wine pairing. Dinner is a prix-fixe menu including ricotta and spinach ravioli with fresh pea pesto, porcini mushroom broth with crème fraiche, braised osso buco with herb polenta or branzino fish with candied lemon, plus dessert.

Element 47
The Little Nell Hotel
675 E. Durant Ave.
Aspen, CO 81611
(970) 920-6330

Colorado’s finest ski hotel, The Little Nell, has a gleaming new restaurant for this ski season. Element 47, named for the periodic table number for silver, replaced the prix-fixe restaurant Montagne. The new restaurant features large and small plates of individual appetizers and entrees categorized by garden, sea, sky and field. Chef Robert McCormick honors Colorado by using regional ingredients, local beer and spirits in the bar. The award-winning wine list will once again feature Burgundy wines in its newly designed glass wine wall. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and lunch.

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Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at