Route 66 Cities Beaches



Winter Park

It should be stated up front that Winterpark is a hard core skiier's resort. Skiers come here to ski. This is not Vail, Aspen, or even Breckinridge. It is not famous for its nightlife. After battling those high, long slopes all day, Mary Jane with its moguls and the Parsienne Bowl with its powder, most Winterpark skiiers are ready to grab a quick meal, relax in the hot tub and mellow out.

However, that being said, there is some very good eating here. Some of it is right on the slopes, in the warming huts and the base village. If you're fortunate enough to be staying at The Timber House, you need only walk down the hall to the Dining Hall. Then, down "In Town," there are another dozen very good eateries.

One caution, though. There are a lot of skiiers here and because of national forest boundaries the town has limited room. There are not enough restaurants. When the skiiers get off the slopes, shower and head for the nearest restaurant, things fill up fast. If possible, eating early in the evening avoids the 7-9:00 crush. But be careful on the other end. Winterpark restaurants close early, as skiiers head for bed.

Any discussion of Winterpark food should begin with the famous warming huts. The food is not gourmet. They serve a lunch menu of hot, filling carbohydrates to help skiiers stay warm and power through an afternoon on the slopes. However, this is also a substantial step above fast food or franchise "family" restaurants. You can get a very good bowl of soup or chile and sometimes stew in these huts. They make a good pizza and several very good hot sandwiches. Add in hot tea, hot chocolate, coffee and cappuccino and you've got a really great Winter lunch.

We always like to eat at Sunspot our last night at Winterpark. It is such a special occasion. Take your camera. You get there by riding the Zephyr lift up from the base village. This is not a chairlift. It's a large bubble car. After the scenic ride up, you find the massive stone lodge with its crackling fireplace and big windows looking out over the landscape for 50 miles in every direction. The restaurant itself is very upscale. And then there is the food. This is a gourmet experience. They like to advertise their steaks, but we think they do their best job with their soups and seafood. However, be careful and save room for dessert. Their dessert menu changes over time but no big city restaurant beats Sunspot's desserts. Then, when you've finished, you get to put the exclamation point on the meal with the ride back down the mountain. On a moonlit night looking out across the snowy mountains if this is your final memory of Winterpark you'll be back next year for sure.

The Five Mountain Tavern is located across the road from the main Winterpark entry on the main floor of the Vintage Hotel. The Winston Churchill Bar is adjacent to the dining area, but for dinner Five Mountain becomes a classic ski village family restaurant, with lots of hearty food : soups, steaks, casseroles, stews, etc. During the 3 - 5:00 pm Happy Hour they serve Hot Toddies and Giant Hot Pretzels by the stone firepit on the patio. Dinner specialties are Grilled Bacon Blue Cheese Steak, Colorado Crab Cake and Three Cheese Baked Ziti. Pizza options include Greek, Southwest and Waldorf. Friday and Saturday nights feature live music by Colorado talent.

Five Mountain offers a continental breakfast from 7 - 9:00 for hotel guests. Cold juice and Seattles Best Coffee are featured.

Jane Creek Grille is on the main floor of the Iron Horse Resort just off Connecting Trail, a short walk from the Winterpark base village and Zephyr Mountain Lodge. It's a cozy dinner spot, with huge windows looking out on the mountain and surrounding forest. Entree prices are in the teens. Food is excellent. The menu is not as extensive as you might find at some larger restaurants, but what they do they do very, very well. This is the only restaurant in Winterpark that routinely serves Colorado game, and the steaks and pastas are also topnotch. Jane Creek Grille has the best wine list in town. Whatever they offer as the Soup of the Day, order it. Your only problem is this is not a big restaurant and especially on weekends it fills up. We recommend going early to beat the crowd.

Moffat Station Restaurant and Microbrewery is located inside the Winter Park Mountain Lodge across the road from the base village. The restaurant's windows look out on spectacular views and it has a classic ski resort ambience. As the name implies, they have quite a selection of beers, ales and stouts, of which our expert Dave considers the wheats their best. But the food is excellent and should be your main reason for coming. This is probably the largest menu at Winterpark. The highlights are the Sun Dried Primavera, Seafood, Sandwiches, Rasta Pasta, Rack Of Ribs, Pastas, Lemon Artichoke Chicken, Herb Pesto Ravioli, Fish & Chips, and Breaded Pork Chop. For some reason we've never been able to figure out, Winterpark's better restaurants seem to do a very good job with Crab Cakes and Scallops and this one is no exception.

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