Ski-Bum Dining

Fueling up for the slopes, as only a ski bum can
By Caitlin Hawker
and Anna Kaser

Is it still possible to live the ski-bum lifestyle in Utah? For those passionate souls wishing to ski and travel as much as possible while working as little as possible, a lifestyle adjustment may be required, especially since northern Utah rents are now sky high and the cheapest lift tickets near Salt Lake City start at $40 for an all-day weekday pass at Nordic Valley and $45 for night skiing at Brighton.

Those actually living the life suggest selling your car, shrinking all your worldly possessions into one large suitcase (in addition to your ski gear) and finding shared lodging near your favorite mountain lift. Then, landing a job with an employer that provides a season pass, one that allows you work night shifts at restaurants or hotels. (Avoid working as a liftie or ski instructor, so you don’t miss out on powder days).

A few modern-day ski bums admit to snagging a free coffee in the hotel lobby and maybe a Danish, if it’s a fancy place. They’ll mash ski-lodge saltines with hot sauce for a crackery lunch or throw together outdated cans of soup, beans and potatoes that not even the Food Bank accepts to make a stew.

But that’s not what this article is about. Here, the focus is on affordable, filling food. Eating well to fuel an athletic lifestyle takes effort, and honestly, some change. Once your belly is loaded with quality carbs and calories, it’s easier to conquer the slopes. Try on these satisfying and high-energy dishes, on and off the mountain.

Harvest’s Buddha Bowl of Goodness

Buddha Bowl of Goodness $15
Surrounded by historic buildings, Harvest shows off its passions: coffee, food and people. Want a dish packed with nutrients that doesn’t skimp on flavor? Harvest’s floor supervisor and head barista Anna Gomez recommends the Buddha Bowl of Goodness. The bowl is a blend of roasted tomatoes, pickled onions, a hard-boiled egg, ricotta, butternut pumpkin purée, fermented cabbage, avocado and a medley of seeds and nuts over brown rice with a miso-ginger dressing. “It’s unbelievable,” she says. “And we make sure that the food comes to you fast so you don’t have to wait.” (Caitlin Hawker)
Harvest, 820 Park Ave., Ste. 101
Park City

Cotton Bottom’s Garlic Cheese Burger

Garlic Cheese Burger $8.50
Located at the perfect ski-bum crossroads—Interstate 215 and Big Cottonwood Road—the family-owned Cotton Bottom is an easy, intimate stop before or after spending time on the mountain. Their famous garlic cheese burger sits at the top of their menu, for only $8.50. It answers the cravings of those 5 o’clock skiers or snowboarders seeking American comfort food and a cold beer. The Cotton Bottom Inn is as unpretentious as they come. No need to flaunt their garlic burgers; word of mouth has kept this Holladay fixture going since 1966. (Anna Kaser)
The Cotton Bottom Inn
6200 S. Holladay Blvd., Holladay

The Regulator Burger $15.50
The Bird Feeder is a perfect Snowbird pit-stop for those on the hunt for something quick and easy. Located on Snowbird’s plaza near the tram, they specialize in food that you can savor and get right back on the lift. Try the Regulator, a signature burger named after a Park City mine shaft, and also one of Snowbird’s favorite runs. The burger is simple, with chipotle mayo, pepper jack, fried jalapeños and bacon. Bird Feeder dishes are highly customizable for the pickiest of eaters. It’s a great stop while waiting for the next tram up to the peak. (Caitlin Hawker)
The Bird Feeder, Snowbird Resort
9385 S. Snowbird Center Drive
Snowbird, 801-933-2222

Elmo’s Meatloaf $19
While not based at a resort, Silver Fork Lodge is true mountain roadhouse, with food and views that take your breath away. Originally built as a general store, the building was remodeled with wooden beams from the nearby Cardiff Fork Mine in the dining room ceiling. Elmo’s Meatloaf is the epitome of comfort food, based on a recipe that owner Dan Knopp used when he made it for his own family. The lunch specialty comes with a choice of fries or fluffy mashed potatoes and gravy along with a house salad—and gives you energy for night skiing at nearby Brighton Resort. (Caitlin Hawker)
Silver Fork Lodge
11332 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road
Brighton, 801-533-9977

Wing Coop’s Black Diamond Wings

Black Diamond Wings With Fried green beans $10.98
Almost as small as an actual chicken coop, Wing Coop offers fresh chicken with more than two dozen imaginative sauces—all made in-house (as are the sides). Located up on the bench in the Olympus Hills Shopping Center, Wing Coop is as local as they come. They pride themselves on their signature dish, award-winning chicken wings, slathered in killer sauces such as Black Diamond (an homage to the ski-bum culture), Peanut Curry, Garlic Parm, Loco Lime, Raspberry Chipotle and more. According to Wing Coop manager Leann Hall, “The most popular sweet [sauce] is honey barbecue; as for spicy, the Black Diamond is a big favorite.” (Anna Kaser)
The Wing Coop, 3971 Wasatch Blvd., SLC

The No-Name Burger $14.50

Nestled in a century-old building steeped in Utah history, No Name Saloon started as a telegraph office and is now one of the town’s most iconic bars with the chops to prove it. One of No Name’s “saloon rules” is: Don’t be a wimp, try the buffalo. With this in mind, the No Name Burger is a 1/2 pound of 100 percent bison topped with cream cheese, jalapeños, lettuce, tomatoes and housemade chipotle aioli and served on a grilled bun, accompanied by housemade buffalo chips and salsa. If burgers ain’t your thing, consider another “buffalo” dish: No Name’s finger-licking Buffalo wings. (Caitlin Hawker)
No Name Saloon & Grill, 447 Main
Park City, 435-649-6667

Star Burger $7.25
For a hungry skier just down from the slopes of Snowbasin or Nordic Valley, sometimes only a burger will do. Shooting Star’s menu is small and includes only burgers and a very strict “no fries” policy. Perfectly juicy and cheesy, these burgers are worth the trip, featuring two juicy beef patties and a Polish knackwurst. Another draw is the historical snapshot. The 129-year-old establishment looks like something out of an old Western with every type of kooky decoration imaginable, including the mounted head of Buck, the world’s largest St. Bernard from the 1950s. Opened in 1879, this is Utah’s oldest continually operated bar, and the Shooting Star has remained the same for decades while the rest of Huntsville modernized around it. (Anna Kaser)
Shooting Star Saloon, 7350 E. 200 South Huntsville, 801-745-2002

Bootlegging Cocktail $15
Drunken Chicken Sandwich $16
The Spur’s live music, full bar and now a signature brand of blended whiskey make it a no-brainer for après-ski fare. Made by Alpine Distillery, Spur Whiskey is the key ingredient of the Bootlegging Cocktail, served on the rocks with splashes of Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth, orange bitters and a cherry. An inspired pairing for this drink is the Spur’s Drunken Chicken sandwich, featuring tequila-lime chicken with mango guacamole, bacon, cheddar, mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion all hugged by a ciabatta roll. (Caitlin Hawker)
The Spur Bar and Grill
352 Main, Park City, 435-615-1618

Smoked Salmon Platter $12
The Thirsty Squirrel couldn’t be more conveniently located for Solitude skiers and snowboarders. Located in Solitude’s village of eateries, this frugal option beckons crowds with its après-ski offerings. Appetizers, such as loaded tater tots, bratwurst, sauerkraut or—my favorite—the mouthwatering smoked salmon platter, are perfect to share with family and friends. The salmon platter features not only the smoky tasty fish but also capers, red onion, Brie and crackers. After that amazing flavor combination, you might find you’re as thirsty as a squirrel, so wash it down with a beer from their large beer menu. (Anna Kaser)
Thirsty Squirrel, Solitude Resort
12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Road Building 3, Ste. D, Solitude, 801-536-5797

The Big Cottonwood Omelet $7.45
To make the most of your lift pass, you need to start early, end late and soak up every ounce of the ski day to get your money’s worth. So, get up early, order a good carb and protein-rich breakfast and then hit the slopes. Carl’s Cafe is just the breakfast spot to make that happen. Open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Carl’s is ready when you are, but leave your plastic at home; the eatery deals in cash and perhaps the occasional check. Which might explain why their menu boasts gigantic specialty omelets for less than $8. According to manager Laura Dimmitt, a favorite omelet is the Big Cottonwood with sour cream, bacon, artichoke, salsa and cheddar. Don’t like artichoke? Try the SLC or the Southerner. With only 10 tables, finding a spot can be tricky on a busy morning, however, their turnover rate is fast, so you won’t be waiting long. (Anna Kaser)
Carl’s Cafe, 2336 Fort Union Blvd.
Cottonwood Heights, 801-943-5138

Windy Ridge Cafe Hot Turkey Sandwich

Hot Turkey Sandwich $15
The Windy Ridge Cafe has been a favorite of Parkites since it opened in 2002. Only a short drive away from multiple world-class resorts, Windy Ridge is known as a locals’ hangout, and their prices reflect that. With a menu designed around classic childhood comfort food, the hot turkey sandwich comes highly recommended. The turkey is cooked for 12 hours and served open face on grilled sourdough bread with mashed potatoes and gravy. Local server Bobby declared the sandwich is “better than a Christmas ham!” (Caitlin Hawker)
Windy Ridge Cafe
1250 Iron Horse Drive, Park City

Johnny Cash Burger $13
Located at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, The Hog Wallow is a veritable ski bum magnet. The pub’s extensive offerings of cocktails, beers and wine are sure to warm up powderhounds after hours in stinging snow. And for food, there isn’t a single item on the menu—from macho nachos and Philly cheesesteak to a variety of burgers—that wouldn’t satisfy the hungriest shredder. One perennial favorite is the Johnny Cash Burger, piled high with onions, jalapenos, cherry peppers, bacon, provolone, BBQ sauce and Sriracha—it’s a spicy explosion of flavor not to be missed. This inviting watering hole features a gorgeous patio and is known for its top-notch rock and folk music scene. (Anna Kaser)
The Hog Wallow Pub
3200 E. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road
Cottonwood Heights, 801-733-5567

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