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High-Mountain Hangouts & Winter Warm-Ups

When hunger or thirst strikes — whether on the slopes or off — you’ll find plenty of places to grab bites and beverages amid the Rocky Mountains.

Cozy Up in Bread Bar
Cozy Up in Bread Bar
Snack on Il Rifugio's Meat Plate
Snack on Il Rifugio's Meat Plate
Sit Fireside and Sip on Somethin' Good at the Hotel Talisa
Sit Fireside and Sip on Somethin' Good at the Hotel Talisa

Cozy Watering Holes

They may be modest in size, but these establishments are big on charm and laid-back vibes. 

Whether or not you dine in the Ranch House Restaurant & Saloon at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash (hint: you should, and try the ranch-raised Wagyu beef), at least sidle up to the wooden bar for a beverage during Social Hour. 

Housed in an 1890s bakery in the former mining community of Silver PlumeBread Bar — open Friday through Sunday — slings drinks named for historical figures of the town and region, like the Clifford Griffin: rye, Colorado amaro, lemon and a red-wine float. 

Walk in the footsteps of Old-West outlaws at The Jailhouse in Buena Vista, which once served as the town’s 1800s lockup. Nowadays, inmates — er, visitors — sip on an ever-rotating selection of hard-to-find craft beers from independently owned breweries across the state. 

Boulder’s License No. 1, a speakeasy-style bar located in the basement of the Hotel Boulderado, operates with one of the state’s first liquor licenses, first issued in 1969. Classic potables, billiards and a photo booth are all part of the scene.

Pinkies Up

Colorado is rich in another time-honored tradition: afternoon tea. Discover where you can get in on this classy ritual around the state.

Brown Palace HotelDenver: Pile straight-from-England Devonshire cream onto your homemade scones in the presence of a live pianist 

Dusty Rose Tea RoomGeorgetown: A true Victorian-era setting adds authentic character to the tea service. 

Thompson House Inn Tea RoomLongmont: Utilize the on-site stash of hats, gloves and pearls to really get in the spirit.

Cherokee Ranch & CastleSedalia: Relish royal treatment in an architectural masterpiece that echoes 1450s Scotland 

Queen’s Parlour Tearoom at Miramont CastleManitou Springs: Choose from a variety of packages depending your appetite 

The Swan HouseLoveland: Pick out your own piece of fine china in the boutique after your refreshments.

St. Regis Aspen: Take your spot of local loose-leaf tea as the hotel founder’s mother, Lady Astor, would have in the early 1900s.

Dushanbe Tea HouseBoulder: A special Dim Sum & Oolong Tea service puts a global spin on the original 

Ski-In Eats

Preserving precious shredding time, you won’t even need to head back to the base to refuel at these high-elevation options.

At Steamboat Ski Resort, the Taco Beast snowcat is a roving version of a food truck that’s the first of its kind in Colorado. Check Twitter for its on-mountain location each day to track down lunchtime offerings like beef barbacoa and elk chorizo, plus a salsa bar.

Accessed by two lifts and an intermediate run, Arapahoe Basin’s new Il Rifugio at Snowplume is a European-style bistro worth seeking out for its charcuterie and cheese pairings. It also claims the title of the highest-elevation restaurant in the U.S., at 12,456 feet. 

Inside Uley’s Cabin at Crested Butte Ski Resort you’ll find a warm ambiance perfect for a mid-day break feasting on delicious dishes such as elk bourguignon. Outside, the literally frozen Ice Bar is a scenic spot to savor a cocktail.

Long a fixture of Keystone ResortAlpenglow Stube is open for lunch and Sunday brunch to skiers (a dinner service is for gondola passengers only) atop North Peak. Check your boots at the door and slip into the warm slippers provided — a welcome reprieve from snug bindings.

Swanky Après-Ski

There’s nothing like a well-earned libation at the end of a successful powder day, especially if you can sip it in style.

The clubby atmosphere at The Living Room in the Hotel Jerome is quintessential Aspen, from the plush arm chairs to the roaring fireplace. But the real draw is an imaginative hot-chocolate menu, with flavors like salted butterscotch and smoked cinnamon.

With floor-to-ceiling mountain views, Hotel Talisa’s Fireside Lounge in Vail makes a strong case for your post-snow festivities. Don’t miss the daily Champagne sabering, sample tasty bites while listening to live music and catch up with your companions about the day’s most epic moments. 

Intimate yet elegant, Bachelors Lounge is an adults-only haunt within The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, located in Avon and a stone’s throw from Beaver Creek Resort. Peruse the sommelier-curated wine selection, snack on small plates, smoke a cigar and transition right into nighttime revelry during Après After Dark. 

You know you’re in for inventive fare when the kitchen and bar are referred to as “science labs,” as is the case at Breckenridge's taple Modis. Try soy-cured deviled eggs and a fittingly named Powder-Hound Sour with Old Overholdt rye.

Find more fun places for après ski >>

Photo Credits: Arapahoe Basin/Il Rifugio, Bread Bar, Hotel Talisa Vail