Ah, après. The co-opted French colloquialism we use to describe a vaguely European conceptualization of post-ski leisure. With apologies to the venerable baguette, it may be the single greatest thing we’ve adopted from our neighbors across the pond. To many, après is the exclusive provenance of establishments where you can step straight from your skis to a barstool, and I wouldn’t deign to tell them differently. Any and all après is good après, after all. I will, however, advocate for a different style of après, one that’s slightly further afield, away from the bustling resort base areas and ski-town Main Streets.
I’m talking about après in the valleys below where you find respite from big crowds and the feel of a packaged mountain getaway. Après in the type of places where you can indulge in a spot of uniquely local culture while you feel comfortable bellying up wearing ski pants and a conspicuous goggle tan. If you go back to your house, hotel or condo for food and a beverage, that isn’t even technically après. You’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you altogether eschew that glorious part of your ski day. This is après on the way home.
Maybe you’re taking advantage of those new for 2019-20 Epic Pass days at Snowbasin, or maybe you’re after some Northern Wasatch at Powder Mountain. Either way, if you’re traveling between Ogden-area resorts and Park City, stop for some après at Shooting Star Saloon in Huntsville.
Shooting Star Saloon is the oldest continually operating bar in Utah, having run from 1879 right through prohibition until today. The walls are adorned with thousands of dollar bills stuck there by patrons from all over the world as well as Buck, the mounted taxidermy head of a nearly 300-pound St. Bernard that once held the record as the largest in the world. It’s common to overhear other diners quizzically pondering what kind of bear Buck is.
In addition to the legendary quirky atmosphere, you can enjoy a full après meal for $8, thanks to $3 beers and delicious $5 Star burgers.
Shooting Star Saloon, 7350 E 200 S,
There is no shortage of worthy après bars on Park City’s Main Street, including the iconic O’Shucks Bar & Grill, but a local secret is to head to the O’Shucks sister establishment in Pinebrook. Located just off the I-80 exit between Park City and Salt Lake City, O’Shucks serves up full liter schooners of frosty draught beer and has schooners filled with free peanuts on each table. It’s not only tolerated but even encouraged to throw the shells on the floor.
Part of what makes O’Shucks such a great après spot are the food specials before 6:00 p.m., which just so happens to coincide perfectly with post-ski refreshment hours. The half-price sushi roll special on Thursdays from the attached Ahh Sushi restaurant is a tough deal to beat in ski country.
& Grill, 8178 Gorgoza Pines, Rd, Park City
Few things are better than trading stories over a beverage after a day of face shots in the Cottonwood Canyons’ 500-plus inches of annual snow. That said, the end of day traffic can get ugly when the powder faucet is on, so it’s sometimes a good idea to make your way down the canyon before your après.
If that’s your program, stop at The Hog Wallow Pub at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon. It isn’t so much locals’ secret as it is a locals’ favorite with an impressive live music lineup four nights a week, reasonably priced drinks including $3 PBR tallboys and incredible barbeque, particularly the smoked chicken wings and beef brisket sandwich. The carved wood sculptures and bar back are the aesthetic icing on the cake.
The Hog Wallow Pub,
3501, 3200 E Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Cottonwood Heights
Sundance Mountain Resort to Park City: Back 40 Ranch House Grill
After a day spent enjoying the slopes of Sundance Resort with views of Mt. Timpanogos, you may be looking for some après that hits at Utah’s more pastoral qualities before you get back to Park City. Head north on U.S. 40 and stop at the Back 40 Ranch House and Grill just off the highway in Heber. Though the name and location may give it the vibe of the place you’d find Patrick Swayze’s character from “Roadhouse” working as a cooler, Back 40 is actually a family-friendly, farm-to-table restaurant.
The menu is comprised of ingredients sourced from local farms. The Back 40 Burger an obvious highlight with its Heber Valley Creamery jalapeno bacon cheddar. The bar menu features specialty cocktails in addition to an array of local Utah beers, and thanks to a restaurant license rather than a bar license, you can bring the whole family, including kids.
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