Comparing European and American ski culture is like comparing groomed green slopes with backcountry terrain. In America, a ski vacation is about the skiing and the skiing alone; daily cafeteria lunches of burgers, fries, soups and beers will do. In Europe, a ski resort experience is also about the mountain top lunches (fondue?) and, most importantly, the aprés ski (Aperol spritz?). But there’s at least one American ski resort town that is as concerned about the dining and aprés ski as it is about the skiing.
“The people who live in Jackson demand good quality,” says Sam Johnson, co-owner of Teton Thai in Teton Village at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. A town that attracts year-round tourists (thanks to its close proximity to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park), visitors to Jackson are a lot more discerning than the average ski vacationer. “In the past ten years, food and drink has become part of the village scene,” according to Gavin Fine, of Fine Dining Restaurant Group, which owns some of the area’s celebrated restaurants. “Jackson has done a good job at attracting people who want an experience beyond skiing.” Although the food and aprés scenes have evolved immensely in the past decade, it's not all fancy dining and fine wines, and there are still local haunts that serve the perfect post-ski beer, biscuit or burger. Here's where to go to experience the best of both worlds.
Most people mistake Bodega for a typical gas station and adjoining shop. While it is both of these things, it’s also the coolest aprés ski joint in Teton Village. Come 4 p.m. (when the ski lifts close), the shop floods with thirsty locals in search of their first post-ski drink. The beverage of choice? The sloshy, a frozen cocktail that has become Jackson’s most iconic aprés drink. On the menu, there’s a good rotation of flavors like the WuTang Cran with peach schnapps, cranberry and whisky or the zingy Dark and Stormy with vodka, ginger and lime. Aprés-skiiers can also pick up local beers (which can be consumed in the bodega), bottles of wine to-go and countless locally-made snacks, from jerky to fancy frozen pizzas and ice cream. A short walk away are the swanky Italian restos, Bar Enoteca and Il Villaggio Osteria (also owned by Fine Foods), which offer up more substantial meals (pizzas, pastas and small bites). (3200 W McCollister Dr, Teton Village, WY 83025; (307) 200-4666)
Courtesy of The Phoenix and the Dragon
One of the newest additions to the Jackson drinking and dining scene, Phoenix and the Dragon is owned by couple Eric and Zarina Sakai, who ran Restaurant Marron in Seattle before relocating east. After the move, they began catering and selling noodle bowls from a stand in the local Jackson Whole Grocer before opening their first Jackson-based restaurant. “We wanted to open something casual, somewhere that would appeal to locals,” says Eric, who hails from Hawaii. The menu, which has zingy aprés cocktails like the Lilikoi Sour with vodka, passion fruit, honey, ginger and egg white, and Asian-influenced dishes like creamy laksa and pho bo, brings a slice of island life to one of America’s chilliest towns. (145 Glenwood St, Jackson, WY 83001; (307) 200-6436)
Courtesy of Rations
At Rations, a new laid-back restaurant located at the base of Teton Pass, chef Brian Laughlin serves up his riff on the good ol’ sloshy. “We only use fresh juices in ours,” says Laughlin, who cites the most popular flavor as the mojito. The food menu is simple, fast and casual with dishes like the signature burger and chicken biscuit, which uses chicken that's been brined in tea and soaked in buttermilk, then glazed with a chipotle honey butter, topped with a pickle and set on a homemade laminated dough biscuit. (5720 Wyoming 22, Wilson, WY 83014; (307) 203-5468)
Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole
Veuve Clicquot In the Snow isn’t as much an actual bar as it is an activation or pop-up. Come Friday (through Sunday), between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., the Clicquot In the Snow bar is unveiled outside of the Four Seasons’ Westbank Grill restaurant, located at the base of the slope. Here, tired skiers can luxuriate on lounge chairs in the snow while sipping glasses and bottles of French champagne. Oh, so European! (7680 Granite Loop Rd, Teton Village, WY 83025; (307) 732-5000)
Courtesy of Caldera House
The hotel restaurant at Jackson’s swanky new Caldera House, the Old Yellowstone Garage is a redo of an iconic Italian dining spot that was once owned and run by a local couple. OYG (as the locals call it) still has the same name, the same chef (Paulie O'Connor) and some of the same dishes, but it looks a whole lot sexier: picture red leather booths and windows with checkered curtains that overlook the mountain. Aprés skiers can grab cocktails (classics like Aperol Spritzes and Old Fashioneds) and solid pizzas (with San Marzano tomatoes, pulled mozzarella and basil) in the snug bar and lounge area, while diners in the restaurant can select from a menu of Italian wines and house-made pastas like Not Your Grandma’s Pasta, a toasty bowl of tomato spaghetti with a sizzling Wagyu meatball on the side. (3275 Village Dr, Teton Village, WY 83025; (307) 201-5350)
Independently owned and run by local couple Sam and Suchada Johnson (who is originally from Thailand), you won’t find a better pad Thai or fried dumpling for miles. Every night, the pocket-size joint is crammed with locals feeding their craving for a bowl of spicy, warming noodles. It’s such a popular spot, they even added a little aprés ski waiting area, where diners can huddle around the indoor fire and drink sake and cocktails (the spiked Thai tea with rum or bourbon, vanilla vodka, and a splash of milk is their most iconic drink) as they wait for their table or take-out. (7342 Granite Loop Rd, Teton Village, WY 83025; (307) 733-0022)
House-made pastas and dishes cooked over a wood-fired grill—like Steelhead trout with peppadew relish and a prime hanger steak with horseradish cream and smoked shallots—are the dishes that keep locals coming back for more at this Italian trattoria. Behind the bar, there’s a selection of what general manager and former Brooklynite Chuck Greenwald calls "the best selection of Amaros and digestifs for miles." With its wood-paneled walls, checkerboard floors and long wooden bar, Glorietta is the ideal spot to linger over cocktails until the early hours of the morning. Especially if you’ve checked into the Anvil Hotel, which is steps away. (242 Glenwood St, Jackson, WY 83001; (307) 733-3888)
Most people enjoy a cocktail or pint of beer as an après drink, but at Bin 22, wine is pretty much the order of the evening (although you can get cocktails and beer on tap too). Hidden behind a bodega and wine store in downtown Jackson, Bin 22 stocks a selection of Italian wines by the glass (or bottle) and Mediterranean tapas like charred octopus, salumi, patatas bravas and crostini with whipped ricotta. It’s the perfect antidote to one too many meals of nachos and sloshies. (200 W Broadway, Jackson, WY 83001; (307) 739-9463)
Courtesy of Roadhouse Brewing Co.
If an icy beer is what you want, then an icy beer is what you’ll get at Roadhouse—another new addition to the town. With over 30 beers on tap, you could drink all night and not even make it through the selection. They do serve bar food like burgers and chicken wings to soak it all up, as well as salads and flatbreads topped with everything from crispy pork and pickled veggies to pastrami and Gruyere. One of the nicest spots is at the bar, which has lofty windows that overlook the distant mountains and town square. (1225 Gregory Ln, Jackson, WY 83001; (307) 264-1900)
The Old Favorites:
For those who, frankly, want a good ol’ American burger and plenty of local beers on tap, old favorites like the Mangy Moose (3295 Village Dr, Teton Village, WY 83025; (307) 733-4913) and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar (25 N Cache St, Jackson, WY 83001; (307) 733-2207) offer quintessential Jackson experiences. At the Mangy Moose, which is set directly at the bottom of the slopes, aprés skiers can catch daily live music, and at Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, there’s a swing band on Wednesdays and Saturdays.