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Top 10 Apres Ski Spots in the Valley
If there’s one thing the fun-loving staff at Sun Valley Magazine (SVM) knows a lot about, besides publishing award-winning magazines, it’s how to après ski. So if you’re looking for a little fun after a day on the slopes (or on the cross-country skis, snowshoes, ice skates or casting for trout), here’s a rundown of some of our favorite après ski spots.
Apple’s Bar & Grill
Apple’s Bar & Grill is located on the “North Shore of Sun Valley,” as they say, and has been serving kind eats and tasty beverages at the base of Warm Springs for over 25 years. A favorite stop for our staffers who love their tall Tecates served with a lime, Apple’s is known for their homemade lunches like the sesame-seared Ahi sandwich and for their friendly and casual atmosphere. As Apple’s Hank Minor said, “The atmosphere is really soulful with lots of good people who like good food and love skiing! Everyone is welcome, just leave your ego at the door and be nice.”
Crowd: Mountain people ages 2 to 80, ski racers, movie stars, snowboarders, tourists, ski bums.
Specials: Après deals include $2 domestic beers and deals on food like their $10 smoked salmon crostini.
Hours: Open daily from 11am to 6pm. Happy Hour 3-6pm.
Noteworthy: Their annual Hahnenkamm Kitzbühel Party in honor of Austria’s “Super Bowl of Men’s Skiing,” held the third weekend in January, and Apple’s end of the season bash are the stuff of ski town legend.
Quite possibly the quintessential spot for après skiing in Sun Valley, Averell’s Bar is located halfway up Bald Mountain on the lower level of the historic Roundhouse Lodge. The octagonal building is filled with loving reminders of Sun Valley’s glory days and Averell’s (named after Sun Valley’s founder, Averell Harriman) hosts the Valley’s most majestic views of the Wood River Valley and Pioneer Mountains. Originally opened in 1940 along with Baldy’s first chairlift, Averell’s reopened in 2010 and not many people even knew the room existed after it had spent nearly a decade as a storage locker wasting those breathtaking views.
Crowd: Frequented by movie stars, housewives, Olympians, regular Joes, tourists and the un-or underemployed, Averell’s will surely leave an imprint as it offers a stroll down memory lane.
Specials: The cheese fondue for two (or more) is tough to top and they offer a solid beer and wine selection. SVM staff is known for making major editorial decisions while enjoying beer and fondue at Averell’s.
Hours: Open daily from 11:30am to 4:45pm.
Noteworthy: Averell’s announces last call to ski down by ringing the bell at 3:45pm. The last gondola back down departs at 4:45pm.
Located on Warm Springs Road, Grumpy’s sign says, “Sorry We’re Open.” But there’s nothing to be sorry about. This place is wildly popular but don’t be frightened by the name because the surly shtick the bartenders toss around is part of the charm. Grumpy’s is a small, cozy locals’ favorite for their classic décor, including a collection of old beer cans from around the world and for their gargantuan 32-oz. schooners of draft beer. On sunny spring days the most coveted spot is the bench out front, so if you go for it, expect to be joined by locals.
Crowd: Grumpy’s is usually crowded with everything from local skiers to visiting anglers. Après ski is often shoulder-to-shoulder and the air is filled with epic ski stories of the day, so if you must sit, then you better get there early.
Specials: The best deals are on schooners of domestic beer, and their very affordable fowl, veggie and regular burgers are unbeatable. Be prepared, Grumpy’s is cash only.
Hours: Open daily from 11am to 11pm.
Noteworthy: Sun Valley’s sister ski area in Mammoth Lakes, California, has its own version of Grumpy’s (inspired by Sun Valley’s). The Boss (aka Bruce Springsteen) stops in for a schooner whenever he is in town.
Lefty’s Bar & Grill
Started by two ski bums in 1993, Lefty’s Bar & Grill is definitely a Ketchum staple. Located on the corner of 6th and Washington in Ketchum, this casual eatery and local watering hole was named after the owners’ favorite run on Baldy, Lefty’s Bowl. Lefty’s is family friendly with a kids’ menu, pinball machine, several video games and a pool table. It’s also one of the best places in town to watch a game, with five satellite-fed HD TVs. Daily food specials, original hoagies, a great beer selection and their unique "Spicy Monkey Fries” make Lefty’s a perfect place to relax, grab a quick bite to eat or catch the game.
Crowd: All ages and occupations, from families to firefighters, with plenty of local regulars.
Specials: With burgers and sandwiches starting at under $6, it always seems like Happy Hour at Lefty’s. They also offer special “Beers of the Week.”
Hours: Weekdays open 11:30am, weekends opening at 11am. Grill closes at 10 pm. Bar open late night.
Noteworthy: There are more than 200 members of the Lefty’s Mug Club and their uniquely decorated beer ware hangs above the bar.
Walk into Michel’s Christiania on Sun Valley Road and you feel a sense of history. Celebrating its 53rd year this winter “The Christy” remains a classic, elegant French restaurant rich with atmosphere and romance. Steeped with the storied tradition of “Michel’s,” the Olympic Bar is adorned with photographs and equipment from Olympic skiers and on most winter evenings offers a cozy spot where you could spot a celebrity or catch up with some longtime Ketchum residents.
Crowd: Old-school Sun Valley at its core.
Specials: Unlike the restaurant, the bar doesn’t require reservations. Don’t miss out on the fries.
Hours: Bar opens at 4:45pm, dinner served
Noteworthy: Ernest Hemingway was such a regular at the Christiania’s Olympic Bar that he had his own table.
If you haven’t been to the Pioneer Saloon, then you haven’t been to Ketchum. Affectionately called the “Pio,” this local landmark located in the heart of Ketchum on Main Street has been serving up legendary prime rib, and the BIGGEST Idaho potatoes you’ll ever find, for 40 years. Commonly referred to as the “best steak house in Idaho,” the Pio is definitely world-famous for a reason and a must stop for any visitor. Locals and tourists alike crowd the Pio’s dark and inviting saloon for après ski (or work) cocktails.
Crowd: Everyone from age 1 to 101 can be found enjoying themselves at the Pio. Wranglers and mink coats welcome.
Specials: The bar passes out free chips and salsa and the Pio’s steamed artichokes and “Bar Margs” are a couple SVM staff favorites.
Hours: Bar opens at 4pm, dining room at 5:30pm nightly.
Noteworthy: Stepping into the Pio is like stepping back into the Old West. Originally opened in 1950 as a gambling hall, the Pio’s walls are adorned with everything from antique firearms to mounted game to an old fur trapper’s-style birch bark canoe.
Ahhhh, it’s the last ski run of the day—you are schusshing down Baldy with the beautiful River Run Lodge in sight. You can almost hear the wine corks popping and beer bottles clanking. River Run Lodge has a happening après vibe with live music offered on most weekends and holidays and a fabulous outdoor fire pit sitting area to meet new friends or catch up with old chums.
Crowd: Happy people of all ages, from locals to visitors, who just went skiing or boarding at America’s original destination resort!
Specials: Sipping tall boys of Pabst Blue Ribbon at the base of Baldy is one of life’s finer moments for some SVM staffers and fans.
Hours: 8am until 6pm.
Noteworthy: Home to the original chairlift on Baldy and, as old-timers will tell you, to a single chairlift until the 1960s, River Run is now serviced by an 1,800-passengers-per-hour gondola which was the largest Doppelmayr project in North America when built in 2009.
The Sawtooth Club
Offering a refined yet rustic Western setting, The Sawtooth Club has long been a great place to do anything from celebrate a special occasion like a wedding anniversary or enjoy a first date, to providing a perfect place to meet your future spouse—as was the case for our managing editor many years ago while sitting beside their two-sided fireplace. Easy to find on Main Street in Ketchum, The Sawtooth Club is known for their mesquite-grilled steaks and seafood and for their legendary Chicken Senegalese.
Crowd: Locals and tourists alike can be found aprèsing, although the twenty-somethings seem to like to take their more rowdy ways elsewhere.
Specials: The Sawtooth Club’s Nightly Happy Hour, sometimes called “$6.00 ‘til 6:00,” includes numerous food, wine and margarita specials all for $6, as well as great deals on beer and well drinks.
Hours: Bar menu 4:30pm until closing, dining room 5:30pm until closing. Happy Hour:
seven nights a week from 5pm until 6pm.
Noteworthy: The Main Street fire of 2008 took out two neighboring restaurants, but The Sawtooth Club only suffered relatively minor damage to the north wall and was able to re-open—with a beautiful new brick-front façade—within 100 days.
Wiseguy Pizza Pie
New York-style pizza in the middle of Idaho? Sweet! Wiseguy Pizza Pie has two locations from which to choose when planning your après-afternoon (or evening). Many South Valley locals don’t want to drive the gauntlet after partaking in a few après ski drinks in Ketchum, so the Hailey’s Main Street Wiseguy location is a perfect fit. For Ketchum locals or tourists staying in town, the Sun Valley Road Wiseguy location is convenient and definitely has local flair. Keep your ski gear on (but change out of your ski boots please), and start your après-afternoon, New York-style.
Crowd: A real laidback locals’ hangout, both locations are visitor and family friendly.
Hours: 11:30am to 10pm, but later if people are around.
Specials: They offer lunch specials for slices and cheap deals on Rainier and PBR.
Noteworthy: Two words, one mouthwatering treat: Garlic Knots!