In a short blog entry, it's not really possible to discuss all of the great dining options for climbers on the road. What is possible is a smattering of great dining options at a few popular climbing areas. Please feel free to add your own favorites in the comment section!
- Howe Sound Brew Pub - Cool ambiance with cool people and cool music make up for the okay menu and mediocre beer. This is the evening focal point for climbers, skiers, kite boarders and mountain bikers. As such it cannot be missed.
Washington Pass, WA
- The Duck Brand -- This great little restaurant/inn is actually in the town of Winthrop which is about thirty miles from the pass. The menu includes both Mexican and American fare, all of which is really good. Bottomless tortilla chips and friendly service on top of excellent food make it well worth the travel time from the mountains.
Other Washington State Options -- Be sure to check out this website for great suggestions from members of the Washington Trails Association.
Eastern Sierra, CA
- The Mobile Station -- One of the best kept secrets and perhaps one of the oddest secrets in the world of restaurants is the gas station/deli in Lee Vining, California. The Whoa Nellie Deli, found inside the Mobile Station, provides arguably the best food and the best musical entertainment on the entirety of the Eastern Sierra 395 corridor. People as far away as Bishop and Yosemite Valley will make special trips to see a band and have a meal at this gas station. Upon hearing this many people scoff at the idea that a gas station could compete with "real" restaurants. Those same people will -- after one meal at the Whoa Nellie Deli -- make entire vacation plans around eating there again.
Joshua Tree, CA:
- Crossroads Cafe and Tavern -- This kitchy little restaurant features a cool ambiance but limited hours of operation. In particular, the breakfasts stand out as tasty and above average.
- Santanas Mexican -- This 24 hour Mexican restaurant is cheap and greasy with a capital "g." Though many might see Santanas as a little too cheap and greasy before a hard day of climbing, it is a popular after-climb destination. Lots of food plus lots of calories equals a full stomach and a happy climber!
Red Rocks, NV:
Red Rock Canyon is just 19 miles from the world famous Las Vegas Strip. In other words, it is minutes away from more five star restaurants than anywhere else in the world. The following selections are common climber destinations and hang-outs that mix good food with great prices.
- BJs Restaurant and Brewery -- Just minutes from Red Rock Canyon, this restaurant and brewery offers an excellent variety of different foods, beers and appetizers. The place has a very family oriented feel to it and there are often kids running around the restaurant. There are certainly a lot of options in Vegas, but this seems to be the most attractive to many climbers as it does not really feel like a Sin City restaurant. The downside of its ambiance is that it is a very busy destination and there are often long waits.
- Red Rock Hotel and Casino Buffet -- Those who have spent a significant amount of time in Vegas are over the whole buffet scene. They could care less. But there are still a lot of climbers who want to eat themselves silly and for them, the "Feast Buffet" at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino is just a hop, skip and a jump away and will please the bottomless belly.
- Frank and Finas Cocina -- Long a climber hangout, this authentic Mexican restaurant will please those who are looking for cheap and authentic Mexican fare. This particular dining establishment requires a bit of a drive, but it is well worth it.
Zion National Park, UT:
- Zion Pizza and Noodle Co. -- The beer is definitely weak. It is Utah. But there is a great deal of variety at this scenic little Italian restaurant. And though it is often crowded with visitors from around the world, it's a place well worth the wait.
While researching this blog post, I decided that I should get some opinions beyond those of myself, my wife and a few of our guides. As a result I started threads on rockclimbing.com and on mountainproject.com for people to post their favorite eats at their local crags throughout the country. To read these threads, click here and here.
For more discussions about great places for hungry mountain people to visit, click here and here.
--Jason D. Martin