Autumn is upon Park City, Utah, which has already had its first dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains. But the ski runs needn’t be open to pursue some of the town’s other first-rate pastimes. From Deer Valley to Old Town, here’s where to eat, drink and be merry right now in Park City.
The bright, airy and industrial-chic coffee shop housed within the Kimball Art Center at the heart of historic Old Town Park City has been home to a number of concepts, but with the spring-opened Publik, it seems to have hit its stride. Pour-over, cold brew, espresso drinks and even the daily drip are all made with extreme care by a passionate staff. But for as complex as some of the selections might be, the eats are remarkably simple. While toast is served 11 ways — yes, 11 — we suggest trying the apricot ginger or strawberry rhubarb jams over fresh cream cheese, or the one with maple syrup drizzled over whipped butter and topped with powdered sugar, all served on a thick slice of country-style bread. After grabbing your breakfast and a cup of the day’s single-origin brew (recent highlights have included Ethiopia Danch Meng and Sumatra Blue Batak), set up shop in a patch of sun streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. You might just throw away any agenda you had for the day.
The majestic Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Montage Deer Valley clings to a forested mountainside, offering dramatic views from multiple decks. Here, Apex steakhouse has been the spot for exquisitely prepared steaks and game meats, Utah trout and contemplative fireside dinners over bottles of wine. Now, Burgers & Bourbon, open since December 2013 in the former Apex bar area, offers a similarly delectable dining experience, but with a more casual feel. Burgers range from classic (beef topped with Gold Creek Farms aged cheddar) to modern (peppercorn-spiced rare tuna), and from rustic (free-range bison) to refined (foie gras, truffle and bourbon-caramelized onions). A healthy selection of thick, handspun milkshakes begs to be spiked, while the trio of fries (rosemary sea salt, truffle Parmesan and sweet potato) and housemade fry sauces could be a meal unto itself. However, as the restaurant-within-a-restaurant’s name implies, there is also a fine array of whiskeys from America, Canada, Scotland, Ireland and Japan — 125 at last count — with some you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in town, such as Tennessee’s Orphan Barrel. Moreover, the bartenders actually know what to do with them, whether poured in a Manhattan or splashed over a huge cube in an Old Fashioned.
The small- and shared-plates trend has not missed Park City—you’ll find them everywhere from The Mariposa in the tony Deer Valley Resort to the western-inspired High West Saloon in Old Town. But the latest entrant into that tapas-influenced pond is Handle, an August-opened spot serving dinner and Sunday brunch just off Main Street. Former Talisker executive chef Briar Handly has deftly applied his New England sensibility to Utah’s mountain fare, creating must-try dishes such as smoked trout sausage over corn pudding with fresh autumn vegetables; buffalo hot wings-style cauliflower with blue cheese; and a hearty portion of fried chicken with spicy greens and sweet corn that keeps the locals coming back. Utah’s bounty of small farms makes seasonality and sourcing locally a cinch; farmers’ market kale, local veggies, grass-fed Christiansen’s Family Farm pork, Mountain Valley trout and Gold Creek Farms butter and cheese make appearances throughout the concise, thoughtfully crafted menu. The space — briefly an Italian restaurant — has all the trappings of a hip, cozy eatery transported from Austin or Portland, with pickled vegetables in jars, a rustic wooden bar, vintage botanical diagrams for wallpaper and high seats pushed up right to the chef’s expediting station, giving you the perfect spot to watch your food and eat it, too.