Among Summit County's ski areas, Keystone Resort has a reputation for variety, catering to everyone from families, with easy groomers and a snow fort, to adrenaline junkies, with a massive terrain park and some of the steepest slopes in the county.
Its dining selection follows suit, stretching to include everything from four-diamond restaurants to grab-and-go barbecue. While the following doesn't include all of the restaurants at Keystone, it's a sampling at least.
As slope-side coffee shops go, Inxpot definitely does not fit the mold. Far from a Starbucks knockoff, the dim, trendy little cafe boasts a surprisingly extensive menu of hot and cold breakfast and lunch cuisine. A crammed front hallway leads back to a comfortable dining room stocked with mismatched sofas and a small selection of books for sale, giving Inxpot a vibe that would put it more at home alongside a liberal arts college than a ski resort. The food is good, the service is fast and the prices - particularly considering the shop's primo location near the base of the River Run gondola - are reasonable. But, though it's easy to miss wedged between sporting goods stores in the River Run Village, Inxpot is no locals' secret. On weekend mornings, it's often so packed it can be difficult to find a path to the cash register, let alone a seat.
Price range: $4-$9 for breakfast.
There are times on the mountain when a skier or snowboarder has lost track of time and suddenly finds herself so hungry almost anything sounds good. For those times, there are restaurants like Summit House, which, conveniently, offer plenty of basic fare. Hot-food windows serve up the burgers, pizza, fries and chili hungry skiers and snowboarders are craving. The cafeteria-style lodge located at the top of Dercum Mountain is accessible not only to all ability levels, but also to non-skiers, who can take the River Run gondola up for lunch with a view. Summit House overlooks the Tenmile Range, Breckenridge Ski Resort and Buffalo Mountain. The restaurant is cozier, and slightly quieter - with a stone fireplace and smaller multi-level dining areas - than some of its mountaintop counterparts at other resorts, but it is still a pretty pricey in-and-out meal.
Price range: $8-$12 for a lunch entree
Alpenglow Stube, located on the back side of Dercum Mountain, is widely recognized as one of the nicest restaurants in Summit County, on or off the mountain. Wasting absolutely no time to show customers why, the Stube staff whisks away diner's cold boots the minute they walk through the door, replacing them with warm, fuzzy slippers. Inside, the Stube is quiet and elegant, but with the distinct feel of a mountain lodge. Almost the same could be said of the menu. The cuisine is described as "sophisticated comfort food," which more than lives up to its reputation. Lunch at Alpenglow Stube includes multiple courses and, though I was full after the second, I wasn't ready to stop eating even after the third. Skiers and snowboarders can ride to the front door of the restaurant for lunch, while dinner diners arrive by gondola. Reservations are required for dinner and recommended for lunch.
Price range: $22-$29 for lunch;
dinner prices are higher.
Particularly on warm days, a day on the slopes can feel almost more like a party than a sport. With a big patio furnished with picnic tables and Adirondack chairs, loud music and a beverage stand out front, LaBonte's plays into the party atmosphere. The tiny barbecue joint is nestled at the base of the Ruby Express and Santiago lifts on the back of Dercum Mountain. The fare isn't going to thrill barbecue connoisseurs, but it's a somewhat unique offering on the mountain, and it's served hot and fast. The laid-back restaurant's real appeal is as a mid-day refueling station, where skiers and snowboarders can grab a beer, listen to music and soak up some sunshine before jumping back on the lift.
Price range: $8-$12
Located at the base of Dercum's Dash (often called the face of Keystone) in the River Run Village, Kickapoo is an excellent apres spot. Big, loud and rowdy, the Tavern fills up on weekend afternoons. The menu is predictable, packed with burgers, hot sandwiches and beer by the bucket, but the atmosphere is festive and there's usually at least one game on the flat screen TVs.
Price range: $10-$14