Dine under Summit County’s stars | SummitDaily.com

Dine under Summit County’s stars

At the Der Fondue Chessel in Keystone, the meal starts with a traditional Swiss cheese fondue, and features two options from the meat and seafood selections to cook up on tabletop Raclette grills.
Chris McLennan / Vail Resorts |

Once that last run of the day has been completed and everyone has trudged all the gear back to the house, the first thing on most minds is where and what to eat. There are a variety of options for dining both on and off the resort in Summit County, and restaurants line Main Street in both Frisco and Breckenridge. After a long day on the hill, a quick bite in town might be the first choice, but for those looking to spend a little more time making dinner more of an event rather than just a means to satiate, there are ways to take a night to stray from the norm and try something other than just a meal at a restaurant. These nighttime dining options offer something more than the typical night out.


Whether it’s for a romantic evening or fun family activity, there are several options for dinner sleigh rides around the county, and most also offer live musical entertainment. Two Below Zero Dinner Sleigh Rides in Frisco offers a unique dining experience in a remote area of the mountains. After meeting at the Frisco Nordic Center, two large draft mules per sleigh of 15 to 20 people pull guests out to a location on the peninsula for dinner and a show, said John Lampe, owner of Two Below.

“Basically it’s a theme dinner on steroids, because we are out there in the real snow and the wind and all that, and what makes it unique is we actually take you to a remote site for dinner and a show,” he said.

Once on location, guests sit down to a three-course dinner inside a large heated tent that seats about 100 people.

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Live entertainment is provided by David Peel, who gets the crowd singing along to his impersonations of artists such as Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. Now a Denver resident, Peel is from Nashville and spent some time singing in Branson, Missouri, in the early ’90s, opening for acts such as The Osmond Brothers and Tony Orlando. Lampe said they save the show for after dessert, so the crowd can really get into it rather than having an artist play background music.

After the show, guests are whisked back to where they started, with the whole experience coming in around two and a quarter hours.

“The sleighs are taking you to a spot for dinner and show and you’re truly at a remote spot,” Lampe said. “We have no running water, no power lines, everything is done through generators and things like that. … That’s the ambiance that people really like.”

Two Below will be doing sleigh rides until the first week of April if snow permits.

Keystone Resort also offers a dinner sleigh ride out at its historic back ranch. Guests are offered a true Western mountain experience, said Paul Phillips, food and beverage director of mountain dining at Keystone Resort, and cut loose from the everyday norm.

“The sleigh ride has professional wranglers, so when they are taking the team on a sleigh ride, besides handling the horses, they are able to interact and give the history of Keystone and joke around and tell some stories about the area,” he said.

Keystone sleigh rides will continue until April 10.

For more information about Two Below Zero, go to dinnersleighrides.com or call (970) 453-1520. For more information about Keystone sleigh rides, go to keystoneresort.com or call (800) 354-4386.


New this season, Copper Mountain Resort is offering Moonlight Dine & Ski events throughout the season, providing guests the opportunity to ride the chairlift to Solitude Station, located mid-mountain, before having dinner and then skiing down the mountain under the moonlight. The final dinner of the season is on Saturday, March 19.

Chef Taladay is the mastermind behind the menus for the new dinners.

“We are always looking for new ways to offer our guests unique experiences,” he said. “I think that the chance to enjoy some good food up on the mountain before skiing down by moonlight is definitely going to be an experience to remember.”

The cost for dinner is $90 which includes gratuity. Call (866) 549-9954 or go to coppercolorado.com.


For those less interested in looking at the tail of a horse while headed to dinner, Breckenridge Ski Resort offers a more modern take on the sleigh ride, with a chance to take a snowcat through scenic trails from the base of Peak 9 up to TenMile Station at 10,234 feet. The Starlight Dinners feature a four-course prix fixe menu on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays until April 4. Call (970) 547-5740 or go to starlightdinners.com for more information.


There are two restaurants in Keystone that take a little more effort to get to, but are worth the travel. The Der Fondue Chessel and the Alpenglow Stube offer a nighttime dining experience on North Peak, only a gondola ride away. Getting to these outlets is half the fun — after checking in at the base of the resort, take the eight-passenger River Run Gondola 11,640 feet to the top of Dercum Mountain, the first of three peaks at Keystone Resort, before exiting and walking the short distance to the second Outpost Gondola, which heads to North Peak.

“There are so many things that are unique about riding the gondola at night,” said Phillips, F&B director at Keystone. “When you have a clear evening and you can do that star gazing, and you can see that alpenglow on the mountain — it’s absolutely, truly amazing.”

Blankets are handed out to make the ride more comfortable, and Phillips said it adds to the romance for couples to cuddle under the blanket while stargazing.

“You can see the village, and once you are higher up you can see Dillon and Silverthorne lit up,” he said. “So it really does have that unique, unique feel — and then on a special night when it’s a full moon, or the moonlight lights up the mountainside, it’s pretty awesome.”


For a romantic night out, Phillips said he hands down recommends the Alpenglow Stube. Every winter the restaurant sees multiple marriage proposals — a ring hidden in dessert or dropped in a champagne flute.

“It’s really the go-to for a romantic evening, from getting on the gondola to the ride, the view until you get into the Stube. It’s such an intimate feel — you have the fireplace going and share a wonderful meal with your loved one. Share a glass or bottle of wine and really enjoy yourselves.”

The highest AAA Four-Diamond dining experience in North America, guests will be greeted with slippers at the entrance.

“Whether you are in ski boots or have your big heavy winter boots on … you can step into those for a nice, pampering feeling,” Phillips said.

There is an open fireplace on display, with a wood stove that the chef uses in full view. Their winter menu, although subject to changes, features items such as venison goulash, Belgium crispy lobster, Colorado rack of lamb chops or pan-seared Shetland salmon.

“You realize how amazing that four-star dining experience at 11,400 feet is,” Phillips said. “That is something special. The servers and staff there are extremely knowledgeable about the food and especially the gorgeous 600-plus bottle wine selection that we have.”


For families and large groups, Phillips suggests heading to the Der Fondue Chessel. The meal starts with a traditional Swiss cheese fondue, and features two options from the meat and seafood selections to cook up on tabletop Raclette grills.

Traditional Austrian music rounds out the evening as well as chocolate fondue for dessert.

“It’s so much fun for the group … the families really enjoy it for the Austrian music they play,” Phillips said. “The kids love it because they can watch, and everyone can do the chicken dance if they want. It has that wonderful authentic Austrian feel, with the fondue and the large timbers in the room and the real high ceilings, and a very large fireplace. … And of course everyone loves the chocolate fondue.”

For more information about the Alpenglow Stube or Der Fondue Chessel, go to keystoneresort.com or call (800) 354-4386.

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