The Sundance Film Festival is about to descend on Park City, Utah (Jan. 17-27), bringing all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the quaint snow-lined streets of Old Town. This means a whole lot of people are in town ready to nibble on the tasty bites of the historic town that serves Canyons, Park City and Deer Valley resorts (meaning getting a table during the festival will be as easy as sneaking into an A-list party). So here’s your guide to three places you wish you’d thought to book months in advance and three more that are just as good and actually give you a fighting chance of getting in. If Sundance isn’t your thing, these delicious restaurants will still be around the week after, and have plenty more room for you after the celebrities leave town.
Hope you have a reservation (or friends in high places)
The lobster hush puppies are one of the many dishes that shine at Talisker on Main. Photo Courtesy of Talisker on Main.
515 Main Street, 435.658.5479
Always in the conversation for best restaurant in Park City, Talisker is a delicious new American cuisine restaurant with a menu created by Chef John Murcko that actually fuses together a cornucopia of delicious American flavors from the menus at the private clubhouses of the haute Talisker owner’s resort in Deer Valley. Needless to say, a refined classic touch is provided to the upscale, yet approachable cuisine. Ingredients are seasonal and the menu, naturally, is ever-changing. One night, a seared Utah mountain trout might make an appearance, or a rich pan-roasted lamb. The chef’s tasting menu, a four-course culinary indulgence is the best way to follow the thinking of the kitchen on any given evening.
The High West Distillery was the first in Utah; now it's turned into a ski-in gastro-distillery. Photo Courtesy of High West Distillery.
703 Main St., 435.649.8300
There are a few things to note about High West. First, it became the state’s original distillery when it opened in the 1870s. Second, it’s perhaps the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world. Yes, it’s a gastro-distillery (not to be confused with gastro-pub), meaning High West, located at the bottom of Park City Resort’s Quittin’ Time run, is a combination of flavors that appear on your plate and come from a bottle of booze. Be prepared to nosh on old western-inspired cuisine such as popcorn with bacon and bourbon, whiskey-cider braised short ribs or a whiskey-paired cheese plate. Don’t be afraid to just tip back a glass of award-winning whiskey, either.
368 Main St., 435.649.6222
Stuffed chicken breast, nachos style? Yup, Chimayo has that dish, with the nachos actually stuffed inside a roasted chicken breast. It’s scrumptious and showcases the playful and upscale take on Southwest cuisine that Chef Bill White brings to this concept. Expect other creative classic like duck enchiladas and sugarcane elk skewers on any given night to go along with tasty libations.
There’s still a table or two
Ingredients used at The Farm are all sourced from within 200 miles of the restaurant. Photo by Dave Newkirk. Courtesy of The Farm.
4900 Canyons Resort Drive, 435.615.8080
Being located four miles from Main Street Park City has its advantages. As in, you can actually find a table without booking weeks in advance of Sundance. Locals have been raving about The Farm since it opened at the base of the Canyons in February 2011, and Salt Lake Magazine touted it as the best restaurant in Utah last year. The rustic and intimate restaurant by John Murcko (see Talisker) follows its name and focuses on finding ingredients within 200 miles of the restaurant. The wine list follows with an organic and biodynamic (think organic on steroids—totally natural steroids, of course), and runs 300 selections deep.
The Mariposa is an exquisite example of fine dining at Deer Valley. Photo Courtesy of The Mariposa.
7600 Royal Street, 435.645.6715
When fine dining is in order, the trendy, romantic and tasty Mariposa should fit the bill, and its location in posh Deer Valley resort pushes it just far enough from the craziness of downtown Park City during Sundance. Everything from diver scallops and seared bison filets dot the menu, and the chef’s tasting option is a not-to-be-missed tour through all the flavors with wine pairings to boot. Not to mention, Wine Spectator bestowed Mariposa with an Award of Excellence, and it’s massive bottle collection spans the globe and time.
1251 Kearns Blvd. 435.655.0800
For the better part of 12 years, this grill focuses on providing fresh seafood in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. The lobster bisque is good enough to hail from New England and its sushi menu features tender and fresh selections daily, but don’t miss its regionally famous crab cakes and eclectic offering like its duck, shrimp, chorizo and scallop filled jambalaya. While the food itself is upscale, Blind Dog doesn’t take itself too seriously; it even asks you to either behave well enough to not get noticed or badly enough that they can point you out as entertainment. So it’s a good place to get a little rowdy during the dining hour.
Jacob Harkins is editor and founder of Local Winos magazine.