Mammoth Mountain is a skiing destination. Its legendary steeps have been the draw for decades, but a haute lifestyle moniker is often reserved for its neighbors that circle Lake Tahoe 140 miles to the north. That’s selling the Mammoth food scene short. Lead by kitchens that optimize fresh, California cooking, the restaurants that dot the landscape of the tiny town of Mammoth Lakes are creating fabulous menus in a variety of styles—and price points. Here are three ways to dine in Mammoth, covering just about any mood that might strike:
In Your Ski Boots
Roberto’s Cafe (760.934.3667, 271 Old Mammoth Road, Mammoth Lakes)
Sure, everyone always talks about California cuisine when the topic of dining comes up on the West Coast. There’s good reason, but authentic Mexican fare is just as big a part of the eating culture in Cali, too. That’s why Roberto’s has managed to thrive, year round, in Mammoth since 1985. The food is just plain good, created from authentic recipes that are fresh and vibrant. The burritos are the size of your head, and a duck quesadilla showcases the high-caliber ingredients. Don’t miss the sopa de albondigas soup, a local favorite that features a hearty helping of veggies and a delicious housemade meatball. The café itself is vibrant, with colorful art from Mammoth-area artists adorning the wall and is always packed and loud, but still family friendly.
In Your Jeans and a T-Shirt
Campo Mammoth (760-934-0669, 6201 Minaret Road, The Village at Mammoth)
How good is this restaurant? Well, it’s sister restaurant, Campo Reno, was named to Esquire’s Best New Restaurants of 2012 list, and owner Mark Estee has carried that momentum into the Mammoth extension, which opened in December. The brand new restaurant has created a serious buzz in town. It’s a rustic Italian eatery that fills the neighborhood niche perfectly. Farm fresh ingredients are crafted into artisan pizzas, pastas and salumis, and fresh cocktails compliment the food. Campo is open and airy, the type of place where meeting new friends seems like a given.
Once-in-a-Ski Trip Dining Experience
The Lakefront (760-934-2442, 163 Twin Lakes Road, Mammoth Lakes)
When a Mammoth local wants to wine and dine his significant other, this is generally the top pick. The intimate, 20-some-odd seat restaurant overlooks Lake Mary and is cozy and romantic. Part of the Tamarack Lodge, a haven for fishing in the summer, the kitchen is led by Chef Michael Plapp. Recently, the menu has taken a decidedly modern turn, leaving its traditional French roots behind for a more inventive, California cuisine. Which is to say it’s following the local, farm-to-table movement. A duck dish will feature meat raised in Stockton and organic chicken likely comes from a farm near Sebastopol. The wine list is equally impressive with an eclectic smattering of Napa and Paso favorites.