In the mountains, we think your gastronomic experience is equally important to the skiing – you need the balance of both to have a truly enjoyable winter break.
So we say forget wet-floored mountain canteens with plates of greasy chips, over cooked pasta with grated cheap emmental, wine served in plastic cups, plastic knives and forks, espressos that taste like dishwasher liquid, cheap machine-made hot chocolate and loos that you have to pay for with coins… Instead, dive deep into the mountain culinary experience, tucking into unique and delicious dishes whilst simultaneously admiring the breathtaking views around you.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a selection of some our favourite Alpine restaurants for you to enjoy as you rest and recharge after an exhilarating morning on the slopes.
Let’s start at the top. We may be biased but we think this resort has one of the best selections of mountain restaurants in the Alps and we would be hard pushed to choose one in particular from the half a dozen that would all happily sit on any best mountain restaurants in the Alps list…..so we will save those highlights for a stand alone separate blog!
Easy to access for blue run skiers and above, Chalet de la Marine (Michelin Plate 2019) is one of the best mountain restaurants in the Val Thorens sector of Les 3 Vallées and certainly one of the best known, but thankfully it’s a decent size. There’s a self-service bistro for those keen to quickly get back on the slopes, but the more leisurely luncher can take their time with the full table service restaurant. Inside it’s everything you’d expect from a mountain restaurant, a rustic, cosy atmosphere with lots of wood, an open fire and furry rugs. On a chilly day, you can keep the hot chocolates coming as you make yourself comfortable in this warm and welcoming nest. When the sun shines there is a stunning terrace.
At Le Signal, fresh local produce is cooked to perfection and served in a brightly decorated room that oozes a welcoming feel. Staff are friendly, and there’s a fire-warmed self-service if you want to opt for the cheaper option. It sits at the top of the Le Fornet bubble so makes getting home after a late and perhaps overindulgent lunch an easy option.
La Crèmerie du Glacier is the definition of a hidden gem, blink and you’ll miss the turning signalled by a wooden sign that takes you off through the trees from the home run to Grand Montets. This traditional hut is hidden in the woods, and although you need to be a reasonable red run skier to access it on skis, it’s only a short walk from the bottom station. This means non-skiers or those less confident on the slopes can walk to it. Its position paired with the traditional Savoyard food gives it a magical Alpine feel, and eating there is definitely a special experience.
Les Vieilles Luges is a 250 year old farmhouse restaurant, which is a perennial favourite with locals. Accessed on skis from a blue run, it’s a fine example of a mountain hut, and really does go against Chamonix’s reputation for poor mountain food. Inside it’s a wooden rustic affair, decorated with old farming equipment, whilst the views up the valley and of the Mont Blanc Massif are nothing short of spectacular. It’s also one of the few places that serve traditional farçon, a local dish made of potato loaf with bacon, dried fruit and spices.
The Hospiz Alm is a rustically woody mountain restaurant which lies in the village of St Christoph in the Arlberg ski area, probably best known for the resort of St. Anton. Staff are in traditional Austrian costume, the food is renowned for its gourmet quality, and it has a famous wine cellar stocked with over 20,000 bottles, many of them extortionately large. And if that alone doesn’t warrant a visit, you reach the loos and wine seller by slide. It’s one of the most famous restaurants in the Alps, and with good reason.
Chez Vrony (Michelin Plate 2019), in Zermatt, has come a long way since the small, spartan farmhouse that stood on the same spot 100 years ago. It serves organic produce, made to traditional recipes which have been passed down through generations (like their delectable homemade sausages). A great spot to dine, with a fantastic view of the Matterhorn.
Perched at the top of the bubble from Flims, La Vacca is the place for a stylish steak lunch in an impressive teepee on the slopes. The setting is great, with a lovely rustic and feel to it, thanks to the wood and cow hide interior. We love the teepee trend raging through the Alps at the moment, as they’re always toasty and atmospheric and therefore make the perfect place to relax over a long lunch.
A Verbier legend, Le Mouton Noir is easily accessible to skiers and non-skiers alike, at the arrival of the Ruinettes gondola. Two amazing sun terraces await you with fabulous mountain views, a self-service area for speedy skiers, and a fine dining restaurant upstairs for long leisurely lunches. This place scores highly in every aspect, with excellent food quality and service, an extensive wine list, and a resident DJ for those essential après ski sessions. For non-skiers, enjoy a long walk to La Chaux and back, watching the paragliders frolicking silently overhead.
Chetzeron (Michelin Plate 2019) “welcomes gourmets, hedonists, skiers, hikers, riders and admirers of dramatic landscapes”. Not many are left out, then, and why would you want to be? Expect “Alpine refined” dishes – traditional and local delights with a twist and a truly stunning terrace. Probably the best sunset you will ever see across the alps. It is also now a boutique hotel with an amazing bar and lounge in the old cable car housing so you can stay the night.
Still in Crans Montana, Buvette de Pepinet was one of Sir Roger Moore’s favourites (RIP). Rustic mountain refuge with typical Swiss specialities but the winner here is their Wild Mushroom Croute.
Aside from the excellent, budget-friendly Swedish Italian food, and wonderful service, what really makes Chalet Etoile that much better than most mountain restaurants is its location. It’s easy to reach, on a wide and gentle blue run, making it an ideal meeting spot for different standards of skiers. It’s also south facing, which makes it a popular sunbathing spot for a relaxing lunch on the terrace, with a Matterhorn backdrop.
Lac des Chavonnes restaurant is 150 meters from the base of the Petit Chamossaire chairlift perched beside the lake. Medou and Severine serve delicious food such as lobster spaghetti or fresh trout from the lake as well as many wonderful local and regional dishes.
As described by the New York Times, Rifugio Averau is “fresh powder meets fine dining”. Also known as the “Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, this award winning restaurant offers spectacular views paired with stunning dishes. It is located in the Lagazuoi-Cinque Torri area so not part of the main Cortina ski area and makes for an adventurous day trip.
Dating back to 1931, Ciao Pais is a popular stop-off for hikers, bikers and skiers. A log cabin nestled in the woods is the perfect place for a leisurely dinner in cosy surroundings. You don’t even need to worry about how you’ll get there and back if you want to go there for dinner, especially after sampling Ciao Pais’ extensive wine cellar, as we can arrange a snowcat transfer for your group.
Meanwhile, back in Courmayeur, check out our Mountain Gourmet Ski Experience, taking place from 12-15 March 2020, where in addition to resident Italian chef Paolo Griffa from the Michelin-starred Petit Royal, we’re flying out Tom Kerridge and Claude Bosi (who combined with Paolo have a total of six Michelin Stars!) to create three unforgettable dinners for guests, all surrounded by stunning mountain scenery.
So Tuck In
Now that you have the finest list of eateries to choose from (if we say so ourselves), why notgive yourself an extra Christmas gift by booking a trip to a resort with an incredible restaurant or two. We believe that a ski holiday is about the full package, so be sure to dine just as hard as you ski!