The braised lamb shank is an Idaho favorite at the Ketchum Grill.
Photo by Roland Lane
For gourmets of all stripes,
this is the place
Kate Wutz, for Sun Valley Guide
Almost no one comes to Idaho just for the food. That said, more people should. Despite its remote location, the Sun Valley area is a foodie Mecca, filled with everything from traditional prime rib and potatoes to Austrian-inspired crepes, Italian delicacies, baked goods and mind-blowing Asian fusion. A foodie can run wild in Sun Valley, luxuriating in fine cuisine in a mountain setting few places can rival.
Where to stay
Of course, Foodies will be best served by staying somewhere with a good restaurant—and is close to other good restaurants. On Main Street just north of downtown Ketchum is the Knob Hill Inn, a luxurious, European-style hotel with a fine restaurant, The Grill at Knob Hill. The Grill serves everything from bar bites and cocktails to a full prime rib dinner — or, if you prefer, escargots, lollipop lamb chops or traditional Wiener schnitzel. The inn also offers a complimentary breakfast buffet with offerings that include fresh pancakes and fruit-and-yogurt parfaits.
Up and at 'em
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but many people still skip it. If you do that in Sun Valley, you could miss out on some of the best the area has to offer.
If you're looking for a sit-down breakfast, try Cristina's on Second Street in Ketchum, where Foodies can enjoy an espresso, fine pastries or the orange cinnamon French toast, made with Cristina's own artisan bread. Not eating breakfast? Cristina's also serves lunch.
For those on the go, the Konditorei in Sun Valley Village offers coffee and Austrian-style pastries that can be quickly grabbed on the way to the ski hill. Of course, keeping in mind the appetites of families looking to spend an active day outside, they also offer both sweet and savory crepes, Belgian waffles (one served with Nutella whipped cream) and a croque madame — a grilled ham and Emmentaler Swiss cheese sandwich topped with two poached eggs. The Konditorei is also open for lunch.
Time for some activity
Before Foodies can think about eating a fancy dinner, they need to work up an appetite. In between meals, everyone can make time for a snowshoe or a quick Nordic skiing jaunt at Galena Lodge, 23 miles north of Ketchum. Galena Lodge offers gear rentals, skiing lessons, a variety of trails for both skiers and snowshoers — and an excellent lunch menu. The kitchen serves a variety of sandwiches, including the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese, a medley of bacon, apples, caramelized onions and Havarti cheese on local sourdough bread. If you're going for an evening spin around the trails, try to do it on the night of a Full Moon Dinner, held once a month. Galena's trails are magical by moonlight.
Sun Valley Resort also offers cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at its Nordic Center. After taking a lesson or gliding around on your own, head back to the resort and A La Mode, the gourmet hot cocoa bar located in Sun Valley Village. For those who prefer alpine skiing, Foodies of all levels of skiing and snowboarding expertise can test their skills on Bald Mountain. The grand Seattle Ridge Lodge offers some of the best on-mountain food in the West. Think grilled meats, hearty soups and fine salads, all in the comfort of a roaring fire. For those who want a fine sit-down lunch, the choice is the Roundhouse. Where else can Foodies sit at a white-tablecloth-and-silverware setting and be served gourmet mountain favorites and fine wine, all while looking over the snow-capped peaks of central Idaho?
Among the boutiques and thrift stores are hidden a few Foodie havens. First, stop by Iconoclast Books on Sun Valley Road in Ketchum. There's a surprisingly extensive selection of cookbooks, fun gifts and even a second-hand book section, all of which can be (carefully) browsed with a house-made latte and baked treat in hand.
For the more nutritionally-minded, Glow Live Food Cafe on Washington Avenue has a small shop near the cafe that offers supplements and "live" food items; NourishMe on Main Street has an excellent selection of healthy foods such as gluten-free bread mixes, flax crackers and gourmet chocolates that taste good while being good for you.
The grocery stores in Ketchum — Atkinsons' Market and Main Street Market — both have excellent selections of wine, fresh breads, gourmet cheeses and other delicacies. Both also offer excellent take-away food as well, if Foodies want to stock up on some savory appetizers before going out for the big meal of the day.
Finally, it's dinner time
It would be a shame to come to Sun Valley and not enjoy some prime rib and trout. Fortunately, a few restaurants in the valley offer upscale versions of Idaho cuisine.
• CK's Real Food on Main Street in Hailey focuses on fresh, local food and regional flavors while giving them an haute-cuisine twist. Though specials and menus change, expect to find items such as a Snake River Kobe flatiron steak served with a perfectly crispy potato pancake, pork belly and sundried tomato pesto, or grilled Idaho trout with Carolina tartar sauce.
• Excellent Idaho-influenced cuisine can also be found at a variety of restaurants in Ketchum, including the Sawtooth Club and the Ketchum Grill. Both offer fish and steak; the Ketchum Grill menu almost always includes braised lamb shank and polenta and a juicy, farm-raised roasted chicken.
• For fine cuisine in a slightly more formal setting in the heart of Ketchum, try B Restaurant and Bar, the Cornerstone Bar and Grill, Boca or Michel's Christiania.
Enoteca is an excellent option for the oenophile visitor. Opened by the Mason family of Ketchum Grill, this cozy restaurant in a historic building offers an extensive list of vintages along with small plates inspired by Tuscan chefs. If you're just munching, opt for the artisanal cheese board and bacon-wrapped dates; for something more satisfying, explore the wood-fired pizza menu or opt for one of the "bigger small plates," including lamb chops and lasagne.
For Foodies who crave something less traditional, try Rickshaw, an intimate little spot on Washington Avenue in Ketchum. The food is inspired by the flavors of Thailand, Vietnam, China and Indonesia, full of bright hits of citrus punctuating the smoother flavors of curry, coconut milk, peanut sauce and tofu. Do not skip the green papaya salad just because it's chilly.
Dashi, on East Avenue in Ketchum, offers yet another variety of Asian fusion to diners. Dashi serves up everything from small plates such as a beet salad with local beets, grilled pears, watercress, pecans and goat cheese to excitingly creative ramen bowls featuring pork belly, pickled cucumber and shiitake mushrooms. Chef and owner Tyler Stokes' menu melds Idaho with Asia in dishes such as the Niman Ranch beef tenderloin, which is served with potatoes, local chard, ginger soy jus and enoki — a type of Japanese mushroom.
Globus, a longtime Ketchum favorite, offers items such as cider-marinated pork tenderloin alongside traditional curries, Pad Thai and ahi tuna with a golden beet puree.
Save room for nightlife?
When looking for a good cocktail and perhaps some gourmet munchies, look for the Cornerstone Bar and Grill on Main Street in Ketchum. The cocktails are crafted with care, especially Erik's Ultimate Manhattan, named after Cornerstone co-owner Erik Vorm. This Manhattan is made with name-brand bourbon, vermouth, whiskey-barrel bitters and topped with a cherry, up or on the rocks. The Bourbon Bramble, which consists of Makers Mark, lemon and berry preserves, shaken, is a popular choice as well. An excellent selection of wine and beer is available if desired, and culinary offerings include mushroom risotto, homemade macaroni and cheese and an ambitious tuna tartare with seasoned squid.
top 5 for foodies
1. Breakfast at Konditorei in Sun Valley.
2. Lunch at Seattle Ridge Lodge.
3. Dinner in downtown Ketchum.
4. Make your own picnic from Atkinsons' or Main Street Market.
5. Snowshoe/ski and Full Moon Dinner at Galena.