Just about anyone who has experienced the joy of a full ski day has probably at least heard of the term “après-ski.”* However, you might not have heard of “avant-ski.”
What is avant-ski, you might ask? It’s the process that happens first, before you hit the slopes and start cruising the cordouroy.
Avant-ski means “before ski”: breakfast.
This pre-skiing ritual is crucial for a satisfying snow session and, depending on your a.m. ravenousness, can range from consuming something small and portable to a more luxurious, multi-course affair. In order to help you set your sights on some of the best, here are our favorite places—and dishes—for avant-ski.
Copious amounts of coffee are, of course, a personal choice.
Fast and Friendly
Some days, the powder is calling and there’s a decided need for speed. Head to one of these locations for grab-and-go goodness that will start your ski day off right.
1. Bend Oregon
In Bend, Oregon, head to the Sparrow Bakery and grab one of their signature Ocean Rolls (or six) before heading to Mt. Bachelor. Don’t call it a cinnamon roll—this perfectly flaky breakfast creation is made from homemade croissant dough and spiced with cardamom, sugar and vanilla. See Oregon lift tickets.
2. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Want to visit the home of the original “breakfast burrito”? While folks in Santa Fe, New Mexico have been wrapping eggs and bacon in a flour tortilla for years, Jim Maryol, the original owner of Tia Sophia’s in Santa Fe, New Mexico, claims that he was the first to call this concoction a breakfast burrito and put it on the menu back in the 70s. One small step for man… See New Mexico & Southwest lift tickets.
3. Snowmass, Colorado
When you have to be on the mountain and you have to be there NOW, the Viceroy Snowmass in Snowmass, Colorado has you covered. Stop at any hotel ski concierge and grab one of their power-packed burritos-to-go before you enter the gondola. While they prefer that you actually slow down long enough to be polite, this is one of the fastest breakfasts in town. See Colorado lift tickets.
Sometimes the best way to get a taste of the area is to search out the locals’ favorite haunts. These breakfasts are big on flavor: both with what’s on the plates and the patrons.
4. Ludlow, Vermont
In Ludlow, Vermont, you’ll find breakfast all day—and the only stoplight in 20 miles. At the Hatchery, skiers and snowboarders bound for Okemo Mountain Resort fill up with creations like the Cilantro Omelette, made with avocado, salsa, locally made cheese and house-made cilantro pesto. See Vermont lift tickets.
5. Beech Mountain, North Carolina
Fred’s General Mercantile, located adjacent to the slopes of Beech Mountain Resort in North Carolina, has been serving skiers and snowboarders every day since Feb. 9, 1979. Known as the place that has everything that you need (and if they don’t have it, you don’t need it), Fred’s is most famous for its breakfasts. The Big Country Breakfast is a popular choice, but make room for an oversized cinnamon roll. A meal in and of themselves (according to owner Fred Pfohl), it takes a true appetite to eat one alone—you’d be better off sharing with friends. See North Carolina lift tickets.
6. Crested Butte, Colorado
There’s no better place to gas up for the day—literally—than at the Gas Café in Crested Butte, Colorado. Proudly declaring that it’s the “Last Stop on the Right Before Heading Up to the Mountain,” the Gas Café serves up filling sandwiches like the Paul Harvey. A BLT with a fried egg, ham and a crispy hash brown patty, locals swear that this bomb will keep you going all day long. Be sure to order ahead and you’ll be on the slopes before you know it. See Colorado lift tickets.
Bring on the Buffet (and Bowls)
Buffets are magical things, excellent for those indecisive types (should I have eggs or pancakes?) and those with a hearty appetite (I’ll take both!). Check out these noteworthy buffets before hitting the slopes.
7. Whistler, British Columbia
At the Wildflower restaurant at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, the spread is staggering, offering plenty of meats, veggies, donuts, pancakes and made-to-order omelets as well as lighter fare like yogurt and muesli. Eat your fill—no matter how many plates it takes—before hopping on the Wizard quad chair up to Blackcomb Mountain. See Whister Blackcomb lift tickets.
8. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky = Big Breakfasts. Belly up to the breakfast buffet at the Huntley Lodge at Big Sky Resort in Montana and you’ll not only be able to bulk up with staples like eggs, bacon and pancakes, but also stick-to-your-ribs options like chicken fried steak and biscuits and gravy. You’ll need it before exploring the 5800 acres at Big Sky. See Northern Rockies lift tickets.
9. Glen, New Hampshire
In Glen, New Hampshire, you’ll discover the breakfast sensation you’ve been salivating for: the breakfast bowl. At Sunrise Shack, located on White Mountain Highway between Cranmore, Black Mountain, Wildcat Mountain and Attitash Bear Peak, you’ll find your breakfast conveniently packed into one serving vessel. The Yard Sale is just that—potatoes and cheese and everything and eggs—while the Far East combines poached eggs with tofu, miso broth, mushrooms and scallions. View New Hampshire lift tickets.
Sometimes you’re not prepping for a day on the mountain…sometimes you just need to recover and splurge a little. For a bit of R&R in the a.m., these avant-ski options will cure what ails you, whether it’s alpine or après caused.
10. Taos, New Mexico
What’s better than a made-to-order gourmet breakfast? One that’s served to you in a basket. That you can eat in bed—no judging. At Palacio de Marquesa in Taos, New Mexico you can enjoy tasty treats like a spinach and mushroom frittata or poached eggs with potatoes and green chile turkey sausage in the comfort of your room. The slopes will still be there when you’re ready. See Taos lift tickets.
11. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Combining a world-class waffle with a stellar view, Corbet’s Cabin on the top of Rendezvous Mountain at Jackson Hole Resort, Wyoming, perhaps wins for one of the loftiest places to nosh. Located at 10, 450’ feet, the only way to enjoy these peanut butter and bacon waffles (just one choice, mind you) is to ride the tram to the top. Bonus: watch skiers bite off more than they can chew at Corbet’s Couloir while you’re biting into your tasty waffle. See Jackson Hole Resort lift tickets.
12. Deer Valley, Utah
Pizza for breakfast? Heck yeah. While a cold slice from the fridge may be standard fare for many folks ready to hit the mountain, aspire to something a bit higher with the “Everything Crust Pizza Cambridge with Smoked Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese and Fine Herbs” (say that three times fast) at the J&G Grill at the St. Regis Deer Valley in Utah. Hearty enough to keep your motor running but deceptively light, this pizza will make you wish your leftover pie was as good. See Deer Valley lift tickets.
It’s impossible to try all of the amazing avant-ski places scattered in ski resorts across the continent, but it’s worth trying. What’s your favorite place to fuel up before a day on the slopes?
*If you haven’t heard of après ski, please proceed directly to a ski resort near you, wait until 4 p.m. or so and find a bar. They’ll provide the education that you need.