People in other parts of the country may not understand, but Angelenos sometimes tire of the warm weather.
Park City, Utah is an excellent getaway that caters snowbirds looking for a picturesque view and some great bites. Here are a few travel tips for those of us non-skiers who like to hit the slopes for the food.
Driving vs. Flying
It's only a 12-hour drive from Los Angeles to Park City, so on the surface it seems like a cheaper alternative to flying. But if you factor in stops for food and gas (and the inevitable speeding ticket) the trip is realistically 15 hours and more expensive than you'd expect. Flying is the way to go.
How to Stay
Hotels in Park City command exorbitant rates, so many travelers opt to stay in shared rooms at local homes and condos. But at a certain point in your life, you want a cozy retreat that doesn't require you to share the kitchen and living room space with a half dozen other travelers.
This year, I went with HomeAway, which only rents out whole properties, meaning no one else will be sleeping on your sofa unless you invite them. This kind of stay gave me access to a full kitchen -- a must when I'm trying to spend my dining dollars wisely.
You can also get amenities you don't normally get at a hotel -- fireplace, private hot tub and roomier living quarters. Mine was also dog-friendly for my travel-loving pooch and offered late check out to accommodate my evening flight.
Learning from past experiences, I booked my spot a short walk from Main Street in Park City, which saved me a ton of time in transportation and allowed me enjoy more of my stay. I felt more like a local than a tourist.
Where to eat
Executive Chef Briar Handly's small-plate establishment serves up primarily American fare that will warm your soul on a chilly night. Tucked just off Main Street, Handle's open design features dark woods and warm Edison-style light bulbs.
Cold weather is perfect for rich foods, so I recommend starting with the decadent duck liver mousse served creatively with sweet potato donuts, huckleberry and pistachios. The dish sells out often enough that regulars call ahead to make sure they get it. Plan accordingly.
Looking to start on the light side? Try the Idaho trout with pepper jelly. If you need to warm up, grab a bowl of the butternut squash soup with farro and black garlic emulsions. The menu also has plenty of craft cocktails to give you a warm fuzzy feeling before you head back into the snow. I recommend the Brooklyn, a take on the Manhattan with Luxardo cherries.
High West Distillery & Saloon
You may have seen High West whiskey at your local liquor store. They're now in all 50 states. Stop here to have it served up the right way. The whiskey is distilled on site, and as you can see from the photo below, there's a lot of science that goes into your beverage.
I ate here for lunch, so I tried the High Noon Punch (that's a lunchtime drink, right?), an exquisite blend of High West's double rye, American Prairie Bourbon, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, absinthe, grenadine, rose and soda water, served in a flute and garnished with a lemon peel.
The restaurant serves alpine-inspired Western fare with a great deal of German influence. Start with the soft pretzel, the perfect conduit to get creamy beer cheese and spicy mustard into your mouth. The dish is served with house-made pickles worth munching on their own. If you love chicken wings, High West's won't disappoint. The sriracha-glazed chicken provides just enough heat and pairs well with the house-made blue cheese dressing.
Love comfort food? The chicken pot pie stuffed with wild mushrooms, roasted tomato and root veggies is the perfect antidote to the winter cold. The chicken schnitzel is also an excellent choice, served with a tangy lemon-caper sauce and salad.
Riverhorse is an excellent dinner spot, but this time I came for brunch and wasn't disappointed. Snag a table on the patio (don't worry it's heated) for spectacular overhead view of Main Street.
Start off with a bacon-garnished, Tabasco-dashed Bloody Mary -- a little hair of the dog for all those late night parties. But early morning drinkers beware, due to Utah's liquor laws, no one can serve alcohol until 11:30 a.m. Make your reservations accordingly.
The menu is a wealth of delicious selections. I recommend the French toast if you're looking for breakfast. Want lunch? Try the lobster salad -- a deconstructed Cobb salad, featuring bacon and blue cheese, and served with a lobster tail.
Save room for dessert. If you're crazy for chocolate, the intensely rich dark chocolate duo is a delight. The sweet and tangy huckleberry cheesecake is also worth the extra calories. Don't worry, you'll trudge them off in no time at this elevation!
This French-and-Asian fusion spot will take you a world away from Park City. Wahso, the name which comes from phonetic spelling of "bird" in French, has Art Deco decor akin to Shanghai in the 1930's, so I was told. There are plenty of see-and-be seen tables, or tuck yourself away in a private booth and draw the curtain.
The portions here are generous, so come after a day of screenings or some time on the slopes. Start with the steamed Chinese buns -- I recommend the pork, but you can also get duck confit or kimchi.
The Thai beef salad is as much a pleasure to see as it is to eat, featuring thin slices of beef carpaccio, cucumbers and Thai herbs. Don't skip the Tom Kha Gai soup, an aromatic blend of galangal-lemongrass broth and coconut chicken.
Entree highlights include the tender pork short rib ramen, served with kimchi in an ambrosial broth. The miso black cod is also a favorite, a light fish dish paired with shiitake-bok choy stir fry, mushroom-ginger broth and sticky rice.