Post-ride meals are one of the many things I love about mountain biking. They give me time to recharge after being completely drained and allow me to process the day’s ride. In addition, they provide some of the best bonding time available. Stories are told of struggles, triumphs, and good times. Lastly, but certainly not least, during post-ride meals, food just seems to taste better. In a natural extension of my love for food and mountain biking, I decided to surmount a seemingly impossible task: finding the best post-ride restaurants in the country.
The first and possibly most complex part of the whole process was figuring out how restaurants would be judged. The two main components were the trails surrounding the establishment and the quality of the establishment itself. Since finding the best restaurants in every mountain bike-related town in the country seemed to teeter on the edge of impossibility, I decided to deal with the trails part of the equation in one simple move. The top 10 restaurants would be one establishment within the boundaries of each of the regions described on our Top 10 Mountain Bike Destinations in the USA list.
Next was the restaurant rating system. It started with finding as many “top 10” lists as I could find on each town. Then, after writing down the restaurants that made it onto two or more of those lists, I set a few post-ride parameters. First, the restaurant had to be open throughout the whole afternoon and evening. During a ride, it is often hard to tell when you’ll get back. You could take a wrong turn, simply want to take it slow, or get a mechanical that could cause you to get back hours past the ETA that was first anticipated. That is why restaurants that open at 5:30 or close at 3:00 are not optimal because anything can happen, and one of the cornerstones of a good post-ride restaurant is reliability and quick access to food.
Similarly, post-ride restaurants must obviously have a relatively short wait and quick service. One of the easiest ways a post-ride experience can be crippled is if waiting becomes an issue. After a really vigorous ride, this can often lead to stratospheric amounts of hunger that shouldn’t be wished upon anybody.
Next, although this is not necessarily a requirement, it is especially nice if the restaurant has a nearby bike rack or is near MTB infrastructure so that after eating, any bike-related needs can be easily met. In addition, since post-ride meals are usually eaten in dirty biking clothes, the atmosphere of a post-ride restaurant must be casual… very casual.
Finally, each restaurant was judged upon the quality of its food and service. This was the longest part of the whole process, requiring hours of pouring over reviews at a number of review sites to find the best restaurant that met all of the requirements previously described.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best post-ride restaurants in the USA.
Moab, Utah: Moab Diner
Although it came down to the wire, the Moab Diner came out above Moab’s other establishments in terms of post-ride eating awesomeness. To start off strong, it nailed every one of the preferred characteristics of a post-ride restaurant. According to Trip Advisor, Moab Diner has incredibly far reaching hours, lightening fast service, bike parking, and generous portions, which covers all the bases.
In addition, their mouth-watering burgers come in every shape and size and have the ability to satisfy a large array of different taste buds. If burgers are too much for your stomach after a rough ride on a Moab classic like the Whole Enchilada or Captain Ahab, the Moab Diner is still more than capable of delivering one of their of their delicious platters of halibut fish and chips or one of a variety of great sandwiches.
The best part? After a hard day of work in the desert sun, the Moab Diner reaches back to their 1950s roots to provide great dessert options like a banana split or a cone of one of 14 different ice cream flavors.
- Hours: 6:00am-9:00 pm weekdays, 6:00am-10:00pm weekends
- Vegetarian and gluten-free options
- Location: 189 S Main St, Moab, UT
- Website: moabdiner.com
Bend, Oregon: Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails
In the eccentric, world-class mountain bike destination of Bend, Oregon, Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails has fought hard and claimed its spot as the best post-ride establishment in town. Even though its weekend hours aren’t the best and it may seem a little fine for the average dirty mountain biker, its southern flair and reportedly amazing service from Yelp reviewers like Maureen S. more than make up the difference.
With the use of farm-fresh ingredients, a customer at Zydeco can be served up with any amazing combination of incredible food ranging from vegetable risotto to shrimp andouille and craw fish jambalaya. Trip Advisor once again verifies that they also supply food for vegetarians, gluten-free patrons, and even vegans. For the more burger-minded people out there (myself included), their juicy cheeseburger is made from Oregon natural beef and is served with a side of crispy fries.
Furthermore, Zydeco supplies bike parking and has take out for those times after long rides when you just want to go home and relax. Despite yelp’s Sheryl B.’s observation of Zydeco’s tendency to be pretty busy, the average post-ride mountain biker is usually graced with a mid-afternoon finish time, so the crowds shouldn’t be too bad. Finally, don’t let the prices fool you. They might be on the higher side, but Zydeco delivers high quality food that’s going to prompt a return visit sooner rather than later.
- Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30am-9:00pm, Friday 11:30am-10:00pm, Saturday 5:00pm-10:00pm, Sunday 5:00pm-9:00pm
- Vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan options
- Location: 919 NW Bond St, Bend, OR
- Website: zydecokitchen.com
Grand Valley, Colorado (Fruita): Hot Tomato Cafe
For determining the best post-ride restaurant in the Grand Valley, I decided to focus on Fruita due to its amazing trails (such as 18 Road and the Kokopelli Area Trails) and its excellent MTB infrastructure. Part of that infrastructure is arguably the best post-ride restaurant of all time, Hot Tomato Pizza. Serving up delicious pizza in a bike-themed atmosphere, Hot Tomato has easily beaten out its competition. The qualities that many Trip Advisor reviewers identified–long hours, good service, close proximity to bike shops, relatively short waits, and options for both vegans and vegetarians–have made Hot Tomato a staple and in some ways a beacon of the Fruita mountain biking scene.
In addition, its wide beer selection and simple menu make Hot Tomato a quick and easy stop when driving through town. Its pizza can be bought by the pie or by the slice and will definitely not disappoint. Their handmade pizza dough, freshly-cut toppings, and finely-grated cheese create a perfect, nearly artistic balance of flavors that will please your taste buds for only mere minutes, but will linger in your mind for days to come.
- Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm
- Vegan and vegetarian options
- Location: 124 N Mulberry St, Fruita, CO
- Website: hottomatocafe.com
Park City, Utah: Sammy’s Bistro
Park City has a long history of great food, so it was only natural that the competition for the top spot would be fierce. In the end, Sammy’s Bistro was able to win the battle using its award winning meals and affordable prices (for Park City). With meal options ranging from meatball subs to stir fried curry veggies with rice, this restaurant provides a unique twist on food from around the world. Featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, the Bistro’s Uruguayan-inspired Chivito Club is a highly recommended choice from local foodie Brooke Eliason. Yelp’s Ryan D. observed that the staff, who are very friendly, keep a relatively tight ship that provides food without much of a wait (once again, relative to Park City).
But what really sets Sammy’s Bistro apart is the fact that it has delivery, meaning they have mountain bikers who went hard on that day’s ride covered. And this isn’t an ordinary pizza delivery, this is the delivery of the types of foods you only find in restaurants.
In terms of its friendliness towards mountain bikers, don’t fear; Sammy’s Bistro has bike parking, long hours of operation, is easily-accessible from Park City’s sprawling network of trails, and has an atmosphere that won’t give you cold feet.
- Hours: Sunday-Saturday 11:00am-9:00pm
- Vegetarian and gluten-free options
- Location: 1890 Bonanza Dr, Park City, UT
- Website: sammysbistro.com
Crested Butte, Colorado: Secret Stash Pizza
Secret Stash Pizza clearly deserves the accolades that it receives. Long hours, take out, unique options, bike parking, and a great vibe already put “The Stash” into the playing field with other restaurants on this list. But like Sammy’s Bistro, it provides both takeout and delivery that allow tired, hungry mountain bikers to survive without even having to go the extra distance to the restaurant.
Even without those enticing features, the Secret Stash’s food is really where it hits home. If you’re looking to have your mind blown, try the Notorious FIG, winner of the World Champion Pizza Challenge. Not in the mood for something that big? Anyone can still enjoy a killer sample of what the Secret Stash has to offer by trying their Crack Fries, which are covered in parmesan cheese, black pepper, and are served with a side of their special dipping sauce. Reviewers like mlsawyer5 say the great people at the Stash do everything they can to make sure that your experience with them is the best that it can possibly be, and it shows. Although the Secret Stash’s pies are a little pricey, the superior quality of the pizza and other menu items completely justifies every dollar spent.
- Hours: 8:00am-11:00pm daily
- Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options
- Location: 303 Elk Ave, Crested Butte, CO
- Website: secretstash.com
Brevard, North Carolina: The Square Root
Picking the best restaurant in Brevard is a difficult task. The Square Root ended up being the top pick because of its amazing food, wacky location, great service, and thrilling atmosphere. Offering almost every type of food imaginable, the Square Root has the ability to please any type of eater.
On the one occasion that I had a chance to eat there (after a ride in the nearby Dupont State Forest), I was completely surprised with the quality of their half pound burger. In addition, the cedar plank salmon was cooked to perfection and the music playing on the speakers was great. If an Asian influence is more your speed, try the Chicken Curry or the Eggplant Club.
The Square Root’s large portions and good hours make it perfect for a post-ride meal. Even though they don’t have a bike rack, they do have some covered outdoor seating on a patio where you can keep a good eye on your bike. Finally, their attentive and friendly staff will keep you hooked up with water or another beverage of your choosing throughout the meal, making it easy re-fuel after a day in Pisgah or Dupont.
- Hours: 11:00am-9:00pm daily
- Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options
- Location: 33 Times Arcade Alley, Brevard, NC
- Website: squarerootrestaurant.com
Lake Tahoe, California (South Lake Tahoe): Macduff’s Pub
Once again confronted with a massive region, South Lake Tahoe ended up being the town I thought was the most mountain bike-focused in the region. This was mostly due to its proximity to three of Tahoe’s greatest rides, the Tahoe Rim Trail, The Flume Trail, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. That said, the entire region is flush with singletrack and setting up basecamp in any of the towns dotting the shore of the lake would reap massive rewards.
While researching South Lake Tahoe, there was very little correlation between the top restaurant lists (perhaps a testament to how many good restaurants are in town). However, Macduff’s Pub held strong on each of the lists.
Macduff’s provides delicious American, Scottish, and Irish food. To start, they have clearly put some thought into their appetizers. Ranging from buttermilk fried calamari to clam chowder in a bread bowl to French onion soup, they are a tantalizing heads-up for what’s to come. For main courses, they offer traditional English pub favorites like shepherd’s pie and fish and chips. To satisfy those looking for more greasy, high-calorie foods, Macduff’s also serves great burgers and pizza. Gary B. on Trip Advisor has even confirmed that they will even cook fish that hungry fishermen bring to them, call the fisherman back around dinner, and then serve them their own catch!
The large portions, bike parking, long hours, and even take-out that Yelp reviewers have found easily show Macduff’s has made itself a great option for hungry mountain bikers. And after a great pub-style dinner, it doesn’t hurt that the restaurant is just a few turns away from Sierra Ski & Cycle, where the local wrenches will gladly tune up your ride for the next day’s adventure.
- Hours: 11:30am-9:30pm daily
- Gluten-free options
- Location: 1041 Fremont Ave, South Lake Tahoe, CA
- Website: macduffspub.com
Wydaho, Idaho and Wyoming (Jackson, WY): Cafe Genevieve
Wydaho is a massive region. So when picking the town I would evaluate, I decided that Jackson, Wyoming was probably the best choice. Although Jackson isn’t in the best location for easy access to the entire trail network, it is clearly the cultural center of Wydaho. Besides, Jackson’s trails aren’t shabby by themselves. Favorites include the trails coming off of Teton pass like Philip’s Ridge, and others in the area like Cache Creek to Game Creek.
The hands-down best post-ride eat in town can be found at Cafe Genevieve. Cafe Genevieve starts off strong by having two separate bike racks. One city-owned bike rack resides across the street from the restaurant and the other is located right in front of it. It is very easy to see their dedication to providing bikers a nice experience because they could have just left their bike rack situation at the status quo, but instead they intentionally raised the bar. Trip Advisor reviewers were able to identify some of the good qualities of the restaurant; for example, they found that Cafe Genevieve provided great food, good service, reasonable prices (Jackson has fallen victim to the same high-priced atmosphere as Park City), and efficiency.
I completely agree with Ski Curbed when they say that Cafe Genevieve brings a contemporary twist to a lot of southern favorites. But at the same time, they also preserve other dishes in their traditional form. Some good-looking prospects off the menu include their Snake River Farms Pork Neck Ragu, which is covered in garlic bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, and their barbecued pulled pork. One of Cafe Genevieve’s most well-known delicacies is their Pig Candy. Although this dessert is merely a candied strip of bacon, it has become somewhat famous after being featured on the Today Show. Lastly, Trip Advisor reviewer lizshugart confirms that Cafe Genevieve’s atmosphere is nice and casual, so there is no need to fear for any awkward experiences while you’re still wearing your kit.
- Hours: 8:00am-9:00pm daily
- Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options
- Location: 135 E Broadway Ave, Jackson, WY
- Website; genevievejh.com
Sedona, Arizona: Golden Goose American Grill
Because Yelp reviewers find quick seating and good food, the Golden Goose American Grill is a great option for a quick post-ride meal after riding some of Sedona’s amazing trails. Although it is a little on the fancy side, Niki R. from Yelp also found that the atmosphere isn’t too stuffy, and accommodating waiters will serve anybody, no matter how exhausted they are. The Golden Goose’s large patio can easily fit two people and a bike next to the table, and their long hours and refreshing beverages mean that any biker who comes in looking to recharge will find the Golden Goose there to suit their needs throughout the day.
The Golden Goose also has the quality and variety to fill anyone up. Several types of salads, including the Vegan Goodness Salad and the Certified Angus Steak and Bleu Cheese Salad, are at the ready. For the main course, The Golden Goose specializes in sandwiches (including burgers). However, they offer some good-looking pasta options, like the Redrock Salmon Pasta, as well.
- Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:00am-8:00pm, Saturday 8:00am-8:30pm, Sunday 8:00am-8:00pm
- Vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options
- Location: 2545 W State Route 89a, Sedona, AZ
- Website: goldengoosegrill.com
Sun Valley, Idaho: Despo’s
In Sun Valley, Despo’s, a Mexican restaurant right off of main street, cannot be beat. Unlike many of the resort towns on this list, Despo’s offers truly affordable fair. In addition, the huge portions and quality service that Trip Advisor’s kookoo48 experienced are enough to bring even the most worn out biker back from the dead. Reviewers like Bill S. on Trip Advisor agree that the KMT salad provide alternatives to a big greasy meal if stomach problems are an issue. Their hardy, authentic Mexican food offers the ease of handling and the high calorie to weight ratio that has made foods like Mexican a staple in the mountain biking world. Although Trip Advisor’s reviewers say waits can sometimes prove to be an issue, they also say the service is extremely quick and efficient. Finally, after eating, feel free to grab your bike from the bike rack and visit several of Sun Valley’s great bike shops that are located just around the corner!
- Hours: Monday-Saturday 11:30am-10:00pm
- Vegetarian options
- Location: 211 4th St E, Ketchum, ID
- Website: despossv.com
Your Turn: What are your favorite post-ride restaurants in your favorite destination?
Park City, UT
Crested Butte, CO
Lake Tahoe, CA
Sun Valley, ID
My mouth is watering right now! I’ve been to a few of these, and all have been superb!