This California Ski Destination Is a Hidden Gem for Dining and Drinking

From a gourmet food truck to Cuban, Japanese, and vegan restaurants, Mammoth Lakes has an option for everyone.

Just a five-hour drive from LA in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mammoth Lakes has long been known as a year-round adventure resort. Although the town of Mammoth Lakes is only four square miles and has a year-round population of approximately 8,000, it swells to several times that size during winter and summer months when visitors come for skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking, plus easy access to Yosemite National Park and the basalt rock formation, Devils Postpile National Monument.

All of those tourists need somewhere to fuel up before and after hitting the slopes, which has led to a boom in the local culinary scene. Here you’ll find a combination of old favorites and newer establishments that reflect the changing identity of the town. Whether it’s a lively gastropub or a fine dining restaurant inside a bowling alley, these restaurants, breweries, wine bars, and bake shops showcase the best that Mammoth has to offer.

Helmed by brothers Georges and Daniel Daou of the esteemed DAOU Vineyards on DAOU Mountain in Paso Robles, DAOU Lounge is an opportunity to taste their award-winning wines at 9,000 feet elevation in McCoy Station on Mammoth Mountain. Stop by any weekend through February 13, and sink into Adirondack chairs as you take in pristine, snow-capped views while sipping on a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or enjoying a tasting flight.
How to book: Ski or walk-ins only.

Helmed by James Beard-nominated chef Mark Estee, Campo serves up rustic Italian fare like wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, and risotto, all made using organic and seasonal ingredients. Highly recommended are the Wagyu Short Rib Ravioli and the Black Winter Truffle Risotto. Campo also offers a full wine list available by the glass and the bottle, and a selection of premium cocktails, such as the Apple Cinnamon Sour.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, reservations recommended on weekends. Delivery available via Doorstep Deliveries.

Serving up a mix of Cuban, Spanish, and Puerto Rican cuisine that’s influenced by the owners’ heritage, this restaurant is located between downtown Mammoth and Snowcreek Resort, and the dining room windows showcase stunning mountain views. Indulge in their Picadillo Con Arroz, a Caribbean tomato-based ground beef stew with Cuban black beans and Puerto Rican red beans, served with a side of tostones (smashed plantains), or opt for the Escabeches, a signature Puerto Rican dish that adds proteins like chicken, shrimp, and pigeon peas to a pickled base marinade. There’s also a menu of panini-pressed sandwiches and larger plates like Guava-Glazed Ham and Roasted Garlic Pork. Dos Alas often has live music and dancing on the weekends.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, call ahead for larger parties. For takeout, call 760-965-0345.

As you make your way through The Village, wander into Shelter Distilling and take a seat at the bar or one of the high tables inside. If you can find a seat, that is. Shelter is not only a distillery and brewery that makes all of its spirits and beer in-house, it is also a kitchen and full bar that serves up an array of delicious bites like a Warm Pretzel Roll with house-made IPA mustard and white cheddar cheese sauce, a Crispy Confit Pork Belly Taco, and Mammoth Mac, a loaded mac and cheese with chorizo, sundried tomato, broccoli, and jalapeño. Warm up with an Irish Coffee, or keep it low-key with a beer and cider flight.
How to book: Full menu available for indoor dining, heated outdoor dining, and takeout. Walk-ins only, but you can order online.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Visit this hybrid gourmet market and restaurant, and you are in for a treat—here you’ll find a 100% all-organic bakery, deli, and kitchen with housemade salads, pastas, soups, and hand pies. Enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board at the restaurant, and browse Bleu’s selection of hand-crafted and small batch products. You’ll find a variety of treasures, including a hand-picked selection of craft beer and wine, international spices and sauces, and artisan pastas.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, and you can shop the market in-person or place an order online in advance for pickup.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

An upscale restaurant with a lively atmosphere, Morrison’s is a great option for a special occasion. It’s owned by Convict Lake Resort, whose namesake restaurant located just outside of town is also worth a visit. Be sure to bring your appetite: the Blackened Shrimp with guacamole is the perfect way to start off your meal, which is best followed with the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad before tucking into hearty entrees like Ribeye Steak and Braised Lamb Shank. An extensive wine list and cocktail menu are also available.
How to book: Make reservations online or by calling 760-934-7427.

Available for Reservations

Who knew that one of Mammoth’s classiest restaurants would be found inside Mammoth Rock ‘N’ Bowl, the town’s bowling alley? That is certainly the case here, with chef Frederic Pierrel recreating French-inspired classics like Escargot and Elk Medallions. Time your visit right and you can enjoy the sunset over the Sherwin mountain range. Be sure to save room for dessert—we recommend the Brick Oven Apple Tart Normandy.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome or make a reservation for parties of six or less online. For larger parties, call 760-934-4200, ext. 233. Delivery available via Doorstep Deliveries.

Available for Reservations

Located inside the Tamarack Lodge on the banks of the stunning Twin Lakes, Lakefront Restaurant is a splurge that’s absolutely worth it. With only ten tables, this is an intimate and memorable dining experience. Lakefront’s seasonal menu features sustainable and locally-sourced selections, and attention is paid to the smallest detail when it comes to the presentation of these gastronomic delicacies. Make a reservation for a Friday or Saturday evening during the winter and dip into dishes like Wild Boar Osso Buco, Duck Confit, and Wild Mushroom Cannelloni while musician Joe Grey croons jazz standards in the lodge lobby.
How to book: Call 760-934-2442, ext. 5 for dinner reservations and takeout orders.

Serving up a variety of healthy dishes including those that are vegan, vegetarian, and paleo-friendly, Elixir believes in eating clean. This fast-casual restaurant is 100% gluten-free, and uses organic, whole-food ingredients. Pick up a cold-pressed juice or wellness shot, or try a grain bowl, such as the Thai Buddha Bowl. The food is both fresh and nourishing, and one of the best new additions to Mammoth’s food scene.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, or place your order online for pickup. Delivery available via Doorstep Deliveries.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

Side Door aptly describes itself as a wine shop inside a wine bar inside a cafe. Slide in for European cuisine with American flair, featuring savory and sweet crepes, paninis, and cheese and chocolate fondue. You can also browse from an assortment of wines from around the world, draft microbrews, and craft cocktails. This laidback spot has indoor dining and a heated outdoor patio.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Online ordering available for dine-in, takeout, or curbside service.

This brewery caters mainly to locals and visitors in the know who come here to unwind with one of the beers on tap and a flatbread or sandwich. Situated in an unassuming strip mall, you can post up at an outdoor table or warm up inside. Try the Crystal Crag, a West Coast pale ale, or Cold Smoke, a Bohemian-style pilsner. Don't miss open mic Mondays, where you can down a bit of liquid courage before hitting the stage.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, and you can order online to have your order ready when you come in. For takeout, call 760-266-5023. Distant Brewing also ships beer anywhere in California and merchandise anywhere in the United States.

An eco-friendly organic bake shop, Dessert’D was established in 2011 and has evolved from selling only cookies to a full-service menu that includes cakes, brownies, pies, ice cream, and cupcakes. Its desserts are all organic and made with the best quality ingredients, catering to allergies and specialty diets. Celebrating a birthday or anniversary while in town? Order from a selection of layer cakes, with scrumptious flavors like Double Chocolate Salted Caramel.
How to book: Call or text 760-924-0877 at least 24 hours in advance to place an order for pickup. Dessert’D also ships nationwide via Goldbelly.

Craving a big bowl of soul-soothing ramen? GOJIRA won’t disappoint. Ever tried fried sushi? That’s an option as well as regular sushi rolls and rice bowls. You might visit for the food but you’ll stay for the ambiance. Gojira is the Japanese word for Godzilla, and the space is decorated with memorabilia that range from posters to collectible toys. Don’t forget to order a boba drink, which comes in flavors ranging from taro to coconut to lavender milk tea.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Order online for takeout.

Available for Delivery/Takeout

With a goal of concocting a full range of microbrews that capture the spirit of the mountain, Mammoth Brewing Company offers indoor dining and a spacious beer garden for warmer months. Established in 1995, it’s located in the former Whiskey Creek building. With 14 beers on tap that are a combination of original and seasonal selections, you can also order a tasting flight if you’re feeling indecisive. The Eatery menu has a variety of bar bites, salads, sandwiches, and flatbread pizzas.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Online food orders are currently unavailable.

If you visited Mammoth back in the day, you remember The Mogul—an unpretentious steak-cabin where you could grill your own steaks near your table and enjoy an all-you-can-eat salad bar. Times may have changed, but you can always count on The Mogul to provide a hearty and satisfying meal. Save room for the Cinnamon Charlotte cupcake and ice cream concoction, a house specialty since 1971.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, but reservations are recommended on weekends and can be made by calling 760-934-3039.

Family-owned and operated for over 20 years, Good Life Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a great spot to people-watch, and depending on when you decide to stop by, you can enjoy dishes like Country-Fried Steak and Eggs, a Monte Cristo Sandwich, or Chicken Piccata. The food is unfussy and always satisfying, while still offering options for gluten-free and plant-based eaters.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, and takeout is available. Delivery via Doorstep Deliveries.

Roberto’s claims the title of being Mammoth’s favorite Mexican restaurant since 1985, and the proof is in the flan—but before you end your meal there, don’t miss out on dishes like Shrimp-Stuffed Chile Relleno, which is best paired with a cerveza or killer margarita. Don’t miss their daily happy hour from 2 to 5 pm, when you can enjoy tacos, beer, or a margarita for just $4.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome, and takeout is available by calling 760-934-3667.

Bell's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Mono County Tourism

You can’t miss this bright red gourmet food truck as you drive into town—do yourself a favor and make it a point to stop here for breakfast or lunch. Now under new ownership, Bell’s Kitchen was originally called First Chair Foods and maintains the same chef and menu. The Fireball Burrito is a favorite among locals, as well as the Banh Mi and Grilled Tri-Tip Sandwich. This is affordable comfort food at its best.
How to book: Takeout only. Delivery available via Doorstep Deliveries.

After an invigorating day on the slopes, make your way from the Village gondola to this gastropub. Well-known for its happy hour specials and premium drink menu with house-infused and barrel-aged creations, its equally satisfying food menu often flies under the radar. Choose from five different types of wings or a selection of sandwiches, such as the Open-Faced Fried Chicken, served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
How to book: Walk-ins welcome. Call 760-934-0707 for takeout.

In operation for 50 years, The Stove is a Mammoth fixture. Its hometown diner-style breakfasts are legendary, but expect a wait as this is a common stop for weekend brunch. Select from specialities such as Huevos Rancheros, or treat yourself with their Cinnamon Swirl French Toast. The Stove is also open for lunch, offering a full menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads.
How to book: Open for walk-ins and takeout orders.

If you’re in the mood for pizza or a specialty sandwich, look no further—Nik-N-Willie’s has got you covered. Available by the slice, to take-n-bake, or hot to-go, their pizza will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. And with options such as the meat-laden Devil’s Pizzapile or the spicy Thai pie, this should come as no surprise. Veggie pizzas are also available, as are chicken wings and spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread.
How to book: Takeout only. Call 760-934-2012 to place an order in advance or walk in. Delivery available via Doorstep Deliveries.

Danielle Bauter is a contributor for Thrillist.