We didn’t galavant about the countryside the entire time we were in Sun Valley. I am happy to report that, on our third day there, I took a sum total of 16 photos (which is a record), most of a couple of swans paddling around in a pond outside the Sun Valley Lodge. On that day we stayed in town and explored the shops of Ketchum (of which there are many), purchasing little (we’re not big shoppers). This is a good opportunity to take a moment to tell you a little bit about the food and drink of Ketchum. Because I’m big on food…and drink.
Ketchum does not lack for places to eat and drink. We tried a few, though we ate all of our breakfasts and a number of dinners at the condo and packed picnic lunches for a number of our day trips. Places of note:
Pioneer Saloon: This is a Ketchum institution, and for good reason. It’s heavy on dark decor, beef and giant Idaho potatoes. We enjoyed tender, wonderfully flavored prime rib, cocktails that did not skimp on booze and a nice cab sauv (one cannot eat red meat without red wine). We lingered, we chatted, we didn’t feel pushed out the door. I do wish I’d had an opportunity to try their huge, amazing looking beef ribs (which apparently are regularly a sell-out item) and their “famous” mud pie (which looked magnificent), but there’s only so much time and so much capacity.
Despo’s: Word on the street is that Despo’s (Mexican) is another local favorite. For good reason. We sat outside on a warm fall evening and ordered guacamole to accompany the free chips and salsa. I ordered a margarita, the husband a beer. The margarita? I appreciate that they don’t offer blenderized margaritas (I mean, why would anyone blenderize a margarita?), nor do they offer flavored margaritas. Purists. That’s a good thing. But, the drink itself? Meh. My “house” margarita, with three different liquors, is better than theirs. I was also a little disappointed, after-the-fact, when I realized that we could have had all three of their house-made salsas with our chips. We were only given one. The only way I realized three was an option was that the waitress offered all to a table of locals as we were finishing our meals. Maybe we had to be in the right club. However, I’m willing to forgive that because their burritos were uh-maze-ing. Drool worthy. I had the Maximo, slow roasted pork in a flour tortilla with rice, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Served “wet”, which means it has a tomatillo sauce on top. The pork was tender and smoky and in shredded chunks, if that makes sense. It wasn’t all shredded, there were still some chunks. The husband ordered the carne asado burrito, same idea except with grilled steak. Again, the meat was amazing. It’s almost unusual to find such quality and well-prepared meat at a Mexican restaurant. Two enthusiastic thumbs up.
Warfield Distillery & Brewery: We stopped here one evening for drinks. Their bar is actually outdoors on the top of the building. They’ve only been open a couple of months, so we’ll see how that outdoor bar does in the winter, but our waitress pointed out heaters and a fireplace that may still encourage those fresh off the slopes to kick back and order a hot toddy. I don’t remember exactly what was in my drink…gin…blackberry…It was pretty tasty. The husband had something different and felt the same. Standard resort-town cocktail prices at $12-$14/ea. One note about Ketchum: the food is not cheap. We enjoyed Warfield’s patio and the live music that evening (a guy with a guitar and a pretty good voice). We actually would have like to have gone back another night, but we ran out of time.
Big Wood Bakery Cafe: There was a menu for Big Wood (named after the local river) in our condo and I began salivating over it as soon as I discovered it. I really would have like to have gone there for breakfast to try the Galena Bowl (2 eggs any style atop roasted potatoes topped with sautéed shaved brussels sprouts, kale, onion, red pepper mix and farro), the Baldy Power Bowl (2 eggs any style topped with fresh mozzarella, fresh tuscan kale, quinoa, fire roasted corn, green onion and roasted red peppers drizzled with basil pesto) or the Bigwood Tartine (2 eggs any style on top of our sourdough bread toasted with sliced avocado, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh cracked pepper served traditional open faced). But, that didn’t happen. It was just easier to eat at the condo. However, we did stop by for lunch one day, and did not regret it. The husband had the Bigwood Club and I had the Chicken Salad. Both were huge sandwiches, served on homemade bread with homemade potato salad on the side. And the potato salad (and I’m particular about my ‘tater salad) was really good. I was eyeing the carrot cupcakes, but was too full to indulge. We watched a lot of food come out as we sat on their large patio and all of it looked really good.
Velocio: Velocio as a pleasant surprise that we stumbled across during our shopping day in Ketchum. We were hungry, but didn’t want to eat a heavy meal. The decor has a modern feel and we were drawn in by the garage-sized doors that were open to allow in the sun and the fresh air. The husband enjoyed a panini and I a Greek salad. The salad came out of a case next to where we ordered, but they actually took the clam shell and tossed it onto a plate for me and served it with a couple of small pieces of toasted bread. It was a tasty, traditional Greek salad with one unexpected element: grapes. Have you ever had grapes in a Greek salad? Me neither! But, somehow it totally worked. Something about the pop of sweet against the saltiness of the feta and Kalamata olives. We enjoyed house-brewed lemongrass iced tea with our lunch.
Johnny G’s Subshack: We stopped here on our bike ride to the botanical garden, which I’ve not told you about, yet, because we’ve not gotten to that day. Johnny G’s was a treat. The sandwiches were good (I had some sort of modified club, the husband had…something else). They come toasted. The bread is good. The ingredients fresh. They use a local mustard (Sun Valley mustard). We sat outside at a big picnic table, bikes leaned up against a fence nearby. Ate our sandwiches…and drank a $1 Coors Light. You heard me! Johnny G’s has two or three beers on top for $1 a pint. Can life get better than that? I’m not much of a beer person, but it tasted really good on a warm autumn day with a tasty sandwich.
Java on Fourth: The first morning we tried to go to Java on Fourth we couldn’t find it. It was also just after 6 in the morning, so we suspect (despite the hours posted on Yelp) that they weren’t yet open. However, we did find it a day or so later (at a more reasonable hour). The husband is a coffee drinker. I am a chai drinker. We arrived at Java at about 8:30. It was packed. Lots of people sitting in a couple of cozy rooms, a dozen or so in line. The husband had their house mocha, Bowl of Soul. He said it was good, but needed another shot, which he added when we returned the next morning. I enjoyed the Bhakti chai. My plan was to try the Bhakti one morning and their Mexican hot chocolate the next, but the Bhakti was so good I didn’t get around to the hot chocolate. I like my chai spicy and theirs fit the bill to a tee. Yum.
Duchin Lounge: The lounge at Sun Valley Lodge is pretty cool. Lots of squishy couches and tables and it’s spacious since it runs into the lodge lobby. We walked there late one afternoon for a cocktail. Mine was good, but not memorable. The husband had the Dukes of Hazzard, some concoction that included Knob Creek. He almost swooned when he took his first sip. I tried it and it was very good. The drinks were expensive, so we nursed them and enjoyed the deep leather couch and the company.
I just wrote a whole bunch about food and have no pictures to go with. You’ll just have to use your imagination and troll the websites I’ve included. This post may have been more for me than for you. I love talking about food. Speaking of which, it’s time to make dinner! Toodleloo!