Visitors come to Sun Valley for its outdoor splendor: mountain vistas, town accessible trails, lakes, and rivers—it can’t be beat. But once you get to town, you’ll discover there’s so much more to offer than the outdoors, like a diverse culinary scene rivaling that of any big city. The Wood River Valley may be relatively small, but it packs a punch food-wise. From restaurants with James Beard award–winning chefs to local favorites serving up baked potatoes the size of your head, there’s something for all budgets and cuisines.
Old School Classics
Ketchum and Sun Valley are ensconced in rich history; Ernest Hemingway has been noted to have dined regularly at many local favorites still around today, like the Sawtooth Club, where you can get a classic steak along with a cocktail. Michel’s Christiania serves up French food with a mountain vibe; grab a stool at the Olympic Bar where you can gaze at photos of Ketchum Olympians and maybe talk to former Olympic coach and restaurant owner Michel himself. The Ram in the Sun Valley Village is as classic as it gets. Operating since 1937, you’ll enjoy the rustic, yet elegant, atmosphere. No visit to Ketchum is complete without eating at The Pioneer Saloon on Main Street. The menu hasn’t changed in all its years and still serves the best steak and baked potatoes in town. And for a menu with a bit more variety and a focus on local, seasonal fare but with that classic feel, head to the Ketchum Grill, a local favorite since it opened over 20 years ago.
If you’re looking for less steak-and-potatoes and more eclectic, contemporary cuisine, the Sun Valley area has lots of new restaurants to try. Head to the Warfield on Main Street, a restaurant and distillery serving up their own alcohol and beer made onsite along with new American fare. One of Ketchum’s hottest restaurants to come on the scene in recent years is The Covey, whose menu changes frequently to feature the most seasonal, local ingredients. The Grill at Knob Hill, located inside the Knob Hill Hotel, has a bar serving up delicious craft cocktails and a menu with Northwest-inspired new American cuisine. Hailey’s Tundra on Main Street serves up new American fare featuring local ingredients. And Bellevue’s newest addition, Krafty, serves all manner of cuisine from pizza to gyros to Asian-inspired food.
For those in the mood for flavors from beyond our borders, you will not be disappointed. Indian restaurant Saffronelevates their takes on classic Indian dishes. Longtime sushi favorites Sushi on Second in Ketchum and Zou 75 in Hailey offer up rolls, entrees, and specials. For those craving Thai food, visit IdaThai in Ketchum or A Taste of Thai or Dang’s in Hailey. Various takes on Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisine are available at KB’s in Hailey or Ketchum, La Cabanita in Ketchum, and Chapalita, Lago Azul, and Mama Inez in Hailey (also be sure to check out our article on tacos in this issue). Jhony’s in Ketchum serves up Peruvian cuisine while down the street at Rickshaw one can enjoy tapas and entrees of southeast Asian influence. Or if it’s a little taste of Italy you’re after, try Smoky Mountain, South Valley Pizzeria, or Wise Guy’s. For more upscale vibes, try wine bar and eatery Enoteca or small restaurant Cookbook in Ketchum. In Hailey, DaVinci’s has been an Italian staple for years.
If you’re looking for a dining experience that feels like eating in a friend’s cozy kitchen, visit one of these favorites, like Ketchum’s Il Naso, serving classic Italian fare and an extensive wine list. Lunch restaurant Rasberry’s makes every element of their sandwiches, salads, and other entrees from scratch, with many ingredients and take-home dishes available for sale in their onsite deli. Vintage, located in a snug cabin in the middle of downtown, is Ketchum dining at its finest—be sure to make a reservation as this spot only has a handful of tables. CK’s in Hailey has been serving globally inspired farm-to-table cuisine for almost 20 years.
For dining with the family or when you’re just feeling like some quick, casual bites, head to one of these great spots. In Ketchum, Lefty’s, Grumpy’s, and Sawtooth Brewery all serve up delicious burgers and beer and have fun outdoor seating to catch some summer rays, as do the Powerhouse and Wicked Spud in Hailey. If you’re looking for sandwiches, try Hailey’s Jersey Girl or Big Belly Deli or Ketchum’s Bigwood Bread. Wrap City has an almost cult-like following for their wraps as does Ketchum sandwich shop Johnny G’s. The Smokey Bone in Hailey has authentic BBQ while Café Della has salads and sandwiches along with an onsite market and deli.
The breakfast scene in the Sun Valley area is dominated by a few key staples. There’s The Kneadery in Ketchum, serving breakfast classics like benedicts, omelets, and their famous pancakes. Gretchen’s, located within the Sun Valley Lodge, and the Konditorei, located in the Sun Valley Village, serve up their own style—Gretchen’s a more upscale breakfast and the Konditorei an Austrian-style menu with an onsite bakery and coffee bar. In Hailey, Shorty’sis a classic diner, both in design and in terms of their menu. Lucy’s in Bellevue is the locals’ go-to brunch spot.
For those looking to have a bite at the bar, try The Cellar or Whiskey’s in Ketchum, both family-friendly before 9pm. The Sun Valley Village’s Village Station has an assortment of dishes and drinks as well as a great happy hour. In Hailey, visit The Red Shoe, The Mint, or the Sun Valley Brewing Company, which often features live music in the summers. Mahoney’s in Bellevue serves up drinks and eats and often features live music as well.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, Sun Valley is sure to have something for those who seek sustenance and recuperation from their outdoor activities. A hungry adventurer can choose from fine dining, charming decades-old standbys, creative menus spanning the globe, and spots featuring locally sourced ingredients such as trout, elk, lamb, hops, potatoes, morels, and huckleberries. There truly is something for everyone here. Bon Appetit!