Rafter’s is a little bit like the guy dressed up in a flashy outfit at the bar who looks interesting—but once you get talking to him, you find you’d rather just have a beer with the fellow in jeans and a t-shirt. The building, part of a three-restaurant mini-empire owned by developer Jim Demitrades, is beautiful looking—high, vaulted ceilings with exposed wood beams. A roaring fireplace visible from both sides of the restaurant, an expansive deck. But the service is lacking and the food is inconsistent. Check the “help wanted” section of any local paper—if you see the same joint constantly looking for employees, you’ve got a big clue about the overall turnover rate and staff satisfaction at that place—Rafter’s has got a running “help wanted” ad. Let’s just leave it at that.
That said, the place is a real go-to for nightlife. They have live music most weekends, karaoke on Tuesdays, and salsa dancing on Thursdays. They bring in some pretty big names, and the place is certainly one of the closest things sleepy Mammoth has to a real “nightlife” besides Lakanuki in The Village, which kind of reeks of desperation and bad DJ music.
If you want to get down on the dance floor or try your skills at a country song on the Karaoke screen, Rafter’s is your place. We just recommend that you keep your imbibing to drinks only—if you need to eat, great, but there’s better places to spend your money on cuisine than on the “lamb lolli-chops” and flatbreads on offer.
Do, however, stop in for one of their concerts (many are free, and the ones with covers are pretty reasonable). If you’re staying at the adjacent resort, it’s also a very easy stumble back to your room.
Sarah Rea is a freelance dirtbag-turned-journalist who has been living in the Sierra on and off for twenty years, with eight spent in Yosemite National Park and five in Mammoth Lakes. She likes dogs, rocks, good food and jumping into cold water.