Mammoth Tavern, located upstairs in a little strip mall which also houses a Thai restaurant and a few law offices, doesn’t look that impressive from the parking lot. But take a walk upstairs and you’ve got huge views of the Sherwins—the alpenglow show from Mammoth Tavern can’t be beat. The former site of Restaurant Skadi, Mammoth Tavern opened in 2013 and is run by couple Jessica Manning (who manages the front of the house) and chef Kerry Mechler.
Mechler’s food choices are eclectic and progressive for this old-school ski town. The roasted bone marrow with citrus-parsley salad toast is elegant and sinful, and the steak “tar tar” is made with raw ribeye in the classic style. Their happy hour is one of the best in town—they’ve got an incredible, high-brow wine list and glasses are half off, plus the house-made potato chips with onion dip are just $2. You heard that right. The smoked ham and Manchego croquettes are served in an adorable tiny fryer basket, and they serve oysters on the half shell with a house-made mignonette. But you’ve got to arrive early, happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and ends at 5:30, though the bartenders are pretty good about reminding you to put one last drink in before the clock ticks down.
“The Tavern,” as its known, also has a late-night menu that they serve when Mammoth is busy, making them one of the few places to get served food when it’s past 9 p.m. (Mammoth may be a popular ski town, but when it comes to eating late, it’s reputation as being “in the sticks” makes sense).
The warm light and and tall ceilings with exposed beams, plus its huge bar and the true “mixologists” making craft cocktails, make this place a must-visit, especially if you can catch that coveted golden hour light from a table near a window.
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.