Black Diamond Breakfasts

Master the art and science of picking the perfect breakfast, and you won’t have to stop for lunch.

By Brigid Mander
Photography by Rugile kaladyte

Persephone Bakery is a favorite with local skiers and riders because its breakfast sandwich can keep you going all day long. It’s a nice spot for an afternoon snack, too.

Persephone Bakery is a favorite with local skiers and riders because its breakfast sandwich can keep you going all day long. It’s a nice spot for an afternoon snack, too.

IT’S A WELL-KNOWN mantra: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It’s a good thing then that breakfast cuisine—French toast, waffles, eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, breakfast burritos, and pancakes—is often extremely delicious. But for skiers, breakfast is not just about inspired cooking or getting a nutritionally complete day rolling: It can also make or break a ski day. Choose wisely and you can keep hunger at bay and energy levels high enough to make it through to après. Choose poorly and you’ll need to pause from turns for snacks and/or lunch, a disaster on a powder day.

But properly planning and picking the perfect ski breakfast—the one that will have you sated until 4 p.m. nachos and beers—is not easy. It requires research and honing in on the right breakfast for your body. Katie Franklin, a Jackson Hole Ski Club racing coach, finds “lots of rich calories” work for her: “I love things such as the ham and Swiss cheese croissant at Elevated Grounds in the Aspens.” Since she says she’s often running too late on big days to get a cooked breakfast out, Franklin knows other quick things that fuel her. “Pumpernickel bagels from Pearl Street Bagels with honey-walnut or berry [cream cheese],” she says. “[Always] fully loaded, never a schmear. Sometimes I go truly nuts and get peanut butter and avocado and honey-walnut. This makes my company gag, but I think it’s delicious. Pumpernickel purportedly has protein, but it’s also my favorite by far.”

Larry Poma has been skiing Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the valley’s backcountry for two decades, and he says it is a continual battle to find the perfect breakfast for a big day. A bowl, or even bowls, of cereal at home is cheap and easy, but doesn’t last. “Not even the really heavy muesli stuff,” he says. Poma was into the premade bagel sandwiches at Pearl Street Bagels (bacon, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel) for a while, but “it was as much of a gut bomb as it was delicious,” he says. “I would get one and mean to eat just half, saving the second half for a midmorning snack, but it was so good I could never eat just half, even when I knew I was hurting myself. Thirty minutes later, all I’d want to do was take a nap.” Poma’s now testing the menu at Down on Glen (D.O.G.). The spicy breakfast burrito seems to be working well for him, on some days. “I can only do the burrito if I’m gearing up for a day at the resort,” he says. “If I’m heading for the backcountry, I call ahead and order one of the breakfast sandwiches, which are smaller than the burritos. I think I’ve finally found the perfect system.”

Here are some places to start as you look for your best ski-all-day breakfast:

Down on Glen (D.O.G.)

This hole-in-the-wall takeout spot and outdoor eatery is a bastion of local color and big breakfasts. Its calorie-to-cost ratio is possibly the best in the valley. The menu is simple—ski-bum breakfast staples like burritos the size of your forearm and breakfast sandwiches you almost have to unhinge your jaw to bite into. Any of these will keep you satisfied all day; it comes down to personal preference. The most popular is the spicy meat burrito. Eight dollars buys you 1.5 pounds of eggs, diced onion, tomato, jalapeños, fried potatoes, cheese, and spicy meat. Don’t expect coddling or pandering customer service here: Ski bums run this place for other ski bums. D.O.G. is more akin to a busy midtown Manhattan deli than any other eatery in the valley. Its motto is “Cheap, Fast, Friendly … two out of three ain’t bad.” 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily; 25 S. Glenwood; 307/733-4422

Lotus Cafe offers more vegetarian options than anywhere else in town, but it also has plenty for carnivores. Whatever you go for, count on it being filling without making you feel too full.

Lotus Cafe offers more vegetarian options than anywhere else in town, but it also has plenty for carnivores. Whatever you go for, count on it being filling without making you feel too full.

Lotus Cafe

Don’t be fooled by the vegetable-centric-ness and organic emphasis of the menu at this cozy cafe. Lotus’ mission is to have something for everyone, carnivores included. (You can get bison gravy on your biscuits here.) Executive chef and owner Amy Young sources sustainably farmed and local ingredients as often as possible, including organic free-range meats and cheeses. Most menu items, from the creamy lemon-cinnamon-ginger tikka sauce to gluten-free bread and very glutinous biscuits, are house-made. For on-the-go, the deluxe Breakfast Sandy ($9.50) provides all-day fortitude: egg, cheddar, spinach, ancho chile sauce, roasted garlic aioli, and a choice of protein, including bison sausage, bacon, marinated tempeh, or a breakfast veggie patty. If you’ve got the time to sit down, it’s worth it (unless it’s a powder morning). Other breakfast options include blue corn-banana griddle cakes ($11), Belgian waffles ($10), an acai bowl ($12), and breakfast tacos ($13). There’s also a pastry case full of cookies and muffins (traditional, GF, and vegan options here, too). It never hurts to stick one of these in your pocket for a chairlift snack. Breakfast served daily from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; 145 N. Cache; 307/734-0882; theorganiclotus.com

While a kouign amann isn’t enough to keep you going all day long on the slopes, it makes for a nice side with one of Persephone’s breakfast entrees.

While a kouign amann isn’t enough to keep you going all day long on the slopes, it makes for a nice side with one of Persephone’s breakfast entrees.

Persephone Bakery

This cheerful bakery and cafe fuses French country breakfast cooking with American tastes. There’s no question its croissants and breads are the best in town. But, no matter how buttery, a croissant alone won’t get you from breakfast to après. Start with a pastry—even if you can’t pronounce “kouign amann,” order it ($3.75); it’s like a caramelized croissant. Then go for a hot dish like the herbed farm-fresh omelette ($10). It’s stuffed with fresh herbs, goat cheese, vegetable hash, and fried fingerling potatoes, and topped with Dijon cream sauce. Of course it comes with some toasted Persephone bread on the side. Persephone’s egg sandwich ($8) is the fanciest breakfast sammy in town with an organic fried egg, Gruyere, Creminelli ham or Snake River Farms bacon, and Dijon aioli on a croissant. If you have the sweet potato/Brussels sprout hash here, all other hashes will be dead to you. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, Persephone is your spot. Espresso drinks are made from beans roasted by Chicago-based Intelligentsia Coffee. Persephone’s one possible drawback is actually a plus for skiers: If you don’t get here early, you’ll miss your chance for a table. Breakfast served daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 145 E. Broadway; 307/200-6708; persephonebakery.com

The James Beard Foundation recognized Nora’s Fish Creek Inn as one of “America’s Classics,” and Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Breakfast here can be filling enough—the huevos rancheros are huge—that you might not be hungry even by the time après-ski rolls around.

The James Beard Foundation recognized Nora’s Fish Creek Inn as one of “America’s Classics,” and Guy Fieri featured it on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Breakfast here can be filling enough—the huevos rancheros are huge—that you might not be hungry even by the time après-ski rolls around.

Nora’s Fish Creek Inn

Even before the James Beard Foundation recognized it in 2012 as one of “America’s Classics” and Guy Fieri featured it in 2014 on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, locals from ski bums to senators and cowboys loved Nora’s. It opened in 1982, and founder Nora Tygum’s daughter, Kathryn, and son, Trace, run it today. This isn’t the place to come on a weekend powder day—you’ll have to wait for a seat, whether you want a table near the soapstone hearth or a spot at the U-shaped bar. Weekdays, though, get the trout with two eggs ($15), corned beef hash with two eggs ($13), biscuits and gravy ($7), or banana bread French toast ($7.50), and there’s no doubt you’ll be good to ski all day. Get Nora’s most popular breakfast—huevos rancheros ($10 and topped with house-made green salsa)—and you might not even be hungry at après. Thankfully, about a year ago, Nora’s switched out its coffee. It replaced the horrible drudge it had served for years with Snake River Roasters’ brew, which is roasted in small batches right here in Jackson Hole. Breakfast daily from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. weekdays and 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. weekends; 5600 Highway 22, Wilson; 307/733-8288; norasfishcreekinn.com

Sous chef Vincent Affinito puts the finishing touches on the cedar-plank trout with poached eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onion kale salad at Four Seasons’ Westbank Grill.

Sous chef Vincent Affinito puts the finishing touches on the cedar-plank trout with poached eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onion kale salad at Four Seasons’ Westbank Grill.

Four Seasons’ Westbank Grill Breakfast and Buffet

When you want a refined start to your day, swing by the Westbank Grill in the Four Seasons, a snowball’s throw from the Bridger Gondola. The cedar-plank trout with poached eggs, heirloom tomatoes, and sweet onion kale salad ($23) on the à la carte breakfast menu is delicious. But so is the huckleberry-stuffed French toast topped with lemon whipped cream ($19). If you’re really hungry, there’s the breakfast buffet ($37/adult, $16 for kids 14 and under, kids 5 and under are free); this is the first winter it’s available every day. When you’re full, it’s just a short walk from Westbank to the lifts, and the commencement of calorie burning. Breakfast daily from 7 to 11 a.m.; 7680 Granite Loop Rd., Teton Village; 307/732-5000; fourseasons.com/jacksonhole

Affinito prepares the huevos rancheros, his favorite dish, at Westbank Grill.

Affinito prepares the huevos rancheros, his favorite dish, at Westbank Grill.

| Posted in JH Living
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