After a day of skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Hood, you might be tempted to rush down Highway 26 with blinders on. But then you’d miss out on the unexpected variety of après ski and dining options available right off the road. These warm, cozy spots are just what you need to rejuvenate after a day on the slopes, whether you’re looking for something quick and filling, or prefer to linger over an expertly prepared meal, there’s something for everyone. After all, what is skiing without après ski?
Note that driving in this area can be hazardous, even with chains or snow tires. Make sure to check road conditions before you head out.
Skyway Bar & Grill, ZigZag
If you’re looking for a hearty meal that can stand up to the wintery weather outside, follow the smell of BBQ to the Skyway Bar & Grill. Head Chef Jason Hornor has been at the helm of the Skyway for 15 years now and has some suggestions. “We’re really proud of our pastrami, it’s one of our specialties,” shares Hornor. For those looking for a little bit of everything, try the sampler, it’s loaded with brisket, ribs, and pulled pork with your choice of two sides.” If you’re looking for a quick fix, Hornor suggests the brisket sandwich with coleslaw, “it’s the quickest order if you’re trying to get back on the road.” The Skyway doesn’t take reservations, but they do have a spacious dining room with plenty of seating. Horner always has a campfire going outside to huddle around, or saddle up for a drink from the full bar, which includes house-made infused spirits—the apple bourbon comes highly recommended. As the night progresses, be on the lookout for flaming drinks, “Once one comes out everybody in the place has to have one, it’s just how it seems to go,” says Horner, and when the live music on the weekends starts up the roadhouse BBQ vibe really kicks in.
Whistle Stop Bar & Grill, Welches
You’ve seen the bright red building with the sign out front advertising daily specials as you drive by, well, here’s your notice to head on in. As of the summer of 2019, The Whistle Stop is under the new ownership of Marc and Debby Accuardi, who previously owned the popular Gino’s Restaurant and Bar in the Sellwood neighborhood. Unlike Gino’s, the Whistle Stop is much more casual homestyle food done well. Since taking over, Deb Accuardi says the focus has been on upgrading the ingredients as well as the space while “keeping this old dive bar as comfortable as possible for the locals.” Updates include two new covered areas in back with a new firepit area (yes, leashed pets are welcome). Start off with homemade Bloody Marys, or, if you’re looking for a warm-me-up, the flaming Moroccan or Spanish coffees. Visitors share great reviews on the weekly specials including meatloaf Wednesdays, fish and chips Fridays and prime rib Saturday. All pork and beef is locally sourced from Painted Hills Meat, with baked goods delivered from Grand Central Bakery. The restaurant is open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. No reservations, 21-and over.
Chicali Cantina, Welches
Located in the Woodland Shopping Center, Chicali Cantina Mexican restaurant was opened in August of 2021 by owner Robin Parker, a longtime chef and restaurant consultant. The restaurant is focused on using only the best, locally sourced ingredients, which means plenty of seasonal offerings and specialty items. Start off with made-to-order guacamole or a flight of salsas. Parker says the most popular dishes are the queso birria tacos, which she describes as akin to a French dip taco. She also recommends the seafood enchiladas and carne asada and shrimp burritos covered in a poblano cream sauce. And of course, street tacos which are served a la carte. Quench your thirst with fresh-squeezed margaritas made with 100-percent agave tequila. The heated outdoor deck is dog friendly – order a bite for your dog from the doggie menu. For those in a hurry, Chicali also offers grab-and-go Burritos and Take ’n’ bake enchiladas. Open for lunch and dinner, with daily happy hour.
Rendezvous Grill, Welches
If you’re looking to end your ski day with a proper date, you’ll find Rendezvous Grill to be the ideal location. This modern fine-dining restaurant beloved by locals is known for serving “serious food in a not-so-serious place.” The relaxed atmosphere belies the expert food sourcing and preparation diners have come to expect under longtime owners Tom and Susie Anderson. The menu changes with the seasons, current favorites include sake-glazed salmon, Shanghai shrimp, or maybe you’re in the mood for a heaping plate of beer brats with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. Dessert specials are a must including seasonal fruit crisps and the unexpected panna cotta or a fall arroz con leche—and yes you can come here just for the desserts or for the ever-changing wine list. Rendezvous Grill is open Wednesday through Sunday, walk in only.
Pub 26, Welches
This popular local watering hole has a new location for 2022 in the Hoodland Shopping Center. Stop in for some refreshers after a day on the slopes. Pub 26 offers a full appetizer and dinner menu, which you can order at the bar, including wings, tots, a popular fried chicken sandwich, the equally popular smashburger, or a simple grilled cheese all served on bread fresh from Grand Central bakery. Enjoy a draft beer featuring a selection of microbrews or opt for a fresh-squeezed margarita. Open daily until late.
Brightwood Tavern, Brightwood
You’ll have to pull a little further off Hwy. 26 to get to Brightwood Tavern, tucked into the forest along the Salmon River. This neighborhood tavern is just what you would expect from the neon signs, to the pool table, to the tight-packed bar. Find a roundtop and settle in for drinks and local-favorite offerings including the homemade Brightwood pulled pork sandwich and catfish fish & chips, or try out the daily special. The tavern is open daily for those 21 and over. Enjoy the large outdoor area in back for additional seating when the weather allows—no pets please.