All of the Restaurants Near Purgatory Ski Resort

a man and his son enjoying beverages in the loft of a cabin, the Nugget Mountain Bar, as seen reflected in a pair of snowboard goggles

Living in North La Plata County is a glorious thing. If Durango can be considered a city, we’re the miniature small town up the mountain.

With only a few businesses at all, we’re lucky to have a disproportionate amount of places to dine out, thanks to the fact that Purgatory Ski Resort is nestled right in the heart of it all. The bulk of these places live in the resort itself, but its those that don’t which are the most reliable — and open year-round.

Let’s dig in!

The Best Restaurants Near Purgatory Ski Resort

Okay, so by “best” I actually mean, “all” — but all of the offerings in North County are pretty solid at the moment. I’ll rank them, loosely, as I prefer them and give a bit of context as to how far you’ll need to venture out of the resort to get to each (the furthest away is 9 miles.)

1 – The Nugget Mountain Bar

Okay so the Nugget shines for it’s atmosphere. Loads of outdoor seating, a small cabin serving as the indoor bar space, live music, propane fire places galore and a decent selection of craft beers make for a great experience. It’s incredibly popular, especially in the winter but year-round really, so that can be a bonus if you love busy action, or a bit of a downside if you hope to find a place to sit down. The food here is courtesy of Backside Bistro, a food cart serving up sliders — ranging from regular beef burgers to steak to crab cakes — and a few other options. There’s no table service, just food cart style and loads of fun to be had. A great place to watch football as well, with several TVs upstairs and down, though again, getting a seat can be an ordeal.

2 – The Mineshaft

Another place with a bar atmosphere, this little establishment resides 9 miles south of Purgatory at Glacier Club, a golf course with a few dining options. The Mineshaft has seating for maybe 10 at the bar, six or seven tables and a few outdoor spots (available in the summer.) Small but decent selection of beers, cocktails and wine. The menu is a little more eclectic than your average bar food, but they’ve pared it down with the recent opening of the Prospector (same building, see below.) Eating here can take awhile, so don’t expect fast food. While golf is usually on the two TVs, they’ll play football when available.

3 – Olde Schoolhouse Cafe

two young boys eat pizza and watch TV at the Olde Schoolhouse in North County, Durango, CO. a greying man shoots pool in a dive bar, the Olde Schoolhouse Cafe

Thick, soft crust and a dive bar to boot, the Schoolhouse is a local’s favorite and it wears that on its sleeve. Dollar bills tattooed to the walls, a free pool table, shuffleboard and okay beer selection, including some locals on tap. Beyond pizza, they have a gyro and wings. Limited indoor and outdoor seating, pizza to go available and they do include the tip when you take it to go. It’s going to be packed most nights, and if you don’t order your pizza to go when they open, expect to wait hours.

4 – The Prospector

This is a fancier, much more expensive (the most so on this list) restaurant, also at Glacier Club, which just opened in 2023. Dishes like elk and trout, fancy cocktails and lavish deserts are standard here. Wait times can be significant, and reservations can only be made by club members (same goes for the Mineshaft, mentioned above, in the same building.) If you really want a fancy sit down meal, this is the place in North County to make that happen.

5 – Cliffside Bar & Grille

I haven’t personally been here, but the menu screams straight up bar with pretzels, nuggets and burgers to accompany. More info to come, once I’ve had a chance to hang.

Honorable mention in this category goes to Needles Country Store. Sure, it’s just a gas station but they stock delicious breakfast burritos every morning, and have a selection of hot dogs and green chili stew for lunch. Otherwise, it’s a great place to stock up between trips to PJs or town for an actual grocery store.

Restaurants at Purgatory Ski Resort

The first thing you should know is that Purg is not a steady, year-round business. Further, even when the mountain is open for skiing, or summer activities, how often and which restaurants are open can vary by day, available staff and so on.

That said, these are the restaurants at the mountain. To clarify some terminology, the “beach” at Purgatory Ski Resort is basically the large grassy (or snow-covered, in the winter) area that makes up the majority of the base. The beach is typically stocked with a bunch of red, plastic Adirondack chairs and some picnic tables.

Purgy’s

Cafeteria style food, a bar and table service available, mostly open during ski season. Indoor and outdoor seating is available, including a propane fire pit looking up to the beach. Snagging a seat around the fire can be tough, though, considering it”s warm and chairs are limited.

Paradise Pizza & Ice Cream

Indoor and outdoor seating in the main plaza, down the stairs from the beach. Pizza is available by the slice, until they run out sometime near closing (which typically happens around 4pm it seems) or you can order entire pies. Pasta dishes and a full bar round the experience out. Table service is sometimes available, and there’s a fair amount of indoor and outdoor seating.

The Bear Bar

As food goes, it’s mostly burger and fries type fare, cooked inside at Purgy’s. The bar itself has enough seating that you can often snag a seat, but if not there is nothing but room to stand and often loads of seating on the beach. Loads of liquor and beer options, including a great local craft beer selection. Expect to, after tip, pay around $10 a beer.

The Village Market & Deli

An expensive little corner store type place, with breakfast sandwiches and lunch ones as well. Bottled beverages, chips, treats and such are available if you didn’t stock up in town, or down the road at Needles Country Store. This is located in the main plaza, across from Paradise Pizza and next to the liquor store.

The Waffle Cabin

Imagine sprinkles and chocolate all over warm waffles served out of a little shed, sitting just atop the hill overlooking the beach, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what to expect from the Waffle Cabin. Unlike the other locations listed here, the Waffle Cabin takes Apple Pay.

The Powderhouse

A quick ride up Lift 1, then start riding down the mountain (head left, through or passed the mini park) and you’ll find the Powderhouse perched mountainside beneath Lift 2. There’s a small deck that’s being perpetually shoveled off, or a two story building to warm up within. Views from the bar include Pitchfork terrain park, where you can catch the first few hits of still adventuring skiers and snowboarders. The food is pretty simple and the beer selection a bit more basic than what you’ll find in the base area.

Dante’s & the Backside Bistro

Positioned well into the backside, you essentially have to take Lifts 5 (when it’s rarely open) or 8 (and then ride down the mountain a bit) to get to these two restaurants, in the same building. Dante’s is cafeteria style ordering, burgers and the like. The Backside Bistro is a more expensive, sit down, “fancier” affair with sweeping views of the mountains. Alcoholic beverages available at both. They close pretty early, typically around 2pm.

Honorable mention also goes to Mother Cline’s Liquor, though not a restaurant or bar, it’s a great place to stock up on liquor, wine and beer (massive craft beer selection) right in the base area’s plaza.

North County Restaurants That Are No Longer With Us

  • The Lift closed down in 2023. It was an upscale place in Cascade Village that was actually really good – until they lost their chef and things seemed to fall apart after that.
  • Moose & Squirrel barely got started, in the building now known as the Black Diamond Lodge. Too bad, it seemed like it had a ton of promise.
  • The Sow’s Ear was the fine dining establishment in that same location, but back then it was called the Silverpick Lodge. It was more expensive than delicious, and like many of these restaurants that are now closed (and most of what’s still open occasionally at Purgatory proper), had sporadic hours that made it hard to rely on them as an establishment.
  • Basecamp was a vegan restaurant located at Glacier Club, and though it had a slew of impressive reviews, it also suffered from “are they open?” syndrome which likely led to its demise.