When you visit Mt Baldy during the summer (or any time off-season), there are a handful of all-year restaurants that are going to grab your attention. We were looking for tasty comfort food and tempting drinks. The live music we encountered along the way was a welcome surprise. Where did we land? During our stay in Mt Baldy, California, we spent quality time at the Mt Baldy Lodge Restaurant and Bar, the Top of the Notch and The Buckhorn Restaurant Lodge and Motel. During the ski season, there are undoubtedly other dining options that might entice you, but if you are there to enjoy some hiking and relaxation, add these restaurants and bars to your “must-visit” list.
Mt Baldy Lodge Restaurant and Bar
One of the amenities I appreciated the most about Mt Baldy Lodge was the resort’s restaurant and bar. It was so nice to take a short walk down the lane to enjoy comfort food options throughout the day. It also had live music at night, so when we went back in the evening, the visit felt special. We loved it as a date-night surprise, but it worked equally well for singles and groups of friends. The area is split between the main restaurant and the pool tables, with a bar running along the one side. I even gave playing pool a shot again – I’ve never been very good. Andy was patient, and I won the first game (though it was on a technicality and not through any incredible surge of skill). The restaurant is in the main building at the front of the resort complex and just across the street from the Visitor Center (which offers a museum that was fun to explore).
Related Article: Explore Mt Baldy Lodge in the Off-Season
Top of the Notch
As the name suggests, Top of the Notch restaurant and bar can be found at the summit of Mt Baldy. It can be accessed via chair lift – something that was a bit of a surprise to me. For reasons I can’t quite remember, I thought we could walk just around the corner to the restaurant and then choose to go up the mountain. As I’m not a big fan of heights, I probably would have vetoed that idea. But somehow, before I knew it, the fee was paid, and I was desperately trying to remember the rules that they told us about getting on and off a ski lift.
As you can tell by the photo, I was clinging onto the chair for dear life. I’m not sure why I thought that would help exactly – if the chair fell, I’d go too. But holding on seemed like the wisest course. Oddly, going up was significantly more frightening than coming down. I imagine it is because you can’t see the end-point going up (it feels like you are going up forever), whereas you can see the end-point coming down, and the trip is a quick one.
Miraculously, we made it to the top and off of the chair lift without getting smacked in the head. I called this a victory! Just to the side of the lift is Top of the Notch. While the temps down below were in the low 80s, we enjoyed significantly cooler weather at the top of Mt Baldy. The sun was still intense, and I do recommend sunscreen for the trip up and down.
The mountain and valley views are incredible. I was content to sip and nosh while looking out the restaurant windows and relax on the expansive patio. Andy opted for a quick hike from the summit before returning to join me. The more adventurous among you can even go zip lining from the summit during the summer season. I will wave to you from somewhere more secure.
Related Article: Enjoy An Easy Hike on Mt Baldy
The Buckhorn Restaurant
We stumbled upon The Buckhorn Restaurant during one of our drives around the Mt Baldy area. It advertised live music, and it looked like a lively place. Inside, it feels more like a bar, but the restaurant offers several notable dishes. Char-roasted Tri-Tip is a big hit, as well as several BBQ options. At the time, they did not have a fryer, but that probably helped keep the small main room feel cooler. Alas, the music was canceled that day because the summer season was slow (and the drought was still in effect), but we savored every bite of our late lunch and enjoyed the conversation with the friendly staff before going back to the Mt Baldy Lodge for some serious reading and swimming time.
Related Articles: Explore Mt Baldy Lodge in the Off-Season