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Walking into Steamboat Springs’ newly-renovated Snow Bowl, I could see that most patrons weren’t there to chase strikes. An after-work crowd of pint-sipping locals surrounded the bar. Tables were occupied by couples and families downing burgers and salads. No one wore bowling shoes.
That’s precisely the point of the refurbished Snow Bowl, says chef Pete List. “Just because we have bowling lanes in here doesn’t mean you can’t have a quality meal made from top-notch ingredients, prepared with care,” explains List, who worked at such Steamboat spots as Sweet Pea Market and Restaurant and Truffle Pig Restaurant before moving to Snow Bowl.
Until now, food hasn’t been this establishment’s primary draw. The bowling alley opened in 1977 and had long satisfied hungry bowlers with a range of deep-fried snacks. But it was showing its age by fall 2017, when the Denver-based Western Centers investment group bought the west end icon for $852,000. It then gutted the building to install a full kitchen and new bowling lanes.
Local artist Julia Dordoni created the sheet-metal mural that borders the lanes. The ball-return console was custom-made from reclaimed beetle-kill pine and corrugated steel. Snow Bowl’s old hardwood lanes were repurposed into a gleaming wood bar top. Nowhere did we see the kind of generic fittings that fill AMF facilities.
If Snow Bowl’s new setting is hand-crafted, so is the food. My pastrami sandwich started its life as a coffee-rubbed beef brisket that cured in a dry rub for 10 days before relocating to the smoker, where it absorbed aromas from oak wood and bourbon-barrel staves. List bakes loaves of coffee-spiked rye bread (which he dubs “red-eye rye”) for the sandwich, as well as Snow Bowl’s brioche burger buns and ciabatta.
Hot dogs and brats come with house-made relishes and condiments; caramelized onions and spicy blueberry mustard accompany the elk sausage. And the summer menu (which kicked off on June 17) includes creations like the grilled leg of lamb flatbread: a rustic pizza topped with arugula pesto, heirloom tomato-blackberry salad, and thin slices of lamb that was charred over mulberry wood.
Soon, the Snow Bowl will roll out the perfect al fresco venue for its warm-weather menu when its satellite bar, housed in a storage container, becomes part of an outdoor patio and picnic tables are set up on the lawn. There, kids will romp and live bands will strum. And come fall, Snow Bowl will click on its 200-inch projection screen to broadcast UFC fights and the NFL football ticket.
Sure, you can go bowling there—but don’t be surprised if you don’t.
2090 Snow Bowl Plaza, Steamboat Springs, 970-879-9840