Where to eat on mountain at Northstar California

Few things say ski getaway like ski-in and ski-out dining. And that's exactly what you'll find at Northstar California, where mere steps from unstrapping your snowboard or stepping out of your skis are great food and drinks options. So in my latest food series post, I'm highlighting Northstar's many convenient lodges around the mountain to grab a bite, sip a Bloody Mary, or simply hang out with friends around the fire pit.

The Lodge at Big Springs is aptly named, as it sits at the top of the Big Springs Gondola with immediate access to lifts that take you to the upper mountain. It's the proper lodge to launch your day, especially since it's also the only on-mountain lodge with breakfast offerings for guests (7:30 - 10:30 a.m.). The menu has a number of classic breakfast options (hello, breakfast burrito), with plenty of side options to customize your first meal of the day.

They've also got an extensive lunch menu (10:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.) with burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, fried selections, salads, and baked potato stations. Go-to items include the EPIC Mountain Burger, of course, cooked to you liking. Have your pick from one of three levels of indoor dining, or enjoy your grub outside next to a fire pit with a full view of the slopes above. You might even have live music to soundtrack your on-mountain meal experience.

New for this year: Located right next to the Lodge at Big Springs is Northstar's very own food truck, Mountain Thai. Executive chef Steve Anderson has created a menu with the Thai essentials -- a perfected Pad Thai, a sumptuous Banh Mi, saucy Tom Kha, and fresh spring rolls. It's a great, convenient addition to the on-mountain options, adding a little variety in textures and flavors to your palate during your day on the slopes.

Another cultural option for lunch and aprés-ski is Chilly Peppers, a favorite for Mexican food, also located at The Lodge at Big Springs. The menu includes large plates, such as the burrito grande, which also comes in a bowl for the carb-and gluten-averse. They've also got tacos, nachos, and quesadillas, as well as sides to accompany your main event if that isn't enough. Choose from signature items like the Mexicali steak burrito, Baja fish tacos (the shining star), street truck mini tacos, and posole (traditional Mexican soup). The south-of-the-border flavors (complete with a salsa bar) are all so tasty at Chilly Peppers, enjoyable while basking in sun or snow on the deck.

Summit Smokehouse

Summit Smokehouse

If you're going for the very top, tuck into Summit Smokehouse, aptly named for serving up house-smoked signature BBQ from 8,600 feet above sea level for lunch. It's a perfect "pit" stop to make before conquering the backside, or heading back down to the Village. Summit BBQ sandos include a Philly cheesesteak with top sirloin, a tri-tip sandwich with thick cuts of beef, and a Cuban with slow-roasted pork and ham. Other sandwich options include turkey, veggie, and a Lost Coast Wrap with shrimp and avocado. Saddle that up with a bowl of chili and/or specialty fries, and you've got the ski lunch of a lifetime.

Bloody Mary at Zephyr Lodge

Bloody Mary at Zephyr Lodge

Northstar's newest lodge, Zephyr Lodge, is also its most luxurious, located mid-mountain right above Zephyr Express/Gondola for ultimate convenience. High ceilings and plenty of natural light shining through floor-to-ceiling windows accent your snack or lunch break. Order something from the grill menu, which includes the Epic Burger, brisket grilled cheese, and more -- or build your own Asian bowl with rice or noodles. Pizza, soup and a salad bar are also on offer to round out your choices. The lodge also has a full bar, featuring Bloody Mary cocktails, local craft beers, regional wines and more, for all your libation needs and wants. Enjoy all this while outside on the deck or inside while taking in the beauty of the mountain.

Esther is a freelance writer, avid snowboarder, food enthusiast, worldwide traveler, and occasional musician based in Los Angeles. Whether on the mountain or off, she is always looking for the best places to eat and drink in the vicinity. Her writing career began with a food blog over ten years ago and she has since contributed to the L.A. Times, Eater, Discover LA, Thrillist, GOOD Magazine, Time Out, and more. Follow Esther on Twitter and Instagram.