An Insider's Guide On Where To Eat (And Drink) During The Sundance Film Festival

The Focus Features team reveals their favorite Park City, Utah haunts.

The 2017 Sundance Film Festival is already proving to be action-packed for Focus Features having acquired worldwide rights to writer/director Cory Finley's Thoroughbreds over opening weekend. 

Held every January in snowy Park City, Utah, Sundance is known as the premiere film fest of the Americas, where over 45,000 attendees converge on the small mountain town to view dozens of movies shown over ten days.

For Focus Features, Sundance is a place where some of our all-time favorite movies have debuted or been discovered. In 2004, Focus acquired the The Motorcycle Diaries (2004 Academy Award-winner for Best Original Song). In 2008, In Bruges had its world-premiere on opening night and ultimately garnered a Golden Globe for star Colin Farrell (next seen in Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled for Focus). Focus fell in love with and bought Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right in 2009. The Julianne Moore/Annette Bening dramedy went on to win two Globes and be nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

Sundance has also been instrumental in helping launch the careers of key filmmakers in the Focus story including Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, 2005), Cary Fukanaga (Sin Nombre, 2009) and Dee Rees (Pariah, 2011).

With 15 years of attending Sundance under our collective belt, we have also discovered that one cannot live on movie screenings alone. In between darkened hours at the famed Egyptian or Eccles theaters, you could very well find us at our favorite Park City stops. From quick bites of Thai food to late night conversations over BBQ, here are Focus’ tried-and-true Park City spots.

El Chubasco's salsa bar; Courtesy of El Chubasco

El Chubasco: Best Place For a Quick and Cheap Lunch

While Park City tends to get a little pricey for eating out, especially during Sundance, El Chubasco is a beacon of fast and affordable dining options. A family owned Mexican joint – complete with 20 house-made salsas in their salsa bar – this is El Chubasco’s 20th anniversary and they’ve held the title for Best Cheap Eats for the past two years. If you’re rushing from Eccles or Prospector to Main Street or the Library, El Chubasco is in a prime spot with parking for quick pickup and takeout.

El Chubasco, 1890 Bonanza Dr, (435) 645-9114,  

Purple Sage: Best Restaurant To Impress a Client

Lamb and duck and short rib, oh my. This main street staple is known for fancy-upped cowboy fare. While Purple Sage has all the makings of an intimate and warm winter date, it works just as well for closing deals. Be sure to book a table in advance as the small space fills up fast.

Purple Sage, 434 Main Street, (435) 655-9505,

Handle in Park City; By Kerri Fukui

Handle: Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Fancy Restaurant

Opening only just over two years ago, and in spite of its awkward location in the Gateway Center building on the corner of Heber and Swede Alley, Handle has become a gem worthy of #foodporn Instagrams. Their Caramel Pudding that comes in a mason jar with whipped mascarpone and Chex mix cake crumb was featured in The New York Times. Their chef’s creativity sparks ideas like cauliflower à la buffalo chicken wings – even if you’re not vegetarian, this dish is delish. And because of its off-Main location, it makes it much easier to pop in for a quick bar-top meal and reservations aren’t impossible to make.

Handle, 136 Heber Ave, (435) 602-1155,

Butcher’s Chop House & Bar: Best For End-of-Day Drinks

Butcher’s sits toward the bottom of Main Street and offers a lively bar scene where rubbing shoulders with A-listers is common practice. Their fast service and hefty steakhouse menu make it easy for all to be pleased, and new this year, they’ve got lobster nachos (yes, please). They’re one of the few eateries on Main Street with a late night menu going until midnight (although their other property, No Name Saloon, serves until 1 a.m.) and never closing during the fest for private events. Fun little fact: Their booths squeeze in way more people than you’d think.

Butcher's Chop House & Bar, 751 Main St, (435) 647-0040,

Park City Chinese & Thai: Best Sundance Food Hack

This pan-Asian restaurant is located right next to the Holiday Village Cinemas – you know, that place where press and industry spend four-to-eight hours of their days. When you need to be back to the Holiday for a screening in under thirty, the kind staff here will speed things up to get you out stat, belly full for the next P&I film on your list. The House Specialties are tempting, but we stick with a big plate of piping hot Pad Thai and a Kirin Ichiban beer. For $20, it will leave you satisfied and ready for screening number four.

Park City Chinese & Thai, 1776 Park Ave, (435) 649-4000,

High West Saloon; courtesy of High West Saloon

High West Distillery: Best Place To Get Warm While Sipping Whiskey

Entering this saloon feels like stepping back two centuries – all wood beams and copper pipes. The best place to cozy up with a glass of double rye, though, is in the small backroom bar to the left of the entrance. There you’ll find leather armchairs, bookshelves and dim lighting perfect for a private meet-up or five minutes alone to breathe beyond the chaos of Main Street. Beware, this is a popular venue for private events, so if you’re looking to mow down on some of their hearty three-bean and poblano chili, you’ll need a reservation.

High West Distillery & Saloon, 703 Park Ave, (435) 649-8300,

-- Written by Valetina Valentini for Focus Features