Guide to Mt. Lemmon: Day Trip Eats & Drinks for the Family

The cool mountain breeze and fresh forest air make patio dining sublime.

Atop Mt. Lemmon, eating and drinking options are conveniently located at Ski Valley and Summerhaven.

It’s no city of gastronomy but it hits the spot after a long hike through any of the nearby trails or if you’re simply looking for a cooler place to spend the day (sans hike).

It’s generally 20 to 30 degrees cooler than Tucson and less than an hour to the top. The cool mountain breeze and fresh forest air make patio dining sublime.

While beer and wine are available at a couple of places, make sure you also try a crisp glass of water. Sourced from springs in Carter Canyon and Upper Sabino Canyon, it’s easy to taste the difference even if you’re not a water snob.

Whether you’re up for a day trip or refueling post hike, here’s our guide of where to eat and drink on the mountain.

Iron Door Restaurant

10300 Ski Run Rd., Mt. Lemmon, AZ 85619
Sign for Ski Valley and Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Sign for Ski Valley and Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Near the mountain peak at Ski Valley (one server rides a shuttle for three hours each day to work here), Iron Door restaurant is surrounded by flowers and hummingbird feeders, so you’ll channel your inner Disney Princess on the patio.

Iron Door Chili at the Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Iron Door Chili at Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Hearty mountain meals

For a hearty mountain meal, order the Iron Door Chili served with onion, cheese, sour cream, and cornbread. The crumbly cornbread is on the sweeter side, which complements the subtle heat in the chili. Drizzle a little honey on your house baked cornbread for something a little more decadent.

For something meaty, try Garth’s Gully. Sliced beef smothered in green chiles and cheddar is served on grilled sourdough with chipotle mayo. All sandwiches are served with a pickle spear and a choice of side.

Homemade Individual Berry Pie at the Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Homemade Individual Mtn. Berry Pie at Iron Door Restaurant (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Don’t skip the dessert

For dessert, don’t miss out on the Ski the Lemmon Famous Individual Pie. Though there are many flavors available, the standout is the Mtn. Berry, which was inspired by the wild berries that used to grow in the area.

For more information, visit skithelemmon.com. Keep up with Iron Door Restaurant and Ski Valley on Facebook.

Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin

12781 N. Sabino Canyon Pkwy, Mt. Lemmon, AZ 85619
Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin is sadly not a cabin made out of cookies.

However, it is a cozy two-story cabin that regularly cranks out Giant Massive Cookies big enough to feed four people. There are standard options like chocolate chip and peanut butter, but try the Rachel, which includes oats, coconut, and butterscotch chips.

Ice Cream Cookie at Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Ice Cream Cookie at Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Cookies… or pizza

The other popular option is pizza, available by the half-slice, full-slice, or 16-inch pie.

For toppings, choose from pepperoni, sausage, chicken, olives, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions.

Once you’re done loading on carbs, feel free to walk next door to peek at trinkets in the Living Rainbow Gift Shop.

For more information, visit thecookiecabin.org. Keep up with Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin on Facebook.

Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop

12856 N. Sabino Canyon Pkwy., Mt. Lemmon, AZ 85619
The Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Stock up on picnic goodies and other useful items

While you’ll mostly find food and drink at the restaurants, you’ll find the miscellaneous at Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop.

If you need a pocket knife with your name on it or you forgot to bring a bottle of wine for your camping trip, this is the place to stock up. Or, if you simply decide you’d rather picnic on the mountain instead of dine at a restaurant, this is where to pick up the goods.

Fudge at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Fudge at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

In regards to edible items, they’re most famous for their homemade fudge, available in a variety of flavors:

  • Butter Pecan
  • Chewy Praline
  • Chocolate
  • Chocolate Caramel Nut
  • Cookies ‘n Cream
  • Heath English Toffee
  • Maple Nut
  • Mint Chocolate Swirl
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate
  • Raspberry Chocolate Swirl
  • Salted caramel
  • Rocky Road
  • Vanilla Walnut Fudge

Seasonal varieties:

  • Caramel Apple Pie
  • Orange Cream
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Pumpkin Pecan
  • Pumpkin Praline
  • S’mores

If you just can’t get enough of the fudge, you can call in to have it shipped.

Coffee at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Coffee at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The General Store also offers a house-brand coffee, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and jarred salsas.

Salsas at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Salsas at the Mt. Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop (Credit: Jackie Tran)

For more information, visit mtlemmon.com.

Sawmill Run Restaurant

12976 N. Sabino Canyon Pkwy., Mt. Lemmon, AZ 85619
Sawmill Restaurant in Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Sawmill Restaurant in Summerhaven on Mt. Lemmon (Credit: Adam Lehrman)

Sawmill Run offers a rotating menu, reflecting the seasons on Mt Lemmon.

While sandwiches and burgers are still on the menu, you can call in to keep up-to-date with the menu weekly. Past creations include the Louisiana Alligator Burger and Stuffed Monkfish Tail.

Seasonal specials at Sawmill Run (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Seasonal specials at Sawmill Run (Credit: Jackie Tran)

For more information, visit sawmillrun.com. Keep up with Sawmill Run Restaurant on Facebook.

Nap in comfort with spectacular mountain views

Mt. Lemmon cuisine is mostly comfort food, so bring a hammock.

A nap or reading session hanging between the trees after your feast is the perfect distraction from anything.

And ideally, you’d stay the night or weekend. Rental options are sparse but available. Visit mtlemmon.com for a list of places to find lodging.

[This article was originally written on June 23, 2016, and most recently updated on May 10, 2019]

Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com.

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