We certainly felt like we’d covered every main route in our travels through the Adirondacks, but if it weren’t for several referrals to Baxter Mountain Tavern in Keene, we might have missed this one. Its location on Route 9N, between Elizabethtown and Keene, eluded us. We’ve traveled to Elizabethtown, then back, and have been through Keene numerous times on our way to Lake Placid and beyond, but never connected the dots. One more reason to abandon the GPS and find your own way.
Recommended to us by numerous hikers, the Baxter Mountain Tavern was obviously well known to so many others – locals, seasonal residents and tourists. As afternoon turned to evening, the bar, restaurant and deck filled with expectant diners. With at least eight people at the bar, our foursome filled it to capacity. Sarah the bartender was kept busy between serving the bar customers and preparing drinks for the diners, but always kept up the smile and attentiveness to all. As Baxter’s got busier, she referred our questions to the owner, Dave Deyo. Equally busy greeting and seating guests, he graciously managed to share information with us.
The single story ranch structure, a study in tan and green, is neat, simple and unassuming. Baxter Mountain Tavern has a large parking area with room for all. The deck area offers a view of a grassy hill giving way to tall pines and nearby mountains. Its location in High Peaks Central, quite close to Baxter and Hurricane trailheads, make it a convenient place for an after hike meal or beverage. Though defined as a tavern by name, it’s more a fine restaurant than tavern. Lots of pine, birch bark wall sections embellished with twigs, and a comfortable couch situated in front of a cozy fireplace give it a tavern feel inside, but the menu, the service and the clientele exceed the expectations of the typical tavern.
With no WiFi, no cell service and only one television, the bar has that feeling of a place to meet up with friends or make new acquaintances without those distractions. Except for the occasional use of first names, it was difficult to discern between locals and newcomers. One group shared a dish of calamari, indicating that they were acquainted with one another and that the calamari was one of the specialties at Baxter’s. Other popular dishes include burgers, tuna, and pork dinners, according to Dave. The Baxter Mountain Tavern serves lunch and dinner, with entrees priced from $9 to $21.
A full wine list and a half dozen draft beers, along with a somewhat modest liquor selection, assure that the visitor will find something thirst quenching. Wines include nearly 30 different choices of red, white and champagne, and the menu states “All wines welcomed” with a corking fee. Draft beer available on the day of our visit were Long Trail Ale, Switchback, Guinness, Blue Moon, Saranac Pale Ale and UBU, all solid, respectable choices, according to Kim. Drink prices are slightly high, though typical for the region and certainly not unreasonable. Happy Hour is not observed at the Baxter Mountain Tavern.
Formerly known as Murphy’s Swiss Hill Lodge, the Baxter Mountain Tavern has been owned and operated by Dave and Hillary Deyo for the past fourteen years. They are open year-round from 11:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., closing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are proud supporters of local fundraising activities for the Keene Fire Department, the Rod and Gun Club, and a variety of golf based charities.
Whether you’re passing through en route to further destinations or just making your descent from a nearby peak, the Baxter Mountain Tavern and Grill offers a friendly place to have a meal, share a snack, have a drink and meet with friends. The Baxter Mountain tavern does not offer live entertainment, but we’re told the locals can be entertainment enough.