A Foodies Guide to Aspen, CO – Our Top Picks

 

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Food & Drink

Destination

Aspen/Snowmass

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I have been going to Aspen for almost 40 years! I now spend between four to six weeks there a year, so finding the best restaurants is very important to me. Below are my top recommendations on where to eat in Aspen. I also enjoy trying many new restaurants in nearby Snowmass Village and my favorites down valley in Basalt and Carbondale. I have included the links to that information as well. During the ski season you will find many excellent on-mountain spots in both Aspen and Snowmass.

One of my favorites over the past few years is Chef’s Club Aspen at the St. Regis Aspen Resort. The decor is contemporary and sophisticated. The concept is that Food & Wine Magazine has several of the chefs from its “Best New Chefs” list consult and curate new menu items in collaboration with the culinary team of the restaurant to create a new dining experience. The menu then changes several times a year as new chefs are invited to participate.

Chefs Club Aspen

The St. Regis also has a fun new restaurant, the Velvet Buck, for Colorado-centric cuisine. Their new bar and lounge, called Mountain Social, has a great mural that is reminiscent of Maxfield Parrish’s famous mural at their King Cole Bar in NYC.

Mountain Social

Not to be missed is the White House Tavern at 302 E. Hopkins. Located in an old house from 1883, with a warm decor and great art, this gastropub has an extensive cocktail and wine list plus great burgers and excellent salads at reasonable prices. They now have a large outdoor patio for summer dining.

White House Tavern

 

White House Tavern

I also like Spring Cafe at 632 E. Hopkins. It has a large selection of vegetarian/organic items including juices, smoothies, salads, sandwiches and other entrees. The veggie burger is really good and I enjoyed a good kale salad and tasty gazpacho on my last visit. They also have coffee drinks, pastries and cookies.

Spring Cafe

One of my favorite restaurants of the past in Aspen was Mogador. Barclay Dodge, the former owner, is now back in town and has opened BOSQ at 312 S. Mill. It has a lovely outdoor deck for summer dining as well as a sleek, contemporary dining room. Featuring “new world cuisine”, the menu features a number of creative appetizers, salads, entrees and sides. I enjoyed lunch outdoors on a beautiful August day. The gazpacho, heirloom tomato salad with burrata plus a halibut ceviche were very well prepared. I will be back in ski season!

BOSQ

Ellina Restaurant + Bar: Located at 430 E. Hyman, Ellina is serves contemporary Italian-American cuisine paired with an award winning wine cellar. I aways enjoy the food and was just back with friends where I had an excellent halibut entree. They now have outdoor seating upstairs on the Mall as well as on the patio downstairs.

Ellina

 

Ellina

Creperie Du Village from 2011 is now French Alpine Bistro – Creperie Du Village. This is a warm, casual spot located at 400 E. Hopkins. There is a small outdoor patio. Inside, the attractive, eclectic decor is warm, romantic and inviting, thus the perfect spot for eating a traditional French crepe, fondue or raclette on a snowy night. The decor has been recently updated and is really stunning. I recently went back for lunch with  a local friend and really enjoyed the experience!

French Alpine Bistro – Creperie Du Village

 

French Alpine Bistro – Creperie Du Village

Caribou Club: At 411 E. Hopkins (members only), this hot spot is expensive but has wonderful food and wines in a perfect setting. See if your concierge can arrange for you to dine there. As a member, I try to go every time I am in town. The lounge and main dining room are beautifully decorated. For a more private experience, ask to dine in the wine cellar.

Caribou Club

 

Caribou Club

Campo de Fiori Ristorante: Great Italian food at 205 S. Mill in Aspen. They have outdoor dining in the Summer.  I enjoyed the branzino entrée on a recent trip and then on my last visit the linguine Positano pasta dish with shrimp sautéed with white wine, garlic, cherry tomatoes, arugula and basil.

Campo de Fiori

J-Bar/Prospect Restaurant: The J-Bar or Jerome Bar is the iconic Western saloon which has been there since the Jerome Hotel opened in the 1880’s. It is the oldest bar in the state of Colorado.  I just went back for lunch with friends and loved the hamburger! I also had my first “Aspen Crud” cocktail made with vanilla ice cream and bourbon which has been a classic since Prohibition.

J-Bar at the Hotel Jerome

I had a very good lunch experience on my first visit to the redone Prospect restaurant. I really loved the meatloaf on a cold, snowy day in Aspen. The scallop entrée was really excellent on my most recent visit for dinner. I enjoyed my first breakfast in the same space at the original Jerome restaurant more than 35 years ago when it looked like it is right out of the wild, wild west. It is now an Auberge Resort and is located at 330 E. Main St.

Prospect at the Hotel Jerome

The Jerome recently opened a sleek, contemporary, modern speakeasy, Bad Harriet. It was named in honor of the wife of the original hotel owner Jerome B. Wheeler. It is a great spot to grab a cocktail before your dinner in town. It is located in the building next door that was the former Aspen Times. I highly recommend it. They do offer some food items and also pass some complementary passed small bites.

Bad Harriet

In September, 2021, the hotel added a new coffee shop off the lobby in the former tea room called Felix Roasting Co. They have two other locations in NYC in NoMad and SoHo. Located in a beautifully decorated space, they feature coffee and tea drinks, pastries, food items like avocado toast. It is well worth the visit, despite somewhat high prices. The design, by Ken Fulk,  includes beautiful paintings, antique floral-patterned wallpaper — based on a coffee flower, Murano glass chandeliers, tufted velvet and leather banquette seating and a gold stamped-tin ceiling.

Felix Roasting Co.

 

Felix Roasting Co.

Two great new finds include the Marble Bar Aspen and Betula Aspen.  Marble Distilling Co. in Carbondale has opened a warm, contemporary cocktail lounge in downtown Aspen at the Hyatt Residence Club Grand Aspen. They feature their own spirits including a bourbon, rye whiskey, a whiskey similar to a Scotch and vodka. I highly recommend it for a drink before your dinner downtown.

Marble Bar Aspen

Located in the former BB’s space at 525 E. Cooper #201, Betula Aspen opened in late December, 2018. It is a warm and inviting space that features French Pan-American cuisine. I was very impressed with my first meal there. The burrata and roasted acorn squash appetizer was really great and the pan-seared jumbo scallops with cauliflower and capers was a great choice for my entree. My friend loved the tuna tacos. I will definitely go back again!

Betula Aspen

Pine Creek Cookhouse: Castle Creek Road in Ashcroft. Pine Creek is one of my favorite places for lunch with amazing views and is one of my favorite spots in the US. During the winter you can snowshoe, cross country ski or take the sleigh from the Ashcroft parking area. In the summer you can drive to the restaurant or ride horses or bike. It is a perfect place after hiking the Cathedral or American Lake trails. It is very popular, so make sure to book your reservation beforehand. I love the Cookhouse salad with salmon or chicken which has a perfect maple balsamic dressing. I was just back and loved the experience as always!!

Pine Creek Cookhouse

 

Pine Creek Cookhouse

Woody Creek Tavern: 2858 Upper River Road in Woody Creek.  This is a classic, rustic tavern with great Mexican and American food. It is a real locals hangout! They have a perfect patio for summer dining as well. I have to go every summer when I am in town. It is under new ownership and has reopened after a renovation. I just went back for the first time since it reopened and was pleased to see that nothing, including the interior, had changed!! It is very popular, so I would go early for dinner and right as it opens for lunch,

Woody Creek Tavern

 

Woody Creek Tavern

Next door is Aspen Outfitting Company, where you can grab coffee, a donut, ice cream and breakfast burriots plus other snacks and drinks. Here you can also sign up for fly fishing, river rafting and other activities.

Aspen Outfitting Company

Another Aspen classic is the Red Onion which opened in 1892. It is a fun bar and restaurant that serves salads, burgers, sandwiches and more. I went back recently after several years and really enjoyed my lunch. They offer daily lunch specials as well. It is currently closed for remodeling and has announced plans to reopen by Thanksgiving, 2022.

Red Onion

Cache Cache: 205 S. Mill. Great French cuisine in a warm bistro setting. The bar menu is a great alternative. The bar has been remodeled and has a fun, contemporary vibe.

Cache Cache

Plato’s Restaurant: Aspen Meadows Resort, 845 Meadows Road. A great spot in the summer before or after a Music Festival Event. Book the outside deck if you can. I was just back with local friends and enjoyed the food, service and outstanding views.

Plato’s Restaurant

 

The View from Plato’s Restaurant

Casa Tua: Sleek Italian restaurant with excellent food and service. It has a large patio for al fresco dining in the summer months. 403 S. Galena.

Casa Tua

Two other good spots include The Wild Fig and Ajax Tavern. Ajax Tavern, with its great outdoor terrace, is the casual dining restaurant of the Little Nell. Don’t miss their famous truffle fries!!  I also just tried the yummy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich for lunch

I have been back twice recently to Wild Fig and loved the warm bistro atmosphere and great food. I recommend the fig salad, the fig glazed pork chop and the mussels.

The Wild Fig

 

Ajax Tavern

Owned by the same group as The Wild Fig, The Monarch, Steakhouse No. 316 and the Woody Creek Tavern is CP Burger at 433 E. Durant. It had been on my list for a few years, so made a point to check out this casual spot. I had an excellent tuna burger made with a tuna steak. kale, a miso vinaigrette and a wasabi aioli along with sweet potato fries. They also have many other burgers,  hot dogs, salads and milk shakes.  It is a perfect place for families while in town as there is a kids’ menu.

CP Burger

Also at the Little Nell is their dining room Element 47, which is a good spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner with it’s sleek design.

Element 47

Poppycock’s Cafe is a casual and local’s favorite for breakfast at 665 E. Cooper. I always love going. I was just back again on my recent trip and loved the eggs benedict!

Poppycock’s Cafe

Another favorite of locals for many years is the Hickory House at 730 W. Main. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they are known for their burgers, ribs and BBQ. With an extensive breakfast menu, I went back after many years for brunch and enjoyed the experience. It is a fun, casual spot that you will enjoy when in town.

 

Hickory House

The big food event of the year is the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. It is one of the premier culinary and wine events of its kind in the country. The three-day weekend in mid-June involves cooking demonstrations and wine and food tastings. Seminars led by wine and food superstars provide a world-class experience. Tickets sell fast and are very expensive.

The former Lulu’s is now Steak House No. 316 which is at 316 E. Hopkins. The food, service and atmosphere were excellent. It is perfect on a cold snowy night. It has steak plus many seafood options as well. The Colorado striped bass with Himalayan red rice, pine nuts, horseradish creme fraiche and micro beet salad was a great choice. They recently opened a second restaurant in downtown Boulder.

Aspen Brewing Company: A well-known craft brewery in Aspen. The brewery is located at 404 Aspen Airport Business Center across Highway 82 from the Aspen Airport. Here you can tour the facility on Friday and Saturday afternoons from 2 to 6 pm. More beer is available to taste in downtown Aspen at their expanded Aspen Tap at 121 S. Galena St. with great outdoor seating. They also have a complete gastropub food menu.  I thought their This Season’s Blonde, which is an English style pale ale, was excellent. They describe it as having  a wheat and honey malt flavor paired with bright floral and citrus hop flavors. They are known for an IPA, red ale, a brown ale and a porter, with seasonals including a Summer pilsner, an Imperial Red in the Fall, a Winter stout and Springtime Belgian Saison. Their Brett Barrel Saison, received the silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

Aspen Tap

 

Aspen Tap

French Pastry Cafe & More (formerly Franck Thirion French Pastry & Cafe) is at 111G Aspen Airport Business Center. This is a fun, local’s spot serving coffee, great croissants and French pastries plus a large selection of salads and sandwiches. Breakfast is also served.  This is a great new find away from downtown! I was just back and had an excellent caprese sandwich on a French baguette with tomato, pesto and mozzarella along with a perfect raspberry tart!  I also bought a chocolate and  an almond croissant for breakfast.

French Pastry Cafe & More

Just around the corner at 305F is Mawa’s Kitchen open for breakfast, lunch and brunch on weekends. The food is really excellent and fresh, with many vegetarian and vegan options. I loved the tartine with goat cheese, prosciutto and fresh grilled peaches. The macaroons were equally good. I just went back for Sunday brunch and thought the smoked salmon benedict was the perfect choice! It is definitely not a touristy destination due to its location away from downtown.

 

Mawa’s Kitchen

Two other spots for you to try near Mawa’s and French Pastry & More are Louis Swiss Bakery at 400 Aspen Airport Business Center and Francesca’s Pasta Market & Empanadas. Louis Swiss Bakery sells their artisan breads, croissants, bagels, muffins, cookies and pies long with coffee drinks and sandwiches.

Louis Swiss Bakery

Francesca’s Pasta Market & Empanadas sells homemade pasta, desserts and Argentinian empanadas in eleven flavors.

Francesca’s Pasta Market & Empanadas

Hops Culture: A new craft beer focused restaurant and bar on the Hyman Mall at 414 E. Hyman. In the summer months, it has a great outdoor beer garden in the middle of the mall. It has 200 beers, 15 wines by the glass and comfort food. I can’t wait to try the smoked salmon reuben! Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop is owned by the same people as Avalanche Cheese Company in Basalt. It has a great selection of gourmet food items, meats and cheeses. There is a casual cafe serving soups, salads and sandwiches. Everything is so fresh. I thought the brisket sandwich was really wonderful and highly recommend that you try it!!!  The rotisserie chicken board is also good. The I do prefer it for lunch over dinner. Make sure to go downstairs to Hooch, which is their fun cocktail lounge featuring craft cocktails. The Old Fashioned was excellent! 319 E. Hopkins.

Meat & Cheese

Next door is the Bear Den Aspen – Café & Bakery which opened in February, 2020 in a charming old house on the corner. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, they feature local, seasonal and organic food along with their homemade pastries, breads and pastas.  They also serve coffee drinks. I stopped in for a latte and tasty macaron.  On my last trip, I enjoyed dinner on the outside patio. I really enjoyed the mussels and an excellent salad.  It is a great new addition to downtown. 301 E. Hopkins.

 

Bear Den Aspen

 

Bear Den Aspen

On the north side of Meat and Cheese is Brunellecshi’s Gourmet Pizza, Pastas & Salads. When Meat and Cheese is crowded, this local Italian favorite is a great place to try. I liked the look of the menu, so I went and really liked the Capresse Panino sandwich with buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, prosciutto with a fresh basil pesto and a balsamic reduction. They have indoor seating upstairs and patio seating on the street. 205 S. Mill St.

Brunellecshi’s Gourmet Pizza, Pastas & Salads

 

Brunellecshi’s Gourmet Pizza, Pastas & Salads

Meat and Cheese took over the former Of Grape & Grain space which had been there for many years. They have now moved around the corner to 111 S Monarch. This is the best wine shop in town and also has a good selection of beer and liquor.

Aspen Art Museum – Rooftop Café: Located on the top floor of the Aspen Art Museum, this is a fun spot for coffee, lunch or après-ski while visiting the museum. There is no admission charge for the museum, so you can eat there without having to pay. They also host local music and cultural events throughout the year.

Rooftop Café Aspen Art Museum

A favorite for sushi is the hip, Matsuhisa Aspen.  In the basement at 303 E. Main, they have an extensive menu of entrees, rolls, sushi and sashimi by chef Nobu Matsushisa.  They also have a Omakase tasting menu. It is a very popular spot, so make sure to make a reservation before you go. They also have the more casual Matsuhisa Aspen Upstairs. They also have locations in Denver, Vail and Beverly Hills as well as several in Europe.

Matsuhisa Aspen

For sushi I also like Kenichi at 533 E. Hopkins. I have not been in a while, so I need to go back on my next trip. The recently opened a second location in the Base Village in Snowmass.

Another great addition to the dining scene in Aspen is the opening of Home Team BBQ. This is a local outpost of the Charleston, SC based BBQ chain. It is found in Inn at Aspen at the base of Buttermilk, which is located at 38750 CO Hwy. 82. It is a great spot if you don’t want to deal with parking or crowds in town. They feature a number of sandwiches, tacos and combination platters. I had a really good smoked brisket meatloaf entree.

After landing on my recent flight from Chicago, I headed over for lunch on their large outdoor patio. I had a really tasty pulled pork sandwich. It is a perfect spot on a beautiful day overlooking Buttermilk Mountain.

Home Team BBQ

 

Home Team BBQ

On a recent trip I was excited to try Clark’s Aspen and 7908 Aspen.

Clark’s Aspen is the first venture outside of Texas for this Austin, TX based oyster bar and seafood restaurant. It is located in the former Little Annie’s which closed in 2016.  Open for lunch and dinner, Clark’s features oysters, mussels, crab cakes, lobster rolls, chowders and a number of fish entrees. I enjoyed the crispy red snapper with stone ground grits and a perfect peach crumble for dessert. 517 E. Hyman.

Clark’s Aspen

I also recommend the trendy 7908 located at 415 E. Hyman Ave. It is a contemporary supper club that offers a creative menu, specialty cocktails and dancing in the bar on certain nights with their resident DJ. I had a great time and meal and loved the lamb dish served with hummus, tzatziki, grilled flatbread and  pine nuts.

7908 Aspen

The former Justice Snow’s, in first floor of the historic Wheeler Opera House, closed at the end of the 2018 ski season. It has been replaced by a fun gastropub, Aspen Public House where they feature a daily brunch and nightly dinner. I enjoyed a very good brunch with local friends. It is under the same ownership as Capitol Creek Brewery in down valley Willits, and features some of their beers on tap. 328 E. Hyman.

Aspen Public House

At 614 E. Cooper is Local Coffee House across the courtyard from Mezzaluna. It is located within the home furnishings and accessories boutique, Maker + Place.  I enjoyed a great coffee drink and a pastry and sitting within the great merchandise. It is like a contemporary living room! They also have outdoor patio seating.

Local Coffee House

I recently went back to Mezzaluna, known for its Italian cuisine and wood-fired pizzas, after an absence of several years. It is still a very good dining option and has been popular since it opened in 1987. I enjoyed my dinner as did my local friend. I also enjoyed the service and atmosphere. 624 E. Cooper Ave.

Mezzaluna

I recently found Jour De Fête, a casual cafe, for coffee, breakfast and lunch. It is next to City Market at 710 E Durant.  I enjoyed a great latte. I just went back and had a perfect omelette for Sunday brunch! I want to go back and try the pork roll sandwich is a favorite of mine from my annual summer trips to the Jersey Shore. It is has been there since 1988. They now have outdoor patio seating.

Jour De Fête

 

Jour De Fête

Other fun spots to try include Jing Aspen for Asian fusion cuisine including dim sum, sushi and sashimi.  I thought the miso salmon was excellent. 413 E. Main.  Another fun, casual spot for Chinese food and dim sum is Little Ollies at 308 S. Hunter. It is next door to the very casual, Zane’s Tavern for pub food and spirits.

Jing Aspen

 

Zane’s Tavern

Another casual spot that I read about is  the 520 Grill, downstairs at 520 E. Cooper. It is a casual, diner type restaurant featuring burgers, tacos, sandwiches and salads.

520 Grill

I also wanted to share some recently opened spots that have opened in town and are receiving good reviews. These include CHICA for Latin American cuisine by well-known chef Lorena Garcia, Casa D’Angelo for Italian and Catch Steak which has locations in NYC, LA and Las Vegas as well.

CHICA

 

CHICA

I just went to CHICA at 501 E. Dean St. for brunch on a perfect August day. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than during the winter where there were long lines to get in. I really enjoyed my smoked salmon bagel sandwich and a yummy tres leches cake.  Our server Hector was delightful!! They have a lovely outdoor patio.

CHICA

Another new spot that I recommend is the Red Mountain Grill located at the Aspen Golf Club, a public course just outside of town at 39551 CO-82.  I heard about the great views, so I went for brunch on a Saturday. It was not crowded and I really liked the service and the smoked salmon benedict. The views really added to the experience! It is open for lunch and dinner as well as brunch on weekends. They also feature speciality menus every night of the week.

Red Mountain Grill

 

Red Mountain Grill