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. Here are my top recommendations:
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.
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.
Also new and trendy 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.
Just up the street is a great new find, Tatanka Western Bistro at 308 E. Hopkins. Officially opened in June, 2019, it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a western flare in its decor and menu. I had a really great experience for lunch with great food and service. I thought the art and design was perfect. Another spot by the same owners will open later in the year downstairs. According to the Aspen Daily News, “James Mazzio, a 1999 Food & Wine Best New Chef award winner and former resident of Aspen, will serve as executive chef of both establishments.”
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.
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!
Ellina Restaurant and Bar: Located at 430 E. Hyman. The bar is a good option as they have a very reasonably priced bar menu. The food is great. They now have outdoor seating upstairs on the Mall.
Piñons: Located at 105 S. Mill in Aspen, this has been one of Aspen’s top restaurants since 1988; the food is always wonderful. The best deal by far is the two course bar menu for $35. This second floor restaurant has a warm contemporary décor with nice views of Aspen. They have a small outdoor terrace in the summer. I always enjoy the experience!
Victoria + CO – Espresso + Wine Bar: A block from the gondola, at 510 E. Durant in Aspen, this is a local coffee shop since 2008 offering great bakery items and other food.
Creperie Du Village: 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!
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.
Campo de Fiori Ristorante: Great Italian food at 205 S. Mill in Aspen. They have outdoor dining in the Summer. I was just back for dinner with local friends and loved the branzino entree.
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. I had a very good lunch experience in the redone Prospect restaurant. Loved the meatloaf on a cold, snowy day in Aspen. The scallop entree was really excellent on my most recent visit. I enjoyed my first breakfast in the same space at the original Jerome restaurant 30 years ago and it still looks like it is right out of the wild, wild west. It is now an Auberge Resort and is located at 330 E. Main St.
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.
Two great new finds include the Marble Bar Aspen and Batula 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.
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!
Pine Creek Cookhouse: Castle Creek Road in Ashcroft. One of my favorite places for lunch with amazing views. During the winter you can snowshoe, cross country or take the sleigh from the Ashcroft parking area; in the summer you can drive to the restaurant. A great place after hiking the Cathedral or American Lake trails.
Woody Creek Tavern: 2858 Upper River Road in Woody Creek. Rustic tavern with great Mexican and American food. It is a real locals hangout! They have a great patio for summer dining as well. I have to go every summer when I am in town.
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.
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.
At 216 S. Monarch, the former Rustique restaurant opened the Cooking School of Aspen, downstairs. Check out the website for a schedule of classes and events.
L’Hostaria: 620 E. Hyman. Wonderful Italian food. The bar menu is the best in town and very popular with the locals.
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.
Pyramid Bistro: 221 E. Main, above Explore Bookseller. The have very good vegetarian food in a bright room. The outdoor porch in the summer has great views of Ajax. Don’t miss it. I love it for lunch and go every time I am in town!
Also for great Vietnamese food is Bamboo Bear at 730 E. Cooper. Opened in mid-2016, this is a very casual, locals’ spot that features a menu including pho, spring rolls, noodle salads and steamed buns. Though the spot is not fancy, the food is very good
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.
Two other good spots include 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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Franck Thirion French Pastry & Cafe: 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. A great new find away from downtown! 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.
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 ruben!
Nearby is Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop, at 420 E. Hyman, where you will find some great pastries and cookies. They now feature soups and sandwiches as well.
Meat and Cheese 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!!! 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 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.
SO Cafe: Located on the top floor of the Aspen Art Museum, this is a fun spot for coffee or lunch while visiting the museum. There is no admission charge for the museum, so you can eat there without having to pay.
The former Taka Sushi, is now Maru. Located at 320 S. Mill St., this is a great spot for sushi and other Japanese dishes. They have a large selections of sashimi, sushi and rolls. I went for the first time, and really enjoyed the food and service.
Another 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 and Vail.
I recently went back to Jimmy’s, An American Restaurant & Bar. This has been a local institution since opening in 1997. It has a large menu and wine list. I went with family and friends and really enjoyed the experience. The tuna steak I chose, was really excellent. 205 S. Mill St.
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.
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.
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.
The former Justice Snow’s, in the bottom 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.
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. It is fun enjoying a great coffee drink and a pastry and sitting within the great merchandise. Like a contemporary living room!
I just 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 am looking forward to going back. It is has been there since 1988.
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 is Little Ollies at 308 S. Hunter. It is next door to the very casual, Zane’s Tavern for pub food and spirits.
Another casual spot 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.