As a culinary mecca and home to the annual Food and Wine Classic, you can bet the Aspen dining scene packs a world-class punch. Foodies can find international fusion dishes, classic European fare, local game, modern American bistro-style cuisine, as well as Asian-inspired eats and even fresh seafood. The options sway towards high-end flavors and prices, but affordable, family-friendly options are there if you know where to look.
While the choices seem endless—with 100 restaurants in a town that is home to about 7,000 year-round residents—there are several don’t miss Aspen restaurants. BB’s Kitchen is a great option for a group or family with varying tastes, the menu ranges from modern American to Asian and European-fusion food, the cocktails are good, the service is friendly and you have nice views of the bustling Cooper Avenue sidewalks below. Ajax Tavern at the base of the Aspen Mountain’s Silver Queen Gondola, will also please any palate, with classic European and American options, like burgers, truffle fries, pate and oysters, to name a few.
Head to Kenichi if you’re looking for some Asian-persuasion. This sushi joint offers a cool, hip atmosphere and great cocktails. Be sure to try the saketini, with fresh ginger, cucumber, vodka and sake. World famous Iron Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s restaurant, which is housed in an original mining-era home, is indelibly an Aspen staple you don’t want to miss. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities. Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Owen Wilson, Antonio Banderas and Chelsea Handler have been spotted there in recent years. While menu items are pricey, the quality is unrivaled, as fresh seafood deliveries arrive four times a week. For a more relaxed atmosphere and menu, head to Jimmy’s. You’ll find a lot of locals hanging out, and for good reason. The drinks are strong and the menu offers tasty comfort food items, like the jalapeno mac-n-cheese.
If you’re a foodie that likes a meal with a view, then Aspen has some great offerings. Aspen Mountain’s Sun Deck has incredible 360-degree views of the Elk Mountains and adjacent Aspen Highlands, and although the lodge features cafeteria style food, items like exhibition-style stir-fry and fresh made pizza make you forget. Lunch or breakfast at Bonnie’s is an absolute must. This storied restaurant, and many of its original recipes, have stood the test of the time. From its original architecture and deck to its famed apple strudel, to homemade pizza crust, hearty and out- of- this-world pancakes and white bean, Bonnie’s is an all-time Ajax dining spot. At Aspen Highlands you must make a reservation for lunch at the famed Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro: the views of the Maroon Bells are epic, the deck is hopping on a sunny day, world-class vintages and champagne are flowing and the classic European alpine food is to die for. Don’t miss the elk stroganoff or the fondue.