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The 18 Best Restaurants in Aspen

Where to eat and drink in one of Colorado's most famous ski towns

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Whether it's Aspen's legendary status as the home of the Food & Wine Classic, or just the fact that top chefs from around the world love to visit, the dining and drinking scene in Aspen is second to none. Sure, other ski towns try to emulate the variety and gourmet options you'll find in this pricey alpine retreat, but none really come close. In honor of summer, great patios, and all things food, we've updated our list of the best 18 places to booze and eat in this high alpine oasis.

Please note that the establishments are listed in alphabetical order. Upset that we forgot your favorite place? Shoot us an email and tell us why.

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Ajax Tavern

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Don’t be intimidated by the legendary reputation of The Little Nell. All are treated graciously here, and if signature fine-dining restaurant Element 47 and its Bar are ground zero for high-rolling adults, Ajax is the fun sibling always up for a party. This indoor/outdoor eatery at the base of the Silver Queen Gondola is perennially packed whatever the season, but it’s about the food and drink as much as the scene. You can’t go wrong with the raw bar, dreamy chicken liver pâté, or salads, but we also love the tasty burger.

Annette's Bake Shop

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This cozy hole-in-the-wall (one of Curbed Ski’s best ski country bakeries) on the Hyman Avenue Mall is a local’s secret that even a lot of locals don’t know about. Those who do, however, know to arrive early to get their fix on daily specials for breakfast or lunch (doughnut Thursdays are madness). The sandwiches and daily specials (meatball, juicy porchetta or brisket, pissaladiere, soups, salads…) are amazing, but be sure to save room for the cloudlike macarons, Kouign-Aman, and pine nut cookies. Did we mention all of the bread is made in-house and the bagels are the real deal? Owners Annette and Serafino Docimo do it all themselves, aside from a token employee, and their passion shows. Cash only. If the weather is nice there are a few small tables outside.

Aspen Kitchen

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One of Aspen's newest restaurants is also its hottest. Located in Aspen's downtown core, Aspen Kitchen has a gorgeous dining room and a hip vibe. Executive Chef Matt O'Neill cooks contemporary American cuisine with a ski town emphasis; think deviled duck eggs, elk tartare and hearty entrees like Colorado strip bass. If the weather's nice, don't miss the restaurant's huge patio that boasts great views, an outdoor bar, and fire pits.

Cache Cache Restaurant

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For over 25 year’s Chris Lanter and Jodi Larner’s elegant little French spot has remained one of Aspen’s top dining establishments. This is no small feat, and longtime former sous chef/current chef de cuisine Nathan King is killing it upholding the reputation. While the roast chicken gets a lot of press, there’s lots to love about the intensely seasonal menu (Lanter owns a small farm in Paonia, and King is a dedicated forager). Care for some wine? There are 5,000 bottles to choose from in the cellar. If the weather is nice, try to score a coveted spot on the patio.

Grey Lady

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Relatively new to the Aspen dining scene, Grey Lady is a New England-style seafood restaurant, which opened in December 2014 and is sibling to the popular Manhattan bar/eatery of the same name. The cozy, 70-seat spot packs them in, thanks to stellar food and cocktails, friendly, clued-in staff, and a subtly sexy, rustic-chic interior. Co-owner Ryan Chadwick’s uncle is a Maine lobsterman and ships his catch direct daily, piggybacked with oysters from a Damariscotta mariculture farm. Besides a full bar, there's four signature, large-batch libations on tap, including a Moscow Mule with house Escobar vodka made by Basalt’s Woody Creek Distillers.

HOPS Culture

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Since opening a few summers ago, HOPS Culture has been…hopping. Aspen’s long-awaited “craft beer-focused restaurant” on the Hyman Ave. pedestrian mall is where to go when you’re craving a cold one. With 30 beers on tap and 200 by the bottle (including limited releases and everything from dubels to rye), 15 wines, and 12 craft spirits (Moscow Mules are the house special, and come in six different variations), it’s easy to see why beer aficionados flock here. The food is simple, upscale pub grub: salads, roast half-chicken, “melts,” and variations on mac & cheese. The downstairs bar space is industrial-cool, but the 11-bench beer garden in the mall’s park-like center strip has already established itself as the place to be on a summer’s day.

J-Bar at Hotel Jerome

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Since 1889, the this masculine bar has been one of Aspen’s most prominent social locales (during Prohibition, it served up the “Aspen Crud,” a spiked milkshake still on the menu). It's still a fave amongst the local crowd as well as celebs, but the scene is laid-back and the décor all about the Old West. Don't miss the ornately-carved backbar, Chinoiserie Chippendale bar, stamped ceiling, and intricate crown moldings. We come to lunch for the best burger in town: a juicy, stacked beauty with all the fixings; the hearty salads (kale Caesar, bbq chicken..), and starters like the famous spinach and artichoke dip are other great ways to fortify yourself. Order up a whiskey neat and enjoy being a fly on the wall.

Jimmy's An American Restaurant

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Owner/mixologist Jimmy Yeager is legendary in Aspen and beyond for his namesake restaurant/bar. Located in a swanky upstairs spot off of Mill Street, Jimmy’s is a study in Aspen-cool. Picture windows provide stellar views of Ajax, and though there’s a separate dining room, bar seating is the most coveted (there’s also a back patio). The bar program is aces, focusing on classic cocktails and boutique spirits, but Jimmy’s is as renown for its ice as anything- he makes his own 300-pound blocks and turns them into two-inch, signature BFIC's (that’s Big Fucking Ice Cubes, fyi) used in special drinks. It’s not a gimmick- a larger cube means less dilution of your beverage, and the purified water keeps your cocktail stank- and off-flavor-free. The skilled staff are as charming as their boss. Line your stomach with comforting classics like steak, meatloaf, buffalo burgers, or bbq chicken- it’s going to be a long one.

Justice Snow's

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Although known for their top-notch cocktails and prime location in Aspen's historic Wheeler Opera House, Justice Snow's also delivers a diverse brunch menu and Aspen's best Bloody Mary bar. If we're not indulging in the seriously good Huevos Rancheros, you'll find us kicking back with cocktails and late-night snacks after a show.

La Creperie Du Village

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Unquestionably the most adorable, romantic little restaurant in town. You’ll feel like you’re dining in a chalet in the French Alps, which makes sense, since co-owner Raphael Derly is a French former ski racer. Service can be slow, but that just gives you more time to kick back with a glass of wine and take in the dark, weathered wood paneling and homey décor (bistro glasses, fresh wildflowers on every table, firewood stacked in front of the tiny open kitchen). Featured in our most delicious cheese dishes in ski country, the French onion soup is a crock of existential bliss; sweet and savory crepes are large, filling, and tasty. Wait for a rainy day to try the fondue, or spring for the cheeseboard instead. It’s hard to go wrong here, unless it’s your pronunciation of the Shokoladepalatschinke (chocolate crepe, filled with chocolate ganache, dulce de leche, strawberries, and bananas, with whipped cream). Opt for the few tables outside when the weather is nice.

Matsuhisa

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The third Colorado outpost (the others are in Vail and Denver) of sushi god Nobu Matsuhisa’s empire is situated in a most unassuming spot: a historic, bluebell-hued Victorian on the corner of Main and North Monarch. Be prepared to drop serious bank, no matter how puny your appetite, but the experience will leave you all the richer. Stand-outs other than the sushi bar include the broiled black cod with miso, and lobster tacos; the Omakase menu, starting at $100/per person, is a pretty stellar deal for Aspen. We also love the see-and-be-seen patio.

Meat & Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop

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This long-awaited restaurant and farm shop from award-winning cheesemaker Wendy Mitchell of Basalt's Avalanche Cheese Company has become a local’s favorite for lunch or dinner since opening in October 2014 (it’s also in our most delicious cheese dishes in ski country. It’s more than just the great price point: the food is simply delicious. The signature “boards” of charcuterie (including Avalanche’s own goat and pork salumi), cheese, rotisserie chicken, and porchetta are delicious, ditto the locally-sourced “world farmhouse” cuisine from chef David Wang and crew. Don't miss Hooch, a downstairs bar from the same team serving up tapas, cocktails, and desserts.

New York Pizza

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Ski bums and late-night revelers alike would surely perish without this Aspen institution. What’s not to love about delicious, honkin’ big slices served till 2:30am? For a “cheap” meal, order up a pie and a pitcher, but things get really hopping when the bars close. You may wait in line for 20 minutes or more, but that hot, cheesy, sobering slice or four is so worth it (bonus: this stuff tastes just as great sober, which is the ultimate litmus test).

Peach's Corner Cafe

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If you're looking for a casual breakfast spot with some seating outside, look no further than Peach's. Locals line up for the breakfast and lunch joint's signature dish: the Open Face. Made with toasted bread, poached eggs, peach butter, bacon, tomatoes, arugula, and shaved parmesan, it's a filling start to the day without being a major gut bomb. Note that the sunny patio seating fills up quickly so get there early if you're desperate to enjoy the Aspen sunshine.

Pyramid Bistro

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This "nutritarian" restaurant might be so good you'll forget that you're not eating meat. Vegetarians and those looking for gluten-free options will be pleased with the diverse menu that's heavy on options and aims to promote healthy, delicious cuisine. Open for dinner or lunch, there's also a few fish and chicken options for those who opt for heartier fare.

So at the Aspen Art Museum

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While Aspen's awesome new art museum has raised some eyebrows, there’s no debate about the simple, dramatic café on its roof. Executive chef Julia Domingos and her husband/GM Allen have created lovely, inspired lunch menus served 11:30-2:30 that change every Tuesday. The espresso has already gained a cult following in a town where bad coffee is everywhere, but the food deserves props, too. There’s panini, salads, a kid’s plate, house pastries, beer, wine by the glass…all in an über-modern white space accented by glass, concrete, and blonde, cross-hatched ceiling beams. The patio and near-360-degree views of downtown Aspen and Ajax don’t hurt, but what’s really great is the lack of crowds and resulting serenity.

Trecento Quindici Decano

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Located in the St. Regis, this Italian restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily in a chic, but kid-friendly environment. From handmade pastas to the delicious focaccia bread, Trecento provides an upscale option that will please everyone in the family. At breakfast, don't miss the Tuscan Breakfast Bowl, which features tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, basil, argula, and poached eggs.

White House Tavern

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This always-hopping little Victorian on East Hopkins has made a name for itself with the stacked chicken sandwich, burgers, and monster salads. The menu, while brief, covers all the bases- kale salad, “Macho Salad,” (roasted chicken, mixed greens, avocado, dates, goat cheese, toasted almonds, fresh corn), heavenly queso dip (more like super-creamy pimento cheese), hand-cut fries, and even creamed corn. The wine and cocktails list has some nice offerings, and the blonde-wood-paneled walls and stylish trappings made this rustic-mod space a pleasant place to hang for a casual lunch or dinner. Score a table outside for views of Aspen Mountain. This is the spot we come back to every time we're in town.

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Ajax Tavern

Don’t be intimidated by the legendary reputation of The Little Nell. All are treated graciously here, and if signature fine-dining restaurant Element 47 and its Bar are ground zero for high-rolling adults, Ajax is the fun sibling always up for a party. This indoor/outdoor eatery at the base of the Silver Queen Gondola is perennially packed whatever the season, but it’s about the food and drink as much as the scene. You can’t go wrong with the raw bar, dreamy chicken liver pâté, or salads, but we also love the tasty burger.

Annette's Bake Shop

This cozy hole-in-the-wall (one of Curbed Ski’s best ski country bakeries) on the Hyman Avenue Mall is a local’s secret that even a lot of locals don’t know about. Those who do, however, know to arrive early to get their fix on daily specials for breakfast or lunch (doughnut Thursdays are madness). The sandwiches and daily specials (meatball, juicy porchetta or brisket, pissaladiere, soups, salads…) are amazing, but be sure to save room for the cloudlike macarons, Kouign-Aman, and pine nut cookies. Did we mention all of the bread is made in-house and the bagels are the real deal? Owners Annette and Serafino Docimo do it all themselves, aside from a token employee, and their passion shows. Cash only. If the weather is nice there are a few small tables outside.

Aspen Kitchen

One of Aspen's newest restaurants is also its hottest. Located in Aspen's downtown core, Aspen Kitchen has a gorgeous dining room and a hip vibe. Executive Chef Matt O'Neill cooks contemporary American cuisine with a ski town emphasis; think deviled duck eggs, elk tartare and hearty entrees like Colorado strip bass. If the weather's nice, don't miss the restaurant's huge patio that boasts great views, an outdoor bar, and fire pits.

Cache Cache Restaurant

For over 25 year’s Chris Lanter and Jodi Larner’s elegant little French spot has remained one of Aspen’s top dining establishments. This is no small feat, and longtime former sous chef/current chef de cuisine Nathan King is killing it upholding the reputation. While the roast chicken gets a lot of press, there’s lots to love about the intensely seasonal menu (Lanter owns a small farm in Paonia, and King is a dedicated forager). Care for some wine? There are 5,000 bottles to choose from in the cellar. If the weather is nice, try to score a coveted spot on the patio.

Grey Lady

Relatively new to the Aspen dining scene, Grey Lady is a New England-style seafood restaurant, which opened in December 2014 and is sibling to the popular Manhattan bar/eatery of the same name. The cozy, 70-seat spot packs them in, thanks to stellar food and cocktails, friendly, clued-in staff, and a subtly sexy, rustic-chic interior. Co-owner Ryan Chadwick’s uncle is a Maine lobsterman and ships his catch direct daily, piggybacked with oysters from a Damariscotta mariculture farm. Besides a full bar, there's four signature, large-batch libations on tap, including a Moscow Mule with house Escobar vodka made by Basalt’s Woody Creek Distillers.

HOPS Culture

Since opening a few summers ago, HOPS Culture has been…hopping. Aspen’s long-awaited “craft beer-focused restaurant” on the Hyman Ave. pedestrian mall is where to go when you’re craving a cold one. With 30 beers on tap and 200 by the bottle (including limited releases and everything from dubels to rye), 15 wines, and 12 craft spirits (Moscow Mules are the house special, and come in six different variations), it’s easy to see why beer aficionados flock here. The food is simple, upscale pub grub: salads, roast half-chicken, “melts,” and variations on mac & cheese. The downstairs bar space is industrial-cool, but the 11-bench beer garden in the mall’s park-like center strip has already established itself as the place to be on a summer’s day.

J-Bar at Hotel Jerome

Since 1889, the this masculine bar has been one of Aspen’s most prominent social locales (during Prohibition, it served up the “Aspen Crud,” a spiked milkshake still on the menu). It's still a fave amongst the local crowd as well as celebs, but the scene is laid-back and the décor all about the Old West. Don't miss the ornately-carved backbar, Chinoiserie Chippendale bar, stamped ceiling, and intricate crown moldings. We come to lunch for the best burger in town: a juicy, stacked beauty with all the fixings; the hearty salads (kale Caesar, bbq chicken..), and starters like the famous spinach and artichoke dip are other great ways to fortify yourself. Order up a whiskey neat and enjoy being a fly on the wall.

Jimmy's An American Restaurant

Owner/mixologist Jimmy Yeager is legendary in Aspen and beyond for his namesake restaurant/bar. Located in a swanky upstairs spot off of Mill Street, Jimmy’s is a study in Aspen-cool. Picture windows provide stellar views of Ajax, and though there’s a separate dining room, bar seating is the most coveted (there’s also a back patio). The bar program is aces, focusing on classic cocktails and boutique spirits, but Jimmy’s is as renown for its ice as anything- he makes his own 300-pound blocks and turns them into two-inch, signature BFIC's (that’s Big Fucking Ice Cubes, fyi) used in special drinks. It’s not a gimmick- a larger cube means less dilution of your beverage, and the purified water keeps your cocktail stank- and off-flavor-free. The skilled staff are as charming as their boss. Line your stomach with comforting classics like steak, meatloaf, buffalo burgers, or bbq chicken- it’s going to be a long one.

Justice Snow's

Although known for their top-notch cocktails and prime location in Aspen's historic Wheeler Opera House, Justice Snow's also delivers a diverse brunch menu and Aspen's best Bloody Mary bar. If we're not indulging in the seriously good Huevos Rancheros, you'll find us kicking back with cocktails and late-night snacks after a show.

La Creperie Du Village

Unquestionably the most adorable, romantic little restaurant in town. You’ll feel like you’re dining in a chalet in the French Alps, which makes sense, since co-owner Raphael Derly is a French former ski racer. Service can be slow, but that just gives you more time to kick back with a glass of wine and take in the dark, weathered wood paneling and homey décor (bistro glasses, fresh wildflowers on every table, firewood stacked in front of the tiny open kitchen). Featured in our most delicious cheese dishes in ski country, the French onion soup is a crock of existential bliss; sweet and savory crepes are large, filling, and tasty. Wait for a rainy day to try the fondue, or spring for the cheeseboard instead. It’s hard to go wrong here, unless it’s your pronunciation of the Shokoladepalatschinke (chocolate crepe, filled with chocolate ganache, dulce de leche, strawberries, and bananas, with whipped cream). Opt for the few tables outside when the weather is nice.

Matsuhisa

The third Colorado outpost (the others are in Vail and Denver) of sushi god Nobu Matsuhisa’s empire is situated in a most unassuming spot: a historic, bluebell-hued Victorian on the corner of Main and North Monarch. Be prepared to drop serious bank, no matter how puny your appetite, but the experience will leave you all the richer. Stand-outs other than the sushi bar include the broiled black cod with miso, and lobster tacos; the Omakase menu, starting at $100/per person, is a pretty stellar deal for Aspen. We also love the see-and-be-seen patio.

Meat & Cheese Restaurant & Farm Shop

This long-awaited restaurant and farm shop from award-winning cheesemaker Wendy Mitchell of Basalt's Avalanche Cheese Company has become a local’s favorite for lunch or dinner since opening in October 2014 (it’s also in our most delicious cheese dishes in ski country. It’s more than just the great price point: the food is simply delicious. The signature “boards” of charcuterie (including Avalanche’s own goat and pork salumi), cheese, rotisserie chicken, and porchetta are delicious, ditto the locally-sourced “world farmhouse” cuisine from chef David Wang and crew. Don't miss Hooch, a downstairs bar from the same team serving up tapas, cocktails, and desserts.

New York Pizza

Ski bums and late-night revelers alike would surely perish without this Aspen institution. What’s not to love about delicious, honkin’ big slices served till 2:30am? For a “cheap” meal, order up a pie and a pitcher, but things get really hopping when the bars close. You may wait in line for 20 minutes or more, but that hot, cheesy, sobering slice or four is so worth it (bonus: this stuff tastes just as great sober, which is the ultimate litmus test).

Peach's Corner Cafe

If you're looking for a casual breakfast spot with some seating outside, look no further than Peach's. Locals line up for the breakfast and lunch joint's signature dish: the Open Face. Made with toasted bread, poached eggs, peach butter, bacon, tomatoes, arugula, and shaved parmesan, it's a filling start to the day without being a major gut bomb. Note that the sunny patio seating fills up quickly so get there early if you're desperate to enjoy the Aspen sunshine.

Pyramid Bistro

This "nutritarian" restaurant might be so good you'll forget that you're not eating meat. Vegetarians and those looking for gluten-free options will be pleased with the diverse menu that's heavy on options and aims to promote healthy, delicious cuisine. Open for dinner or lunch, there's also a few fish and chicken options for those who opt for heartier fare.

So at the Aspen Art Museum

While Aspen's awesome new art museum has raised some eyebrows, there’s no debate about the simple, dramatic café on its roof. Executive chef Julia Domingos and her husband/GM Allen have created lovely, inspired lunch menus served 11:30-2:30 that change every Tuesday. The espresso has already gained a cult following in a town where bad coffee is everywhere, but the food deserves props, too. There’s panini, salads, a kid’s plate, house pastries, beer, wine by the glass…all in an über-modern white space accented by glass, concrete, and blonde, cross-hatched ceiling beams. The patio and near-360-degree views of downtown Aspen and Ajax don’t hurt, but what’s really great is the lack of crowds and resulting serenity.

Trecento Quindici Decano

Located in the St. Regis, this Italian restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily in a chic, but kid-friendly environment. From handmade pastas to the delicious focaccia bread, Trecento provides an upscale option that will please everyone in the family. At breakfast, don't miss the Tuscan Breakfast Bowl, which features tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, basil, argula, and poached eggs.

White House Tavern

This always-hopping little Victorian on East Hopkins has made a name for itself with the stacked chicken sandwich, burgers, and monster salads. The menu, while brief, covers all the bases- kale salad, “Macho Salad,” (roasted chicken, mixed greens, avocado, dates, goat cheese, toasted almonds, fresh corn), heavenly queso dip (more like super-creamy pimento cheese), hand-cut fries, and even creamed corn. The wine and cocktails list has some nice offerings, and the blonde-wood-paneled walls and stylish trappings made this rustic-mod space a pleasant place to hang for a casual lunch or dinner. Score a table outside for views of Aspen Mountain. This is the spot we come back to every time we're in town.