| AspenTimes.com

Jimmy’s – An American Restaurant & Bar

In a town where restaurants come and go, Jimmy’s – An American Restaurant & Bar, has stood the test of time … and for good reason.

Located in an upstairs spot overlooking Aspen’s Restaurant Row, Jimmy’s is king. Proprietor (and namesake) Jimmy Yeager says the key to success is good food.

“We’ve changed the menu over the years, but we’ve never changed our commitment to serving the freshest food, prepared in the best way, to our guests,” he says.

And now there’s even more reasons to visit this cornerstone of Aspen’s culinary scene — when Yeager closed down Jimmy’s Bodega at the end of summer, he moved the team and many of the coastal-themed menu items to Jimmy’s.

It’s a blend of styles chef Mario Hernandez has seamlessly melded into two visions: “I like to stay true to our menus, but also make the changes we need to keep it fresh — and with having both the Jimmy’s and Bodega styles at our fingertips, it’s been a really great process,” he says.

On the appetizer and soups/salads menu, for example, Jimmy’s Famous Crab Cake and the Mad Dog Ranch Salad — longtime favorites — are listed side-by-side with Bodega offerings such as Clam Chowder and Salmon Crudo.

Moving to the entrees, you can never go wrong with staples like Rocky Mountain Ruby Red Trout or Bodega’s Sablefish a la plancha or one of several steak offerings (our recommendations: The Colorado Tomahawk, or pair a Blackened Petite Filet with a broiled New England lobster tail for a surf & turf like no other in town).

Of course chef Hernandez is

never satisfied. On this winter’s menu are items including an organic seared salmon, vegan roasted Portabello mushroom and sides like maple and bacon Brussel sprouts that he has tweaked to perfection.

“The way I work, I just keep trying new things as I get an idea,” he says. “Sometimes they are inspired by something I’ve tried, but often it’s the result of what’s freshest, what’s unique, what can we bring to the menu to create new experiences.”

Want more experiences? Jimmy’s is now home to Bodega’s Raw Bar and its mouth-watering selection of Seafood Plateaus. Pair any or all these items with a choice from Jimmy’s wide selection of wine and cocktails and you’ll see why Jimmy’s remains a local favorite.

clockwise from top: Salmon Crudo with jalapeño emulsion, lemon zest, shallots, cilantro, radishes, housemade potato chips; Seared Organic Salmon served over a green apple & chestnut purée, sautéed brussels sprouts, turnips & bacon, brandy gastrique, paired with a Japanese gin and tonic; Roasted Chicken served with sautéed wild mushrooms & spinach, crispy fingerling potatoes and salsa verde.

The Red Onion

In a town where the dining landscape seemingly changes overnight, the historic Red Onion is the place you can count on — for lunch, apres-ski, dinner or late night.

“We might be one of the last places in town that’s truly local,” says co-owner Brad Smith. “And we like that; we aren’t changing our philosophy of serving good food at reasonable prices in a fun atmosphere.”

And while you might think you already know The Onion from its nearly 125-year reputation alone, think again. Yes, it is one of Aspen’s oldest establishments, famous for its historic red-brick building and original back bar, but did you know that as far back as the mining era The Red Onion was one of the town’s three fine-dining restaurants? People came to The Red Onion for a genuine Aspen dining experience, not just a beer at the bar.

Of course, a beer at the beer is part of what’s kept people — locals and visitors alike — coming back as Aspen transformed from a sleepy mining town to a world-class ski destination.

“We’re real people here — our bartenders are local ski celebs, our servers are longtime locals — and we think that’s what keeps our customers coming back night after night, year after year,” says co owner Mike Tierney. “Just look around at the history on the walls here.”

But The Red Onion’s legacy hasn’t fully developed yet. Today, Tierney and Smith, along with chef Ricardo Madrigal, formerly of the Roaring Fork Club, want to reintroduce Aspen and its visitors to local eatery with a thoughtful menu of elevated American fare that goes far beyond typical bar food.

“I am inspired to serve food that goes beyond wings and fries,” Madrigal says. “So I will be taking some of our big plates and making them stand out a bit more; refining our traditional dishes to make them a little better.”

For example, Madrigal has reinvented two mainstay main dishes: the trout and the schnitzel; this season’s version of the trout has it served stuffed with crab, while the panko-crusted schnitzel is now a chicken dish.

Of course you can’t stray too far from tradition at this iconic Aspen eatery. The Red Onion burger — one of the best in town — is still a hearty half-pound of Angus beef, served on a Kaiser bun with cheese and all the trimmings; choose from more than six side dishes, and it’s truly a classic.

Also classic Red Onion (and a rarity in Aspen): the entire menu is served throughout the day in both the dining room and bar, with a total of 100 seats.

Plus, the bar at The Onion boasts one of Aspen’s most extensive selection of whiskeys, as well as a full cocktail menu, wine list and beers both on tap and in the bottle (yes, even PBR still has a place at the Red O.)

“We’re old-school Aspen,” Smith says. “A cowboy mentality in an upscale town — it’s a mix that seems to work well.”

Price: Appetizers $3.50 to $12.95; soups and salads $5 to $16.95; burgers and sandwiches $14.95 to $19; entrées $23.95 to $30.95. Weekday $9.95 lunch specials. Ambience: Casual, family-friendly, an Aspen classic. Signature dishes: Baked spinach and artichoke dip; the Red Onion cheeseburger; crab-stuffed Rocky Mountain trout; green chili and cheese grits; Mexican chocolate cake.

Mawa’s Kitchen

With a mix of cultures influencing its cuisine, Mawa’s Kitchen is a bright and beautiful display of fresh,
tasty food without a lot of frills.

Mawa McQueen, the chef and owner, likes to note that there’s nothing “foo foo” about her menu. She takes pride in using fresh, nutritious ingredients.

“No foam and all that,” she says. “No fuss with the ingredients.”

The results are creative and packed with flavor — with prices that won’t break the bank.

McQueen was born in Ivory Coast and grew up in Paris. Her cuisine melds together African, French and American influences. She takes seemingly simple ideas like tartines — French, open-faced sandwiches on fresh, rustic bread — and elevates them beautifully. The avocado version, for example, packs a hint of curry flavor with cilantro, pomegranate and lime. A hummus version comes with roasted red peppers, capers and olives.

McQueen is firm in her dedication to quality. For privately catered events such as weddings or private dinners, she caps the number of people at about 100 because anything beyond that hurts the quality of the food, she says.

She started her catering business in 2007 and expanded to private dinners in 2014. She remodeled her commercial kitchen space in the Aspen Business Center to include a dining room in November 2015. It’s a cozy space with an open kitchen that guests walk through as they enter the restaurant.

Mawa’s is now offering a weekend brunch, featuring classic dishes with her own twist. Her smoothie bowl ($12) is a delightful blend of avocado, kale, a little honey and almond milk or rice milk. She tops it with chia seeds, granola, banana, kiwi and raspberry. Another smoothie bowl features almond milk, peanut butter, dark cocoa powder and avocado, blended and topped with banana, dates and honey crisp puff cereal — a protein-rich meal with good fats, she notes. It tastes like creamy chocolate peanut butter pudding.

Gluten-free breads — all made in-house — are available for dine-in or takeout, and she offers gluten-free desserts, too — don’t miss her delicious carrot cake.

In a hurry? Order takeout sandwiches, salads (salmon Nicoise, quinoa and arugula, and others) or her popular lunch box. And orders over $100 get free delivery around Aspen and Snowmass.

“Food is not complicated,” she says. “I’m not fancy. I like good, healthy food.”

Price: $12 to $16 for lunch; $9 to $15 for breakfast/brunch. Ambience: Casual dining room for breakfast and lunch with natural light and lively kitchen. Signature dishes: French tartines — try the smashed avocado or the hummus and veggie; arugula and quinoa salad with pomegranate, squash and pepitas; homemade breads, soups and desserts.

Mawa’s Kitchen has become a local favorite for finding the freshest, house-made dishes for breakfast or lunch.

Home Team BBQ

Home Team BBQ has been serving up authenticity and reliably awesome food to a growing clientele in a hip and fun atmosphere since its Aspen debut in 2016.

While the barbecue offerings remain consistent with menus at
its other locations in South Carolina, Home Team Aspen has expanded its culinary choices since setting up as the sole restaurant in the Inn at Aspen at the base of Buttermilk Mountain.

“It’s a culmination of all the highlights, all the stars,” said operating partner Chris Lanter.

With chef Kyle Wilkins at the helm in the kitchen, the low and slow method of southern barbecue shines on the plate and is savored on the palate.

Home Team’s famous family
style “board” has all of the chef’s favorites — smoked wings and turkey, pulled pork, ribs and
linguica sausage.

Tuesday night’s fried chicken dinner is half of a bird, brined overnight, dredged in buttermilk and then fried for 14 minutes; the chicken leaves your fingers dripping in juices once it’s released from its crispy skin. It’s served with good old-fashioned Frank’s hot sauce, mashers with coffee gravy, slaw and a light and fluffy biscuit with hot honey sauce.

Rena Lanter, Chris’ wife, runs the wine program on the consultation of master sommelier Jay Fletcher. From $45 to $200 a bottle, Home Team has a list of 45 wines that can be paired with any kind of barbecue or menu offering.

The Home Team crew has come up with some creative breakfast items that serve those who are on the go and others who want to feast in a casual, laid-back setting.

Weekend brunch has gained a lot of traction with locals but be warned: it’s a tough choice between the Migas Tacos, the brisket and biscuit or the French toast, which is a play on their banana pudding. Then there’s the grab-and-go breakfast sandwich with eggs, cheese and Home Team’s house-cured, house-cut bacon (or sausage or ham) with a fresh croissant. Also on the go is a Greek yogurt parfait with blueberry compote and granola, and a sausage breakfast burrito.

“A good menu is when you can’t pick; it all looks good,” Lanter said.

Ashcroft’s Pine Creek Cookhouse

There’s no cell service here in the middle of the Elk Mountains, and that’s only part of the beauty of dining at Pine Creek Cookhouse. When you step off the horse-drawn sleigh, or pop out of your Nordic skis or snowshoes, stop and listen to the sound of silence — the lovely sound of nature, where not even a cellphone ring can interrupt it.

But there is one thing that can enhance the experience: a leisurely lunch or dinner on the Pine Creek patio. Begin with a starter such as the butcher and cheese plate, follow it with the gold-standard Cookhouse salad and then an entree from the diverse menu. Top it all off with good wine and a great dessert.

One thing you won’t find at Pine Creek Cookhouse is foam on your plate. When things started turning molecular in upscale kitchens across the country and in Aspen, Keating knew he needed to move to a place where he could cook simply. And now with friend and fellow chef Bill Greenwood at his side — who among other things is a top-notch butcher and professional forager — you’ll definitely find delicious, hearty food without a lot of fuss.

Take for instance, the selection of meats on the menu, from the Rocky Mountain elk cop to the Berkshire pork porterhouse to the always popular Kurt Russell Home Run Ranch beef patty melt.

Or, keep in mind that Sherpas from Nepal who used to work in the Everest base camps have been members of Pine Creek Cookhouse’s kitchen for decades. Their influences are scattered throughout the menu, but one of the most popular items going 30 years strong are the wild game momos, Nepalese dumplings made with buffalo, herbs and spices.

Pine Creek Cookhouse is one of the area’s oldest restaurants for good reason — there just doesn’t seem to be anything they’re doing wrong here. In fact, they get better with every passing year.

So go ahead, ditch your cell service for a few hours and enjoy a blissful day or evening of Nordic skiing, or the simple charm of a sleigh ride through the Castle Creek Valley, followed by awesome alpine cuisine in the heart of the Elk Mountains.

“When you’re surrounded by Mother Nature, everything else drops off,” Keating says.”


Maru: 320 S. Mill St., Aspen, 970-925-2976, www.maruaspen.com, daily 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., $$$

Jimmy’s – An American Restaurant & Bar

Jimmy’s – An American Restaurant & Bar: For the past 20 years, Jimmy’s has been Aspen’s neighborhood restaurant and bar. We offer a casual atmosphere with an upscale fine-dining experience, and a menu designed to have something for everyone that is always featuring something new. Our Œlocally-priced¹ bar menu offers the same high quality dishes at an approachable price point in an energetic atmosphere. The innovative bar program features drinks inspired by our travels around the world, and large format, hand-cut ice. Jimmy¹s wine program is tended to by Advanced Sommelier Greg Van Wagner, featuring 550 selections that focus on the wines of America and France. We are known for our deep selection of well-aged Napa Valley Cabernet and our guest-centric sommelier experience. 205 S. Mill St., Aspen, 970-925-6020, www.jimmysaspen.com, 5:30 – 11 p.m. nightly, $$$


Ellina: 430 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 970-925-2976, www.ellinaspen.com, 5:30 – 10:30 nightly, $$$

Bamboo Bear

Bamboo Bear: 730 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 970-710-2094, www.bamboobearrestaurant.com, daily (except Wednesdays), 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., $

Duck Confit

from Rustique Bistro

Read more about the Roaring Fork Valley’s food scene in the summer edition of EAT, available around town and online.