Asher on Aspen: Only in Aspen |

Asher on Aspen: Only in Aspen

Shannon Asher
Asher on Aspen
“The Smoke Show” Al Pastor ribs are revealed out of a bell jar at Chica in Aspen on Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

They say you see the cameras before you see the celebrities. I was reminded of that Aspen saying during a recent night out while dining at Chica Aspen. Still to this day, I have no idea who the mystery celebrity was. All I know is that it was a very entertaining spectacle to watch. One by one, I witnessed this poor man’s dinner get interrupted by various people coming up and asking him for a picture. Was he an actor? Was he a musician? Was he a famous scientist? I guess we’ll never know.

In the space that formerly housed Snow Lodge and Shlomo’s, Chica is situated in the optimal location at the base of Aspen Mountain inside of The Little Nell Residences. The ambiance inside was dark, moody, and cozy with romantic lighting. I sipped on a warm, spiked apple cider while waiting for my friend to arrive and join me for dinner. Unusual, and alluring light fixtures hung from the ceiling and demanded my attention. I lifted my chin to the sound of wine glasses clinking together at the table next to me while friends cheered and shouted “congratulations.” I wondered what they were celebrating.

My table was situated in a conspicuous back corner that gave me an optimal, front-row-seat for Aspen people watching. Disguised by my trusty Stetson secured to my head, I poked my eyes up every once-in-a-while to observe the scene. Onlookers could see nothing but my green eyes peering up every so often from the brim of my cowboy hat. Just like the mystery man, I preferred to remain anonymous.

My friend arrived just in time for the waiter to inquire about appetizers. Per his recommendations, we ordered the nikkei style tuna tartare and the wagyu quesa-birria empanadas. After we determined that these delectable starters were to our liking, we leaned on our server again for main course suggestions.

We ordered ribs (the smoke show), roasted street corn, lobster mac & cheese, and the roasted meat skewers (wagyu New York Strip, tenderloin pincho, lamb, and meyer lemon chicken). As you may have guessed, it was way too much food, but we enjoyed and devoured every bite.

The flaming skull dessert at Chica in Aspen. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Finally, for dessert, we indulged in the flaming skull chocolate lava cake and the cheesecake that was subtly disguised as corn on the cob. The skull turned out to be a dramatic display presented by the wait staff that drew attention from surrounding restaurant goers. Admittedly, it was very entertaining. The melting chocolate oozed out of the gold-encrusted skull, and we dipped strawberries and marshmallows into the warm, flowing chocolate that was now filling our plates. The corn on the cob looking desert turned out to be a wildly delicious strawberry cheesecake. Props to them for disguising this delicious dessert into a healthy food option that appeared to be nutritious. Genius!

After two apple ciders, a glass of champagne, and a pineapple margarita, I couldn’t help but wonder where the night would take us. At this point, the options were as intriguing as the corn disguised cheesecake. It was a Friday evening, and we were ready to take on the town during one of its busiest weekends of the year. Though I’m still curious who the mystery man was at the start of my dinner, I am certain I’ll have plenty more sightings this season. Once again, I find myself muttering the phrase, “only in Aspen.”

The signature Meyer lemon chicken dish at Chica in Aspen. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Aspen Times Weekly

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