Dining hotspots in Aspen, the valley | AspenTimes.com

Dining hotspots in Aspen, the valley

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Pacifica in Aspen is a seafood restaurant, but don't overlook cocktail hour.

ASPEN Fortunately for those who dwell in the Roaring Fork Valley, either as locals or visitors, we know how to appreciate the finer things in life and no where is that more apparent than in our bars and restaurants.For a 50-mile stretch from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, there are hundreds of places to choose from and many of them are world-class establishments. The valleys chefs, bartenders and proprietors know how to serve it up, no matter what youre looking for, or what price you are willing to pay.As summer approaches, locals and tourists will be out in full force looking for good food and fun. While theres always a scene in the establishments of the Wild West, some have more going on than others. Based on a loose survey of residents and some inside knowledge, heres this summers picks of the valleys hottest spots.

Jimmys An American Restaurant and Bar205 S. Mill St.Aspen925 6020jimmysaspen.comCocktail culture is alive and rockin at Jimmys, which has been in business since 1997.Of all the Aspen bars, Jimmys bar is considered the meeting place in town. Theres a full bar specializing in tequila and mezcal. The bar perhaps has the finest selection of agave based spirits in the country 105 in all. Single malt scotches, small batch bourbons, aged rums, you name and most likely theyve got it. Theres a reason the bar is packed every night of the week, even in the offseason. Jimmys has a great bar menu available until 11:30 p.m. Youll be missing something if you dont try the macaroni and cheese. Thursday night is the popular crab legs special for $12.50. The bar scene is full of locals and the bartenders are the friendliest in town. They also play some great tunes. This summer, the patio off the bar is the place to be.Pacifica307 S. Mill St.Aspen920-9775www.pacificaaspen.comFresh seafood on ice that you can select while sitting at the bar and sipping infusion cocktails is a the perfect summer blend. Salads, crab, lobster and plenty of local specialties are offered at Pacifica.Pacifica is a place to be seen and to see, with its outdoor patio facing the pedestrian mall where theres plenty of action and people watching.Daily happy hour from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. is hot and a great way to spend quality time with locals and visitors if you can get a seat at the bar.What I love about Pacifica is the energy. I think that has a lot to do with our staff they are all good, positive people and that shows in the food and the service, said Nathan Harnish, general manager and a partner at Pacifica. Everyone has a good time here whether they have cocktails and crab at the bar, or a five-course dinner; the food is healthy too. You really can eat here every day I do.Social304 E. Hopkins Ave.Aspen925-9700www.social-aspen.comSocial is Aspens newest social spot. The restaurant/club/all-around hangout is located in the two-level space where R Cuisine was formerly located on Hopkins Avenue.Open since last fall, Social is bringing back the popular FAC, (Friday Afternoon Club) that locals used to enjoy by congregating together years ago. A new deck off the upstairs portion has plenty of stools and gets the last bit of sun in the evening.Socials menu of global tapas, small plates designed for sharing, is popular among locals. Flavors from around the world Asia, South America, Europe, America and plenty more are offered on the menu, which has between 25 and 30 selections to choose from.A local mixologist has helped create the menu, which has drinks designed around champagne and infused vodka. Many of the cocktails are paired with the small plates.

Cuve305 Gold Rivers CourtBasalt927-4000cuveebistro.comCuve World Bistro, located on Gold Rivers Court and Two Rivers Road, was created by Mitch and Krystal Levy, who opened the restaurant in 2007.Solid food and a good vibe has this place so busy that its almost inevitable that youll have to wait for a table. But its worth it.Cuve is a place that locals can visit a couple of times a week because of the reasonable prices and the casual service. The atmosphere lets locals feel welcome all the time, where guests are treated like family. It keeps people keep coming back for more.The philosophy of Cuve was to create a restaurant that showcased the relationship between food and wine. The theory of the restaurant has always been to show that you can have fantastic food and amazing wine together without being overpriced. We built the restaurant on personal relationships from the employees to the guests, Krystal Levy said. We feel that our first responsibility is to our friends and family, our employees and guests are both to us. The prices are typically $30 and under. The food is fusion and eclectic.

Tempranillo Restaurant165 Midland Ave.Basalt927-3342tempranillorestaurant.comThe atmosphere at Tempranillo is notable for its rich colors, dual fireplaces, patio dining, and community gathering table all reflecting the equally rich depth of flavors and influences which are at the heart of the restaurants origins.Chef Javier Gonzalez-Bringas, along with his partner and wife, Laura, offer a daily menu of drinks, tapas, dinner and lunch at Tempranillo Restaurant. Gonzalez-Bringas, a Madrid native, combines an old-world style with a new world flair in his signature cuisine. The restaurant features a large selection of hand-chosen wines, as well as its own hearty blend of fruit-filled Sangria.Wine Spectator last fall named Tempranillo One of the newest and best restaurants downvalley. And Aspen Sojourner magazine wrote last summer about Tempranillo: Basaltines have been feeling a bit smug ever since Tempranillo opened its doors in December of 2006. Now Aspenites are the ones who have to make a trek to partake in the valleys hippest dining spot.The menu overflows with choices of more than 40 cold and warm tapas, unique entrees, daily specials and 100 wines from Spain and Italy. The atmosphere is always alive, friendly and charged with the energy of dining in Spain. This summer the patio will be open and live music is a likely addition to the experience.

Ella348 Main St.Carbondale704 0377ellacarbondale.comOwners Ian and Jessie Kipp have brought years of restaurant experience to their new local bistro, which opened last year. We hit the ground running and we havent stopped, Jessie Kipp said. We intended to offer an alternative, a place for lunch, dinner and a bar.Ella is open 11 a.m. to close, with food offered all day and night. Saturdays and Sundays at Ella are all about brunch, which is served from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Named after the owners 2-year-old daughter, Ella serves up old favorites from the owners native coastal Maine accented with local ingredients. Fresh Maine lobster is available nearly every day, and fresh salads and sandwiches round out the menu. Patio seating with a year-round fire-pit lounge and a make-your-own-Bloody Mary bar at the weekend brunches make Ella well worth a visit. No matter what you order on the menu, it all tastes and looks fresh. But its not just the food its also the scene that attract people 30 miles in the bubble known as Aspen.The Kipps had originally focused on just filling a niche in Carbondale.Were actually surprised that weve touched the uppervalley, Jessie Kippp said.Phat Thai and SIX89Phat Thai343 Main St.Carbondale963 7001phathai.com SIX89689 Main St.Carbondale963 6890six89.comPhat Thai, located in that decidedly hip and fashionable town of Carbondale, isnt that far that Aspenites dont flock to the place whenever they find themselves hankering for some really good Thai food and interesting people.Meals in Thailand involve large groups where dishes arrive together. At Phat Thai, grazing and sharing are requisite elements of the Thai experience, whether at the long steel covered communal table and bar, or in the dining room. Phat Thai is an affordable yet stylish, authentic Thai joint.Mark Fischer, chef and owner of restaurant SIX89 also in Carbondale, opened Phat Thai in 2003. Fischer opened SIX89 in 1998 with a goal to provide an intelligent alternative to fine dining in Aspen. Apparently he has succeeded.The restaurant and bars website says it all: The mahogany woodwork, textured walls and zinc accents of the renovated Old Town Carbondale house create a warm sense of vitality. The menu owes no particular allegiance to any cuisine but bears clear understanding of several.

Glenwood Canyon Brewpub402 7th St.Glenwood Springs945-1276glenwoodcanyon.comGlenwood Springs brewpub is located in the first floor of the historic Hotel Denver. They feature a variety of fresh and unique menu items, including their own hand-crafted beers. Lunch and dinner menus include a full compliment of choices, with everything from soups and salads, to appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, entrees, and specialty desserts. From the brewery, they offer a selection their own freshly-brewed beers, including an ever-changing variety of seasonal and specialty brews. Locals have named it the best place to socialize, the best restaurant, the best bar, the best happy hour, to name a few.A haven for locals and a destination for thirsty tourists in search of a local brew, the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub produces more than 1,000 barrels of beer a year all sold fresh on the premises. Juicy Lucys308 7th St.Glenwood Springs945-4619Juicy Lucys Steakhouse is a family-style restaurant with warm woods and comfortable booths. The ambiance is relaxed and casual. They serve a traditional American cuisine with an emphasis on steaks, seafood, chicken and pork entres. The bar features domestic and imported beers and liquors. They have an extensive wine cellar.csack@aspentimes.com