Dining out? Choices abound
The top tip for dining in Aspen: Bring your appetite.Yeah, bring your wallet, too, but you don’t necessarily have to empty it to obtain a memorable meal. Dining in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley runs the gamut in both cuisine and price ranges. What follows is but a sampling of the dining options available in the valley.AMERICANBistro Basalt ($$)202 Midland Ave., Basalt, 927-2682If you want to see those you know in the midvalley, most likely they are congregating at Bistro Basalt for lunch favorites such as the New York Strip Baguette with Swiss cheese and caramelized onions and Bistro Burger featuring blue cheese and Thousand Island dressing. Be sure to bring your appetite, the Bistro doesnt skimp on servings, just one more reason youve got to love this neighborhood staple.Boogies Diner ($$)534 E. Cooper Ave. (upstairs), Aspen, 925-6610If you are looking for a fairly affordable lunch or dinner option where the kids wont be scorned, look no farther than Boogies Diner. Here the kids can scream and cry all they want, no one will blink an eye. The hustlin bustlin joint combines great diner favoriteswith 50s decor and a few updated healthy choices for mom and dad. With an extensive menu, there are lots of options for picky eaters and the desserts are legendary, as are Boogies thick ice-cream shakes.Cooper Street Pier bar and restaurant ($)508 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, (970) 925-7758Casual atmosphere with lunch specials that are real-world affordable. Go this summer, as this Aspen institution is slated to disappear.Garden Terrace at the Hotel Jerome ($$$)330 E. Main St., Aspen, 920-1000, http://www.hoteljerome.comThe perfect place for a lemonade, salad or burger on a hot summers day. Evening features elegant outdoor dining and exquisite views of Aspen. Serving lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.Glenwood Adventure Park ($$)51000 Two Rivers Plaza Road, Glenwood Springs, 945-4228This, the caverns mountain-top restaurant, serves lunch and dinner daily; also available for special events.
Grill Next Door ($)433 Rio Grande Place, Aspen, 925-4977Fast and grilled is the name of the game at The Grill Next Door. With a small menu of favorites, including burgers, chicken sandwiches and dogs galore, this grill is a good value for a quick and delicious lunch. Its free delivery is swift, too, so if you are acarnivore with an appetite, give a call and get happy.Hickory House ($$)730 W. Main St., Aspen, 925-2313The Hickory Houses down-home, award-winning ribs and barbecue sauce never grows old in a town of gourmet restaurant haunts. Grab a chair and get dirty with a rack of ribs, chicken and all the fixins, such as baked beans, slaw and Texas toast. Serving lunch anddinner, the Hickory House also has outdoor seating for those hoping for woofing down ribs alfresco. Dont overlook the Hick House for breakfast, either.Jimmys An American Restaurant & Bar ($$$)205 S. Mill St., (upstairs), Aspen, 925-6020Jimmys serves up the juiciest, most flavorful meatloaf in the valley (dont forget the side of mashers) as well as great fish, steaks and chops. Try the Mad Dog Ranch Salad (a heaping helping of bacon and Ranch dressing tossed over fresh greens), its signature Chesapeake Bay Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes and any one of proprietor Jimmy Yeagers fine cuts of meat for the perfect all-American meal. Juicy Lucys Steakhouse ($$$)308 7th St., Glenwood Springs, 945-4619The secret is out on this place great steaks, impressive wine selection, comfortable old-tavern atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner. If you feel like salad, go for the roasted chicken number with the raspberries.Krabloonik ($$$$)4250 Divide Road, Snowmass Village, 923-3953While best known for its winter dogsled/dining experience, Krabloonik is still in top form for dinner crowds during the summer months. The atmosphere at Krabloonik is old Colorado a rustic log cabin set among the mountains of Snowmass that boasts a selection of elk, pheasant, wild boar, salmon and trout. Little Annies Eating House ($$)517 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 925-1098The unpretentious nature of Little Annies makes it a great stop for families. Here kids dont need to be spit-shined, just well-behaved. Kids love the ribs, chicken and burgers, moms love the enormous salads (big enough for two), and dads can choose from great daily specials and lots of great entrees including lasagna, meat and fish. One tip: Never say no to Annies mashed potatoes. They are the best in town!Montagna ($$$$)675 E. Durant Ave., (in The Little Nell hotel), Aspen, 920-6330The spacious dining room is elegant and comfortable, but you also want to experience the adjoining patio, with its views of Aspen Mountain. An emphasis on seasonal, healthful ingredients make every dish memorable, as is the touch of master sommelier Richard Betts, who never runs out of ideas to enhance the experience. And while Montagna is a natural nighttime attraction, boasting Colorados most extensive wine cellar, dont overlook the lunch menu.Pine Creek Cookhouse ($$$$)End of Castle Creek Road, Aspen, 925-1044Hike or bike your way to the Pine Creek Cookhouse and enjoy great game dishes among the wilderness for lunch or dinner of wild game and fresh seafood into the mountain gourmet nightly, using the freshest seasonal ingredients possible. Great patio views at lunchtime, and lunch is a lesser hit on the wallet.Pions ($$$$)105 S. Mill St., Aspen, 920-2021The quintessential Colorado dining experience, from the Southwestern-inspired decor to the menu, which specializes in game and fish. Tried-and-true dishes include Angus beef filet topped with foie gras, pheasant, or the signature appetizer, a lobster strudel. Most appropriate, though, are the offerings of local meat and fish: Colorado rack oflamb, ruby red trout and the cut of elk, all of which Pions has developed to perfection. An outdoor patio offers views of Aspen Mountain.Red Rock Diner ($$)0155 Hwy. 133, Carbondale, 963-4111This is a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a kids menu that will keep the little whippersnapper happy (hot dogs, grilled cheese, you get the picture). Adults should prepare to get their hands on an early serving of steak and eggs, or for lunch a tasty Reuben or any other grilled sandwich, fries and a Coke. Dont forget to imbibe on a treat from the soda fountain if youve got the time. Restaurant SIX89 ($$$)689 Main Street, Carbondale, 963-6890Mixing together unusual ingredients, Mark Fischers food is as close to art as imaginable. Like a jazz musician hes able to mix textures and tastes, like rock n roll, the atmosphere is casual and sometimes rowdy. While the food is capable of blowing any Aspen restaurant off the map, the atmosphere is all Carbondale. Dont put on any airs at this place or youll be on the next bus out of town.Riverside Grill ($$)181 Basalt Center Circle, Basalt, 927-9301A perfect place for an afternoon lunch next to the Fryingpan River, the Riverside Grill does offer entree-sized items, but is best known for being the king of the small plates, offering up a tasting of just about everything on its menu for a moderate price. The grill also has a great selection of ice cream and coffee drinks in case you are in search of something sweet.Russets ($$)225 Main St., Carbondale, 963-3036Russets may look unassuming from the outside, but packs a punch with its great food on the inside. Whether dining at the bar or in the main dining area, here everything is worthy of a try. And if you are lucky, you can enjoy the all the staples of Russets on the summer patio but show up early, the secret on this place is out. Saddle Bar and Grille at Snowmass Club ($$)0239 Snowmass Club Circle, Snowmass Village, 923-5600Enjoy lunch or apres golf dining at this new restaurant located at the Snowmass Clubs new golf clubhouse.Village Smithy ($$)26 S. Third St., Carbondale, 963-9990The Village Smithy is many a locals choice for the best breakfast downvalley. Not only is the food delicious, but the wait staff (led by owner Charlie Chacos) is friendly, the restaurant is clean and youre always bound to see someone there you know. From Chicken Fried Steak to the fresh Spinach and Artichoke Omelet, the Smithy runs the breakfast gamut from naughty to nice. And if you cant make it for breakfast, stop in for lunch my pick is the Asian Chicken Salad. The homemade dressing accompanying this plate of greens, chicken and mandarin oranges should be trademarked and sold for gold.ASIANHo Palace ($$)0123 Emma Road, Basalt, 927-3855Ho Palace deserves the spotlight for traditional Chinese done the right way. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Basalt, the Ho Palace is a destination for many valley residents when they want what many consider, the finest Chinese food in the valley.Little Ollies ($$)308 S. Hunter St., Aspen, 544-9888Great, traditional Chinese fare. We recommend Little Ollies lunchtime specials, which pair up the restaurants steadfast entrees such as Sweet & Sour Shrimp with a veggie spring roll and white rice. The restaurants atmosphere isnt anything special, but Little Ollies is usually crowded and lively, and tables turn over fast. Mountain Dragon ($$)67 Elbert Lane, Snowmass Village, 923-3576The Mountain Dragons Szechuan and Mandarin cuisine and sushi has been a staple of Snowmass Village dining for years. During the summer months, the Mountain Dragon opens its casual Grill on the Deck perfect for a quick burger, great mountain views and, oh yes, a cold, delicious beer straight from the tap.Phat Thai ($$)343 Main St., Carbondale, 963-7001Using traditional Thai ingredients and recipes, but with a gringo interpretations,Mark Fischers second restaurant on Carbondales Restaurant Row has garnished great reviews and a loyal clientele of guests throughout the valley. Zheng Pan Asian Bistro ($$)400 E. Valley Road, Orchard Plaza, Basalt, 963-8077 andMarket St. (Glenwood Meadows), Glenwood Springs An Asian bistro in the Midvalley that mixes the best of traditional Chinese with great Japanese staples. With a clean and fresh interior, and lively, albeit small, bar in West Basalt and a new, larger restaurant in Glenwood Springs, Zheng has been steadily packing them in. They also have takeout but call well ahead.
BAKERIES & CAFESInk! ($$)520 E. Durant St. (downstairs), Aspen, 544-0588While the outstanding coffee is the draw at Ink!, the tiny cafe also offers a small selection of blended drinks and breakfast items. Before you leave Aspen, be sure to get your hands on the cafes Blended Black and White a cold, frothy and delicious coffee drink, with just a hint of caffeine. At about $5 a pop theyre pricey, but worth a splurge.Main Street Bakery and Cafe ($$)201 E. Main St., Aspen, 925-6446This is the only bakery within Aspen city limits where you can get donuts and a lot of other baked breakfast goods, cakes and pies. With a bustling outdoor dining patio (open only in summer), thoughts of Main Streets blueberry pancakes and steaming mocha-chinos are enough to get one up and out of the house in the morning. Also open for lunch.Paradise Bakery & Cafe ($$)500 W. Main St., Aspen, 925-7585100 Elbert Lane, Snowmass Village, 923-4712People swoon over Paradises famous cookies, so much so they even offer a cookie birthday cake that can be ordered in advance and then taken home or to the office for celebrating. With no seating inside, your only option is to pull up a bench just outsideParadises doors and take in views of Aspen Mountain paradise indeed. Muffins, ice cream and other delights fill out the bakerys menu.Zele ($$)121 S. Galena St., Aspen, 925-5745Situated at the corner of Galena St. and Hopkins Ave., this coffee shops sunny summer location is matched only by its great coffee, pastry treats, salads and paninis. If its morning, try the Zele coffee blend; for lunch, the Greek salad is fresh and delicious and after dinner, why not an almond pastry and hot chocolate?BREAKFASTBagel Bites ($$)300 Puppy Smith St (Clarks Shopping Center), Aspen, 920-3489New owners have spruced Aspens bagel spot up and they know the regulars by name. Breakfast and lunch bagel sandwiches, with nice outdoor seating. Also locations in El Jebel and Glenwood Springs.Breakfast in America ($$)19125 Hwy. 82, El Jebel, 963-2739BIA, as it is referred to in these parts, has lines out the door on weekends, but we mean it when we say its worth the wait. Grab your own coffee, belly up to the breakfast bar and watch the guys whip up your Huevos Rancheros, Chipped Beef on Toast or any sweet start you can imagine pancakes, waffles the works! With a fast-paced diner atmosphere, be ready to order and be ready to eat the portions are not for those lacking an appetite. Wienerstube ($$)633 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 925-3357Gold Rivers Ct., Basalt, 927-4847 The Wienerstube offers a little taste of Austria at all hours of the day, but this Aspen (and now, Basalt, too) favorite is best known for its classic morning dishes. Be ready for a wait during busy weeks, as the Stube (pronounced the schtoob) cranks out heaping offerings of its classic bread pudding (topped with thick cream), freshly made waffles, home-made Viennese pastries and egg dishes.
DELISThe Butchers Block ($$$)424 S. Spring St., Aspen, 925-7554Stuffed full of Boars Head Meat, the Butchers Block sandwiches are known for the ingredients. Check out the special of the day: If you are lucky, theyll be serving up the hot meatloaf sandwich.Johnny McGuire’s Deli ($)730 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 920-9255If you are a health nut, dont bother stopping in at Johnnys, where the motto is Health Food Sucks. This joint is all about big fat sandwiches doused with dressings, cheese and veggies. And while theyre no ambassadors of health food, Johnnys does offer a selection of delicious salads, which are, surprisingly, great.Upside Down House ($)233 E. Main St., Aspen, 925-6647It was the In & Out House (the name change is another story), but the way this place probably keeps prices down is to keep their space to a minimum. No dining-in here. There are a couple of tables just outside of the shop, best known for quick takeout or delivery.Vals Gourmet ($$)227 Midland Ave., Basalt, 927-3007Sandwich lovers take note: Vals Gourmet makes the best deli sandwich in the Roaring Fork Valley. Seated inside or out, your focus will never wane from the food in front of you. The meats are fresh (not dried out) and the sides are freshly prepared. Vals is a must stop on your way eating through Basalt.FRENCHCache Cache ($$$$)205 S. Mill St. (downstairs), Aspen, 925-3835A must-stop on every Aspen visitors dining card, Cache Cache prepares great French classics from Marseille Seafood Stew with aioli croutons to its legendary Osso Bucco with marsala sauce and green lentils. Their summer patio (which they share with next-door neighbors Campo di Fiore) is perhaps the hottest ticket in the summer, making reservations often hard to come by. Syzygy ($$$$)520 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 925-3700Syzygy takes its name from the astronomical phenomenon of heavenly bodies in alignment. And this long-running, French- and Asian-edged restaurant does indeed suggest a perfect alignment of elements. Chef Martin Oswald never fails to delight, adding creative touches to satisfying dishes like Colorado elk, wild salmon and the not-to-be-missed yellow-fin tuna, prepared with Asian flavors. The experience is enhanced by music gentle piano sounds early in the evening, giving way to a full jazz band when the sun is gone and the moon is high.ITALIANCampo de Fiori ($$$)205 S. Mill St, (Downstairs), Aspen, 920-7717Step into an Italian villa when you visit Camp de Fiori and also into one of Aspens hottest spots for dining and drinks. For the 35-and-older crowd, Campo is the place to begin the night because both the food and atmosphere are some of the best around. During the summer, Campo shares its patio with Cache Cache for magnificent outdoor dining reminiscent of its Old World namesake.Il Poggio Ristorante ($$)57 Elbert Lane, Snowmass Village, 923-4292The best restaurant in the Snowmass Village Mall, Il Poggio has a true locals feel. Roasted garlic appetizer is a perfect precursor to inventive pasta, perfectly fired pizzas, or meat dishes. With a wonderful wine list, and lively bar, Il Poggio is a great night out in Snowmass Village. Mezzaluna ($$)624 E. Cooper Ave., Aspen, 925-5882Great reasons to visit Mezzaluna: Lots of seating inside and out, great menu of Italian staples and delicious pizzas cooked in Aspens only true wood-burning pizza oven. Mezzalunas famous happy-hour special a terrific option for yummy low-budget dining.
JAPANESEMatsuhisa ($$$$)303 E. Main St. (downstairs), Aspen, 544-6628If youve heard of Nobu in New York a favorite celeb dining hot spot then you know what youre in store for at sister restaurant Matsuhisa. Start with the heavenly Yellowtail Jalapeno sashimi, Broiled Black Cod with Miso, or the New Style Sashimi, Lobster Ceviche on Limestone Lettuce or Chilean Sea Bass with Black Bean Sauce. Hungry yet? Matsuhisa also has a street-level lounge where small plates can be nibbled on along with a selection of great drinks.Sushi Ya Go-Go ($$)60 El Jebel Road, No. 103, El Jebel, 963-0155If youre not up for the high-end gourmet sushi in Aspen, this is a moderately priced alternative (that used to be in Aspen) in a great midvalley location. This restaurants respectability is reflected in full tables almost every night of the week.Takah Sushi ($$$)320 S. Mill St., Aspen, 925-8588This Aspen mainstay moved down the street to another basement space a couple of years ago, gaining a large outdoor patio on the mall in the process. Its a great spot for Hurricane Shrimp and other Takah classics.MEDITERRANIANWild Fig ($$$)315 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 925-5160The Wild Fig offers a menu of food items straight from the Mediterranean. For a great taste of warmer regions, try Flavors of the Sun sample platter. With healthy servings of hummus, Baba Ghanouj, falafel and delectable Kalamata olives, this platter will whet your appetite for whats ahead. And we are certain any one of the Figs larger plates or protein offerings will make you happy.MEXICAN/WRAPSBig Wrap ($$)520 E. Durant St., Aspen, 544-1700The Big Wrap is one of the best lunch spots in Aspen. On Thursday the popular wrap shop offers the Pilgrims Grub featuring a generous amount of turkey, stuffing, cranberry and mashers. A kids menu makes it easy to please the munchkins with a Big Wheel Burrito or Lil Wrapsical.El Korita ($$)19218 Hwy. 82, El Jebel, 963-4600From its nondescript midvalley strip-mall space, El Korita has whipped up a sprawling menu of items that range across the Mexican food universe. All the usual Mexican fare tostadas, fried taquitos and tamales is well up to par. But the real treat here is seafood of all kinds, prepared in all ways. The regulars and there are lots of them gravitate to the cold cocktails, mixtures of assorted fish and shellfish in a spicy tomato juice/sauce. Prepare to wait for a table.Garcias ($)0211 Hwy. 133, Carbondale, 963-4532Those who have found this no-frills spot along Carbondales Highway 133 are the fortunate few. With two Spanish-speaking women in the kitchen and a hugeselection of imported chips and beverages, visitors will feel as if theyve journeyed south of the border. Dont be fooled by the low cost, drab atmosphere or counter service: the food papusas dripping with cheese; enchiladas with a variety of sauces; potato-filledmolotes are authentic and top-notch. And make sure to sample each variety of salsas and condiments on the salsa bar.Su Casa ($$)315 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, 920-1488For diners seeking sizzling fajita plates, an assortment of fish dishes, and great chipsand salsa, Su Casa is an Aspen favorite. Everything from the menu to the decor, the margaritas to the beer selection, is exactly what youd expect from a Mexican restaurant. But Su Casa does all of it well; for proof, try the pork carnitas plate bring your big appetite or the soft shrimp tacos. Another favorite the fajita salad with skirt steak marinated in plum sauce.Taqueria El Nopal ($$)22826 Hwy. 82, Basalt, 927-12802902 South Glen Ave., Glenwood Springs, 945-7311The Taqueria is the genuine article, a roadside joint that churns out cheap, tasty Mexican food. Even though the atmosphere is barely above a taco stand, the Taqueria distinguishes itself with dishes like tortas (Mexican-style sandwiches), shrimpsoup and orchata, a sweet milky drink made mostly of rice. For the more daring, pass on the burritos, ceviche and carne asada, and try one of the trio of meat dishes: De Lengua, De Tripita and De Cabeza (which translate to steamed beef tongue, roast beeftripe and steamed cheek meat, respectively).PIZZANew York Pizza($)409 E. Hyman Ave. (upstairs), Aspen, 920-3088New York Pizza isnt known for its service or its atmosphere, but none of that matters when its 1 a.m. and you need a slice of hot pizza. Here you can get straight-up pie, soda and beer. They also have gigantic salads that are hit during lunch (try the Greek with lots of sun-dried tomatoes) or a hot sandwich at night, if they have the bread and admit that they do.Tasters ($)Snowmass Center, Snowmass Village, 923-5250Tasters is a real pizza joint located at the Snowmass Village Center. Delicious pizza by the slice or by the whole pie as well as the best sub sandwiches in the valley. Offering beer and wine, Tasters is a great place to bring the family, or catch a bite after the day on the Snowmass-area trails.
SEAFOODButchs Lobster Bar ($$$)264 Snowmelt Road (at Timberline Condos), Snowmass Village, 923-4004Here you can have a live Maine lobster steamed to perfection, broiled sea scallops, the Chatham Lobster Casserole (lobster meat with crab, baked with lobster sherry sauce and topped with cracker crumbs) or choose an item from the Catch of the Day or entree menu.Pacifica Seafood Brasserie ($$$$)307 S. Mill St., Aspen, 920-9775Head to Pacifica on a summer afternoon when a cold beer, cosmopolitan or glass of white wine is a perfect accompaniment to fresh cold oysters, or a bowl of calamari. This seafood restaurant also has a small but splendid patio where guests can enjoy lunch or dinner.TAVERNS AND PUBSBentleys at the Wheeler ($)221 S. Mill St., Aspen, 920-2240On a warm summer afternoon, the large historic windows at Bentleys are thrown open and the revelry from inside reaches the streets. Guinness is on tap, and there are lots of pub grub favorites like fish and chips.Double Dog Pub ($)Corner of Hopkins and Monarch, Aspen (downstairs), 925-3459The owners of Aspens Steak Pit next door opened this water hole last winter, inspired by the pubs of Ireland. Getting raves: the fish n chips, the Double Dog burger and the Guiness stew. Come summer, the Crowlin Ferlies play bluegrass, old-time and Celtic tunes in the bar on Tuesdays.J-Bar ($$)330 E. Main St., Aspen, 920-1000For more than100 years, the bar inside of the Hotel Jerome has been the meeting and drinking place for Aspen locals, and today it still hosts Aspenites at almost all times of the day. The one difference, the food is exceptional for a bar. Try the Caesar salad (the best in Aspen), steak sandwich or award-winning J-Bar Burger with bacon and Swiss. Aspen-style bar food. Delicious.Red Onion Restaurant ($)420 E. Cooper Ave. Aspen, 925-9043Aspens oldest eating and drinking establishment, serving burgers, wings, daily specials and more.Woody Creek Tavern ($$)0002 Woody Creek Plaza, Woody Creek, 923-4585The tavern is the perfect place to grab an afternoon margarita beneath the strings of plastic trailer-park lights. It also serves up tasty Mexican food combined with American favorites. Its no-nonsense wait staff can rattle off the details of everything on the menu,so ask quickly and choose wisely because everything here is good. A wait for a lunch table is a distinct possibility, especially if you want a spot on the patio.VEGETARIANExplore Bistro ($$$)221 E. Main St., Aspen, 925-5338In a quiet location above Explore Booksellers, this vegetarian bistro offers scrumptious dishes and bakery goods that you would never know are vegetarian or vegan. Sit in the traditional Victorian dining room or the new light-filled atrium.
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