Another year, another win for The Big Wrap. And once again, it was by a landslide with 36 votes (runner-up Johnny McGuire’s garnered just 13 votes). So all we can really say is keep doing what you’re doing ” big ol’ salads, homemade soups, creative wraps, tasty specials and fountain sodas. And keep it cheap, please!
Best Pricey Eats
In a town touted for its world-class cuisine, being named Aspen’s best expensive meal can be a tough nut to crack. And this year, a longtime restaurant ” but newcomer to our list ” made the grade. Congratulations, Cache Cache. (Inside secret: If you don’t have the big bucks to spend, you can still enjoy this restaurant’s No. 1 fare at the bar ” but get there early, as the few tables are always jampacked with locals taking advantage of the deal!).
But as we said, Aspen is known for its top-notch food, so our readers offer these suggestions for best pricey eats: Matsuhisa, for excellent sushi and Japanese; perennial Aspen’s best winner Pinons; and Campo di Fiore, perfect for those times you can’t get a seat at neighboring Cache Cache.
It’s official. The Hickory House has overtaken the powerhouse Wienerstube for Aspen’s favorite breakfast place. And while we’re not sure what this says about Aspenites ” barbecue ribs and eggs and grits, anyone? ” we do know the battle’s not over yet, as the Hick House’s win was by only four votes. Game on!
Of course for those of you who don’t want to dine out, we offer this reader suggestion for the best breakfast: a shot and a Camel light. Tasty.
Close your eyes and envision this: A hot and juicy burger, dripping with cheese and smothered with ketchup; a side of steak fries, covered in salt; and an ice-cold beer served in a frosty mug. Now go git sum! And the place to do it? Little Annie’s, of course. For the second year running, our readers have chosen one of Aspen’s longest-running restaurants as the place to get a burger. Of course Annie’s isn’t the only game in town. Other top picks ” and we’d have to agree ” include the 39 Degrees (we wonder if it’s the poolside dining and scantily-clad women that makes the burgers so good?), Double Dog Pub (we know it’s the ground-up prime rib from the neighboring Steak Pit that makes the burgers so good) and The Grill Next Door (lots of grease and loaded curly fries, need we say more?).
On another note: Sorry J-Bar, you’re time at the top is officially over. In fact, your burger appeal has dropped toward the bottom of the barrel. Not as low as Dairy Queen, which tallied one fan, but a word to the wise businessman: Add a burger we can love ” and afford ” to your bar menu. You just might get us back.
Justice has been served. After years as the underdog of on-mountain restaurants, Bonnie’s has finally landed on top. Could it be the funky, old-school atmosphere? The large and sunny deck? The homemade soups and sandwiches? The to-die-for apple strudel with real whipped cream? We’re not sure. But we do know this: Bonnie’s on Aspen Mountain takes the trophy with 15 votes; last year’s winner, the Sundeck, tallied only 10.
But Aspen Mountain isn’t the only mountain with great food, at least according to our readers. They say Bump’s, Cloud 9 and Gwyn’s can’t be beat when you’re skiing Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass, respectively.
Aspenites loves to party. And it’s a good thing, because there are about as many bars in Aspen as there are ski runs. We have proof ” more than 24 bars and nightclubs garnered a vote for Aspen’s best bar. But there can be only one “best,” and this year it’s Eric’s. Technically four bars in one downstairs corner ” Eric’s (proper), Su Casa, Aspen Billiards and The Cigar Bar ” “Eric’s” certainly has an edge over the competition, but we have to agree it’s a darn good place to party. But keep your eyes open, Eric, as 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel is a close second ” a very close second (23-22 was the final vote tally).
Also tops in the eyes ” or stomachs ” of our readers: Double Dog Pub, the perfect place to pound a pint, grab a burger (see above for the lowdown on that), and listen to occasional live music.
Let’s begin by saying this: La Cocina, which shuttered its doors on Hopkins Avenue some two years ago, made a mean margarita. So mean, in fact, that some readers voted the now-defunct restaurant’s margaritas No. 1 again this year. But since this survey is based in real time, we must move on, and the winner is … The Cantina. For the second year running, our readers like ’em blended or on the rocks, salt or no salt, fruity or plain ” and with a new menu to accompany your tequila, The Cantina just might stay at the top of this category for a while (the next best place to imbibe margs, Su Casa, fell 10 votes behind; Blue Maize and Jimmy’s, both excellent but a bit more upscale, tallied a half-dozen votes each).
Aspenites love their coffee almost as much as they love their bars, so we knew this would be a hot contest. But the people have spoken and … it’s a tie! A rarely seen result in our Aspen’s Best issue, but with 32 votes apiece, Ink! and Zele are the best. We understand. Ink! is a locals’ tradition ” perfectly located just steps from the gondola and inside a board shop, this coffees shop is decidedly low-key. Zele, with its outstanding outdoor seating, is a bit more fancy, but brings to the coffee mix a great menu of salads, sandwiches and quiches. It’s not just about beans anymore!
Perhaps the name change is what did it in? Or maybe readers’ palates just took a turn? Whatever the case, the long-standing winner in this category ” Ajax Tavern, now The Tavern, at the base of the Aspen Mountain gondola ” has been pushed aside by Pacifica. Even more telling, perhaps, is that the slopeside eatery is in a tie for second with the Woody Creek Tavern. We’re guessing it’s a combination of things, but we are inclined to agree that Pacifica is tops when it comes to outdoor dining. Think about it: fresh seafood, cool cocktails and outstanding people-watching (the brasserie’s patio is, after all, just up the mall from the fountain and on the edge of Wagner Park) ” what more can you ask for?