Restaurants getting it all out in the open | AspenTimes.com

Restaurants getting it all out in the open

Stewart Oksenhorn

In a case of the best solution being the simplest one, there is al fresco dining as a way on enlivening Aspen’s downtown.With Aspen loosening its restrictions on patio dining, downtown, especially the pedestrian malls, seems a different place in the summertime evenings. From the beginning of happy hour through sundown, the town is alive these days with the pleasant sight of dining. Instead of crowding diners inside these eves, the dining experience has been opened up more than ever to include the fresh air, the mountain views and the parade of street life.Talk about a win-win-win situation. Downtown is full of life now, in accord with the city’s goal. Restaurants like Zocalito and Takah Sushi on the malls, and Gusto along Main Street, have gained new dimensions.The biggest winners of all are Aspen restaurant-goers. Adding the outdoors to the menu makes dining more of an experience. The sun on its descent downvalley, kids playing in parks, string combos performing on the mall, and the scenes of ordinary street life all make eating about more than just the food and the company. And with its (usually) ideal summer weather, Aspen is a place that should have embraced these pleasures long ago.So pick a seat: Rustique’s cozy patio; Jimmy’s second-floor deck; Takah’s expansive mall-side space; Zocalito’s smattering of tables in the middle of the mall. See if you aren’t inspired to linger a bit longer, enjoy an extra glass of vino – and notice yet another way of taking in Aspen life.