So, where can we dine tonight? |

So, where can we dine tonight?

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Aspenites cant help but dine out with friends these days.With many of the towns restaurants closed for the offseason, and the towns population reduced to anyone who hasnt fled for a spring vacation, popular lunch spots are filled with familiar faces. And, the weeks after the lifts close bring the long-awaited locals specials drink deals, discounts and multicourse dinners priced to entice working residents who might never set foot inside the resorts upscale restaurants during the height of the winter and summer seasons. As an added bonus, parking spaces are as easy to come by as reservations.For restaurateurs, the two months between the end of ski season and the arrival of summers crowds is either time to close up for an extended hiatus or stay open for business often on a reduced schedule and hope the operation doesnt run too far into the red.Gone fishing reads the note on the door at Texas Reds B-B-Q, which reopens May 15. Gone to the Beach announces the sign on the darkened door of the Big Wrap. Boogies Diner will close from May 14-23 for remodeling, but is otherwise open for lunch and dinner. Other restaurants wont reopen until sometime in June.Little Ollies closed altogether, but a new awning at the restaurant hints at whats to come “China Thai asian cuisine.”This offseason may be even more off than usual, thanks to the closure of the local airport for runway work. With Highway 82 over Independence Pass closed until late May and no air service until Sardy Field reopens in June, Aspen is truly a dead-end town. Its a brief respite that many locals relish, but the lull each spring, and again in the late fall, is an added challenge for business operators in a seasonal resort economy.Id lose less money closing than I do staying open, said Mary Lynn Casper, owner at Su Casa, a local Mexican restaurant that closed for two weeks after Saturdays Cinco de Mayo celebration, but is open five nights a week for most of the offseason.Casper keeps the doors open to retain her staff, she said.But for Greg Topper, owner of Toppers, a cafe that offers lunch and dinner, closing is not an option.I need to be open, he said.Business was really slow for a couple of weeks right after the lifts closed in April, but since then, locals have trickled back to town and back into Toppers.Not everybody gets to take a six-week vacation, Topper said.Blue Maize also stays open for the offseason. In fact, its offseason half-price fajitas special has become something of a local tradition, and the mahi-mahi tacos only find their way onto the menu when offseason arrives.Ask co-owner Richard Chelec if its worth staying open in May and he reasons: You can lose less by staying open than by being closed.Plus, theres a certain vibe to the offseason that makes it enjoyable, he noted.Everybody seems to know everybody, Chelec said. I like it.The Hickory House, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, responds to offseason by closing on Mondays and Tuesdays. Lunch is fairly busy, but only half of the Main Street eaterys dining room is open at night and the restaurant gets by with half the staff at this time of year, said the restaurants Michael Kollman.On Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, the Hickory House offers a full rack of ribs plus sides for $12.99 (the regular price is $18.29). Diners have to bring in the newspaper coupon to get the deal, and they do, Kollman said.At Jour de Fete, its 25 percent off the daily specials after 2:30 p.m., while LHostaria offers a three-course deal for $28 and Rustique advertises three courses for $38.At other local establishments Bentleys, Little Annies Eating House and Cooper Street Pier among them its simply business as usual. Theyre open seven days a week for their loyal regulars.Count New York Pizza among the mainstays of the offseason dining scene. The popular by-the-pie-or-by-the-slice eatery is open six days a week through the slowdown, though owner Kevin Jones admits its not worthwhile, financially, to keep the doors open.It keeps people employed and its a local place. I gotta stay open, Jones said.

Asie open daily (lunch, dinner; dinner only on weekends)Bagel Bites open daily (breakfast, lunch)Bentleys open daily (lunch, dinner)Blue Maize open daily (dinner)Boogie’s Diner open daily (lunch, dinner, but closed May 14-23)Brunelleschis Pizza Open Tuesday through Saturday (lunch, dinner; opens Sundays at 4 p.m.)Butchers Block deli counter open daily (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.)The Cantina open daily (lunch, dinner)Cooper Street Pier open daily (lunch, dinner)Dominoes open daily (lunch, dinner)Explore Booksellers and Bistro open daily (lunch, dinner)The Grill Next Door open daily (lunch, dinner)Gusto open Monday through Saturday (lunch, dinner; dinner only on Saturdays)Hickory House open Wednesday through Sunday (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Jimmys open daily (dinner)Johnny Maguires open daily (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Jour de Fete open Monday through Friday (breakfast, lunch, dinner)Little Annies open daily (lunch, dinner)LHostaria open Wednesday through Saturday (dinner)Main Street Bakery reopening this week; open daily (breakfast, lunch)Matsuhisa open daily (dinner)Mezzalana open Monday through Saturday (lunch, dinner)New York Pizza open Monday through Saturday (lunch, dinner; late nights on Fridays and Saturdays only)Poppies Bistro and Cafe open Tuesday through Saturday (dinner)Poppycocks open daily (breakfast, lunch)Rustique open Tuesday through Saturday (dinner)Ruths Chris Steak House open daily (dinner)Toppers open Monday through Saturday (lunch, dinner; dinner only on Saturdays)Upside Down House open daily (lunches)Wienerstube open daily (breakfast, lunch)The Wild Fig open daily (dinner)Zanes open daily (lunch, dinner)Zele open daily (breakfast, lunch; closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays)Zocalito open Monday through Saturday (dinner)

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