Aspen Fine Dining
Aspen, located in the heart of Colorado\'s Rocky Mountains, is known for its world-class skiing and luxurious resorts. But it\'s also home to some of the finest dining experiences in the United States. With over
Aspen, located in the heart of Colorado\’s Rocky Mountains, is known for its world-class skiing and luxurious resorts. But it\’s also home to some of the finest dining experiences in the United States. With over 100 restaurants, Aspen offers something for everyone – from casual eateries to upscale fine dining establishments. In this article, we\’ll take a closer look at Aspen\’s fine dining scene, exploring its history, trends, and what sets it apart from other culinary destinations.
Aspen\’s culinary heritage can be traced back to the 1960s, when the town became a hub for artists, musicians, and hippies. These newcomers brought a taste for international cuisine and a desire to challenge the traditional meat-and-potatoes dishes found in rural Colorado. In 1973, the landmark The Little Nell opened, offering guests a high-end dining experience with a farm-to-table focus. The restaurant also introduced wine lists that soon became legendary, and it\’s still regarded as one of the best places to dine in Aspen.
Today, Aspen\’s fine dining has evolved to embrace a variety of styles and cuisines. One trend that\’s emerged in recent years is a focus on local and sustainable ingredients. Many restaurants partner with nearby farmers and ranchers to source produce and meat, which not only supports the local economy but also ensures freshness and quality. Other chefs have been drawn to Aspen\’s altitude, which creates unique challenges for cooking at high elevations.
Aspen\’s fine dining scene also reflects the town\’s diverse clientele. While many restaurants cater to the jet-set crowd who frequent Aspen\’s luxury hotels, there are also plenty of options for locals and families. Some establishments offer early-bird specials or family-style dishes, while others have a more relaxed, casual atmosphere. Handmade pasta and seafood are popular menu items in many Aspen restaurants, reflecting the town\’s close proximity to the ocean.
We spoke to several experts in the Aspen culinary scene to get their take on what makes the town\’s fine dining so special. Chef Martin Oswald, who owns Pyramid Bistro, said that Aspen\’s culinary scene is unique because it\’s a \”melting pot\” of different styles and cultures. \”You can find everything from sushi to regional Italian cuisine to Mexican street food,\” he said. \”Aspen\’s dining scene represents the best of global cuisine.\” Chef Susie Jimenez, who owns Spice It Up Catering, added that Aspen\’s laid-back atmosphere sets it apart from other high-end dining destinations. \”In Aspen, you can come as you are and still enjoy world-class food,\” she said.
Of course, dining at Aspen\’s fine dining establishments can be expensive, but many restaurants offer seasonal deals or prix fixe menus. And while dining out in Aspen may not be feasible for everyone, the town\’s culinary culture has inspired a community of home cooks and foodies. Aspen\’s Food & Wine Classic, held annually in June, attracts top chefs and food enthusiasts from around the world. The event features tastings, cooking demonstrations, and seminars on everything from wine pairing to sustainable agriculture.
The Best Fine Dining Restaurants in Aspen
1. The Little Nell
The Little Nell offers guests a selection of seasonal dishes using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant\’s extensive wine list features over 20,000 bottles, and its sommeliers can help you find the perfect pairing for your meal.
Owned by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Matsuhisa is an Aspen institution for Japanese cuisine. The restaurant\’s signature dishes, such as black cod with miso and rock shrimp tempura, have earned it a loyal following.
Located in the heart of downtown Aspen, Jimmy\’s offers a warm, cozy atmosphere and a menu of classic American dishes. The restaurant is known for its burgers, which are made with locally sourced meat.
4. Cache Cache
Cache Cache\’s elegant dining room and creative menu make it a popular choice for special occasions. The restaurant\’s wine selection is also highly regarded.
5. Element 47
Located in The Little Nell hotel, Element 47 offers a refined dining experience with a focus on seasonality and sustainability. The restaurant\’s name refers to the periodic table – element 47 is silver, a nod to Aspen\’s mining heritage.
Aspen\’s Best New Restaurants
1. Hooch Craft Cocktail Bar
Opened in 2019, Hooch offers an extensive cocktail menu alongside small plates and entrées. The bar also features live music and a lively atmosphere.
Located on the top floor of the Aspen Art Museum, AirLounge offers guests a cozy, intimate setting and creative dishes made with local and organic ingredients. The views of Aspen Mountain are also a highlight.
3. Marble Bar Aspen
Marble Bar Aspen is a new addition to Aspen\’s culinary scene, offering guests contemporary American cuisine and craft cocktails. The bar\’s sleek, modern interior has already made it a popular spot for drinks and dinner.
4. Grey Lady Aspen
Grey Lady Aspen specializes in seafood, with a focus on East Coast classics such as lobster rolls and clam chowder. The restaurant\’s nautical decor adds to the coastal vibe.
5. White House Tavern
White House Tavern is a casual spot popular for lunch and brunch. The menu features classic American dishes like burgers and sandwiches, as well as vegetarian options.
Aspen\’s Best Street Food
1. Crêperie du Village
Crêperie du Village offers a taste of the French Alps with an extensive menu of sweet and savory crêpes. The restaurant also serves raclette, a traditional Swiss cheese dish.
Brunelleschi\’s serves up New York-style pizza with a Colorado twist. The restaurant\’s popular square pies are made with dough that\’s aged for two days.
3. Poppycock\’s Café
Poppycock\’s Café is a favorite among locals for its creative sandwiches and salads. The café also serves breakfast all day, with options like avocado toast and huevos rancheros.
4. Grateful Deli
Grateful Deli is a family-owned sandwich shop that\’s been a fixture in Aspen since 1992. The menu features classic deli-style sandwiches as well as hot dogs and salads.
5. Backdoor Catering
Backdoor Catering offers a rotating menu of international street food, with options like Korean beef tacos and Jamaican jerk chicken. The food is available for takeout or delivery.