Aspen: come to ski, stay to eat. Despite being situated far on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, some of the best food this side of Paris can be found right here in our little ski town. From slope-side Raclette and truffle fries, to dim-lit date night oysters, there’s something here for everyone, any time of day. By virtue of being a sophisticated town with pricey real estate, each restaurant here has no choice but to serve not just exceptional food, but also unforgettable service, a rich history, and show stopping ambience. Simply put, when you make your reservation, ski up to your host, or stop by for a drink, expect way more than just fuel for your next adventure, expect a total experience. Below, we’ve highlighted 5 delicious spots that truly speak to the highest degree of that “experience”. By doing a deep dive into the who, what, where, and when’s of each, we share how you can get the most out of each spot—from what apps to order, to what time of day to go.
French Alpine Bistro – Crêperie du Village
If it’s romance you’re in the mood for, look no further than the award-winning, always satisfying French Alpine Bistro AKA Crêperie du Village. Tucked away under the corner of Hopkins Avenue and Mill Street in downtown Aspen, you’ll feel as though you have stepped into a cozy café in France oozing romance — with extravagant chandeliers and gold candelabras lighting the dark wooden space, fur throws and plush pillows encasing each table, and renaissance artwork lining the walls. Take your time here. Inhale the scents of France and bask in the warm and charming atmosphere (whether indoors or out on the heated patio).
WHO to take with you: A date. With rich menu filled with love enhancing items like Gruyere Gnocchi, Beef Bourguignon, Steak Tartare, Escargot, and of course—Fondue, you will be certain to impress your date with your romantic choice. What’s more, if you’re down to splurge and do a 3-course meal, each item is perfect to share. Pair your food with a full-bodied red wine straight from the French Alps, the perfect aphrodisiac,
WHAT to get: The menu here goes all-in on fondues, both of the meat and cheese variety. If you can manage to save enough space in your stomach for an entrée, start by ordering a bottle of Grüner and Raclette, served over a bed of fingerling potatoes. Here to après? Try a chilled white wine, and a bowl of the Ham and Bean Soup in the outdoor chalet. It’s a warm, cozily enclosed cabin adorned with tall heat lamps, and fur throws, with views of snow and Ajax just outside the windows. The steak fondue is a local favorite; featuring a tender thinly sliced top sirloin steak served with three dipping sauces: green peppercorn glaze, saffron aioli, and romesco. In the way of entrees, we recommend the Nirvana Crepe, a fluffy and satisfying savory pancake topped with toasted coconut, with fragrant chicken and coconut curry veggies folded in.
WHERE to sit: If indoors, try to get a corner spot to tuck away for good conversation and privacy. If you’re here to après, try grabbing a table in the outdoor chalet next to a heater.
WHEN to go: Either mid-day for après drinks and fondue, or in the winter for a warm and cozy dinner to top off a long day on the slopes.
Clark’s Oyster Bar
The vibe at Clark’s, an oyster bar and American restaurant, is warm, inviting, fun and lively, all while maintaining a chic elegance and sophisticated flair. Previously Little Annie’s the exterior of Clark’s pulls you in with its picturesque flower box-lined windows. Inside, wood beams line the ceiling to compliment a shiny, rustic bar. The dining room, outfitted with a quirky fish tank, feels a bit Southwest with its charming white fireplace, and a bit maritime with paintings of sailboats lining the walls to fit the seafood and raw bar trappings.
WHO to ask for: Bartender John fixes up the meanest martini in town—dirty, extra dirty, espresso, gin, vodka—you name it, he’ll hook it up. If you’re looking for a craft cocktail, try the Clark’s Crush or the Pear Pisco Sour—both taste just as good as they look. Ask to be seated at one of Natalie’s tables (you can recognize her by her turquoise bracelet) and inquire about daily specials, and get her advice on her favorite shopping haunts and ski trails.
WHAT to order: Seafood. Although it may sound like a bit of a juxtaposition, slurping down East Coast oysters at 7,908 feet above sea level, but try these aphrodisiacs in the mountains and see what happens with all that abounding energy, and no one serves them up quite like Clark’s. If you stop by for dinner, don’t miss out on the Linguine and Clams. Served on a warm bed of fresh linguine, this plate features a very generous portion of big juicy clams along the side—top it all off with a lemon cream sauce, and you’ve got grade-A comfort food. The menu also features several classics like clam chowder, mussels and a monster lush lobster roll. For lunch, there’s nothing more satisfying than the classic BLT. Served on two thick slices of bread, this simple entrée has become a local favorite, as has the House Burger—served alongside a heaping portion of shoestring fries, it’s the perfect après meal, especially when paired with a cold beer on draft.
WHERE to sit: The bar. If you’re looking for great service, great drinks, and great stories, grab a seat and chat it up with John. Ask about drink specials, celebrity sightings, and favorite apps to pair with your beverages.
WHEN to go: Lunch or happy hour. The happy hour is a surefire staple for regulars and après-skiers, with $10 burgers, $8 martinis and, in an ode to both Clark’s hometown, an $8 shot-and-a-beer at any time for Aspen or Austin locals.
The food here is extraordinary, but it’s the incredible vibe from owner and founder Tiziano Gortan and his friends, as well as the friendly and efficient service, that makes it a hot spot with folks coming back night after night. Specials and menu staples like braised baby octopus in red wine, grilled polenta made with cornmeal from Montezuma, and gnocchi soaked in brown butter and smoked ricotta are just a few of the exceptional options that make L’Hostaria Aspen’s quintessential Italian restaurant with consistently good energy and glasses clinking.
Most of the locals sit at the bar which boasts one of the more moderately priced menus, showcasing Northern Italian specialties (salads and antipasti, handmade pastas, braised meats and polenta); friendly bartenders like Bartholomew (Maverick’s Doppelganger) ensure wineglasses stay full. The 40 seats in the bar area are some of the most coveted in town, enhanced by sounds from live musicians tucked in the corner on Tuesday evenings.
WHO to bring with you: Friends, out-of-towners, and parents. L’Hostaria is one of the oldest restaurants in Aspen. Over time, it has inevitably become a cherished gathering place for locals and vacationers alike. Faces are familiar—whether it’s staff, locals, or part-timers. you’ll walk in feeling as though you know everyone in the room. Upon first entering the cozy foyer, you’re likely to get a greeting from manager Fabrizio Brovelli or Tiziano himself, making it an impressive place to take visitors, or, for the young kids new to town, a place to bring your parents to remind them you’ve moved to an amazing new community.
WHAT to order: Bolognese over homemade spinach fettucine, rich and decadent spaghetti carbonara, calamari for the table, and any of the seafood offerings. Grilled steak with mushrooms is always a hit, as is the tagliatelle. For dessert get the Tiramisu. Also, remember to check with your waiter on drink specials, and check out their incredible wine menu.
WHEN to go: Birthdays, celebrations, or anniversaries. While you could certainly come here any night of the week, special occasions make it that much more unforgettable.
One of the more iconic spots on Aspen, this little restaurant on Aspen Highlands has a feeling and ambience about it that make it something truly special. Located on the side of the mountain overlooking the bowl, the Bells and Pyramid Peak, the energy is intense with an incredibly cozy, mountain ambience inside and one of the sunniest decks to be found outside, this place draws locals and visitors day after day, but be forewarned, unless you are dining for two, the restaurant is booked for lunch through closing day on April 4th.
WHO to go with: Your squad. Who else would you want to hike Highland’s Bowl with and pop Veuve with? If you choose to go for dinner, plan to bring out of towners who want to see the Bells, and have the total mountain experience.
WHAT to order: Fondue. If there’s anywhere to enjoy true alpine dining, matched with a stellar location, it’s here. Made with three types of cheese, and served with bite-sized raclette of potatoes, meat and charcuterie, something about eating fondue at 11,000 feet after a day of skiing feels a little more special than it would at sea level. What’s more courtesy of this year’s new pop-up, lobster rolls and truffle fries are available at the ready. Dinner menus evolve, but can include everything from seared scallops, elk and lamb pate, steak and mushrooms, and a beautiful international wine list.
WHERE to sit: If it’s nice out, on porch overlooking the Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak; if it’s snowing, then grab a table as close to the Franklin Stove oven as possible. Bonus, try and grab a spot by the fire outside The Sled and grab a drink and a bite from the food truck.
WHEN to go: After hiking the bowl! Or, if you’re down for the dinner option, any nice weeknight (so long as you book way in advance—they recommend a month at least).
HOW to get there: By booking a reservation months in advance for dinner, you’ll get up the mountain by way of a heated Snowcat ride, or, if you’re looking to burn some calories before consuming them, you can always skin up the 11,000 feet by the light of the moon, or the sun. If you choose to go for lunch or drinks to après, ski on down from the Cloud 9 Lift.
Lynn Britt Cabin
Lynn Britt Cabin is an historic log structure dating back to the early 1900s that offers not only incredible mountain ambience and warm vibes for a lunch or après experience, but also a gourmet prix fixe dinner high on a mountain top. When you ski (or snowcat ride up) the first question that is likely to come to mind is “who built this place in the middle of a mountain?” Built in the early 1900’s by a man named Eric Erickson, the cabin was originally intended to be a summer home. The original structure, which still stands was built from logs cut down from nearby Aspen groves. The cabin was later renamed after a beloved ski instructor who died of cancer. Inside, the cabin has the rustic décor that many of us wish were more prevalent in Aspen.
WHO to bring with you: Your favorite ski buddy during the day, and your significant other at night.
WHAT to order: Menus change daily, but might look something like: salmon pastrami and duck torchon to start, followed by butternut squash bisque, and for an entrée, roasted Arctic char, beef short ribs or ricotta cavatelli. Dessert, a most sought after treat, could be anything from coffee panna cotta, almond butter anglaise or dark chocolate and Amarena cherry cake.
WHEN to go: The cabin hosts gourmet dinners via prix fixe menu on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the winter season. Price for dinner starts at $135 for adults and $90 for children 3-11. Beverages, tax and gratuity extra. Reservations are required (although you may not get one this late in the season). Or, ski by for cocktails on a bluebird day and experience the awe and beauty of real slope-side après.
WHERE it is: Halfway up Snowmass mountain, situated right in between the Blue Grouse and Velvet Falls ski trails.
HOW to get there: Meet your snowcat taxi near the Snowmass Base Village fire pit.Then, it’s a 15-minute crawl up the slopes in a wide-tracked Snowcat you’ll share with a few other folks. Around 9pm, your shuttle will be ready to come by and drive you down after the night’s festivities.