Known for its designer shops and exorbitant real estate, Aspen, Colorado has long been hailed as the winter playground for the rich and famous. The old mining town is not just a place to see and be seen, though, combining hard-core outdoor activities (think notoriously challenging slopes and deadly white water rapids) with the cosmopolitan culture befitting its billionaire denizens.
As the summer home of the infamous Food & Wine Classic, which draws top chefs like Jacques Pepin and Curtis Stone, the mountain village has developed a reputation as one of the Rockies’ top dining destination.
This year, Good Spirits—the all you can eat and drink evening celebrating local spirits—makes its debut in the city on August 10. From 100-page wine lists to organic eats, here’s where to eat and drink in Colorado’s chicest ski town.
Where to Eat
675 E Durant Ave.
Five-star hotel The Little Nell has been steadily churning out national culinary stars since it opened its doors in 1989. Ryan Hardy, of famed New York City spots Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, spent time manning its legendary stoves. Its fine-dining restaurant, Element 47, is hailed for its 100-page wine list overseen by a master sommelier and refined American fare prepared by chef Matt Zubrod, who manages the hotel garden and sources meat from a partnership with local Emma Farms.
119 S Spring St.
The 100 percent organic, plant-based fare at Spring Cafe makes it a top pick for Aspen’s outdoorsy set. Nutrient-dense dishes like avocado tempeh reuben and huevos rancheros are prepared with salubrious cold-pressed oils, sea salt and fresh herbs.
Meat & Cheese
319 E Hopkins Ave.
Appropriately titled, this casual cafe and market, established by the owner of Colorado-based Avalanche Goat Cheese, is known for its meat and cheese boards. The modern dining room and outdoor patio offers seasonal selections of charcuterie as well as “World Farmhouse” entrees like pork schnitzel and Vietnamese chicken noodle salad paired with well-prepared adult beverages.
312 S Mill St.
Acclaimed chef and Aspen native Barclay Dodge offers New World cuisine with strong Mediterranean and Chinese influences at this jewel box of a restaurant. Peking duck is a favorite, crisp yet juicy meat served with cucumbers, leeks, pancakes and hoisin sauce.
White House Tavern
302 E Hopkins Ave.
Set in an ivory-colored, 19th century miners cottage, this popular gastropub features a short but sweet menu of salads, snacks and sandwiches at reasonable price points—for Aspen, at least. Hordes descend upon the small wood-filled space for the crowd-pleasing burger, French dip and crispy chicken sandwich.
Where to Drink
205 S Mill St.
A favorite of the F&W Classic chef set, this upscale American restaurant and bar is hailed for its traditional comfort food (think: meatloaf and jumbo lump crab cakes) matched by acclaimed cocktails that can rival those found at Manhattan’s best drinking dens. Owner-mixologist Jimmy Yeager carefully builds drinks with boutique spirits and signature two-inch ice cubes, chiseled away from 300-pound blocks he freezes in-house.
J-Bar at Hotel Jerome
330 East Main St.
This circa-1889 icon has been attracting locals and celebrities, like the late Hunter S. Thompson, to its Old West–style wooden bar for more than a century. Guests still sip on the bar’s famed Prohibition-era incognito cocktail, a bourbon-infused milkshake known as the Aspen Crud.