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Al Fresco Dining ASPEN, Colo. (Spring/Summer 2012) - If the number ofrestaurants in Aspen is an indicator of appetite, people are hungry! With more eateries than in recent years - well over 100 - old favorites mesh with fresh menus and new talent to provide enough culinary options to please any palate. And if that doesn't whet the taste buds, any of the city's lounges, bars, specialty wine shops and clubs most certainly will.

What's Cooking? Here's what's new in the Aspen dining scene:

  • NEW! Restaurateurs Samantha and Craig Cordts-Pearce have added Above the Salt to their small restaurant empire in Aspen, which also includes Steakhouse No. 316, CB Burger, Brexi Brasserie and The Wild Fig. Located in a prominent space on the Mill Street Mall, Salt serves mid-priced "rustic peasant and street food" with an Italian flair for lunch and dinner. The husband-wife team are also restoring The Popcorn Wagon to its roots, offering some of the original menu items like gyros, crepes and hot dogs and staying open until 3 a.m. (414 E. Hyman Ave.)
  • NEW! Justice Snow's, a new restaurant and bar named for the Justice of the Peace when the Wheeler Opera House was built in the 1880s, opened in the historic Wheeler Opera House in January 2012. Owners Marco Cingolani and Michele Kiley teamed up with Rowland + Broughton Architects and Matt Duncan Designs to preserve and enliven the historic space with mining-camp details like an antique copper-top bar and machine-age light fixtures made from repurposed bicycle parts. Chef Jonathan Lichleiter creates Colorado and Western-influenced cuisine with an emphasis on regional ingredients, and expert mixologist Joshua Smith has crafted a cocktail list unlike anything Aspen has ever seen. Justice Snow's features both small and large plates with moderate prices and a lively bar scene. (221 S. Mill St.,  
  • NEW! The Meatball Shack opened this June by Aspen locals, this distinctive restaurant serves classic and unique meatball dishes such as meatball tartare wrapped with Tuscan summer truffles and lobster balls with caviar, micro chives and crème fraîche . (312 S. Mill St.)

  • NEW! Creperie du Village is an authentic French café in the heart of Aspen, open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. from lunch through après-ski and dinner until late, late night. With a full bar, cozy furnishings, rafters stacked with wine bottles and a sunny patio facing Aspen Mountain, the Creperie offers a taste of the alps in its ambiance and its menu, featuring sweet and savory crepes, raclette, fondue, salads, charcuterie and cheese boards. (400 E. Hopkins Ave., 970.925.1566)
  • NEW! Finbarr's Irish Pub is a true Gastropub with a stylish flair serving tasty food and nine beers on tap. Crystal chandeliers, comfortable leather banquettes, dark wood beams, whitewashed brick walls and black-and-white photography add a rustic elegance to the former Mustang space on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall. Dishes served include traditional pub fare such as shepherd's pie, fish and chips and Guinness-braised lamb shank by Chef Joe Flamer. (415 E.

Hyman Ave., 970.925.2719)

  • NEW OWNERSHIP! Lunchtime hotspot and specialty foods retailer The Cheese Shop has reopened under new ownership. Andrew and Sarah Helsey, both former chefs at The Little Nell, have revamped the menu with new fare including a $7 dolcelatte grilled cheese with apple, endive and wildflower honey. In addition to affordable lunch items, specialty products like imported olive oils, unique wines, and cheese are available. (601 E. Hopkins Ave.)
  • NEW! Aspen Over-Easy Café opened in the former Oy Vey Café location, serving breakfast and lunch downstairs or upstairs in the Aspen Brewery. (304 E. Hopkins Ave.,


  • NEW! Steakhouse No. 316 opened in July 2011 in the former Lulu Wilson space. A boutique steakhouse styled to feel like a 1920's boudoir - with velvet banquettes, warm black paneled walls, and bordello-style lighting fixtures -  Steakhouse No. 316 brings a New York vibe to the Aspen dining scene. The steak-focused menu is overseen by Chef Kathleen Crook, who grew up on a New Mexico ranch. In addition to steaks, custom sauces, and other steakhouse staples, the restaurant features the famous Lulu kale salad and several seafood dishes. (316 E. Hopkins Ave.,
  • NEW LOCATION! Victoria's reopened in June 2011 and is now offering tapas and wine in addition to daily breakfast and lunch specials. The New-York-loft-inspired space features house-made bread, pastries, espresso, and international wines by the glass and bottle, and the wine list was curated by partner John Beatty. (510 E. Durant Ave.,
  • NEW! Bangkok Happy Bowl moved into their North Mill Station space in February, serving authentic Thai cuisine with an emphasis on take-out and delivery operations. (300 Puppy Smith St.,    

Go Euro: From Italian to French Bistro, International Cuisine Meets the Rockies

  • L'Hostaria brings authentic Italian fare and ambience to the heart of the Rocky Mountains. It offers an extensive list of light appetizers, Carpaccios, homemade pastas and sumptuous main dishes. (620 East Hyman Ave.,
  • Brexi Brasserie, which opened February 2009 in the Dancing Bear Aspen, serves French-bistro cuisine in a stylish, cosmopolitan setting. Locals and visitors say "oui" to favorite dishes like local beef tartare with harissa aioli and quail egg and braised short ribs "pot au feu" with root vegetables. (620 East Hyman Ave.,
  • Jour de Fête is a French deli offering both healthy snacks and warm comfort foods for breakfast and lunch. (710 East Durant Ave.; 970.925.5055)
  • Cache Cache confidently blends Aspen style with classic French country fare. Owned by longtime Aspenites Jodi Larner and Chef Chris Lanter, Cache Cache's dining room is typically populated by Aspen's chic locals and jet-setting visitors, but the divine cuisine is unpretentious, modern and deeply satisfying. (205 South Mill St.,

Locavore Love

  • Montagna, an elegant restaurant in the opulent Little Nell hotel, is under the masterful direction of Executive Chef Robert McCormick, who has impressive culinary credentials including five years under Chef Daniel Boulud. The restaurant has received the Forbes Four-Star Award for its European-influenced cuisine but fiercely highlights local Colorado ingredients from vegetables to meats. Its libations are also lauded: The 20,000-bottle wine cellar has consistently earned Montagna the Wine Spectator Grand Award. (675 E. Durant Ave.,
  • Pyramid Bistro, located in Explore Booksellers, leads Aspen's "nutritarian" movement with its nutrient-rich menu, presenting dishes to fit vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw-food and gluten-free diets - even the wines are bio-dynamic, organic and sustainably produced! Owner Martin Oswald led Aspen's adoption of Meatless Mondays, making it the first city to join the national campaign in June. (221 E. Main St.,
  • BB's Kitchen, fairly new to Aspen's dining scene, serves up honest, simple "American classic fare" with ingredients sourced locally and made in-house. Chef Katie Lorenzen-Smith ups the comfort quotient by curing meats, baking breads and pickling pickles in her kitchen. (525 E. Cooper Ave.,

Not Grandma-Style American Cookin'

  • Piñons offers upscale fine dining with gorgeous views of Aspen Mountain, a delectable alpine menu and an award-winning wine list. (105 S. Mill St.,
  • The Caribou Club. This private club serves up Aspen's best to Aspen's elite. Dining at the Club is legendary and available only to members or those sponsored by members. Weekly memberships are available for $500 per couple. (411 E. Hopkins Ave.,
  • Willow Creek Bistro. Nestled at the base of Aspen Highlands, this sophisticated restaurant features fine continental, American fare with beautiful patio dining. (75 Prospector Rd.,
  • Pine Creek Cookhouse. Located 12 miles outside Aspen at the base of the Elk Mountain Range, the Cookhouse provides a gourmet dining experience in an authentic mountain atmosphere, complete with log cabin and wilderness surroundings. It is best known for creatively prepared, naturally raised game specialties. (11399 Castle Creek Rd.,
  • Jimmy's American Restaurant & Bar. With a sophisticated, "everybody knows your name" atmosphere and a traditional yet upscale American surf-and-turf menu, Jimmy's is a consistent crowd pleaser. The restaurant also features more than 70 varieties of tequila and mezcal and a lively bar scene. (205 S. Mill St.,
  • Elevation. Modern and chic, this restaurant serves innovative, new-American cuisine. Try the wasabi Caesar Salad, Caramelized Black Cod or the Wagyu New York Strip. (304 E. Hopkins Ave.,
  • Woody Creek Tavern. Frequented by the late Hunter S. Thompson and a lively local crew, this home-cooked hideaway in Woody Creek serves up steaks, burgers, Mexican food, and mixes a mean margarita.(2858 Woody Creek Rd.,

From the Sea

  • Matsuhisa serves up mouthwatering sushi and Japanese dishes with fine wines and an extensive sake list. A member of the Nobu restaurant family, this establishment is always in demand. (303 E. Main St.,
  • Pacifica Seafood & Raw Bar. Craving fresh fish? Sample from a variety of hot and cold plates at this popular seafood spot while sipping one of their juicy mango mojitos. (307 S. Mill St.,
  • Kenichi. A place to see and be seen, this popular sushi den is constantly abuzz. Talented chefs bring global tastes to the extensive sushi menu. (533 E. Hopkins Ave.,

On the Go: For Those Looking to Save Money and Time

  • Johnny McGuire's. This beloved Aspen deli has become a Colorado phenomenon, with monster sandwiches perfect for a picnic or a hike. (730 E. Cooper Ave.,
  • New York Pizza. Big thin-crust slices start at $3, so this Big Apple-style pizzeria is hard to beat for the budget-conscious, and it is open until 2 a.m. to satisfy the late-night crowd. (409 E. Hyman St., 970.920.3088)
  • Boogie's Diner. A favorite for the kid in all of us, this 1950s-style diner offers some of the best sandwiches and milkshakes in town. (534 E. Cooper Ave., 970.925.6610)
  • Hickory House. Unbeatable hearty breakfasts and famous baby back ribs put this local barbeque joint on Oprah's infamous list of her favorite things. (730 W. Main St,
  • Big Wrap. There is always a hungry crowd at this wrap and smoothie shop. Homemade vegan soups and fresh tacos add to the diverse wrap menu and daily specials. (520 E. Durant Ave., 970.925.4977)
  • INK! Coffee will impress even Starbucks fanatics. This locally owned, gourmet coffee bar also offers bagels and spreads, pastries, and Panini's. (520 E. Durant Ave.,

After Dark. When the sun goes down, Aspen's social scene heats up. Whether you're looking for intimate live music, a quiet cocktail or exuberant crowds, Aspen's bars, watering holes and concert venues quench every craving.

For Music Lovers

  • In winter 2011/2012, Jazz Aspen Snowmass and The Little Nell teamed up to present JAS Café Downstairs @ The Nell an intimate venue to see top jazz acts every other weekend in the summer and winter. Ajax Tavern and Montagna offer special pre-show, three-course menus, and The Little Nell Bar Menu is served at the show! (675 E. Durant Ave.,
  • Belly Up Aspen rocks year-round with an eclectic mix of top headliners ranging from Mos Def to ZZ Top and everything in between. Its flawless sound system and intimate setting (accommodating only 450 guests) makes every show one to remember. (450 S. Galena St.,
  • Wheeler Opera House, an historic gem in downtown Aspen, features a diverse summer calendar with film screenings, operas, comedy acts and jamming rock bands. (320 E. Hyman Ave.,
  • Open-Air Performances. During the summer, Aspen is home to 750 music students participating in the Aspen Music Festival and School. Stroll through town and catch an impromptu performance as the music students practice their compositions. Wander over to the open-air Benedict Music Tent and take in an evening orchestra performance from the lawn.)

Be Scene

  • 39 Degrees at The Sky Hotel, home to an infamous outdoor pool scene currently being remodeled, serves up chic cocktails like the Botox Martini and other creative concoctions. (709 E. Durant Ave.,
  • Eric's Bar, which spills into Aspen Billiards, The Cigar Bar and Su Casa, is the epicenter of Aspen's see-and-be-seen commotion. From the hip dance floor to the hazy smokers' haven, each quadrant offers a different vibe. (315 E. Hyman Ave.,
  • Zocalito Latin Bistro serves up famous raspberry mojitos, the perfect "happy hour" thirst quencher after an action-packed summer day. (420 E. Hyman Ave.,

For Whatever Ales You

  • Aspen Brewing Company's new location on Restaurant Row makes it an easy choice for cold beer on a hot afternoon. Owned and operated by young Aspen locals, Aspen Brewing Company offers their selection of unique, locally brewed beers best enjoyed while drinking in the view of Aspen Mountain from the tasting room patio. (304 E. Hopkins Ave.,
  • Zane's Tavern, tucked in a cozy corner of downtown Aspen, offers beers, cocktails, and an approachable bar atmosphere with the TVs all tuned to sports. (308 S. Hunter St.,
  • J-Bar in the historic Hotel Jerome has been an Aspen watering hole since 1889 and has kept its saloon ambiance through the times. Today, Aspen locals and visitors alike belly up for a draft or bottle and sophisticated bar fare, and the house is packed during sports events and happy hour. (330 E. Main St.,

Groove Time

  • At Escobar, PBR tall boys meet pomegranate martinis sipped alongside an amalgamation of electronic, swing and lounge music. Founded by a group of seven young Aspen entrepreneurs, Escobar launched onto the local nightclub scene in 2011 and remains a late-night favorite for locals and visitors. (426 E. Hyman Ave.,
  • The Regal Watering Hole, boasting a sophisticated face-lift and new ownership, sizzles with a sultry atmosphere, delicious cocktails and a hopping dance floor. (220 S. Galena St.,
  • Syzygy, a French fusion restaurant, slips into a techno dance party after 11 p.m. with a live DJ and champagne bottle service. (308 E. Hopkins Ave.,

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