10 Places To Eat Really Well In Aspen, Colorado

Aspen-BurgerWhiteHouseTavern Aspen's White House Tavern has one of the juiciest (and messiest) burgers around. (Photos: Linnea Covington.)

After all the skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and other activities that one naturally does while visiting the Rockies, you sure build up an appetite. Luckily, most of the fare found in the popular mountain town of Aspen, Colorado, isn't the prissy spa-menu type of cuisine floating around many vacation spots. In fact, even the town's newest vegan restaurant serves fairly hearty fare. From excellent cheeseburgers to house-smoked ribs to perfect bites of sushi, here's where to eat right now in Aspen:

White House Tavern

Eating here means not just indulging in one of the juiciest (and messiest) burgers around, but getting a little history lesson. This two-year-old restaurant is located inside the charming and historic A.G. Sheppard House. Built in 1883 as a miner's cottage, this Carpenter Gothic–style edifice remains one of the oldest structures in town. Maybe this is why the menu proves simple, consisting of lunchtime items, like a French dip au jus, crispy chicken sandwich, creamed corn and deviled eggs, served all day. Like the straightforward food, the cocktail list remains clean-cut and expertly executed. Pink peppercorns spice up the traditional grapefruit-and-tequila punch of an afternoon paloma, while the beer list allows you to get to know Colorado brews. Sit outside if the weather permits, or cozy up in a low-lit, wooden booth. Either option is a good move. 302 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-925-1007; aspenwhitehouse.com

Chef's Club at the St. Regis

The concept behind this chic hotel's restaurant is simple: Invite Food & Wine's best chefs of the year to showcase some of their favorite seasonal dishes. Recent guest chefs have included Top Chef winner Paul Qui of the eponymous Qui in Austin, Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston and Cara Stadler of Tao Yuan Restaurant in Portland, Maine. These guest chefs come in and teach the staff to cook, plate and serve their creations. Then the visitors leave it all in the capable hands of the locals, who also whip up a few house specialties to fill out the menu. Make sure to consult your sommelier on the wine. The restaurant has a great list curated by Food & Wine's wine editor, Ray Isle. The decor is a mix between mountain lodge and trendy Los Angeles diner. And just like in the City of Angels, you just might find yourself seated next to a celebrity. 315 E. Dean St., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-429-9581; stregisaspen.com

Aspen-MeatAndCheese Aspen's Meat And Cheese specializes in, well, you know.

Meat and Cheese

One of the newest restaurants to open up in Aspen, this quaint casual spot is run by the folks behind the craft goat-cheese makers at Avalanche Cheese Company. So, of course, the place sells some excellent artisanal cheeses. But that's not all: There's also cured meats, local produce and fresh baked bread, all available from the restaurant's menu or in the adjoining market. Take stuff to go for an impromptu picnic or sit on the patio for an al fresco lunch or dinner. Standouts include the 13-hour char siu brisket sandwich with Asian pickles, arugula salad with Colorado sweet corn and prosciutto and a flavorful and light Vietnamese chicken noodle salad. Naturally, you'll also want to order a board of the house's handcrafted cheeses, meats and sausages. Choose from a great selection of local beers or fresh lemonade to wash it down. 319 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-710-7120; meatandcheeseaspen.com


This Parisian-inspired spot in the nearby village of Snowmass got a revamp after the Los Angeles–based Viceroy Hotel Group took it over this past spring. And while it's not technically located in Aspen, it's worth the quick drive or free bus ride to see what chef Will Nolan is whipping up. As one might expect from a cafe-table-lined French-style bistro, you can always get steaming plates of fresh mussels, though these come with five different options of internationally themed sauces, like Provençal and Cajun. You can find the perfect après-ski foods on the menu, including croque monsieur, French onion soup, house-smoked ribs and brisket, pressured-fried chicken and cheddar biscuits with jalapeño butter. If you are a brunch fan, you've come to the right place: There is no other spot in Snowmass Base Village to get this meal (thus far), and Nolan's fried chicken and waffles prove a worthy tribute to the chef's Southern roots. 110 Carriage Way, Ste. 3106, Snowmass Village, CO 81615; 970-429-4163; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

Aspen-HickoryHouseBBQ Aspen's Hickory House has been known to attract bears with its smoky delicacies.

Hickory House

Whether you came from a day spent hiking, mountain biking or skiing, you will want to head to this laid-back barbecue spot and get the ribs and baked beans. Here, all the meat is slow-smoked, and the flavor proves unequaled in town. In fact, the food is so alluring that you'll often see bears scavenging leftovers from the trash cans out back. Just make sure you head there early; like many places in Aspen, the restaurant closes at 9 p.m. 730 W. Main St., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-925-2313; hickoryhouseribs.com

Justice Snow's

In a corner space of the historic Wheeler Opera House, you'll find Justice Snow's. The name is a nod to a legendary justice of the peace in this old mountain town. Opened in 2012, the spot features one of the best cocktail programs in town. Here, the menu is lovingly referred to as "the Bible." In this tome, you will find drinks like the Bee My Basil, made with Woody Creek Distillery vodka, St. Germain, yellow Chartreuse, basil and fresh grapefruit juice. The folks behind the restaurant have put an emphasis on drinks made with local spirits, and the friendly bartenders gladly share their knowledge about the area's distilleries. The food is just as important, and chef Jonathan Leichliter makes heaping plates of beet and wild mushroom risotto, local Wagyu and pork albondigas and a hearty kale-and-rye-berry salad, all of which are sure to bestow enough energy to get you through whatever outdoor activity you have lined up for the rest of the day. 328 E. Hyman Ave, Aspen, CO 81611; 970-429-8192; justicesnows.com

Spring Cafe

In a meat-heavy mountain town like Aspen, it's refreshing to get a dose of vegetarian fare, and the food served at this two-year-old spot proves just as hearty as a burger. That is, if you get the breakfast tacos with tempeh bacon and tofu, the avocado tempeh reuben or the portobello mole crepes. The place also offers a great selection of healthy smoothies and juices served throughout the day. Each juice is cold-pressed daily, the eggs and dairy come from local farms and everything is 100 percent organic. Taking a moment to sample the goods at this bright, airy café is not a bad way to get your day started or to end a busy afternoon spent outdoors. 119 S. Spring St., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-429-840; springcafe.org

?????????????? The kale Waldorf salad at So, located inside the Aspen Art Museum

So at the Aspen Art Museum

The weekly menu at this rooftop café remains limited, often with just three main options, a kid's plate and a couple baked goods for dessert. Luckily, the food is perfect just the way it is: seasonal and prepared in the freshest way possible. Over the summer, the café offered a bright and hearty kale Waldorf salad with dried cherries, local chèvre and toasted walnuts, a dish made even better with the addition of hot-smoked salmon. Other menu items have included gooey burrata with local fruits, a Westphalian ham and Gruyère panino with apple chutney and a turkey quesadilla with roasted poblano and aged cheddar. Order a local beer by Aspen Brewery, Roaring Fork Beer Co. or Oskar Blues, and take in the stunning view of Aspen Mountain as you dine. Then go see the art below — it's free to the public and proves a nice after-lunch diversion. 637 E. Hyman Ave., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-925-8050; aspenartmuseum.org

Element 47 in the Little Nell

As an ode to Aspen's past as a silver-mining town, this fine-dining establishment got the moniker Element 47, the scientific number of that precious metal. Since it opened in 2012, this spot has been a favorite of locals and tourists alike, and for good reason. Not only do you get impeccable service, but the food by chef Matt Zubrod incorporates the flavors of Colorado and the seasons. Then you have an excellent wine list curated by master sommelier Carlton McCoy, arguably the best in town. While there, take in the decor by award-winning design firm Bentel & Bentel. The coal-black seats and tables also speak to the town's past, while the cool silver highlights make you remember how it got to where it is today. 675 E. Durant Ave., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-920-6330; thelittlenell.com


Opened by famed chef Nobo Matsuhisa in 1998, this popular spot remains the go-to place for sushi in town. Interestingly, the chef blends traditional Japanese fare with a Peruvian twist, which is why you will see lobster ceviche on limestone lettuce and lamb anticucho on the menu. To find the restaurant, look for the darling blue house with red trim. It might not appear to be a sushi restaurant at first, but once you get inside you'll see the decor is quintessentially Japanese. 303 E. Main St., Aspen, CO 81611; 970-544-6628; matsuhisaaspen.com