What is Aspen’s dining scene like?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Larry Olmsted

Aspen has an eclectic mix of old time local saloons like the Red Onion and Little Annie’s Eating House alongside see-and-be-seen power dining restaurants bearing little connection to the mountain town setting and aesthetic, such as Il Mulino. But where the real defining trend in recent years has been a big move towards localvore and farm to table cuisine, a trend that while sweeping the nation, is exceptionally strong and serious in Aspen. Many top restaurants here are aligning with local farms and purveyors and even growing their own food, and menus overflow with Colorado natural lamb, grass fed beef, elk, buffalo, trout and locally grown produce. Many change menus seasonally to reflect what is fresh and current. Leading this pack are Element 47 at the Little Nell, Eight K at the Viceroy Snowmass, Snowmass Kitchen at the Westin and Chef’s Club at the St. Regis. Any of these are more interesting than the rather staid previous generation fine dining choices elsewhere in Aspen, which are often lesser approximations of urban dining. The new generation stands on its own with a sense of place and salutes Colorado cuisine. In general, Aspen probably has the most fashion conscious dining scene of any ski town in the nation, with plenty of visitors who never bother skiing, and while it is still mountain casual almost everywhere and you can easily get away without dressing up, you will see people making a real effort to look fashionable – often in showy, blingy ways.

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