Fine Dining and camping or skiing don’t always go together. And, while we love to cook in our RV when we are up in the mountains, when we go to destinations like Aspen, our little foodie hearts just can’t bear the thought of missing out on all the cool food adventures places they have to offer. We both just really enjoy good food! The first thing we noticed about the culinary landscape of Aspen is that Mac n Cheese was offered at almost every single restaurant we went to, as well as banana bread pudding. The other thing we noticed was that, while there are a lot of fancy restaurants, not very many of them had menu’s that were remotely interesting to us; at least not for the price point. We were a little worried that we were going to strike out like we did in Mammoth (more on that later!), but we ended up finding a few gems!
Since we had decided to get a rental car this trip (seriously, why didn’t we think of this option sooner), we were able to expand our culinary adventures a bit more than normal. We ate in Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt, and Glenwood Springs.
We have two standout favorites from this trip. Our first favorite is The Pullman, which was phenomenal, and blew everything else in Aspen away. The Pullman sources everything as locally as they can, while keeping prices reasonable. We ate farm fresh foods and arguably had the lowest dinner tab we have had all trip. Not to mention, everyone working there seems super stoked about the mission of the restaurant, which is super refreshing. Instead of getting an appetizer and a big meal, we settled on a smattering of things off the menu. We got two deviled eggs, Paul had the chicken liver pate, we split the soup of the day which was a french onion, we got roasted bone marrow, and grilled broccolini with queso fresco. It was all incredible; the most impressive thing for me was the serving of bone marrow. When we order this at places in San Diego, the servings can be a bit small; only a shallow layer of marrow. However, these bones were thick and had tons; it was a pleasant surprise. Of cours,e they had mac n cheese and banana bread pudding on the menu; maybe next time we will give it a try. The only thing that might be a “downside” to this restaurant is that it is in Glenwood Springs, which is an hour from Aspen, but a quick 20 minute drive from Aspen-Basalt Campground.
Our second fine dining favorite,Meat and Cheese, came as a recommendation from our waiter at The Pullman. This place once again totally blew other Aspen restaurants out of the water. The place is super cozy with delicious food; definitely our new favorite place to eat in Aspen proper. Paul gave the chicken pate plate a try and loved it; he also got the fall salad with duck confit, which was cooked perfectly crispy and tender. Holly got the Tamarind Chicken sandwich, which was really really good, and it had a nice kick without being overly spicy.
Other notable mentions are the Willits General store, which has great basic sandwiches, and the Fuel Cafe, which is Holly’s favorite breakfast spot, at the Snowmass Upper Village. Brunelleschi’s for some wonderful pizza. Ajax donuts for a quick sweet treat. K’Gen Asian restaurant for pretty good Asian cuisine, plus this place was open on Christmas, which was nice. Paul said he got a really good lunch at one of the cafeterias on the mountain; I also remember really enjoying the lunch we got last year on the mountain. And finally Base Camp Bar and Grill had some pretty simple bar food while you are on the mountain.
It was also really nice and convenient to have a Whole Foods so close to where we were staying. We ended up cooking a delicious meal inside for dinner one night. We got some brats from Whole foodsl grilled them up along with sauteed onion and red bell pepper. It’s really awesome being able to cook for yourself when you need/want to.
There were a few places we were a bit disappointed by. Hops Culture, which is a gastropub in Aspen, sounded like it would be good, but we were pretty let down. The flavors felt off and we were not impressed with the food for what we paid. Paul got the buffalo wings, which were nice and juicy; however, the sauce just didn’t taste right. We also got the banana bread pudding, which lacked much flavor at all; it was a bit on the floury side. We were also super let down by Smoke Modern BBQ, which claims “classic flavor, whole new style”. The food was plain at best; you could get better fine dining / flavor from Phils BBQ, or even Famous Daves.
We also were very sad to find out that Little Annies, which had been a staple in Aspen for a very long time, has shut it’s doors for good. They offered great food at a low price point and unfortunately, were not able to keep themselves in business any more due to declining visitors. We were really sad to learn that this great local joint is closed forever.