A traveler’s compilation of Aspen’s finest things to swig, munch, and otherwise absorb in this mountain town paradise.
By Michelle Nevare
Of all the best distractions for stress in the world, the rather small town of Aspen is high on my list. In winter, this sparkling mountain paradise can not only make you forget everything stressful about your life, but it can fill your head with fabulous thoughts of living the good life. I have put together a ‘best of’ list to aid in shaking that pesky weight on your shoulders even if only for a few days.
Best Place for an Unfussy Bite:
Brunelleschi’s @ 205 S. Mill
Pronounced appropriately enough ‘Bruno-let’s-ski’ and well known by locals as Bruno’s, this pizza joint is both casual and kid-friendly while maintaining a very tasty menu. While the kiddos make their own pizza the adults can enjoy a nice glass of Caro from the wine list or Avalanche from the tap and nosh on Colby’s Special Pizza which is an amazing arrangement of mozzarella, truffle oil, arugula and shards of parmesan over prosciutto on a very delicious thin crust.
Best Aspen Staple:
Boogie’s Diner @ 534 E. Cooper
To get the full effect of Boogie Weinglass, the man behind the name whom is frequently spotted at the establishment, you should rent the great cult classic by the name of Diner. Yes, that one back when Mickey Rourke looked… well, we won’t go there. Boogie’s, the place, is a hybrid of a clothing store and your mom’s kitchen. On the bottom floor of this massive Aspen institution you can find a huge selection of jeans, t-shirts, and accessories for men, women and kids. Upstairs you can get stuffed on homemade favorites like meatloaf, tuna melt, and macaroni and cheese. And don’t forget to top it all off with a chocolate malt.
Peter @ Il Mulino @ 520 East Durant Ave
Il Mulino is the new kid on the block as far as Aspen restaurants go. Some will recognize the name as there are a dozen locations throughout the US and one in Tokyo. The Aspen location is in the brand new addition to the base of Ajax and boasts a contemporary decor and some pretty impressive views of Aspen Mountain. There is certainly an element you will not find anywhere else in Aspen, his name is Peter. If there is one piece of advice I can give you, it’s make friends with Peter. He will tell you some pretty cool stories about various celeb clients of his, as he is a fly-fishing guide in the Summer months, all while slipping you a little something to nosh on and creating some tasty cocktails out of daily fresh squeezed juice.
Best Place to People Watch:
Ajax Tavern @ 685 E Durant Ave
So let’s say its lunch time, sunny, and you want a really great spot to watch people. Ajax is on the opposite side of the Silver Queen Gondola from Il Mulino and has an equally notable patio and view of the mountain. It’s the perfect place to watch people skiing down the mountain. Aspen mountain is easily the most difficult of the three to take on so you might see some mighty advanced action. While you are taking it all in order yourself the famous parmesan truffle fries and a smuggler (hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps).
Caribou Club @ 411 E. Hopkins
If you are as lucky as I am to have a friend with a membership to “the Bou,” as it is fondly referred to, this is an Aspen must. You will see celebs, socialites, and very pretty people doing very interesting things. Enough said.
Best Place to Dance on Bars:
Cache Cache @ 205 S. Mill
Cache Cache is much more than just a place to get your dance and drink on. But once you’ve had a New Years’ celebration where people, including the fabulous owner, are hopping up on top of tables before the second course is finished you rarely find yourself able to top that. We’ve seen many celebs here from Kevin Costner to Gloria Estefan to Don Johnson. Cache Cache is also a delicious restaurant with many farm-to-table options including a Colorado rack of lamb like no other and a wine list so long it makes the most decisive connoisseur think again about picking that perfect Pinot.
If Aspen Mountain is touted as an expert’s mountain, Highlands would be the moderate one with mostly blue runs. So take some lessons and train hard I hear it’s all worth it to have an après ski drink at Cloud Nine. Christie Brinkley has been spotted here. Since I am a below average snowboarder you’ll find me with the kiddos on what the locals call the “friendly mountain”, Buttermilk.
Best Place to Get Your Fitness On:
Aspen Recreation Center @ 861 Maroon Creek Rd
Whether you need to wear out the little ones or burn off some of that mac and cheese, the Aspen Rec Center has everything you need. Daily admission is $15 for kids and $17 for adults gets you access to everything the center has to enjoy. Climbing Tower, Open Swim, Open Skate, Weight Room, Fitness Rooms, Fitness Classes, Sledding, and Cross Country Skiing is enough to wear out the most active person.
This is a bit more involved as it really depends on what you are looking for. Aspen has some of the best high-end shops in the world: Prada, Fendi, Gucci, Dior, J. Mendel, Burberry, Brioni, and more. Cos Bar is a fantastic spot for cosmetics and beauty products. Distractions, Malo, and Nuages are great little boutiques housing many different labels. If it’s art you are looking for there are about a dozen major galleries to browse including E.S. Lawrence Gallery, 212 Gallery, and Royal Street Fine Art.
Aspen may be just a playground for the rich and famous, but what’s better than that to take you away from your everyday life? The mountains alone have a magical ability to recharge even the most drained battery. So take some time off, enjoy Aspen, and make your own best of list. You won’t regret it.