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8 Restaurants Bringing International Cuisine to Aspen

Though tucked away in the shadow of the Colorado Rockies, Aspen shines as a vacation destination for avid travelers from around the globe due to its world-class skiing and snowboarding, village-like atmosphere and impressive arts scene. Once here, visitors have a plethora of restaurants available to sate their appetites after a long day on the slopes.

To match the sophisticated tastes of local diners, Aspen’s cuisine ranges from classic American fare to French, Italian, Japanese and Latin flavors. With so many choices, deciding on a destination can be a challenge for even the most experienced food connoisseur. Here, concierges give their recommendations for the best stops in Aspen for international cuisine, including escargot, pasta and crepes. Now, the only challenge is making the time—and working up the appetite—to try them all.

 

MATSUHISA ASPEN

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(Darren Bridges)

Offering a twist on traditional Japanese cuisine by using Peruvian and Argentinian flavors, MATSUHISA ASPEN is a refreshing choice that is backed by the reputation of owner and revered restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa. “It is phenomenal. They have this tuna with jalapenos that is really popular. It’s not on the menu, so they can make it special. The broiled black cod with miso is also really popular, [and] the tuna miso chips are really good for an appetizer.” (303 E. Main St.; 970-544-6628; matsuhisaaspen.com) —Mary Pat Rysdon, concierge at The St. Regis Aspen Resort
For those who want the experience of a premier meal without having to leave the mountain, AJAX TAVERN at The Little Nell is the place to go. It’s the ultimate in post-piste indulgence, offering an all-day menu from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., as well apres specials from 3-6 p.m. Known as one of the best spots for people-watching on the mountain, visitors can try the famed Ajax double cheeseburger or gluten-free buttermilk fried chicken. “Ajax Tavern has a French flair to it. It’s basically the best place for truffle fries, apres-ski and to see and be seen. It’s an all-around fun place to have on Aspen Mountain. It’s good for everything.” (685 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-6334; ajaxtavernaspen.com) —Celeste Kemp, concierge at The Westin Snowmass Resort

 

AJAX TAVERN

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For those who want the experience of a premier meal without having to leave the mountain, AJAX TAVERN at The Little Nell is the place to go. It’s the ultimate in post-piste indulgence, offering an all-day menu from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., as well apres specials from 3-6 p.m. Known as one of the best spots for people-watching on the mountain, visitors can try the famed Ajax double cheeseburger or gluten-free buttermilk fried chicken. “Ajax Tavern has a French flair to it. It’s basically the best place for truffle fries, apres-ski and to see and be seen. It’s an all-around fun place to have on Aspen Mountain. It’s good for everything.” (685 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-6334; ajaxtavernaspen.com) —Celeste Kemp, concierge at The Westin Snowmass Resort

 

ELLINA RESTAURANT AND BAR

Ellina

“I have to say that ELLINA RESTAURANT AND BAR is, by far, one of my favorite restaurants in Aspen. They serve northern Italian … cuisine with delectable appetizers such as the artichoke heart bruschetta—served with an organic poached egg and shaved truffles—and the seared Mediterranean octopus and sherry sauce, which melts in your mouth. [A] unique entree would be squid ink spaghetti [with] Prince Edward Island mussels, cannellini beans and zucchini in an arrabbiata sauce.” Wash it all down with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s award-winning cellar, guided by a sommelier. (430 E. Hyman Ave.; 970-925-2976; ellinaaspen.com) —Lynsey Martin, a residence concierge in Aspen

 

IL POGGIO

Il Poggio

One of the most popular Italian eateries in Aspen for the last 20 years is the quaint IL POGGIO, which offers handmade, traditional fare ranging from simple pizzas and pastas to innovative dishes like sweet potato ravioli. “It’s the hot spot of Snowmass. Every single night of the week, it is sold out. It’s super busy and consistent, [and] it’s been around forever. It’s a staple for us in Snowmass. I really like their beef tenderloin. They serve it with portobello mushrooms and Gorgonzola mashed potatoes, which are amazing.” (57 Elbert Lane, Snowmass Village; 970-923-4292; ilpoggio.webs.com) —Celeste Kemp, concierge at The Westin Snowmass Resort

 

CAMPO DE FIORI

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(Rich Vossler Photography)

A meal at CAMPO DE FIORI is one of the closest things to an authentic Italian experience in Aspen, thanks to the heritage and upbringing of the head chefs. The bar’s casual setting and the more formal sit-down dining make the restaurant perfect for almost anyone. “We have a lot of Italian options in town. [We recommend] Campo for the high-end dining and the bar scene. There are two different ambiences in the restaurant. … As far as the food, Campo has great risottos, salads and vegetarian options. One of the favorites is the ravioli funghi. It has a great taste.” (205 S. Mill St.; 970-920-7717; campodefiori.net) —The concierge team at Viceroy Snowmass

 

LA CREPERIE DU VILLAGE

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With a menu that reflects the owners’ French and Austrian backgrounds, LA CREPERIE DU VILLAGE brings diners authentic Alpine dishes that feel right at home in Aspen. “The Creperie du Village … takes you right from the central core of Aspen to the French Alps. The restaurant also features sweet and savory crepes and escargot. If the opportunity arises, be sure to have a chat with the one of the owners, Raphael [Derly], who will … entertain with a daring backcountry ski story or provide tips for some of the best inbound runs of the day—simply a must do.” (400 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-925-1566; lacreperieduvillage.com) —The concierge team at Hotel Jerome

 

CACHE CACHE

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At CACHE CACHE, entrees such as calf’s liver, Colorado rack of lamb and osso buco keep patrons coming back—and so does the elegant ambience and impressive inventory of more than 5,000 bottles of wine. “Cache Cache is located on what the locals call Restaurant Row (off Hopkins Avenue) in Aspen. It’s French cuisine, and one of the favorite dishes … is the escargot. It’s a very lively atmosphere, but at the same time you get the fine dining experience. At the restaurant, you can see anyone from Michael Douglas to Jack Nicholson. It’s a really nice place.” (205 S. Mill St., Ste. 106; 970-925-3835; cachecache.com) —The concierge team at Viceroy Snowmass

 

ZOCALITO

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A haven for adventurous diners seeking an authentic Mexican meal, ZOCALITO has a selection of tapas and entrees that include bold choices like grasshopper-topped guacamole as well as more familiar ones like seafood stew and grilled prawns. “It’s [Latin cuisine], and the owner goes to [Oaxaca, Mexico] a few times a year and brings back the spices. The food is out of this world. … It’s unbelievable. A dish to try is called the chorizo and poblano cheese dip. I always get that when I go there. … There’s so much flavor in everything they do. It’s not for people who like bland foods.” (420 E. Hyman Ave.; 970-920-1991; zocalito.com) —Mary Pat Rysdon, concierge at The St. Regis Aspen Resort

 

—Written by Bria Balliet