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Aspen’s Outdoor Dining Shines in Summertime

Warm sunshine, gentle breezes and stunning views of the nearby peaks entice diners to linger over their meals on Aspen’s restaurant patios and terraces. In a community covered by snow several months of the year, summer is a special time to be outside, as the hills turn to green and are often dotted with colorful wildflowers. Downtown cafes indulge guests with umbrella-shaded tables and establishments near the majestic mountains offer sun-dappled decks to take in the vistas. Many Aspen restaurants build their menus around seasonal ingredients, reflecting a farm-to-table spirit that pairs well with alfresco dining. There’s something palate-pleasing about enjoying a salad of field greens or a dish of wild-caught salmon while being surrounded by nature.

Savor the local chefs’ culinary creations while soaking in the ambience: Watch the passersby, listen to the rustling leaves and breathe in the fresh air. A well-timed dinner can lead to dessert as the pinks and purples of sunset streak across the sky. Or, sip a glass of wine while chatting with friends under the stars. Pick the perfect patio with the following recommendations from local concierges.

 

The White House Tavern

 

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

“The White House Tavern is … [in] an old house that was completely renovated [and] it’s a great place for lunch. It [has] a very short menu with three to four sandwich options—the chicken sandwich is the best one. They have a great kale salad as well.” The establishment’s side patio offers a view of the nearby mountains. (302 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-925-1007; aspenwhitehouse.com)  —Allana Long, concierge at Viceroy Snowmass

 

Ellina Restaurant & Bar

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

“Ellina Restaurant & Bar is a very nice restaurant. It’s another Italian restaurant, but it’s more sophisticated. They have nice blankets you can wrap yourself up with if it gets chilly during the night. Try the octopus. It is my personal favorite. … They do a whole striped bass that is really good as well.” Outdoor seating is situated beneath tall trees, and umbrellas provide extra shade during the day. (430 E. Hyman Ave.; 970-925-2976; ellinaaspen.com) —Allana Long, concierge at Viceroy Snowmass

 

BB’s

“[At] BB’s, … nestled between art galleries, is the patio with … beautiful views of Aspen Mountain (Ajax, as it’s known to locals). Chef Matt Zubrod offers contemporary cuisine with a combination of flavors known to no other. Choose from … lunch and dinner [or brunch on weekends] and enjoy the sunshine while taking pleasure in the surrounding mountains.” The seasonal menu changes frequently, but dishes have included duck leg cassoulet and all-natural chicken with heirloom potatoes. During happy hour, which takes place from 3:30 to 5 p.m., patrons can enjoy small plates like the duck mole tacos or shishito peppers with $5 craft beers or well drinks. (525 E. Cooper Ave.; 970-429-8284; bbskitchen.com) —Lynsey Martin, residence concierge in Aspen

 

Ajax Tavern

(Courtesy of Ajax Tavern)

(Courtesy of Ajax Tavern)

“You also can’t go wrong with Ajax Tavern, which is located right next to the gondola at the base of Aspen Mountain. There’s just something special about that mountain backdrop. Reservations fill up fast any time there are fireworks.” The menu is influenced by sustainably raised meats and seasonal produce grown in Colorado. Lamb bolognese, the Cuban sandwich and Ajax double cheeseburger with truffle fries are signature items worth sampling. (685 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-6334; thelittlenell.com) —Sonya Haushalter, concierge at The Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands

 

Mezzaluna Aspen

pestopizza4

“I would suggest … Mezzaluna Aspen. They are more toward Italian food, but they have a very extended menu. It’s more casual to bring your kids or come during the day.” Located just a block from Gondola Plaza, Mezzaluna is a convenient option after hiking on Aspen Mountain—continue soaking up the sun while enjoying pasta or wood-fired pizzas on the patio. Everything from the pizza dough to the pasta sauce is made from scratch daily. (624 E. Cooper Ave.; 970-925-5882; mezzalunaaspen.com) —Allana Long, concierge at Viceroy Snowmass

 

Grey Lady

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

“The newest restaurant to open in town is Grey Lady, a Nantucket-inspired restaurant with a sister establishment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.” An outdoor area, under a trellis cover, looks out onto a brick pedestrian walkway—perfect for people watching and enjoying the fresh air with some privacy. The menu, composed largely of seafood, features dishes such as lobster rolls, New England bouillabaisse and Thai shrimp corn cakes. For the meat eaters, there’s the Brick on a Chick, which comes with chicken and root vegetables, or the New York steak topped with an egg. Wash it down with one of four signature cocktails on tap that have creative names like Medicine Man and Master Cleanse. (305 S. Mill St.; 970-925-1797; greyladyaspen.com) —Concierge staff at Hotel Jerome 

 

Pine Creek Cookhouse

“A very popular destination just outside of Aspen is Pine Creek Cookhouse. This rustic cabin in the woods serves gourmet cuisine in a wide open valley surrounded by the mountains.” After hiking around Ashcroft, a historic ghost town, or cycling up Castle Creek Road, stop for lunch or dinner at this season-focused restaurant that has a focus on sustainability. Smoked trout, glazed wild salmon, buffalo tenderloin and chicken piccata are just some of the summer menu items. Dining alfresco affords views of the majestic peaks and countryside. (12500 Castle Creek Rd.; 970-925-1044; pinecreekcookhouse.com) —Concierge staff at Hotel Jerome

 

Jimmy’s Bodega

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

(Photo by Jeremy Swanson)

“Jimmy’s Bodega offers one of the best patios in town and is the place to people watch for lunch and dinner. Resting on old cobblestones under canopied trees, the locale is fun for young and old alike and is [in] the heart of the hustle and bustle of Aspen. Whether you’re … relaxing with a glass of wine [or] enjoying oysters … from their raw bar, Jimmy’s Bodega will tantalize your taste buds and rouse your senses.” (305 S. Mill St.; 970-710-2182; jimmysbodega.com) —Lynsey Martin, residence concierge in Aspen

 

Meat & Cheese

“For food, we love Meat & Cheese. They have this amazing specialty food store … [with] a great organic produce selection and fresh-made bread and all sorts of salts. It’s a local cheese maker so not only is it a great new restaurant, but you’re also supporting local entrepreneurs.” The artisanal goat cheese is crafted by Avalanche Cheese Co., which was founded in 2008 but opened the restaurant and store in fall 2014. Outside tables are available for savoring a meal in the open air. Popular lunchtime options include the meat and cheese board or the rotiserrie chicken served with roasted potatoes and seasonal greens. For dinner, opt for the sausage board to start and the stacked short ribs as your main entree. (319 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-710-7120; meatandcheeseaspen.com) –Lauren Sakin, concierge at Viceroy Snowmass

 

Prospect

(Courtesy of Hotel Jerome)

(Courtesy of Hotel Jerome)

“Definitely [visit the] Prospect terrace here at Hotel Jerome. The food and views of Aspen Mountain are both spectacular.” American classics are reintroduced with a modern twist by Executive Chef Rob Zack and presented as sharable dishes that are inspired by the season and crafted with fresh ingredients. An extensive wine menu fills more than 40 pages, offering plenty of options for toasting friends and family. (330 E. Main St.; 970-429-7610; hoteljerome.com) —Concierge staff at Hotel Jerome 

 

—Written by Sharon Stello