My Type of Aspen Dining: The Bar Menu
Whether you are on a budget, traveling alone, or just not in the mood for a big meal, I have two words for you: bar menu.
Almost all restaurants in Aspen, Colorado, offer a wide selection of choices on their bar menus—and for a lot less than their dining room menus. Personally, I love I was able to dine at my favorite restaurants, not spend a fortune, and keep it casual. Below are the best of my bar menu finds, grouped into categories, with some highlighted dish recommendations and pricing.
For Sexiness and People Watching:
This bar area reeks of sultriness and can be quite the scene. Chef Chris Lanterʼs tempura spring onions with lovage aioli ($12); macaroni and cheese with house-made pasta, truffle oil, and ricotta crust ($10); and Berkshire pork tenderloin ($20) were all outstanding.
The cozy back patio serves a fantastic bar menu and seems to be quite the place to see and be seen. Dine on chef Andrea Menichettiʼs beets and arugula salad with walnuts and goat cheese ($12) and spaghetti with rock shrimp, lemon zest, mint, and zucchini ($15). Save room for the mini tiramisu in a glass ($6); it is a must.
You might have to wait until next summer to sample this bar menu, but it will be well worth it. From tuna tacos with crème fraîche ($12) to albacore tataki with cucumber and tomato salad ($16), this is the perfect menu for a light meal.
The plush, red velvet décor against brick walls really makes this Aspen steakhouse sexy. The tuna tartar was served with a green peppercorn crème fraîche and basil pesto ($19); it was the best I have had in Aspen. The steak and eggs ($17)—not something I would typically order—was outstanding.
For a Laid-Back Establishment:
This restaurant and bar will forever be a favorite to both locals and visitors. The vibe is super casual and the food is consistently great. The crab cake ($17) and baby lamb chops ($16) win my vote on the bar menu.
Whether sitting on a sidewalk love seat or inside at the bar, you will be impressed with the Manchego-stuffed shrimp ($12) and the signature dish: elk meatloaf ($16).
For Incredible Views that Wow:
The view from Pine Creek Cookhouse—11 miles from downtown Aspen—will take your breath away. From 2:30 to 5 p.m., the cookhouse serves its patio menu. The “Butcher, Cheese, Farmer” selection ($24) and the smoked trout with cucumber, beets, horseradish, and capers ($16) were my favorite. Chef Chris Keating, who has a huge passion for both cooking and the outdoors, prepares the dishes.
At the base of Ajax Mountain is the perfect après-summer or winter location. Grab an early dinner of bulgur and kale salad with cashews, cucumber yogurt, and feta ($12); smoked lamb ribs with honey lavender glaze ($10); and seared prawns with garlic scape relish and lemon oil ($13). Chef Matthew OʼNeill shines with these dishes.
The setting itself is worth every penny—simply stunning. Sit in the lobby lounge or on the outside patio and snack on fried pickles ($11) and a mushroom pizza ($17). Don’t forget the peach Bellini ($15); it is so good.
For Casual Elegance:
I loved the ambience and bar menu. Share the cavatelli, potato, and ricotta gnocchi with spicy sausage and basil in a pink tomato sauce ($15) and the burrata with prosciutto, fresh figs, mint, arugula, and grilled ciabatta topped with fig balsamic dressing ($16) and both your taste buds and your wallet will be in heaven.
The $35 bar menu prix fix at Pinons is quite a deal. The potato gnocchi with braised duck and root vegetables in a port wine reduction was light and melted in my mouth. The sesame-crusted sea bass was served with flavorful coconut rice, and to end, an old-fashioned fruit cobbler.
This French-style bistro offers one of the most diverse bar menus in Aspen. The Caesar salad ($10) and mussel and clams in herb-chardonnay broth ($13) were the perfect light dinner combo. I couldn’t pass up tasting the raclette baked potato ($9), which did not disappoint.
Tucked away underground, a cozy bar area exists. Start with a burrata and heirloom tomato salad ($16), followed by lemon fettuccine with lamb Bolognese sauce ($26). This bar spot is perfect for a little peace and quiet.
And When in Snowmass:
Nestled in the Stonebridge Inn lies the Artisan. The middle bar is the perfect place to grab a bite and still enjoy the views of outside. The Palisade pear salad ($11) was refreshing, and it was followed by crispy gnocchi with wild arugula, black truffles, and shaved Parmesan ($12), a melt-in-your-mouth flavoring. The five-spice ribs with tamarind orange barbecue scallion ($13) was prepared perfectly and left me wanting more.
Chef Jaime served up impressively fun, simple, and very tasty menu items in the lobby lounge, from perfect tempura asparagus and green beans ($8) to the honey-glazed chicken bites ($9). Four can easily share the “Mammoth Burger” ($29), served with tobacco onions, super bacon, green chili, and a four-cheese fiesta, along with roasted Parmesan fries. Don’t forget to try some of the unique cocktails on the bar menu; all were fabulous.
Note: Menus in Aspen/Snowmass can be seasonal. Call ahead to find out if bar menus are only served during specific hours. Happy dining!