Food Quest: Feasting in Aspen

Whatever your taste, there’s a feast to be had in Aspen. Below are recommendations for fine dining or hearty casual eateries. Be sure to check Hotel Finds in this issue for additional fine dining options.

415 E. Main Street
Aspen, CO

Chef Michel Wahaltere

Cozze e Vogole (Mediterranean mussels & Manilla clams), Crespelle di Polenta (Duck leg confit served in corn tortillas with fig mustard), Gnocchi a Pollo and Spaghetti al Sugo -- just a few of the superb Italian plates put out at Gisella under the watchful eye of Chef Michel Wahaltere. A formidable figure on the Aspen culinary scene for over ten years, Belgian-born Wahaltere began his U.S. career in Los Angeles, then moved to Aspen. When dining at Gisella, it’s highly likely you’ll meet him, since Wahaltere makes a point to meet guests as often as possible.

New this season are three-course menus featuring the many variations of Italian cuisine. Lombardia kicks off the tour with eight other areas, Veneto to Emilia Romagna, inspiring the menu. Gisella is also available for private parties and catering.

205 South Mill Street
Aspen, CO

Outdoor dining at popular Campo de Fiori

Luigi Giordani, Proprietor of Campo de Fiori and Gisella.

More great pasta and risotto are on the menu at Campo de Fiori. Traditional favorites include Fettuccini Bolognese, Risotto Porcini and Pollo Arrosto. There is gorgeous antipasti for starters and outstanding wine selections to whet your appetite.

Luigi Giordani, the proprietor of Campo de Fiori and Gisella, graduated from culinary school in Rome and cooked his way across the U.S. before finally arriving in Aspen. Berto Paglia, the executive chef & partner, is originally from Abruzzo, Italy. After graduating from culinary school in Venice, Chef Paglia moved to Atlanta then relocated to Aspen.

Be sure to make reservations if you want to dine at this Aspen classic, since it is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.

328 E. Hyman Avenue
Aspen, CO

Justice Snow's transports diners with its distinctive turn-of-the-century decor.

Named in honor of the Justice of the Peace circa 1889 (although no one seems to know exactly why) Justice Snow’s specializes in “Colorado Cuisine” with local T-Bone Lamb, Black Angus Flat Iron and Striped Bass. Veggie Succotash with Proscuitto, Fingerling Potatos and Sauteed Kale with Creminis are just a few of the appealing side dishes. Roasted Acorn Squash with Curried Chickpea and Quinoa Stew is an inspired meatless main course.

Lunch is served with small plate starters that include a tempting Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche and Tempura Pickles. Entrées include Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Fish & Chips.

The restaurant is located next to the Wheeler Opera House and takes full advantage of its location with appropriately turn-of-the-century decor. Brass candelabras and an enormous hardwood bar give the space an historical presence that adds a distinctive framework for the menu as well.

517 E. Hyman Avenue
Aspen, CO

Little Annie's, named for a silver miner's daughter.

Aspen's most sought-after hamburger

Down-home interior of Little Annie's

Supposedly named after a silver miner’s daughter, who in turn was the namesake for one of the largest silver-producing mines in Aspen, Little Annie’s was opened in 1972. Since that time, it’s quite possibly the site of the most sought-after hamburger in town -- it’s truly the stuff of local folklore, with lots of add-on toppings.

Other favorites are Veggie Burgers, Ribs and Rocky Mountain Chili. Dinner options include a Pork Ribeye, London Broil, Mountain Trout and, of course, hamburgers.

534 E. Cooper Avenue
Aspen, CO

Boogies provides old-fasioned comfort, from the menu to the decor.

You’ll feel as if you’ve walked into the middle of a Grease or Happy Day’s film set at Boogies. The 1950’s rock-and-roll memorabilia will transport you to another era. The food is also old-fashioned comfort, starting with stick-to-your-ribs soups, meat loaf & mashed potatoes, enormous milk shakes & malteds.

201 E. Main Street
Aspen, CO

Main Street Bakery: One of Aspen's best-loved local eateries

After one meal here, you’ll know why locals love this little eatery. Not only do they serve some of the best coffee in town, along with scrumptious pastries (scones, croissants, cinnamon rolls, birthday & wedding cakes!) they also do a full breakfast, lunch and dinner. All simple, homemade goodness at equally admirable prices.

320 S. Galena Street
Aspen, CO

Benches in front of Paradise Bakery are perfect for observing Aspen -- any season of the year.

Since the Paradise Bakery is located near the main gondola, it’s a great spot to grab a snack before going up the mountain. Or you can sit and watch all the action while munching on freshly baked cookies, brownies, and quiche.

Fresh-baked brownies, muffins and cookies at Paradise Bakery

105 W. 3rd
Palisade, CO

Delicious snacks and sandwiches from Slice O' Life are a bit of heaven!

Peach Focaccia from Slice O' Life - unusually tasty

Since, you’re bound to want a snack while visiting all the great wineries in Palisade, Slice O’ Life should be the first stop on your tour. (The Blue Pig Gallery could be the second stop since it’s just next door. See Souvenir Sleuth for more information.)

The bakery makes tasty sandwiches and endless treats from locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Carrot Cakes to Apricot Pies are exquisite, and we’re not using the word lightly here.

Peach Focaccia is one of the more unique items you’ll find. There’s no doubt you’ll want to try multiple other selections as well. Not to worry. The tab will NOT take a slice out of your budget. Both you and your wallet will leave quite full -- guaranteed.