“Freak Power in the Rockies” is how Hunter S. Thompson described his planned takeover of Aspen and Pitkin County, Colorado. There, in 1970, he decided to run for sheriff, and while his plan never panned out, the mystical draw of this Rocky Mountain town persisted, even as Aspen became increasingly popular — and expensive.
Today, a certain freak power remains, thanks to Aspen’s offbeat, longtime local residents, amplified by the energy from visiting international jetsetters. Surrounded by the towering Elk Mountains, when walking a few short blocks within the buzzing downtown core, you’ll pass the poshest pot shop ever, a world-class art museum, and likely some celebs. There are escapes to be found, too, atop said museum, inside hotel lobbies, and always down staircases.
Should you find yourself in the ultimate winter playground this season, here are the restaurants to provide all the fancy, hearty, and classically Aspen sustenance to keep you fueled for every outdoor adventure in the snow.
Updated, December 2022: Though some of Aspen’s dining spaces remain dark, the city has largely bounced back from the frustrations of the pandemic over the last two winters. The scene remains vibrant with a roster of new openings slated through 2023 (including Sant Ambroeus, Parc Aspen, and Madame Ushi), while longstanding staple restaurants are introducing new chefs and seasonal menus. This year also sees the return of the Audi FIS Ski World Cup in March, an action-packed weekend of professional downhill events that’s sure to draw more diners to the area. With an epic start to ski season (more than 100 inches of snowfall so far and counting), it’s shaping up to be one of the best winters in recent memory.
Katie Shapiro is a freelance cannabis, style, and travel journalist who lives life at its highest and writes about it from her home base in Aspen. She is a senior contributor for Forbes and columnist for the Aspen Times, with other work appearing in the Denver Post, Modern Luxury, Curbed, Thrillist, and more.Read More