There was a time, not too long ago, when if you asked someone where to have a great meal in Snowmass, they would probably have told you to go to Aspen. Not anymore.
As nearly every corner of the village continues to grow and evolve (think $100 million in on-mountain amenities over the past 13 years, a brand-new base area, and plans for a major remodel and expansion of the Snowmass Center), so, too, has the town’s gastronomic scene. Much like the mountain itself, the village’s diverse eateries—from places run by high-profile restaurant groups to locally owned food trucks—offer something for everyone.
To honor this culinary moment, we share some favorite spots, from breakfast through late night, to match your budget.
Budget: Is there a more perfect meal to kick-start the day while heading up the hill than an overloaded breakfast burrito and a steaming latte? A locals’ favorite, Fuel Cafe serves this and more in a cozy little nook on the Snowmass Mall. Along with breakfast burritos, bagels, and other seriously good grub, the café boasts a full espresso bar, fresh smoothies, and sweet treats. It’s also one among a handful of local spots where $10 will fill you up. West end of the Snowmass Mall, 970-923-0091
Splurge: Crafting a menu under critically acclaimed restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s direction is akin to penning a cookbook, quips Toro Executive Chef Jay McCarthy. The restaurant and lounge, in the Viceroy Hotel, is best known for its Latin American–influenced dinners, but breakfast is an unexpected indulgence. Like the ambience in this expansive, chic space, the menu mixes classic and creative fare, from traditional French toast to the popular, scratch-made blueberry-lemon quinoa pancakes and mixed mushroom eggs Benedict. Don’t miss the prickly pear mimosa—McCarthy’s long-perfected recipe once landed him a Wall Street Journal feature. 130 Wood Rd, 970-923-8008
Budget: Started by two locals originally from Argentina, Francesca’s Empanadas keeps it simple with authentic puffed pastries stuffed with savory fillings like spiced beef, chicken, corn, or ham and cheese. Operating out of a food truck on the Snowmass Mall, the duo also serves homemade pasta like rich ravioli—a tribute to co-founder Martin Meineri’s Italian roots. Grab your food to go or sit at the small adjacent bar on the patio. On the Snowmass Mall by Aspen Sports, 970-274-6623
Splurge: The best part about running an American restaurant? “There are no limitations to your creativity,” says State 38 owner Dave Dugan. His menu combines fresh, healthy plates like ceviche or roasted beet salad with heartier dishes like bison pappardelle or a skillet dish of bison short ribs and sausage served over baked beans that warms you from the inside out. Bask in the sun on the restaurant’s patio, which offers a close-up view of Fanny Hill, with a glass of wine or a signature New-Fashioned, made with Woody Creek Distillers rye, Fernet, and three kinds of bitters. Base Village, 970-710-7693
Budget: Killer location aside, another surefire way to act as the community’s “living room”—the Aspen Skiing Company’s goal for the lounge in its new Limelight Hotel Snowmass—is to offer après specials. Live music five nights a week, three large firepits just out the door, and a slopeside vista also help, as do more than 50 types of whiskey, from Canadian to Japanese. For nibbles, order an oven-fired pizza and share with a friend. 65 Wood Rd, 970-924-5100
Splurge: With the Assay Hill chairlift gliding overhead, skiers passing by, and steam rising from the water, the Viceroy’s new poolside bar, Nest, is one swanky spot. Kitted out with lounge chairs, heat lamps, TV screens, a private cabana, and a sweet sound system, the ski-in, ski-out hub borders on sensory overload in the best way possible. Did we mention the weekly Thursday champagne parties and extensive list of hot and cold libations? Try the French Press Hot Chocolate, made with Hennessy VS, or the Snowmass Sour along with mouthwatering bites like beef sliders and short rib tacos. 130 Wood Rd, 970-923-8053
Budget: Slow Groovin’ BBQ quietly opened on the Snowmass Mall two winters ago but already had a near cult-like following, thanks to the success of the original restaurant in Marble. From the kitchen, scrumptious sauced pork spills from the fluffy bun of a massive sandwich, while juicy brisket steams on a platter packed with house-made sides and sauces. Try the Colorado Sweet barbecue sauce, infused with cherry jalapeño preserves from Hotchkiss. A solid selection of Colorado beer on draft helps wash it all down. 67 Elbert Lane, 970-429-4761
Splurge: In many ways, a trip to the on-mountain Lynn Britt Cabin feels like a step back in time. With views of the starry night sky along the way, the romantic, 15-minute snowcat ride up the mountain is only the first part of the experience. Outside, a bonfire roars, while inside, a local musician strums his banjo within the rustic cabin’s warm, cozy confines. The four-course, prix-fixe menu includes options like a creamy cauliflower bisque with confit chestnuts and brandied prunes, and tender beef short ribs with sweet potato puree. Lynn Britt hosts cabin dinners Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the winter; less formal, family-style chuckwagon dinners take place on Wednesdays. Reservations required, 970-923-8715
Budget/Splurge: Hungry after 11 p.m.? Zane’s Tavern is your saving grace. The hyperlocal watering hole is the only spot in the village that serves food until midnight—and a full menu, no less. We recommend the self-proclaimed “best wings in Snowmass,” with succulent flavors like habanero hot, Cajun, chipotle, teriyaki, and spicy Chesapeake Bay. West end of the Snowmass Mall, upper level, 970-923-3515