Al Fresco

8 Spots for Elevated Al Fresco Dining

Everyone loves a picnic, even more so when it's served outdoors at one of Aspen's favorite restaurants.

By Amanda Faison July 26, 2018 Published in the Midsummer/Fall 2018 issue of Aspen Sojourner

Afternoon dining on the patio at Prospect

You’ve heard the saying “you come for the winter but stay for the summer.” Never does the axiom feel more relevant than when you’ve claimed a patio seat at Prospect (330 E. Main St., 970-429-7674, in the Hotel Jerome. The newly renovated outdoor area makes the most of its Aspen Mountain view with airy wicker furniture and generous white umbrellas. Enjoy a glass of chilled rosé and the crispy halloumi sandwich, in which tangy cheese is grilled with onions and zucchini and stacked with artichoke-olive tapenade and harissa aioli on focaccia. It feels like you’re on vacation, even if you live right here.

Find a similar not-a-care-in-the-world vibe at the Artisan (300 Carriage Way, Snowmass, 970-923-2427, in Snowmass at the Stonebridge Inn. The restaurant's deck overlooks the pool, but it's high enough to enjoy the scene without the splashing. Request the banquette in the back corner for the most privacy, and nosh on summer corn chowder and the burrata tomato salad, or go in the morning and greet the day with freshly brewed coffee and house-made granola.

Just down the road, State 38 (110 Carriage Way, Snowmass, 970-710-7693, sits beachfront to the Snowmass ski area in the center of Base Village. The wildflower-strewn slopes offer an impressive summer backdrop to the farro grain bowl with a ratatouille-like veggie ragu and olive compote. Healthy fare can be found on Pyramid Bistro’s (221 E. Main St., 970-925-5338, rooftop patio. The dappled sunlight and surrounding pines provide the sense of being in a tree house—except this one serves lime-marinated shrimp and mango spring rolls.

You can’t see it from the street, but Piñons’ (105 S. Mill St., 970-920-2021, patio is one of town’s best-known secrets. It seems only fitting to order a split of Moët & Chandon and crispy oysters with caviar, then toast to the restaurant’s 30 years in business. Another longstanding favorite is the slopeside deck of Ajax Tavern (685 E. Durant Ave., 970-920-6334, at the base of Aspen Mountain. Always bustling in the winter, the restaurant remains a place to see and be seen in the summer too. Forgo the always-on-the-menu truffle fries in favor of indulging in the West Emma Cattle Company carpaccio instead.

Some of Aspen’s best people watching takes place at Jimmy’s Bodega (307 S. Mill St., 970-710-2182, on the pedestrian mall. Snag an outdoor table and order a margarita (ideally the 21st Century with Don Julio 1942 tequila) and the octopus ceviche, and watch the fashionistas stroll by and kids and dogs play in the dancing fountain.

Sometimes you don’t want to sit in a restaurant at all. Instead, grab a blanket, pick up lunch at Victoria+Co (510 E. Durant Ave., 970-920-3001,, and head to Herron Park (108 Neale Ave.). There, you can stretch out in the grass, dip your toes into the little creek that runs into the Roaring Fork River, and nibble eats like the cucumber farro herb bowl and a FAT Sanga (feta, avocado, tomato, and fresh herbs on Turkish bread) at your leisure.

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