While Aspen is known as one of the hottest winter ski destinations, you might want to check out what this Rocky Mountain town offers in the summer. With consistently sunny daytime temps average 76 degrees with low humidity, Aspen is an equally alluring summer playground.
When the eves cool off to comfortable sweater wearing temps, throngs of music lovers and students migrate to the Aspen Music Festival. The festival runs for 8 weeks, providing 300 concerts for music lovers to enjoy over the summer months.
Best bet? Walk from any of these vegetarian dining spots to the Benedict Music Tent where most of the concerts are held on a bucolic campus. Bike racks are provided, as is ample parking. You don't have to be vegetarian to love these veggie centric favorites.
Here's where I head after a morning of hiking or biking, or before a concert as the sun is setting.
1. Aspen Farmers' Market
If it’s Saturday, it’s market day, so head to the middle of town and check out the vibrant farmers’ market.
With fruit, veggies, baked goods and fresh cheese all available, come prepared to collect whatever appeals and pack it to go.
130 S. Galena 2nd Floor Aspen, CO
Walk a couple of blocks to the gondola and head straight up Ajax mountain for awe-inspiring views and music on the mountaintop on Saturdays and Sundays at midday.
Saturdays are classical days with musicians from the Aspen Music Festival toting their instruments to the 11,000 foot summit of Ajax to bounce their glorious tones across the snow capped peaks.
On Sundays, catch lively bluegrass between 12-3.
2. Pyramid Bistro
Check out Pyramid Bistro, upstairs from the longstanding Explore Booksellers right on E. Main St.
You can’t miss the historic Victorian house set behind a picket fence with the perennial garden alongside the sidewalk.
Reserve enough time to enjoy your beautifully prepared meal and browse the eclectic book selection. Pyramid is open daily for lunch and dinners, offering both indoor and patio dining.
WIth its mission of “providing fresh, nutrient dense food that is organic and locally sourced whenever possible” it’s perfect for anyone with dietary restrictions as they are happy to accommodate meat free, dairy or gluten free, or vegan needs.
221 East Main Street Aspen, CO
3. 520 Grill
Another favorite that's not far from the gondola, and down a flight of stairs that leads you to a hair studio, a marijuana store, and a clothing store, is 520 Grill. Affordable, fast, cooked to order eats ranging from fish tacos, to “veggie farmer” salad with options to top it off with wild salmon or sushi grade tuna are the order here.
Owners Wheaton Augur and Troy Selby created a lot more than a lunch counter by offering a range that pleases lots of palates. We went back 2x in as many days, to get our fill of the kale-quinoa salad, fish tacos and the sweet potato fries.
It’s all a little messy for the slopes but it’s perfect to eat right there, indoors or outside on a little shaded postage stamp of a patio.
520 E Cooper Ave, Aspen CO
4. Chef's Club at The St. Regis
After sunset, we switch gears and head to the more elegant Chefs Club by Food and Wine at the St. Regis Hotel. This recently inaugurated collaboration is successfully played out in the newly situated and re-designed dining room where the entire kitchen is in full view of the dining room.
A long expanse of comfortable counter, the “chef’s table”, allows diners to view the magic happening under the confident and competent Executive Chef, Thomas Riordan. Highlights included an appetizer of four blinis (rye flour) topped with house smoked sturgeon mixed with red onions and nestled against egg “mimosa”.
Teeny beluga lentils dotted the plate. Ready for some carbs? I opted for English Pea Agnolotti, a luxurious mound of house made pasta with shaved black truffles, morels, spring leeks,and creme fraiche reduction.
Damn the diet. I’ll remember this one for a long time.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort, 315 East Dean Street, Aspen CO
And finally, my favorite spot to dine is Plato’s, an intimate restaurant at the Aspen Meadows Resort, the home of the Aspen Institute.
I love the Bauhaus structure and floor to ceiling windows bumping up to breath-taking views of the glimmering sunset over the Rockies. Plato’s inspired menu is a contemporary and simplified interpretation of comfort cuisine, utilizing local and organic ingredients.
Of the seven starters offered, five were veg or fish, putting the kosher keepers and vegetarians at the table in a position to choose freely.
Chilled strawberry soup with Greek yogurt, burrata and tomatoes or Colorado Ruby Red trout with trumpet mushrooms?
We opted for most decadent and chose Spring Pea Risotto with firm English peas, mascarpone, nasturtium and Fruition Pecora cheese. Creamy, rich with nuanced melding of flavors, and perfectly al dente Carnaroli rice did not disappoint.
Aspen Meadows Resort, 845 Meadows Road, Aspen CO
What's your go-to vegetarian dish in your favorite restaurant?