Tasty new apres options at Aspen Snowmass

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It's boots off, slippers on at Snowmass Mountain's new Alpin Room at the top of the Alpine Springs lift.
It's boots off, slippers on at Snowmass Mountain's new Alpin Room at the top of the Alpine Springs lift. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill

For guests at Snowmass Mountain's Alpin Room, -- situated at 10,486 feet at the top of the Alpine Springs lift -- it's boots off, slippers on.

Anyone who has spent the better part of a day in ski boots knows how soothing it felt to ease into those slippers, provided to guests by the Alpin Room. It certainly added to the enjoyment of my meal, which included a warm Bavarian pretzel and trout rillettes -- as did the view of falling snow and pine trees through floor-to-ceiling windows. 

The Alpin Room experience is among the many dining options that have opened in the last year in Aspen Snowmass, the four-mountain, two-town ski area in Colorado's Roaring Fork Valley. 

The Alpin Room is the newest addition to slopeside dining here, and based on how busy it was on a Thursday in March, it was a needed fine-dining addition. It's the neighbor to High Alpine, the self-serve cafeteria in the same building.

The upscale Alpin Room is meant to conjure the feeling of ski resort eating in the Alps, which it certainly seems to accomplish with its midmountain location and Alsatian menu that puts modern takes on classics from that region.

The warm Bavarian pretzel and trout rillettes at the Alpin Room on Snowmass Mountain.
The warm Bavarian pretzel and trout rillettes at the Alpin Room on Snowmass Mountain. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill

Menu offerings include chicken schnitzel and vegetable baeckeoffe. That warm Bavarian pretzel is not to be missed; it comes with three dips -- sweet mustard, beer cheese and Colorado honey -- and is a perfect indulgence after four hours on the slopes. 

If not for the rapidly falling snow promising more trails of powder, I'd have been inclined to take a longer lunch and dip into the drinks menu, which included a great selection of both Colorado and Austrian beers and wine and, of course, glogg, a blend of wine and spices such as cinnamon and cardamom that's served warm in the winter.

But the dessert menu was equally intriguing, with black forest cake and heisseliebe, or "hot love," a chilled creamsicle custard served with warm raspberries.  

Aurum's modern and cozy decor includes gas fireplaces and a lounge area with sofas.
Aurum's modern and cozy decor includes gas fireplaces and a lounge area with sofas. Photo Credit: Lacey Knaff

Aurum comes to Snowmass

Another new eatery in Snowmass, and one of my favorites, was Aurum, located right in Snowmass Base Village. It opened last winter as the third Aurum outpost, joining locations in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge.

I arrived at Aurum via the Skittles Lift, which connects Snowmass' Base Village to the Snowmass Mall and is so named for its brightly colored gondola cars. It's one of the many reasons an automobile is not necessary to get around Aspen Snowmass.  

Major transformations at two popular Aspen Snowmass hotels
Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill

Two major hotel redesigns offer skiers something new in Aspen Snowmass.

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Being right at the base of the Snowmass slope, Aurum has plenty of outdoor seating with firepits perfect for apres. On the night I dined there, single-digit temps had all diners inside, where they kept cozy with gas fireplaces and a lounge area with sofas near the bar. 

I was wowed by the crispy curried cauliflower with shishito peppers and golden raisins and the Korean chicken wings, both signature dishes that are always on the menu. The fresh and flavorful Rocky Mountain trout with tarragon farro pilaf was among the entrees that vary with the season.

Creative and tasty cocktails included the smoked orange old fashioned with charred orange oils and Life's a Garden, with vodka infused with Fresno chili and Thai basil. Aurum is also known for its warm chocolate chip cookies, moist and delicious on their own but taken to the next level with a dollop of cookie dough and milk jam.

Fondue at the French Alpine Bistro, Creperie du Village.
Fondue at the French Alpine Bistro, Creperie du Village. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill

Fondue and candlelight

There's nothing like a cozy night in a ski mountain town, especially one that includes fondue and candlelight. And no place delivers that better than Aspen's French Alpine Bistro, Creperie du Village, a popular eatery that serves up French alpine cuisine like fondues and crepes. Austrian owner Karin Derly describes the atmosphere with the German word gemutlich: the feeling of warmth and friendliness.

And while the Bistro has been around since 2011, the sidewalk addition it erected during the pandemic, designed as an Austrian-style ski "chalet" with chandeliers, sheepskin blanket seating and the same cozy, candlelit ambience as the original eatery, gives it a buzzworthy extension.

The "chalet" became so popular that thousands have signed a petition to keep it open beyond the pandemic. It was also fitting to be nestled in at the Bistro on March 8, International Women's Day, where at least a few tables of diners were there to celebrate women-owned and -operated businesses in Aspen, like Derly's.  

Another newly opened hot spot in Aspen this year spotlighting women is Chica, situated at the base of Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola and helmed by chef Lorena Garcia, the Venezuelan-born cookbook author and TV personality. 

It's the third Chica and the first in a mountain resort town; the others are in Miami and Las Vegas. Menu items include Peruvian ceviche, wood-fired mushroom barbacoa and, as fans of Venezuelan cuisine will note, arepas, these featuring braised short ribs. 

Skiers fueling up for the day at Jus Snowmass.
Skiers fueling up for the day at Jus Snowmass. Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill

To fuel up for the slopes in the morning, we found a tasty and healthy breakfast spot in both towns. Jus added a Snowmass location in December 2020 after already establishing itself in Aspen for its cold-pressed juices, smoothie bowls, burritos, wraps and salads. And a tip for anyone prone to altitude sickness: the juice pressers seem to know which of their many concoctions might help you feel a bit better. 

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