X Games Primer – Where to Eat and Drink in Aspen

xgames in aspen The X Games are gearing up for its 12th consecutive year in Aspen, Colo., from Jan. 24 through Jan. 27, and the big question isn’t who will win the SuperPipe or Big Air – its where to eat and drink if you’re heading up for the festivities. Eating and drinking around Aspen will never be cheap, but the great variety in Aspen’s dining scene ensures that you’ll be able to find whatever you’re looking for. Whether it’s a can of PBR or a 1949 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Aspen has it covered.

Of course, Aspen has a plethora of amazing places to eat and drink, but here are a few of our favorites complete with an insider tip from Denver off the Wagon to help you maximize your experience. This is the Wagon, so we’ll jump right into the fun part – the booze. Aspen has a ton of great drinking options that will fulfill even the pickiest drinker’s request. These are just a few choices that can whet your whistle.

  • Jimmy’s – One of Aspen’s most famous establishments, Jimmy’s is on the upper-end of price, but their bar area is less uppity than the dining room and offers an amazing selection of tequila and mezcal. If you’re lucky enough to be named James or some variation thereof, take a moment to sign the wall while you’re enjoying a drink. DOTW Tip: You can save some money while still eating in style by hitting up the daily special on the bar menu – BBQ lamb ribs (Thursday) or Prime Rib of Beef (Saturday) can be yours for just $14.
  • Aspen Brewing Company – Right across the street from Jimmy’s is Aspen’s only current brewery and, unlike Flying Dog, it doesn’t look like these guys will be leaving town any time soon. Their tap room has a wide selection on draft including their Bourbon Barrel Double Conundrum Imperial Red Ale, which is an excellent example of how to properly barrel-age a beer. Pints start at $5 and go up based on your selection. DOTW Tip: You can save yourself some money by purchasing your favorite bottled or canned selection at the brewery to enjoy back at the hotel – their beers are available at liquor stores around town but are marked up a couple bucks no matter where you go.
  • Justice Snow’s – A relative newcomer to the Aspen dining scene, Justice Snow’s has carved out a reputation as cocktail and craft cocktail masters. Located just off the Hyman Avenue mall, this is the perfect place to grab an afternoon drink of the highest order. DOTW Tip: For a town that seems to have no lack of dining options, Aspen has very few quality burger joints. Justice Snow’s makes a killer burger for a pretty reasonable price.
    Sobriety Sign

    This may or may not be posted outside Aspen city limits.

  • The Bar at Element 47 – The Little Nell has long been renowned for its wine selection, and Master Sommelier Sabato Sagaria created a fabulous wine menu for Element 47 that runs the gambit and is sure to please should you be able to afford all the fun stuff. DOTW Tip: Element 47 will put a dent in your pocket if you plan on drinking for an entire evening. Instead, find a favorite and head over to Of Grape and Grain where the extremely knowledge staff will help you find a more wallet-friendly version to enjoy back at your hotel’s hot tub.
  • Eric’s Bar – A subterranean joint that caters to both locals and tourists, Eric’s a great bar to grab a beer or a cocktail. Eric’s has a lounge layout featuring multiple oversized chairs and couches, which are perfect for slouching after standing at X Games all day in the chilly winter air. DOTW Tip: Eric’s is right across from Su Casa, one of the best Mexican restaurants in town. Grab a few tacos from their TaQueria as a great post-skiing or viewing snack.

Now that the boozing is done with, you’re going to need to recharge and get some grub to help kick that hangover. Like the drinking scene, Aspen has enough restaurants to stretch from town to the moon and back, but here two local spots that specialize in pre- and post-boozing eats:

  • Johnny McGuire’s Deli – Their motto is “Health Food Sucks” and they take that seriously. The Trucker or 220-B are perfect options for a hot sandwich, and the Free Iron Willy works well hot or cold. No matter your choice, you’ll have no problem finding something delicious yet terrible for you at Johnny’s. DOTW Tip: If you’re looking for a bite to eat when skiing Aspen Mountain, Johnny’s is just a couple blocks from the base. Call ahead for pick-up as the line usually is out the door at lunch time and you can enjoy your sandwich on the way up the gondola for the afternoon ski session.
  • Hickory House – It’s 8 a.m. You planned on getting up early to get some runs in before heading over to Buttermilk to watch the afternoon’s events, but you’re too hungover to even make it out of bed. We’ve got your cure – breakfast at the Hickory House. The House Burrito or The All-American will kick any hangover and have you on the slopes in time to catch first tracks. DOTW Tip: The Hickory House is a bit of a walk (which is why you’ll almost never have to wait for a table) so jump on a RFTA bus near Wagner Park to get there quick. The 10 block walk back to the center of town after breakfast will wake you up and get you ready for the day.

About Peter MacKellar

A native Coloradan who thinks our fine state offers the best beer and snow anywhere in the U.S., Peter recently moved back to Denver after spending a few years in New York City.