The restaurants across Aspen Snowmass’ four mountains are renowned for offering menus that are as distinct as the surrounding terrain. On-mountain dining will be noticeably different this season due to COVID protocols, but thanks to Culinary Director Jim Butchart, the alpine meals will be no less delicious.

In order to accommodate a reduction in indoor seating capacity, Butchart and his team have adapted their menus to focus on items that are individually wrapped and easily transported. “We’ve increased our grab-and-go options across the board,” Butchart explains, “including a larger variety of sandwiches and multiple sizes of salads in to-go containers that are easy to eat out of and have stable lids.” The goal is to offer meals that can be consumed outdoors, either on the decks of the restaurants, in the adjacent heated tents or, for the more adventurous, while airborne on the lift heading for another run.

The addition of mobile ordering on the latest Aspen Snowmass app allows you to place an order on one lift ride, pick up your food on the next run and then eat it on the way back up. It’s the perfect technology-enabled snack loop, but lunching on the lift does require dedication to master. It’s a delicate procedure, a seated dance of mask removal, pole and glove stowage, and snack retrieval—all while gravity and the elements attempt to foil your meal. With practice, you can safely and comfortably enjoy your delicious treats while ascending the hill, thus maximizing your vertical feet. Below are the best bites to consider on each mountain.

Aspen Mountain

Aspen Mountain Fine Dining
Aspen Mountain Fine Dining

According to Butchart, the staff at the Sundeck on the top of Aspen Mountain is having a hard time keeping up with demand for the falafel sandwich. This is likely due to the fact that a falafel is served in a pita, which is a pocket, making it the perfect portable sandwich. Put a pita in your pocket and head for Buckhorn Cabin for a scenic lunch, or catch the Bell Chair for a casual snack (you’ll have time for dessert, too).

The truffle fries at Ajax Tavern are typically an après-ski snack, a decadent reward for a day of "schralping gnar." But during a pandemic all bets are off, and truffle fries are fair game at any hour. Grab some to go, and crush the cone on the Silver Queen Gondola. Navigating the gauntlet of hungry lifties and line-dwellers as you wait to load will be tough, but once you are on you will have 18 minutes of uninterrupted fry time with the members of your household.

Buttermilk

Fine dining at Buttermilk
Fine dining at Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a bit of an enigma. It is known as the beginners’ mountain, but is also home to the X Games. Interestingly, these factors draw a fascinating cross section of outdoor enthusiasts to Buttermilk who are some of the most prolific lift-eaters in existence. Bumps Restaurant, at the base of the mountain, is full of ski moms filling their pockets with brownies or chocolate chip cookies to appease unruly toddlers on Panda Peak, while the Cliffhouse, at the summit, is full of athletes stocking up on fresh juices, superfood salads and protein packs to pound as they head up Summit Express en route to the superpipe or slope-style course.

Snowmass

Pizza dining at Snowmass
Pizza dining at Snowmass

Snowmass is a sprawling winter playground with a plethora of dining options to match its abundant acreage. Breakfast burritos are among the best snacks to eat on the lift, and the offering from Sam’s at the top of the Big Burn lift is a perfect way to start your day. If you prefer to wait for a midday meal, Butchart recommends one of the signature hoagies from Elk Camp Restaurant, specifically the Italian grinder, which is easy to stow in your jacket and will definitely make you the envy of your gondola-mates as you head back up the hill. Regardless of your earlier edibles, you definitely deserve an afternoon treat, and the chocolate chip cookies at Up 4 Pizza — served blazing hot from the pizza oven — will warm you to the core.

Pro tip: Store your cookie in an interior pocket until it cools to the perfect temperature for on-mountain, gooey consumption.

Aspen Highlands

Fine dining at Aspen Highlands
Fine dining at Aspen Highlands

Aspen Highlands is unique in that you can order a dish from the Merry-Go-Round and eat it on the run for which it was named. Both the Temerity Bowl and the Oly Bowl are potential options for this—though their steep terrain might make it difficult to digest your lunch. For something less challenging, grab the Asian Chicken Salad (which is not named after a run) for a quick ride up the Loge or Cloud Nine lifts. Speaking of Cloud Nine, there won’t be any Champagne-soaked lunches at the rollicking alpine bistro this year (for obvious reasons), but you can ski up to the new Soup Sled for a fresh cup of soup or a raclette sandwich. The food has always been excellent at Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro; it’s just hard to eat while people are dancing on your table in ski boots.

About the Author

Oliver Sharpe, contributor to AspenSnowmass.com
Oliver Sharpe, contributor to AspenSnowmass.com

OLIVER SHARPE

Oliver Sharpe is a content creator across multiple mediums primarily focused on snacks, travel and leisure pursuits. He is an Emmy-winning television producer and the host of "Après," on Aspen 82. Loves pancakes, hates clowns and only lives to get radical.

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