Simply put, being in Aspen in the summer means being outdoors! From hiking to biking to fishing to simply sitting in the park and enjoying the sound of the Roaring Fork River, the fresh mountain air and near-perfect climate draw one out from homes and hotels alike.

And being outdoors doesn’t stop when activities stop. The options for dining outdoors — breakfast, lunch and dinner — abound in Aspen.

Here’s a breakdown of a few favorite restaurants to keep you outdoors and your stomach full and energized for more activities all summer long.

Ajax Tavern

Little Nell Outdoor Dining in Aspen, summer
Little Nell Outdoor Dining in Aspen, summer

Located at the base of the gondola and part of the storied Little Nell restaurant the Ajax Tavern will let you envision snow on the slopes while sitting in the sun and dining in the heart of Aspen. The Tavern has one of the largest outdoor patios in Aspen making it more than capable of hosting large groups.

What to Order: The Tavern salad with its bibb lettuce and Dijon vinagarette will ease the guilt of the must-try truffle fries.

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Right across gondola plaza from the Tavern is newly opened Shlomo’s. This deli and grill serves some delicious modern American and Jewish cuisine four meals a day — breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. Shlomo Ben-Hamoo, the restaurant’s proprietor is no stranger to Aspen having operated the previous iteration of Shlomo’s in the space the Ajax Tavern now occupies nearly 30 years ago.

What to Order: For warm comfort food, the Shakshuka for breakfast can’t be beat and of course, the Matzah Ball soup is a must.

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Aspen Kitchen

While rooftop dining in the summer abounds in cities such as New York or Chicago, options are harder to come by in Aspen which is what makes Aspen Kitchen so special. Located above the retail store Theory on the corner of Hopkins and Galena, the views of the sunset make this one of the favorite spots in town for dinner.

What to Order: The house ricotta is available all year long with the accoutrements varying according to season and is delicious no matter what the month. The General Tso’s Cauliflower is as unique as it sounds and even more delectable. And the specialty of the restaurant, the aged Bricksalt Beef can’t be beat.

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Meat and Cheese

Never has a restaurant titled after a dish it serves been more aptly named. Wendy Mitchell, the founder of Avalanche Cheese Company took her considerable culinary skills and knowledge of local dairy to task and created Meat and Cheese three years ago. The meat and cheese choices are paired on the menu with unique eastern infused dishes on a seasonally changing menu.

What to Order: The meat and cheese board, of course, to start. The Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad is a favorite on the lighter side while the boards that feature the house porchetta, Bossam Korean pork, steak or local rotisserie chicken are all well worth the room they take up on the table.

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HOPS Culture


If beer is your thing, HOPS is your place. With over 30 rotating drafts and 200 bottles, even the toughest to please beer drinker ought to be satisfied. The outdoor patio sits in the middle of the pedestrian mall making the social aspect of beer drinking an experience unique in Aspen. Pairing that beer with food is easily accomplished with the all-American menu.

What to Order: The Little Piggies appetizer isn’t your mom’s pigs in a blanket with Kobe beef and prezel bun blankets, they’re better. Chicken and Waffles is done right with a mix of real maple syrup and hot sauce perfect for spicy sweet game-day indulgences.

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The Lounge at the Limelight Hotel Aspen

Limelight Outdoor Dining in Aspen, summer
Limelight Outdoor Dining in Aspen, summer

For some reason, wood-fired pizza is hard to find in Aspen. But look hard enough, and the place to go is in fact a hotel rather than a full-fledged restaurant. The Limelight Hotel lobby is a great place for group gatherings for families and pizza lovers. With games, live music and a casual vibe, the Limelight offers two patios, one next to the pool and another with spectacular views of Aspen Mountain and fire pits for cool summer nights.

What to Order: Meat lovers can’t go wrong with the Diavolo pizza while those looking for a more unique take on pizza should try the Tandoori Chicken with an ode to Indian cuisine. In the summer, local peaches and fresh burrata cheese can often be found somewhere on the menu.

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Zocalito Latin Bistro

Situated next to Hops on the pedestrian mall, Zocalito is tucked away downstairs below it's entrance. In the summer, however, they offer a lovely seating option in the middle of the mall underneath large pine trees and right in the midst of town's hustle and bustle. Known for their incredibly authentic latin cuisine, Zocalito also serves the best mojito in town.Michael Beary, owner and head chef, has traveled widely in the Oaxaca region of Mexico and is now the only importer in America who works directly with farmers and food artisans who supply him with many of the restaurant's spices and ingredients.

What to Order: After you put in your mojito order, you can't go wrong starting off with the Chorizo & Poblano Cheese Dip served with warm tortillas. The Grilled Duck Breast entrée is a must.

Over Easy

For a breakfast of champions, head to Over Easy right across the street from Meat & Cheese on Hopkins Avenue. Aside from an extensive menu, Over Easy has a large outdoor patio, perfect for a warm summer morning. Breakfast is served all day long.

What to Order: It's all about the Benny. Over Easy offers 13 Eggs Benedicts to choose from with names like "Hawaiian Benny", "Baja Chipotle Lime" or "Biscuits & Gravy". You can't go wrong!

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