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A Spate of Restaurant Refreshes Elevates Aspen's Summer Dining Scene

Amanda Rae | July 25, 2019 | Food & Drink Feature

In typical fashion, restaurateurs opening new ventures this summer are tight-lipped during offseason—much can change in a couple of months. Still, here’s the scoop (as of press time) about Aspen’s evolving landscape.

Mr. Grey enlisted chef Jon Bignelli, a Chopped winner, to create its menu, featuring steak frites.

An outside group is launching a pair of restaurants: one in the long-uninhabited Ute City space and a second in what was the original Bootsy Bellows nightclub below it. Upstairs is Tatanka Western Bistro, a casual restaurant with a bison-beneath-mountain logo that, along with serving dinner, plans to fill the Hopkins Avenue breakfast niche left by Over Easy next door. (That space was purchased by the Hillstone Group, which owns White House Tavern and will open another eatery eventually.) Following a late-June opening, Tatanka will later be joined by The Ranch Room, slated for a December debut as a subterranean, white-tablecloth, slightly elevated spot serving refined fare for dinner, including wild game, and charcuterie and raw bars. 308 E. Hopkins Ave., 970.452.2961

Diagonally across Restaurant Row, Rome native Luigi Giordani and Gretchen Leary of Acquolina plan to launch another Italian concept by fall in the 3,700-square-foot space formerly occupied for 19 years by Rustique Bistro. Italian for “two hands,” Duemani will focus on coastal seafood with some pasta, served in a vibrant Mediterranean setting. 216 S. Monarch St., 970.925.2555

Though Kirby Ice House, which opened in early June, didn’t dare ditch the iconic azure blue of Jimmy’s Bodega (and Pacifica before it), operators Jeff Staten and Russ Morgan revamped the venue to better showcase its Wagner Park location—fitting, since the Houston-based hangout is beloved for its acrewide pup-friendly property. Find more sunlight, cleaner sight lines and elevated twists on American gastropub fare served all day until 2am. Eschewing beer-tap lines of Texas ice-house tradition for local bottled brews, craft cocktails, whiskey and wine, Kirby maintains a welcoming vibe, thanks in part to nighttime lounge sponsorship by dating and networking app Bumble. 307 S. Mill St., 970.710.2182

Mr. Grey’s frosé

Next door, 5-year-old Grey Lady has transitioned to Mr. Grey, debuting a handsome patio refresh and appointment of Jon Bignelli, former chef de cuisine of Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50 in Manhattan. Find seasonal dishes of Colorado meat and produce, plus plenty of seafood, including lobster egg rolls, crudo, caviar and daily oyster happy hour. Plus: Sunday brunch—along with a big birch canoe full of Champagne and rosé, and a dog-specific menu. 305 S. Mill St., 970.925.1797

In June, Park90 settled into a summer residency at Chefs Club at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, but this time it’s personal. Chef Tom Coohill—who founded Coohills restaurant in Denver in 2011 with wife, Diane, and staged with French legend Jean Banchet in Atlanta—has long sought to bring his modern interpretation of French cuisine to the mountains. Buoyant spins on classics using local ingredients—including an entire menu of charcuterie and crudo, plus an impressive list of wines—make Park90 a star with staying power. 315 E. Dean St., 970.429.9581

Fast-casual breakfast is surprisingly chic at 520 Grill’s summertime pop-up, Eggs@520 with egg sandwiches on brioche with homemade sausage, and savory or sweet power bowls prepared by longtime local chef Greg Topper (formerly of Topper’s, which closed in 2010). 7-10am, 520 E. Cooper Ave., 970.925.9788,


Photography by: jamie jaye fletcher/courtesy of mr. grey