With an impressive menu and abundant charm, Clark’s brings the sea a little closer to Aspen.
A cozy table for six in front of the fireplace is a hot ticket at Clark’s Aspen.
It’s just shy of a 1,000-mile drive from Clark’s Oyster Bar on West Sixth Street in Austin, Texas, to its Colorado cousin, Clark’s in Aspen. But it is a highway of hospitality.
Three summers ago, Larry McGuire and his Maguire-Moorman restaurant group (now MML Hospitality with the recent addition of hotelier Liz Lambert) opened Clark’s Oyster Bar after reimagining the much-loved Little Annie’s on Hyman. From a shot and beer with a burger place, Clark’s morphed into an oyster bar and seafood emporium, where visitors and locals alike convene at the original restored mahogany bar to slurp down oysters, sip Chablis and tell tall tales of the day’s biking, hiking and fishing adventures. It’s the hottest ticket in town, and now that American Airlines has initiated a Saturday nonstop from Austin to Aspen this summer, expect to hear just a little more twang at that bar.
The bounty of shellfish and oysters is always freshly plucked from the sea at Clark’s Oyster Bar
“Our team has been ecstatic with the reception of Clark’s Aspen,” says McGuire. “We had big shoes to fill taking over the iconic Little Annie’s space as our first restaurant outside of Austin. After two years, we have a great team up there leading the restaurant, so that makes it all possible.”
Clark’s success in Aspen is an extension of the formula that has made MML’s dozen-plus Austin restaurants hits: authenticity, comfort and quality. The oysters are sourced fresh from the purest waters from Prince Edward Island to Puget Sound. The homemade sourdough bread is adored even by those who claim to be gluten-free. And the main events, from grilled Spanish octopus to a signature cioppino, take patrons dockside to European port towns.
Inventive cocktails are part of the attraction at Clark’s.
While cocktails are inspired (consider a rye Manhattan martini made with Rebel Yell Rye, Carpano Antica and angostura bitters), it’s the French-leaning wine list that calls for attention. Longtime local wine maven Pete Cheroske selects whites from Chablis to Montrachet that are perfect pairings for the seafood, along with interesting global reds (the Colorado-made Buckel Family Cabernet Franc).
The raw bar is always stocked with fruits de mer.
“To us, Aspen needs to maintain some high-low grittiness, or else it just turns into an uninteresting fancy resort,” McGuire says with passion. “The best thing about Aspen is that it’s a real town with all different kinds of people rubbing elbows and basking in the sheer beauty and adventure of it.”
Aspen Mountain peeks from above Clark’s Aspen in the building on Hyman that formerly housed Little Annie’s.
And the beat goes on. This March, MML announced it has acquired another much-loved Aspen institution, the venerable Mountain Chalet, which is the oldest owner-built lodge in Aspen. While the big plans are still underway, it’s assured that the carefree highway from Austin to Aspen will be filled with guests in coming winters—and summers, springs and falls.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF CLARK’S ASPEN