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Plates from The Past

BY Lisa Blake | February 8, 2019 | Feature Features

What does it take to stand the restaurant test of time? These legendary Aspen haunts hold the delicious answers.
Before the J-Bar was the Hotel Jerome's bar, it was where guests ate at the buffet, seen here in 1932.

With a hat tip to 45 years of Aspen Magazine, we dug up six local icons that have been around for just as long. Here’s how they’ve carved a niche—and, most importantly, what to order when you’re there.

The Red Onion
Aspen’s oldest restaurant was established in the heart of the 19th-century silver boom. A recent remodel stripped away years of dirt and whiskey to reveal the bar’s wooden inlay, and old-timers still talk about when Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday played to late-night crowds. Belly up to the original 1892 bar for favorites like the baked onion soup. 420 E. Cooper Ave., 970.925.9955

Slip inside Hotel Jerome’s iconic lobby saloon; slide deep into the dark leather and rich wood; and conjure up an Old West past—one where cowboys and miners rode horses through the doors and folks ordered The Crud, signaling the Prohibition soda jerk to tip a shot of whiskey into their milkshake (still a bar staple today). Sip vintage libations and order the J-Bar burger—sourced from Colorado beef, the menu star was voted Aspen’s best burger. 330 E. Main St., 855.331.7213

No ski season is complete without a homecooked meal at this no-frills Aspen midmountain cafeteria. Lounge on the two-tiered outdoor deck and soak up stories from the ’60s, when German ski racer Gretl Uhl moved to Aspen with her husband and opened Gretl’s Restaurant, later selling to Aspen local Bonnie Rayburn. Try Bonnie’s famous white-bean chili, or Gretl’s renowned apple strudel, made with Rome apples from Paonia. 970.544.6252

Aspen Hickory House
Head west of Aspen’s downtown dining scene to this veteran down-home barbecue joint. Longtime patrons—some frequenting the counter since the ’70s—say the Hickory House has only gotten better with age. The mainstays: affordable prices, a blue-collar crowd and treat-you-like-family service. Go all in with hefty tin platters of Southern-style slow-smoked meats sided with sauced-up baked beans, slaw, cheesy potatoes and Texas toast. 730 W. Main St., 970.925.2313

Poppycocks Café
A stone’s toss from the gondola, this family-run go-to is loved for its hearty breakfasts and lunches. Two English women opened the original creperie in 1971 as a popular tea and gossip spot. Today’s guests line up outside the casual café for world-famous oatmeal buttermilk pancakes (snag a bag of the mix for home) and corn griddle cakes. Build your own omelet; order the tried-and-true eggs Benedict with scratch-made hollandaise; or dive into the avocado eggs crowned with fresh garden salsa. 665 E. Cooper Ave., 970.925.1245

The Stew Pot
Winter warmups are perfected at Snowmass’ oldest restaurant. Huddle around 46 years of American comfort food, including homemade soups, stews and chilis paired with a steep selection of salads, sandwiches, beer and wine. Signature simmers have been created fresh each morning since 1972. Try the old-fashioned beef stew, veggie chili or the chili burrito plate for a real treat. 62 Elbert Lane, Snowmass Village, 970.923.2263

Photography Courtesy Of: