Start the day in Aspen with a happy belly. This popular ski town high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is known for its opulence, but the best breakfast joints are off the beaten path, casual and unexpected. Here are six breakfast spots to add to your Aspen must-try list.
You won’t just stumble across Mawa’s Kitchen: you have to go out of your way to get here, and you’d never expect to find such a treasure in a business center across from the airport. But it is absolutely worth the trek (and the slightly steep prices). Mawa’s Kitchen is headed by Mawa McQueen, a minority immigrant who was born in Africa and grew up in France. She brings her heritage to this unique, small business, cooking up innovative and healthy takes on traditional dishes such as the bourbon brioche French toast, as well as tartines, French pastries and a lavender matcha latte.
This luxurious restaurant inside the Little Nell hotel is the place to go for a fancy-pants breakfast or weekend brunch. Element 47 – named after silver, the precious metal with its atomic number 47 on the Periodic Table – is sophisticated, sleek and ultra hip. The menu here changes seasonally but revolves around locally sourced ingredients, including Colorado Wagyu. This choice cut of beef is a star in this kitchen, even at breakfast with the likes of the Emma Farms wagyu enchiladas, served with eggs, salsa roja and cotija cheese. Like silver, this place isn’t the easiest on your pocketbook; Element 47 is elevated cuisine that epitomizes Aspen’s finest.
This local fave dates back to 1971, when two English women started their own crêperie. It has grown into a lively breakfast joint in the middle of downtown – walk around and explore while you wait. The restaurant is simple but solid and reputable, and fittingly, it serves up comfort food – pricier than you’d expect from what is essentially a diner, but hey, welcome to Aspen. Poppycock’s is all about the oatmeal buttermilk pancakes; cut into one, and you’ll find piping-hot oatmeal. These pancakes are so popular that you can buy the pancake mix to bring home.
Prospect brings history to life inside the Jerome Hostel, a must-visit in town, dating back to the 1880s. Prospect’s vibe is elegant yet rustic, with decorative ceilings and comfy leather chairs. The biggest selling point at Prospect? Daily brunch, right after breakfast. Start the day with something tasty, such as the Jerome Breakfast, an egg dish you can try with cheddar-jalapeno elk sausage or green chili-chicken sausage; or sleep in and enjoy brunch starting at 10:30am, with innovative dishes such as short rib tacos made with Wagyu beef and kimchi. Don’t forget to try some breakfast cocktails.
You probably wouldn’t think to check a casual, rustic rib house for Aspen’s best breakfast, but the locals know. Hickory House breakfasts are where to fill up with a hearty, diner-style breakfast so filling that you can skip lunch and ski more. Hickory House is known for having the best ribs in Aspen, if not the state, so be sure not to miss the steak and eggs (with a 5oz flat iron) or better yet, the half rack of BBQ baby back ribs and eggs. Make it true Colorado style and order a side of pork green chili to smother your hash browns in.
Shh. This one’s a secret of locals. You can’t drive to Bonnie’s. You can’t even walk here. It’s in the middle of Aspen Mountain, and it’s only open during the winter season. Nothing beats a quick, early-morning ski run and then breakfast up on the mountain, off North American and Tourtelotte Park. Warm up with a coffee, strudel and pancakes, preferably on the two-level deck of the lodge if you can score a seat. Bonnie’s is casual (cafeteria-style), but the food is surprisingly delicious. It’ll fuel you for the rest of the day on the slopes.