When you don’t know a town—or its restaurant scene well—the range of dining choices can feel overwhelming. Not this time. If you find yourself wondering what’s new in Aspen, Edwards, Vail, or Winter Park, we’ve chosen the must-go spots for you.

Aspen: Stranahan’s Whiskey Lodge

A big bar with warm lighting.
Stranahan’s Whiskey Lodge’s bar. Photo by Connor Stehr

After 20 years spent crafting a single malt that’s found fans around the world, distiller Jess Graber has brought Stranahan’s home to Aspen (yep, it all started there). Stranahan’s Whiskey Lodge, which opened on the Mill Street Mall in March, envelopes you as you walk in with a cabin-like feel swathed in the warm, golden hues of whiskey. Find a seat (windows offer views of Wagner Park and Aspen Mountain) and order a craft cocktail or one of the three whiskey flights. Chef Nick Ragazzo’s pretzel hot pocket with whiskey-smoked brisket, green chile Jack, single malt mustard, and barbecue jus is an absolute must. Before leaving, wander to the back room where a framed photo of namesake George Stranahan hangs on the wall. Tip: If you’re not headed to Aspen, don’t miss popping into the Denver distillery. 307 S. Mill St., Aspen

Edwards: Il Mago

Il Mago
A spread at Il Mago. Photo by Amanda Faison

While chef Chris “Schmidty” Schmidt certainly didn’t name Il Mago after himself, he could have. The moniker is Italian for “the wizard,” and Schmidty is an absolute magician when it comes to restaurants. His first in Edwards was Craftsman, which, after five successful years in a too-small space, moved across the street in October 2022. Nine months later, he opened Il Mago in the vacant spot, and has been turning out banger artisan pizzas and pastas ever since. Do not miss the Elliot’s Jam, a white pizza with fig jam, Taleggio, freshly pulled mozz, Parm, prosciutto, and fresh arugula. And it’s not just pizza—look for ice-cold oysters, crudo specials, and pastas like the zippy spaghetti al limone with whipped ricotta, lemon, and arugula. Our only wish is that Il Mago was also open for lunch. So Schmidty, whaddya say? 56 Edwards Village Blvd., Edwards

Vail: Makoto Vail

Makoto Vail
A platter of amberfish at Makoto Vail. Photo by Amanda Faisona

Anyone driving to (or through) Vail needs to know about Makoto Vail. Japanese chef Makoto Okuwa, who came up under celeb chef Masaharu Morimoto and has appeared on Iron Chef, opened the sushi restaurant in the Grand Hyatt west of Lionshead in March. What awaits is a stunner of a menu and, depending on where you sit, an equally gorgeous view of the aspen-tree-lined banks of Gore Creek. Order the umami kanpachi, a platter of amberjack that comes drizzled with yuzu vinaigrette and topped with garlic chips and a sprinkle of umami powder made from dried shiso, jalapeño, kombu, and bonito. Follow that with the sushi sampler or, for a twist, a koji butter dry-aged New York wagyu steak. Do not leave without ordering the soft-serve sundae draped with a ribbon of miso caramel and a smattering of crunchy pumpkin seeds coated in a lacey meringue. 1300 Westhaven Drive, Vail

Winter Park: The Grill at A-Frame Club

A spread at the A-Frame Club. Photo by Amanda Faison

You’ve likely seen photos of A-Frame Club, a dreamy cluster of A-frames tucked at the base of Winter Park that opened in 2023. With mid-century modern lines, massive windows that look onto the forest, and details like custom Malm fireplaces, this is the very definition of retreat. And so goes the on-site saloon and grill. Sip a cocktail—such as the refreshing Herb Saint, a stirred mixture of vodka, Sauv Blanc, yellow Chartreuse, lemon, and jalapeño—until your table is ready. The menu is decidedly mountain fare with hearty items like polenta fritters with fire-roasted marinara for dipping, decadent French onion soup, and short ribs with bone marrow demi-glace. Heavy yes, but it’ll fill your cup after a day on the trails. 1008 Winter Park Drive, Winter Park

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.