Summer Guide to Aspen

There’s something truly special about being in the mountains during the summer. The sun is shining, the wildflowers are blooming, and people are out enjoying the great outdoors together. I often get bogged down with my “busy” life in Denver and forget that I am only a short drive away from some of Colorado’s most gorgeous destinations. 

I snuck away for a weekday trip to Aspen a few weeks ago and had the best time escaping the city for a nice mix of relaxation and activity. I stayed at The Little Nell, a resort that holds the only 5-star, 5-diamond rating in the area. The staff is attentive and welcoming, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the hotel has a beautiful outdoor area including a pool and hot tub. 

What I love most about Aspen in the summer is the welcoming community, the wide variety of activities, shops, and restaurants the town has to offer, and of course the beautiful scenery. Whether you are looking to enjoy an action packed vacation, traveling with family or hoping to recharge, there is something for you. 

Because you guys asked, I have put together a little blog post with my favorite things to do, see, eat and drink in Aspen.

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Our Favorite Happy Hour Spot is now in Highlands Ranch

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As much as I love to explore new restaurants, you’ve gotta have a few go-tos. I’ve been in love with the happy hour at Next Door for a while now. A few years ago I went to a keynote speaker event by the owner of Next Door, Kimbal Musk, called “Food is the New Internet” where he outlined his vision for sustainable farming, organic food and supporting local farmers.

To be totally honest, I hate when restaurants agressively rub the whole “sustainable and organic” thing in your face, but they somehow do it in a way where you’re able to feel good about it, without feeling like they’re trying to reason with you as to why you should like their food. It’s just a great environment, simple, real food, and a reason to feel like you should wave their flag.

Their happy hour is what really got me. I’m gonna cut to the chase here: meatballs and polenta, bacon wrapped dates. It’s seriously good stuff and keeps me coming back again and again and again.

A few weeks ago, Mile High and Hungry attended the opening for their new location in Highlands Ranch. The venue was packed with people of all ages and food and drink covering every surface and in every hand. There’s tons of natural light, a big patio area, and a horseshoe bar that gives the restaurant a certain ambiance and flow.

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Just this past weekend we went back to sample some new happy hour items at the highlands ranch location. Since, we’re writing a whole blog post about how much we love it, I think it’s needless to say, it’s damn good. The new items include veggie and chicken nachos, sriracha chicken bites and pesto potato smashers (a new iteration on their super popular garlic smashers)

Look, I could go on for a while about this but all I’m saying is go try it if you haven’t. The new happy hour items are only at the Highlands Ranch location at the moment but should eventually be available everywhere. And if you’re in the Highlands Ranch neighborhood, now is your chance to check out a spot we talk about a whole lot.

A weekend in the Windy City with Mile High and Hungry

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I’ve been traveling a bit this holiday season and found myself in Chicago last weekend. Chicago is a wonderful food city with tons of tasty food and fun restaurants. There are a few places I need to go to every time I am in Chicago, but you should always try some new spots when traveling. So I did what any good food blogger does and reached out to a few Chicago food instagrammers for recommendations of new places.

Yes, we are Mile High and Hungry, but there are so many Chicago transplants here in Denver and it’s a city all of you should visit sometime- so here’s a recap of some of my favorite meals from the weekend~

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Siena Tavern

Siena Tavern is one of Top Chef Fabio Viviani’s Chicago restaurants, a modern take on a rustic Italian restaurant with a bit of a Chicago flair.

Their website describes the atmosphere best;

“The 10,000 square foot space’s décor reflects a hybrid of a rustic Italian market, fine dining restaurants, and a modern, industrial tavern, bridging old world comfort and hospitality with a contemporary menu and design.”

It’s a great spot for mimosas and bloodys and a fun place to share a few dishes among a group. I’m a HUGE of their brunch and make sure to go there every time I am in the city. The breakfast Pizza and the monkey bread are so so so good. Breakfast potatoes can be boring, but theirs are so perfect they are really worth the trip on their own, so that’s really just the capper.

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Christkindlemarket

Every year from mid November until Christmas eve, the Christkindlmarket pops up in Chicago. Basically a big bavarian style christmas market to get you into the holiday spirit with some great food and gifts. There’s tons of unique handmade gifts from Germany and, of course, lots of food.

If you like hot drinks they have cider, hot chocolate and Glühwein, a type of spiced german wine served hot. Traditional german food options like sausages and potato pancakes are available too. Potato pancakes might be my favorite holiday food and if you haven’t tried them you should really make that happen.

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Eataly

If you aren’t familiar with Eataly, read closely.

aIt’s basically a huge italian grocery store with a bunch of booths and spots to eat. This is another spot I am always sure to make it to when I am in Chicago, they have an insane wine list and absurdly good burrata and charcuterie. If you like really good italian, or want to get gifts for a food lover in your life, add this to your list.

They have charcuterie sections, a huge collection of italian meats, cheeses, wines, desserts and more. I am yet to eat anything there I wouldn’t want to eat again and again.

Eataly of course is a fantastic place for an afternoon drink. Not only do they have an extensive wine selection at any price point, but they can do some super yummy cocktails. Finishing some apps off with a negrini is something I think everyone needs to do more, and Eatally does it beautifully.

They also have locations in NYC, LA, Vegas and Boston (and a ton internationally… Istanbul, Moscow, Stockholm and yes, Italy)

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Mad Social

Mad Social is a little more on the west side of the city but still very much within walking distance of everything and in a really cool neighborhood. It has a cute, young atmosphere with some great soft lighting and long booths. It felt like a bar but still a comfortable brunch spot, which I liked a lot.

The chicken and waffles and the pancakes were the biggest recommendations we got there, and I went with the chicken and waffles. The waffles are churro pressed so they’re super fluffy but crispy on the outside so they didn’t get soggy with the syrup. Our server recommended we try the house made hot sauce with it, and this was seriously some of the best chicken and waffles we have ever had. If you’re a comfort food fan, this is a great stop if you’re in Chicago. We also went with the mac n cheese (of course) which was covered with brussel sprouts and filled with mushrooms.

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Lou Malnati’s

Everyone I knew from Chicago told me this is where I needed to go for Chicago deep dish. As I was planning this trip I knew I was going to need a real good Chicago style deep dish pizza and the feedback from everyone included some mention of Lou Malnati’s.

They have a bunch of locations and if you want Chicago pizza, I absolutely give this my stamp of approval, I left there with my pizza itch satisfied.

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Fig and Olive

Its Mediterranean food… kinda

Fig and Olive was the nice dinner of the trip and I would even recommend it for some apps. They had a super cool lounge area and an awesome location in the Gold Coast neighborhood. If you like Mediterranean food, they cook with a lot of olive oil and have some awesome crostinis.

Fig and Olive was delicious but it’s definitely a bit pricey. If you want a decent bottle of wine and an entree, you will be payng a lot. The apps are pretty big though and they have some awesome bread with olive oil and balsamic. If you’re feeling some small bites and a glass of wine, it’s a great spot.  

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Image via ChicagoAthleticAssociation.com

Cindy’s Rooftop

Cindys was my favorite bar of the trip because its just so chicago. Located on the rooftop of the Chicago Athletic Association, it feels like you’re back in the 50’s with a great deck overlooking Michigan avenue and the lake. If you want a great cocktail and a fun spot to socialize, this is the place.  

They also have a shake shack on the bottom floor of the Chicago Athletic Association, so thats an extra Cindy’s bonus.

Chicago influencer Recs

While I didn’t get to hit every spot, there were a ton of other places that were highly recommended. I didn’t want to leave them out so here are some of the culinary  hotspots I need to get to next time:

  • Girl and the Goat: The chef was on Top Chef and it was nominated for a James Beard award. Menu has lots of shareable dishes and a wine list focused on small producers.
  • Pequod’s: Another Chicago deep dish option that was highly recommended. They advertise that they specialize in caramelized crusts
  • Little Bad Wolf: looks like sort of an upscale/creative bar food type place
  • Sun Wah: Authentic chinese BBQ with a James Beard award to show for it.

Have questions about Chicago? Travelling and want recommendations for places to eat? Have a travel photo you want us to share?

DM us or email us at milehighandhungry@gmail.com