by linda hayes | May 23, 2014 | Food & Drink
Whether you’re romancing a date or just dining with the kids, try the casual haute-Aspen haunt Meatball Shack once the temperature rises.
One of the savory dishes on the summer menu is chicken meatballs served alongside a Greek salad.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Rough-hewn timber walls and all, this snug little restaurant is more chic than shack. And though meatballs of all sizes and types (beef, chicken, pork, shrimp) are definitely front and center on the menu, there’s plenty more to whet your appetite.
A few steps up off the Mill Street Mall and overlooking its mountain street fair-style scene, the place is generally packed from the moment its doors swing open for lunch until long after the sun dips behind Ajax Tavern. “It’s a real Aspen niche,” says general manager Aidan Wynn, who runs the restaurant along with owner Michael Gurtman. “Casual, no dress code, come as you are, with the best food made with the freshest ingredients possible.”
Day or night, the action centers around a wood-topped bar, where mostly Colorado native bartenders pour a river of local and international beers, shake up “Shack-hattans” and jalapeño-spiked margaritas, and pop bottles of “Baller Bubbles” (that’s Champagne to you). Corazón tequila aged in American whiskey barrels from Pappy Van Winkle’s and Buffalo Trace are a bonus if you’re so inclined. Window-side tables are another option for a more intimate experience or if the kids (or your entourage) are in tow.
Lunch and dinner menus vary, but there are standouts: a ball of creamy Burrata plated with Pio Tosino prosciutto and cherry tomatoes in a balsamic-basil-olive oil vinaigrette, a trio of mini Berkshire pork balls with a fiery pepper sauce, and a supersize risotto-mozzarella ball with homemade tomato sauce. Shrimp fra diavolo and local Harris Ranch filet mignon are tasteful diversions. The cheesy jalapeño and bacon-studded Shack Mac topped with crisped tater tots is plain delicious fun. Kids can stick with what their folks order or create their own meatball, sauce, and side concoctions. For dessert, polish off some fried Oreos, and you’ll roll out satisfied. The Meatball Shack, 312 S. Mill St., 970-925-1349
photography by john luke