Making restaurant reservations is somehow always my job when travelling with friends.....not sure why, probably because I love to eat good food.....and I've realized that people will usually go along with me if I make the reservation. It can take some researching (a good online source of restaurant reviews is http://chowhound.chow.com/boards and asking like-minded friends is always a good source. (ie. I hadn't heard of Pacific Grill but a friend told me that his group ate there twice when they were in Aspen last April).
Getting reservations for the week between Christmas and New Year's is problematic in Aspen, especially if you have a large group of seven people like we had. Calling a month ahead of your visit is recommended. I only was clever enough to do this for Christmas Day dinner - Montagne's at Little Nell (970-920-6335). A great atmosphere and wonderful cozy table (partial booth) for our group, but frightfully expensive since they were just serving a tasting menu that night. Other reservations that I could get before we went were Rustique (dreamy risotto...970-920-2555), L'Hostaria (970-925-9022), and Olives (great maitre d from Glasgow who knows alot about single malt scotch - always a mistake the next morning but who thinks about that - and a fun dessert of s'mores which requires roasting your own marshmallow at your table...970-920-3300...oh, and tell them that you don't want to sit in the small rooms on the sides, you'd like to sit in the main room). Pinons (970-920-2021) and Pacific Grill (970-929-9775) could not accommodate us when I called two weeks ahead of time but we did end up getting a reservation by calling the day of. Apparently they usually have some cancellations each night. Also consider eating a little later or earlier instead of the usual 7:30 - 8:30 time slot. A lunch visit to Gwyn's High Alpine (970-923-5188) on Snowmass Mountain is a must at least once during your stay. You can call that morning to get your name on the list for that day.
By the way, there was no consensus as to which restaurant we all liked the best but my sons preferred Pinons (tuna tacos and beef tenderloin topped with foie gras) and I liked Pacific Grill (seafood appetizer platter for the table, black cod, and chocolate fondue - the four types of salt on the table was also a memorable detail).
Next time, I would book a sushi night.....seems like everyone likes sushi except me.As well, I'd like to try Il Mulino (see above photo), the newest outpost of the New York Il Mulino restaurant. We did have a chance to enjoy a drink and pizza at the bar one late afternoon and had an enjoyable conversation with Jean Paul, former teammate of Jean Claude Killy....priceless.This visit I phoned in my reservations after trying to email Montagne's and not getting any reply, but I'd try the email route next time, but again a month ahead if going around New Year.