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This New Aspen Restaurant Brings Latin American and African Flavors to Après Ski Meals

Serving up luxe tostadas and quesadillas, Mawita will transport you to a sunnier place.

mawita aspen dining room Kelsey Brunner

When you’re headed to Aspen, part of the idea is to embrace the winter vibes. But after a long day of skiing or snowboarding, your mind might be wandering to warmer locales.

That’s where Mawita comes in. The new Latin-inspired restaurant in Snowmass Village is the brainchild of Mawa McQueen, a James Beard Award nominee and the owner of Aspen’s only Black-owned concepts. After several trips to Mexico, she noticed the similarity between Mexican and African food, and her new establishment combines the tastes and ingredients of the two different cuisines.

At Mawita, both the food and the vibes are meant to transport you to a warmer, more tropical environment (just imagine you’re wearing a bathing suit, rather than your bulky winter coat). If you’re just stopping in for après ski tapas, you’ll be greeted by an assortment of small plates, ranging from marinated olives and roasted cauliflower to classics like pan con tomate and cured meats.

Salsa trio
The salsa trio Kelsey Brunner

The full menu, though, encapsulates McQueen’s vision for her new restaurant, with lots of Mexican standbys as well as creative and luxe takes on Latin American cuisine. Three different varieties of guacamole are available to start the experience: classic, health nut (with kale, oranges and toasted pumpkin seeds) and a version with cherrywood smoked bacon. Other appetizers include Manchego truffled yuca and a $120 bougie tostada, which comes with Osetra caviar, crème fraiche, scrambled egg and chives.

Quesadillas and tacos are plentiful, with several different fillings available for each. Tacos with chili lime shrimp or blackened striped bass will make you feel like you’re on the coast, while duck confit and crispy pork belly provide a bit more heft. The quesadillas, meanwhile, can be quite luxe, with a truffle option (Manchego cheese, white truffle oil and dust) and one that includes bacon, caramelized onions and goat cheese. Rounding out the menu are larger mains like pork carnitas and lomo saltado, two different paellas and red, green and black mole.

If you’re inspired to take some of the Latin influence home with you, McQueen is also planning to teach cooking classes in which you’ll learn how to make salsas, guacamoles and tortillas. But if—after a long day on the slopes—you’d rather let the pros take the lead, Mawita is here for you to sit back, relax and escape to a more tropical clime—at least mentally.

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