We're big fans of Bingo Burger, Hopscotch Bakery, Restaurant Fifteen Twentyone and Solar Roast Coffee. But, admittedly, we haven't known most of Pueblo very well.
Excited to catch up a bit on what we've missed, we happily accepted a recent invitation from chef Ben Bedard. He took us on a mini tour of some of his favorite local culinary destinations while we were in town to speak to his Pueblo Community College culinary students. Next time you're down there, grab an affordable, serviceable meal at the Great Personal Attention Dining Room the kids operate on campus, or aim for one of these three winners.
223 E. Northern Ave., Pueblo, 719/546-6280
Think authentic food-truck tacos ($1.25 to $1.75) that pay tribute to Mexican street food. The tripas are as good as, if not better than, El Poblano Mobile's on Chelton Road. Soft, warm corn rounds come double-thick under the crisp-fried intestines that bear a texture not far from a seared, blissfully oily Thai noodle. Sharp white onion and cilantro accent the soul-stroking, salty, lardaceous flavor; there's relative simplicity, but such hearty depth.
The buche and lengua are bangin' too, especially topped with a medium-heat house green salsa. But why did I take a bite of the big green roasted chile on the side? I knew it would be a palate-numbing burn-bomb. (¡Aye Dios mio!)
I'll be back to try the Navarro family's carne asada, burritos and ceviche. — Matthew Schniper
Gagliano's Italian Market & Deli
1220 Elm St., Pueblo, 719/544-6058
Walking among the tightly packed shelves, it's hard not to get swept up in the history of this 90-year-old Italian market tucked into the corner of an old Pueblo neighborhood. Black-and-white pictures dot the deli case at the back of the room, where you can find sausage, tomato sauce, pizza dough and other items all created by hand by the third-generation owners.
Some of these show up in the Bada Bing Roll ($5.59 per pound), a calzone-like amalgamation of pepperoni, ham, salami and sausage, topped with Anaheim peppers and mozzarella cheese and rolled in bread dough, to be taken home and baked at 375 degrees for 50 minutes. The sauce and now-hot cold cuts do a lovely dance of spice and salt with the flaky crust, and one forkful quickly demands another. — Bryce Crawford
Nettie's Colorado Candies
109 Colorado Ave., Pueblo, 719/543-4631
It's an item truly fit for the hometown of the Chile & Frijoles Festival. Meet the Mexican Hot Chocolate Truffle ($1.75): milk chocolate ganache spiked with cinnamon, cayenne and Jose Cuervo Gold, dipped in more milk chocolate, then dusted again with the spices. The cayenne hits your tongue immediately, starting a slow smolder that's quickly buffered by the chocolate's sweetness. Then the liquor's flavor shows up with more spice in the interior for a rich, sugary burn.
Employee Michele Warfield says Nettie's has been in her family for almost 40 years, and on any given day customers can find seven truffle varieties for sale next to a huge array of other chocolates like covered nuts and cream-center treats. Other specialty truffle flavors include pumpkin, Champagne, and limoncello. — Matthew Schniper