Best Of » Food, Drink & Nightlife

Best Of 2015: Food & Drink

The best spots for everything from a hearty breakfast, a satisfying lunch or special dinner to a place you take out-of-state visitors


  • Matthew Schniper
  • Bingo Burger

Bingo Burger

132 N. Tejon St., 418-6223; 101 Central Plaza, Pueblo, 719/225-8363,

When Bingo Burger finally decided to expand to the Springs from Pueblo last summer, it felt like Christmas come early for fans who'd been commuting south solely for a Bingo meal. I'm partial to The Tejon, a Colorado lamb patty with goat cheese, rosemary mushrooms and lemon-rosemary aioli, but The Bingo itself — with Pueblo chilies seared inside — launched it all. There's much to be said for the focus on local sourcing and sustainability, while the gourmet toppings and dipping sauces (Thai chili ketchup, please and thanks) hint at the ownership's fine-dining past. Bingo is bully; don't forget it. — Matthew Schniper

Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast

Over Easy

28 S. Tejon St., Suite A, 471-2311; 5262 N. Nevada Ave., #100, 598-2969,

For the sake of my marriage, I should say that my husband actually makes the best biscuits and gravy. But since I don't want all of you at my house on any given Sunday, your No. 1 choice is either of Over Easy's locations. Don't get too discouraged if you find a long wait at peak times — plans are in motion to open a new Over Easy/Salsa Brava at Dublin and Powers boulevards within a year, says chef Josh Davis. There can never be enough places to enjoy blueberry streusel pancakes or the Green With Envy juice blend (kale, cucumber, carrot, ginger and green apple), and yes, some award-winning biscuits and gravy. — Amanda Lundgren


Front Range Barbeque

2330 W. Colorado Ave., 632-2596,

It takes a little something extra to stand out from the pack in the world of ribs and brisket, and Front Range Barbeque has proven it has what it takes. A smoky, rich flavor permeates the generously portioned offerings on the menu, from the tender racks of ribs and slow-simmered baked beans to the hearty Bloody Mary, a concoction made with habanero vodka and a hint of sweet barbecue sauce, then adorned with house-made pickles. Add some of the best weekly live music in the city, and you've got yourself a down-home party. — Bridgett Harris

Boonzaaijer's - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Boonzaaijer's

Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery

610 E. Fillmore St., 264-0177,

It's the season for "pumpkin everything," but Boonzaaijer's front-end manager Savannah Alcott is particularly fond of the bakery's pumpkin cheesecake. "It makes the heart happy," she says, smiling. No doubt that lots of the baked goods here make people's hearts happy — from hefty loaves of artisan breads to fancy cakes and cookies, to another of Alcott's favorites, the peach crumb cake. You really can't make a wrong choice, any time of year. — Kirsten Akens


La Baguette

La Baguette Old Colorado City, 2417 W. Colorado Ave., 577-4818,; La Baguette Bakery & Espresso Café, 117 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 636-5020,; La Baguette French Bistro, 4440 N. Chestnut St., 599-0686,

When you bake bread, it's all about the flour. And while La Baguette doesn't import French flour, they do use King Arthur flour, milled by a Vermont company for the last 225 years and recommended by Cook's Illustrated for its quality and consistency. The Old Colorado City location, which bakes the bread for all of the La Baguette restaurants in town, still captures le terroir — the taste of the land around us. From basic batards and baguettes to their always-popular raisin-walnut bread. — Griffin Swartzell



2607 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8272,

At this week's Passport to Rioja wine dinner, chef Jay Gust will plate the outfit's outstanding paella, as well as dishes like Serrano-topped scallops on the half shell with green-chile-lime aioli. I cite this alluring loveliness as just a small example of the type of craft that earns TAPAteria this accolade. Beyond the specials and rich charcuterie boards, regular menu goodies like grilled Padrón peppers, anchovy-stuffed olives, wild salmon tartare and everyone's favorite chorizo and figs highlight the menu — which is half vegetarian, a quarter vegan and fully gluten-free. Of course, with sangrias, amaros and stellar wines, half the experience can easily be the drinking. Bonus love for all the sustainability efforts between here and sister-store Pizzeria Rustica. — Matthew Schniper

Restaurant Wine List

The Blue Star

1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086,

A while ago, a meme was going around on social media: "The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink." As the mother of two girls, I can tell you, no, the wine is not the most expensive part of parenting, but that's mainly because I take advantage of The Blue Star's half-off-wine Sundays. I can choose from hundreds of bottles and pay just 50 percent of the usual price. And right now, The Blue Star is showcasing some of its 1.5-liter offerings on special weekends. "It's pretty rare to open a large bottle and sell it by the glass," says manager Erika Mullett. She's excited to uncork a 1997 Chateau Routas, a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet. Me, I'm looking to find some new wines that age well ... the teenage years aren't that far away. — Amanda Lundgren

King's Chef Diner - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • King's Chef Diner
Diner/Green Chile/Late-Night Dining

King's Chef Diner

110 E. Costilla St., 634-9135; 131 E. Bijou St., 636-5010,

Colorado Springs isn't exactly a 24-hour town, at least not if you're talking about 24 consecutive hours. But on late Friday and Saturday nights, long after most of downtown has finished rolling up the sidewalks, the King's Chef Bijou Street operation is still ladling non-GMO green chile onto the eggs, hash browns and other hearty ingredients that constitute daunting dishes like The Grump, The Thing and the altogether sublime Huevos de King Chef. The Costilla location, meanwhile, caters to a daytime crowd that prefers to eat at a single lunch counter tucked into a kitschy little purple castle. We like both. — Bill Forman


Wooglin's Deli & Café

823 N. Tejon St., 578-9443,

Wholesome flair and well-priced eats make it worth the walk to this locally owned deli, residing in the outer Colorado College solar system on North Tejon Street. Wooglin's offers homemade taste that comforts its fair share of homesick students, but also staff and faculty. It's also a great little lunch spot for the corporate set, with standouts such as $6.99 half-pound burgers with crisp, house-made chips; loaded cold sandwiches; daily quiches; and thick slices of creamy cheesecake. With all these goodies, the walk there and back really isn't such a bad idea. — Bridgett Harris


Coal Mine Dragon

1779 S. Eighth St., 471-7007,; 1720 W. Uintah St., 578-5430

You know what I love? Restaurant prices that begin with the number six. All the items on the lunch menu at the Coal Mine Dragon on Eighth Street are under $7 and include side items like egg rolls, cheese wontons and soup. Save some bucks — check their website for coupons before you go. The Coal Mine Dragon on Uintah, separately owned and operated, boasts a sprawling dine-in and delivery menu, along with family dinners and quick lunch options, including everything from five pasta variations to crispy duck (by the half). Pro tip: Stretch your dollar with dinner combo plates that start at $7.55 for an entrée, wonton, egg roll, soup and choice of rice. — Amanda Lundgren and Craig Lemley


Tong Tong

2036 S. Academy Blvd., 591-8585

The dining room bustles at lunch, with servers rolling bus carts stacked with banchan bowls and sizzling cast iron. A Korean game show on overhead TVs holds your attention even though you have no clue what's going on. It's OK — you're sipping an easy OB Korean beer or ginseng wine between bites of gochujang-laced, fermented goodies and kimchi pancakes. Or maybe you're eschewing the familiar bulgogi and playing a little, with snails or octopus. Doesn't matter — everything's authentic and delightful, full of spicy red chili essence. Now you know the magic of Korean fare, and of Tong Tong. — Matthew Schniper

  • Kirsten Akens
  • Fujiyama
Power Lunch/Japanese Take-Out


22 S. Tejon St., 630-1167,

Fujiyama produces some serious bites, that's no secret. But with this downtown staple's lunch special, all sushi rolls are half off, making it the perfect option for an affordable, indulgent lunch that will satisfy everyone on that big account you're trying to land. For raw-fish-phobes, server Mae Weber notes the various baked, deep-fried or tempura-stuffed rolls. Make reservations — the dining area fills up fast. Or if you have a boardroom crew to feed, you can get six rolls and 30 pieces of sushi for a frugal $80. — Griffin Swartzell


NaRai Thai Restaurant, NaRai Siam Cuisine

805 Village Center Drive, 531-5175; 120 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 434-1975,

If Yelp is any indication, NaRai is delighting guests from all over the country. And sure enough, owner Jasmine Andrew says she sees a lot of folks from out of town — sometimes they eat at her restaurant two or three times during their visit. Many reviews mention the Garlic Chicken noodles, a simple dish that Andrew says she created because she liked the combination of vegetables (red bell pepper, carrot and sugar snap peas). The rest of her menu gets plenty of love, too. Every year when Andrew updates her menu, she deletes items that don't sell well. "But this year I [couldn't] find anything," she says, "so we kept everything." — Amanda Lundgren


Saigon Café

20 E. Colorado Ave., 633-2888,

Saigon Café has been a perennial favorite with Indy readers, and for good reason. Friendly staff and consistent flavor make this a no-brainer for a quick lunch, but the fare is elegant enough for a leisurely dinner, too. My order usually includes jasmine tea, wonton soup and chicken lo mein, but some other local favorites include the gigantic pho bowl and bún noodles. With most lunch dishes under ten bucks, you can't beat the price, either. — Amanda Lundgren


Little Nepal

1747 S. Eighth St., 477-6997; 4820 Flintridge Drive, 598-3428,

A friend once told me that the food at Little Nepal was so good, she would cheerfully drown in a bathtub full of their curry. I thought it was rather weird at the time ... and then I had the shrimp korma. That day, I decided that the phenomenal blend of spices, cream and coconut milk is how I, too, would like to meet my ultimate end ... wrapped in a warm blanket of naan, sipping a hot Indian chai as I went. Did I mention Little Nepal delivers and is open seven days a week? — Bridgett Harris


Edelweiss German Restaurant

34 E. Ramona Ave., 633-2220,

A bear has recently been raiding trash cans at homes in Black Forest. I'm guessing that bear's pickin's have been pretty slim compared with those of the bear who stole an entire Dumpster from Edelweiss a few years ago. (There's an amusing video on the restaurant's website.) Perhaps he was looking for the Rahmschnitzel or the savory baked Brie en Croute. Or maybe he was after one of the many pastries and desserts made from scratch each day. Hey — I'll bet he was looking for the Black Forest torte to share with his buddy up north! OK, ignore me and go watch that bear video, if you haven't already. Then get your hintern to Edelweiss for some authentic German. — Amanda Lundgren


La Baguette French Bistro

4440 N. Chestnut St., 599-0686,

In the past, this award has been shared by all three independently owned and operated La Baguettes. But this year the voters were specific, naming Chestnut Street their favorite. Owner Patrick Garnier says the restaurant has evolved from bakery to a full bistro setup. "We used to be sandwich, soup, kind of light fare, but we've extended into a more full menu," Garnier says in his lovely French accent. He and wife Krystyna have expanded their seafood offerings and now have a full bar and wine list. The hours have changed, too: The bistro is now open from 8 to 8, Tuesday through Saturday. — Amanda Lundgren

Paravicini's Italian Bistro - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Paravicini's Italian Bistro

Paravicini's Italian Bistro

2802 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8200,

Chef Franco Pisani has brought his love of cooking to multiple platforms. His monthly culinary videos (available on Paravicini's website) include segments like "Feast of the 7 Fishes" and "Farmer's Market Shopping and Cooking." He also has a book available on Amazon (Mama Mia! Now That's Italian) filled with family stories and recipes from his youth. As a board member of the Colorado Restaurant Association's Pikes Peak Chapter, Pisani has advocated for more independent, chef-driven restaurants in town. In December he told the Indy, "There are meal-replacement restaurants, and then there's dining experiences." It's safe to say Paravicini's is the latter. — Amanda Lundgren


Mediterranean Café

118 E. Kiowa St., 633-0115,

At Mediterranean Café, freshness is taken quite seriously — from the grape leaves that wrap their homemade dolmas to the vegetables that fill their pita sandwiches. To add to their appeal, those pitas are a steal, maxing out at just $7 for the tilapia and the Half & Half (featuring both gyro and falafel), or $10 when ordered with a generous side and a fountain beverage. Consider paying 50 cents for extra tzatziki, their cucumber yogurt sauce. Tangy and rich, it's pretty much the best thing ever. — Bridgett Harris

Mediterranean Café - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Mediterranean Café

Monica's Taco Shop

30 E. Fillmore St., 473-1996; 5829 Palmer Park Blvd., 597-7022

Two restaurants, both alike in dignity, in fair Colorado Springs, where we lay our scene. To the west lies Monica's owned by Raul Rodriguez and Mina Lopez. They produce a stunner of a plate of San Diego-style fish tacos, fried up and served on a corn tortilla with pico de gallo, cabbage and a bright sauce of mayonnaise, sour cream and radish. To the east, Monica's is owned by Raul's sister, Rosa Rodriguez. Their fish tacos are also served with cabbage and pico de gallo, but they use a pre-made tartar sauce. — Griffin Swartzell

Mexican/Patio Dining

Amanda's Fonda

3625 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1975 (best patio winner location); 8050 N. Academy Blvd., 226-6680,

First things first: The North Academy location of Amanda's Fonda is actually now called Amanda's Cantina. Same owners, same recipes — manager Michael Martinez says the name was changed because a lot of his potential customers didn't know Amanda's Fonda served Mexican food. Something else specific to the north side is the Sunday brunch featuring an omelet station, a $3 Bloody Mary bar and a host of Mexican favorites like empanadas and tortilla soup. Across town, the west side patio, with its babbling brook, is one of the most popular seats in town. But even if you dine indoors, an oversized margarita can also make for some eye candy. — Amanda Lundgren


Rasta Pasta

405 N. Tejon St., 481-6888,

It's hard to imagine how anyone could improve upon the comforting goodness of pasta, but Rasta Pasta does the job in spades, fusing Caribbean spices with traditional Italian sauces and cheeses. Don't fret if you have a dietary restriction — gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options abound at this laid-back locale that also takes care of the carnivore set. Order extra garlic bread with your plates and be sure to add the curry dipping sauce, new this year. You won't be sorry. — Bridgett Harris


Springs Orleans

123 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-0123,

Relocating to Colorado Springs from Denver can be a risky cultural endeavor. But signs of progress are pervasive. One is Springs Orleans. I've sidled up to the bar on numerous occasions since my return, each time impressed by the friendly and knowledgeable staff, and most certainly the food. (Go-tos: Blue Lump Crab Cake, Kale Salad and, of course, the Seafood Gumbo.) If I can't make good on the staff's recommendation for Sunday brunch soon (reservations highly encouraged), it's good to know I can get a fix of beignets and café au lait any other morning (breakfast served 6:30 to 11). — Vanessa Martinez

Middle Eastern

Heart of Jerusalem Cafe

4587 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 685-9554; 718 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1325,

If you've never sampled authentic Middle Eastern cooking, Heart of Jerusalem is the place to do it. Family-owned and -operated, HOJ fills plates to the brim with delicious and distinctly spiced favorites like refreshing dolma; crisp, heart-shaped falafel; juicy lamb kabobs; and fragrant saffron rice. Treat yourself to a hot cup of sage tea, or if you're a little adventurous, an order of Turkish coffee, presented in a lovely cezve and packing a powerful caffeine kick. — Bridgett Harris

Dessert Destination

Marigold Café and Bakery

4605 Centennial Blvd., 599-4776,

At most restaurants, you needn't plan your meal around dessert. Marigold is not like most restaurants. When you enter, we recommend that you head first to the bakery and review your options. Then take a seat, place your food order, savor every bite, and make sure to reserve room in the belly. Whether you choose double chocolate mousse cake or crème brûlée or — my favorite — the strawberry and cream Fraisier, owners Elaine and Dominique Chavanon will ensure you end your experience on a (sugar) high note. — Kirsten Akens

Ice Cream/Gelato

Josh & John's Naturally Homemade Ice Creams

111 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 632-0299; 6896 Centennial Blvd., 532-0299,

Josh & John's has just two storefronts in town (and a home away from home at Pikes Peak Chocolate and Ice Cream in Manitou), but its creamy influence can be found all over the community. Coffeehouses feature its vanilla under espresso shots in affagatos. In honor of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon's 60th anniversary, J&J's created a limited-edition "Purple Mountain Majesty" flavor, featuring taro and black raspberry truffles. In the works for 2016? The "Scoop Bus." Day manager Sadie Hjelmstad says the bus will be rentable for parties, and found around town selling cups and cones. — Kirsten Akens

Frozen Yogurt


Multiple locations,

Flavors like Banana Taffy and Cinna-Bun Melt make it hard to believe YoYogurt's froyo is actually good for you. But almost every serving includes live and active cultures and less than half the sugar found in your average can of soda. Sure, at 45 cents an ounce, it's a little pricier than most ice cream, but remember, you're populating your digestive tract with beneficial probiotics. Sacrifices, people, sacrifices. — Amanda Lundgren

Smoothie/Juice Bar

Ola Juice Bar

27 E. Kiowa St., 633-3111,

One of the best-selling items at Ola, according to manager Keegan Bockhorst, is the Thai Avocado Medjool smoothie. He says the blend of cashews, avocado, dates, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut milk, coconut water and raw agave "ends up like a vanilla milkshake." Apparently it causes serious cravings, too. He's had people pounding on the locked door after closing time, trying to order this particular drink. Of course, it's just one of many menu options, which range from fresh juices and salads to quinoa bowls and veggie wraps. We recommend trying any and all (just within business hours, please). — Kirsten Akens

Spot for a Spot of Tea


1019 S. Tejon St., 520-0672

A counter filled with treats greets you as you step into Montague's, cementing your dessert-scarfing fate long before you've even begun to peruse the collection of fine teas and coffees. The food menu boasts sandwiches and quiches, as well as a famous pumpkin-tomato soup. Featuring cushy chairs and low tables, Montague's offers patrons a quiet, cozy atmosphere in which to read their favorite book, chat up an old friend, or simply contemplate life in the shimmering surface of a hot cup of tea. — Bridgett Harris

Coquette's Bistro & Bakery - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Coquette's Bistro & Bakery

Coquette's Bistro & Bakery

321 N. Tejon St., 685-2420,

When mother and daughter Michelle and Turu Marx decided to open a restaurant, Michelle had just discovered she was sensitive to gluten after years of being mysteriously ill. It was 2009, and the idea of a restaurant specializing in gluten-free fare still seemed strange. But Michelle told Turu, "I want to be able to eat in my own restaurant." They set up in Manitou Springs and specialized in crepes, many of which were gluten-free. Six months later they were all gluten-free, and it turned out to be a great decision — especially since Turu realized during her 2010 pregnancy that she shared her mom's sensitivity. Now downtown, Coquette's serves a variety of delicious menu items, has a free-standing bakery, and sells baked goods to stores like Whole Foods. — J. Adrian Stanley

Bang-for-Your-Buck Restaurant

La Casita Mexican Grill

306 S. Eighth St., 633-9616; 4295 N. Nevada Ave., 599-7829; 3725 E. Woodmen Road, 536-0375,

You can literally spot it from a mile away: a hot pink landmark in the distance, signifying warm, spicy Mexican food and cold margaritas ahead. Pink is the signature color of La Casita Mexican Grill, and it stands for green chile, sizzling fajitas, and tamales by the dozen, all at prices that will leave you as satisfied as the food. If you're craving spicy goodness and cold beer after a long day of Colorado carousing, you'll find yourself right at home. — Bridgett Harris

Place to Eat Local/Sustainable

Seeds Community Café

109 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 473-8206,

Now 2 years old, Seeds continues to provide weekday lunches to anyone, regardless of ability to pay, while focusing on locally produced foods of all kinds. In fact, founder Lyn Harwell, a former executive chef in New Orleans, says 75 percent of Seeds' food comes from Colorado. Seeds also strives to create jobs, using "the power of food to empower people to own their lives again," says Harwell. "We give them living-wage jobs, not minimum-wage jobs." He says Seeds is assessing the possibility of expanding to Saturday or evening hours. Did we mention that the dishes served here are delicious? Drop in and, as the café recommends, "Pay as you can, or pay it forward." — Pam Zubeck

Food Truck

Potato Potato


At just a year and a half old, Potato Potato has already won this award twice. The signature poutine and vegetarian green chile fries are obviously loved by Indy voters. But owner Kevin Johnson says, "If Piglatin [food truck] doesn't win gold this year, I think people are silly. They're super consistent, they're good people to work with ... and they always seem to come in second or third, and it's ridiculous." So, umm ... I guess next year, vote for Piglatin? — Amanda Lundgren

Picnic Basket - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Picnic Basket

Picnic Basket

1701 S. Eighth St., 635-0200,

Kathy Dreiling, co-owner of Picnic Basket (which also includes Buffalo Gals and Cravings Catering), says her clientele has changed a lot in the past five years. "It's a whole new generation of corporate," she says. "They are a lot more food-savvy and adventurous." Feeling it was time to evolve, Picnic Basket launched a new menu, which includes items like a Twisted Cobb salad and a Chimichurri Chicken. Working over 2,000 events annually, Dreiling says she, her partner Michelle Talarico and their amazing staff have taken the company to a whole new, slightly hectic, level. "I'm an insane idiot," she says, laughing. — Amanda Lundgren

Local/Regional Restaurant Chain

Il Vicino

11 S. Tejon St., 475-9224; 5214 N. Nevada Ave., 590-8633;

The staff at Il Vicino knows that their dough makes a fine pizza, but also a fine plaything. That's why they give a small portion to every child and then let them knead and shape it before throwing it into the oven. Enjoy your wood-fired pizza (now available gluten-free) paired with a local microbrew, and before you leave your child can eat his or her now-baked creation. What a clever way to train the next class of chefs. — Amanda Lundgren

Local Restaurant for a Burger

The Skirted Heifer

204 N. Tejon St., 635-3276,

What Suzette and Kevin Megyeri have accomplished with both the Skirted Heifer and the newly opened Bambino's Urban Pizzeria is remarkable. They've capitalized on the sleepy legacy of the old Bambino's and spawned a new one, in part by building off the popularity of this hip, sustainability-minded burger spot. The homemade garlic focaccia bread, made from Bambino's dough, makes grass-fed and -finished beef patties absolutely shine. Get the Classic Skirted Heifer for the seared cheddar cheese show, and keep an eye on the Guy Fieri Food Network show "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" for a Skirted Heifer appearance. Lines out the door don't lie. — Matthew Schniper

Local Pizza Joint

Borriello Brothers

Multiple locations,

With its seven locations in town, Borriello's has one big advantage over every other local pizza joint: coverage. Minus Rockrimmon and the sliver of town west of 31st Street and north of Highway 24, you can get Borriello Brothers pizza anywhere in Colorado Springs — and I do mean anywhere. When asked, an employee at the Eighth Street and Highway 24 store confirms that, yes, drivers have delivered to trailheads, country clubs and city parks. So when you're hungry at next year's MeadowGrass Music Festival, just remember: You're one phone call away from a hot, New York-style pizza. — Griffin Swartzell

Local Coffee House

Humble Coffee

2103 Templeton Gap Road, 352-5491,

"Any drive-thru can fill the role of convenience," Zach Hoerth told me in 2014, when he was just opening Humble Coffee. "But they may not hit the mark on providing a high-end cup of coffee." Humble has done just that, and its fans have defied the common definition of the word "house" to award Hoerth and his cohorts this victory. (One has to ask: Will they remain humble?) Items like the velvety, deep Debonair — a peanut butter mocha breve — highlight the coffee excellence, but real nuance shines with surprising honey-sweetened tea drinks like the Buddha and the Rainfall: a sencha green tea lemonade and an Alpine Berry-rice milk latte, respectively. — Matthew Schniper

Local Coffee Roaster

SwitchBack Coffee Roasters

330 N. Institute St., 581-9748,

SwitchBack's rise through our area coffee scene has been fun to watch. The team left a small garage on the west side, where it had been air-roasting 8-pound batches, to eventually take over Fifty Fifty Coffee House and grow into a 25-pound drum roaster in the retail storefront next door. "We have fantastic direct-trade with a farm in El Salvador," says current roaster Bevan Cammell, who notes that an exhaustive barista training program ensures quality from farm to finish. Other smart outfits like Peak Place and Wild Goose serve SwitchBack-roasted products, indicating a professional vetting of excellence. These beans won't let you down. — Matthew Schniper

  • Matthew Schniper
  • The Public House
Neighborhood Restaurant: South

The Public House

445 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 465-3079,

I was converted in April, when I dropped by for a couple of beautiful Becherovka-made cocktails as well as carnitas street tacos and Sriracha shrimp tacos, which stunned me with fresh, full flavors and ample attitude. Then I witnessed co-owner Haleigh McCartan crush a karaoke song to wide taproom applause. My cold, hard heart melted at the authenticity and way-better-than-your-average-bar-ness of it all. You obviously have felt it too, as a tour through this year's winners index indicates: Beyond these first-place wins, I count a total of five seconds and thirds, honoring the chef, a bartender, said karaoke, the beer selection, and Tuesday pint nights, which deliver $3 craft pours and a souvenir glass. — Matthew Schniper

Neighborhood Restaurant: North/Chips & Salsa

Salsa Brava

9420 Briar Village Point, 955-6650; 802 Village Center Drive, 266-9244,

Salsa Brava does salsa right, grilling fresh ingredients, adding a unique blend of herbs and spices, and puréeing it all into the perfect consistency — every day. The blackened tomato salsa is served gratis with chips (lightly fried in cholesterol-free canola oil), but you can also request pico de gallo, pineapple habanero (the perfect blend of sweet and heat), and occasionally a seasonal salsa like the roasted arbol, featuring a small, potent Mexican chile pepper. The patio, complete with fire pit, is an inviting space to relax with a margarita (maybe at happy hour, when it'll only set you back $3.50). Top off with bananas Foster, made right at your table. — Amanda Lundgren

Neighborhood Restaurant: West


503 W. Colorado Ave., 471-3370,

Whether you're there for Saturday or Sunday brunch with the build-your-own Bloody Mary bar, or the daily Asian fusion lunch and dinner menu, it's easy to taste why 503W is the west side favorite. Wasabi, Sriracha, sweet Thai sauce, kimchi, ginger and more all get featured in the dishes. Ridiculously creative cocktails, an awesome craft beer menu and an open kitchen all give you the sense that you're hanging with friends while they fill your table. — Carrie Simison

Neighborhood Restaurant: East

The Wobbly Olive

3317 Cinema Point Drive, 247-9504,

Say what you will about Colorado Springs' chain-heavy east side, but you can no longer say that there's no good (actually, great) high-end dining and drinking option. Wobbly Olive plates are gorgeously presented, and follow through with full flavor. Examples include rabbit enchiladas garnished with white chocolate molé, or sea scallops with smoked seaweed beurre blanc. As for the drinks, you can go classic with a gin fizz or Negroni, or try fun, new-wave mixes like the Black Pearl Old Fashioned, featuring bacon-infused Larceny Bourbon with Earl Grey tea demerara syrup. East side reprezent! — Matthew Schniper

Adam's Mountain Café - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Adam's Mountain Café
Neighborhood Restaurant: Manitou/Restaurant for Herbivores

Adam's Mountain Café

26 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1430,

"The biggest thing" to hit Adam's Mountain Café over the past year, according to owner Farley McDonough, is that the restaurant has gone full-bar. After 30 years without, that is a big deal. "We're not trying to do a big bar scene," McDonough says with a laugh, "but people can come in for a killer Bloody Mary at breakfast, or a Manhattan with dinner." Of course, in keeping with the rest of Adam's style, the bar leans local and Colorado when possible. And that Bloody Mary? It's extra special — with organic ingredients and vegan, house-made Worcestershire sauce. — Kirsten Akens

Neighborhood Restaurant: Monument

La Casa Fiesta

230 Front St., Monument, 481-1234,

What makes La Casa Fiesta a favorite with Monument locals? Maybe it's the salsa, guacamole and beans made fresh, in-house daily. Maybe it's the signature carne asada dish served with a side of calabacitas: zucchini, squash, onions and corn sautéed in butter and covered with chile con queso. (Or as one diner put it, "a taste of cheesy heaven.") Maybe it's the fully stocked bar and Broncos cheering section. Maybe it's all of the above. — Amanda Lundgren

Restaurant for Tourists

Phantom Canyon Brewing Company

2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-2800,

Reasons to take your out-of-town visitors to Phantom Canyon:

• Historic building in the heart of downtown.

• Colorado Springs' oldest stand-alone brewery, featuring an expanded beer list.

• Newly updated restaurant and menu with offerings substantial for carnivores, vegetarians and the gluten-free population.

• Killer patio.

• Pool tables, TVs, dartboards, jukebox, happy-hour and late-night deals.

Reasons not to take your out-of-town visitors to Phantom Canyon:

• They hate awesome. — Carrie Simison

Restaurant for Kids That Isn't Fast Food

Poor Richard's Restaurant

324½ N. Tejon St., 632-7721,

Many of us think of Poor Richard's as a homey place to grab a slice of pizza or a latte, get some work done, settle in with a book, or chat with friends while the kids entertain themselves in the toy store. And it is all of those things. But Poor Richard's, a progressive bastion in a conservative town, has gone through decades of reinvention to reach this point. Toward the beginning, when most customers were young adults, it showed movies. When those customers had kids, the toy store was added. When they became empty nesters, the café opened. "It's hard to imagine I've been in business 40 years," says founder and owner Richard Skorman. "It seems like I just opened yesterday." — J. Adrian Stanley

Restaurant for a Wedding Reception

Briarhurst Manor Estate

404 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-1864,

Since I tied the knot at a courthouse, I don't know anything about wedding planning. But I do know style, and this 1876 Tudor mansion is the perfect setting for a matrimonial extravaganza. With the stone walls and beveled windows, the Juliet balcony and winding staircases, "it's hard to take a bad picture here," says Briarhurst president Ken Healey. Moreover, the Briarhurst's baker makes custom wedding cakes, and the food is fabulous. "People get a lot for their money," Healey says. — Pam Zubeck

Food Event

Fiddles, Vittles & Vino

This unique food, wine and bluegrass event has sold out in each of the last three summers, says Andy Morris, manager at host Rock Ledge Ranch. Over 30 restaurants participate, and Morris says folks get plenty to eat. "This is not the kind of tasting where you get a little bitty sip of wine and a little finger food," he says. "People come hungry and leave [full]." Plus, they can feel good knowing that a portion of the proceeds goes to Rock Ledge's agricultural program to plant apple and cherry trees, and maybe even some asparagus. — Amanda Lundgren

Sunday Brunch

The Broadmoor

1 Lake Ave., 577-5771,

You don't have to book a room at the Broadmoor to enjoy one of the revered hotel's best amenities: Sunday brunch in the Lake Terrace Room. For years local families (mine included) have celebrated special occasions at brunch time rather than dinner thanks to the impressive variety of this spread. Here, the quality and presentation of the food befit the surroundings without imposing gentility. The attention to detail and service is impeccable but understated, making it easy to establish a tradition here. — Vanessa Martinez

Fine Dining/Restaurant for Carnivores

The Famous

31 N. Tejon St., 227-7333,

When The Famous won these same two categories last year, plus Best Overall Restaurant, I re-visited that same month for a full review, seeking to really unpack the why of it all. I discovered a cocktail of explanations, the sum of excellence at all turns, and a larger-than-life-ness to huge portions of pretty seafood plates and steaks. There was even an affordable burger ($12 at the Friday lunch special) that's a king monster badass, made mostly with primal cut trimmings for intensely rich flavor, served on a delightful house rosemary-onion sourdough bun. The house cocktail program ranks among the best in town, too, and the swank décor makes you feel like a big dog. — Matthew Schniper

Best Wait Staff

Thunder & Buttons

2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888,

Local radio station RXP partners with Thunder & Buttons on many events because of great food and drinks and its comfortable atmosphere, and DJ Nomi says the employees play an essential part in that. She said, "They make you feel comfortable and like you're a regular, even if it's your first time there!" Whether it's Brandon, Lindsay, Katie, Nina, Chelsea, Kirsten or any of the others, you can tell the employees love where they are, and that's what makes this local establishment feel like your establishment. — Carrie Simison

Cutting-Edge Restaurant/Local Chef

Brother Luck Street Eats

1005 W. Colorado Ave., 434-2741,

To wholeheartedly agree with our voters on these awards, I saw all I needed to at one of Brother Luck's fabulous, wine-paired blacklight tasting dinners (yes, food under an eerie glow) last year. A foie gras PB&J, then white chocolate lobster — Huh, what? Oh, yum — and of course, pork bits galore. Luck slays the surprise dishes and can coax crazy flavors out of items you thought you knew. You can hang back in the familiar, but still fantastic, fold of items like his bacon jam burger or Bahn Mi, or bask in bone marrow or spicy duck to challenge your routine. Straight up: Nobody's doing more boundary-pushing or interesting food in town right now. Period. — Matthew Schniper

New Restaurant (since July 1, 2014)/Neighborhood Restaurant: Central

Odyssey Gastropub

311 N. Tejon St., 999-5127,

The house lamps hung upside-down from the entryway ceiling provide the first clue that this journey will be unusual, even if the long, narrow expanse of red brick still feels familiar from back in Tony's days. But my, how different Odyssey is. Who else will feed us chicken livers with espresso-laced aioli? Or hit brunch with maple-mopped, pecan-currant, orange custard sourdough French toast? Odyssey emphasizes Colorado craft spirits strongly at the bar, and concocts clever cocktails, too. We travel to relax and feel good, while adventuring a little; it's nice when we can do that right downtown. — Matthew Schniper

The Rabbit Hole - KIRSTEN AKENS
  • Kirsten Akens
  • The Rabbit Hole
Overall Restaurant

The Rabbit Hole

101 N. Tejon St., 203-5072,

Your favorite restaurant is big and getting bigger. When I stopped by for dinner in late September, the stylish subterranean dining area was in the process of expanding, and word around the restaurant is to look for the new room to open in mid-October. So what propels this quirky restaurant past iconic competitors like The Broadmoor? Well, the entrées are basically familiar forms — say, meatloaf or a burger — done differently, like with ground rabbit in the former and an all-bacon patty in the latter. Cocktails offer similar twists, as in the White Rabbit, whose flaming marshmallow grants a lovely, toasty aroma to a coconut-vanilla martini. It's a little fancy and more than a little sexy, but most entrées will run you less than $20. Eat and drink among the mad people. — Griffin Swartzell

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