Best Of » Food, Drink & Nightlife

Best of 2013: Food & Drink

Who won gold in your neighborhood? Click here to see the full map.

Buy article reprints!

Overall Restaurant

Craftwood Inn

404 El Paso Blvd., Manitou Springs, 685-9000,

Chef Brother Luck, who just left the Craftwood Inn to start his own venture downtown, deserves most of the credit for the last year's worth of interesting eats, such as kangaroo steaks and a foie gras PB&J. But even if Luck led the Craftwood to its first-ever Overall Restaurant win, it must be noted that chefs here have long handled the game-heavy provisions well, doing very pretty things to animals ranging from lamb and rabbit to buffalo, elk, ostrich, goat and wild boar (not to mention swimmers like trout and bass). Incoming chef Matthew Schee's new menu just launched days prior to this publication; the 38-year-old aims to add tropical influence from his many years spent cooking in Key West. Family heritage from New Orleans may also creep in with some Cajun/Creole notes. But rest assured that whatever's done, it'll fit the elegant atmosphere. The beautiful, historic building has been a fine eatery since the 1940s, when it attracted the visiting Hollywood celebrities of that era. Today, it remains fit for guests of eminence, but you'll still feel relaxed among the dark woods and white tablecloths. Cheers to the best of the best. — MS

Cutting-Edge Restaurant


121 S. Tejon St., 635-6674,

Nosh has won this category since 2008, back when it was called "Innovative Menu." Which is kind of amusing, since the menu hasn't actually changed a whole lot since mid-2010, when then-chef Shane Lyons (who recently opened Distilled NY in Tribeca, to positive reviews) created many of what have become known as the "staples," in manager Tyler Schiedel's words. But that's how good they've been — to carry on at the forefront of the collective culinary consciousness, as if exciting introductions were still being made. Well, the good news, according to Schiedel, is that tinkering is about to begin again under consulting chef Andrew Sherrill from the Blue Star; expect new dishes in the next few months. Nosh's bar program, too, deserves a nod, highlighting quality craft beers and creative cocktails. "We couldn't do it without the entire staff," says Schiedel. — MS

Place to Eat Local/Sustainable
Restaurant for Herbivores
Neighborhood Restaurant: Manitou

Adam's Mountain Café

934 Manitou Ave., #102, Manitou Springs, 685-1430,

Farley McDonough can joke about it now. When told that her restaurant, Adam's Mountain Café, is up for several Best Of awards, she asks, "In what category? The Restaurant Most Likely to Be Evacuated?" But it wasn't funny when the Aug. 9 flood plowed into Adam's, forcing weeks of cleanup, repairs and revenue loss. "I have to admit that, the night it happened, my mindset was that we would never open again," she says. "But it became apparent, very quickly, that there were so many people out there who love the café, love our food, love our staff, and wanted us to ride this out." Volunteers kept coming, bestowing an "incredible gift" to McDonough, her family and staff. Merely saying "thank you" isn't enough for her, so she promises that diners will always find food, service and atmosphere that meets or exceeds pre-flood levels of excellence. And that's pretty damn good. — RVP

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,

Two of life's great recreations are eating copious amounts of Mexican food and knocking back libations with the simple end goal of knocking back more libations. At La Casita, a fella or lady can get properly stuffed and snockered on the cheap, while never compromising on taste. Of the establishment's 15 regular lunch and dinner plates, the most expensive checks in at $8.99. Margaritas are a seductive $3.49. And the guacamole is damn good — a comfort-food equivalent of ice cream. Avocado ice cream. You can charge me more for the guac, La Casita. I'll pay whatever. — JH

New Restaurant (since July 1, 2012)

Hacienda Colorado

5246 N. Nevada Ave., 418-7999,

The hopping University Village Colorado complex got even more popular this year with the massive Hacienda Colorado opening sus puertas. Everyone from college students to businessmen and -women found out why the Front Range restaurant operation consistently earns rave reviews. Kick your feet up by the fireplace and enjoy "Mountain Mex" creations. And with more than 100 types of tequila on hand, get ready to practice your middle-school Spanish on that cute bartender you've been eyeing for the past three weeks. Hola, mi amor. — NK

Fine Dining
Restaurant for Carnivores

The Famous

31 N. Tejon St., 227-7333,

Meat, meat and meat. Oh, and good, local meat. John Hagen, the Famous' chef, prepares steak to perfection in a 1,500-degree over-and-under oven that just can't be reproduced at home. That's worth the trip right there, but the restaurant's general manager, Johnathan Shankland, is also excited about being able to talk about local sourcing. In fact, he's very excited about it. "We talked about it in the past, but now we're pretty much there." The Famous serves lamb, chicken and beef from local sources, along with local wines and spirits. "The staff is local, the restaurant, everything is actually local." — BW

Neighborhood Restaurant: Central
Bar for a Creative Cocktail


702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412,

You want cocktail cred? How's this: Shuga's has its own brand of bourbon, Bad Guy Bourbon, from nearby Distillery 291. Bad Guy stars in the Maggie's Hot Toddie, made with homemade lemonade and ginger tea, and served hot or cold. If it's late enough, you can also get it in their own specialty "Shrub" cocktail; just ask the bartender. But Shuga's also wins as a restaurant, so we'd urge you to try the Brazilian-style coconut shrimp or the brand-new Holy Shitake Ramen. And whether you're eating or drinking or both, make sure you're also ogling: Local art is all over the walls, and if you're hoping to show, there's a sign-up sheet in the back. — JMT

Power Lunch

MacKenzie's Chop House

128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536,

Weekly "Fresh Sheet" choices, and a staff with a great memory for names and faces, make this underground downtown hideaway a primo place to talk turkey or get the lowdown on what's going on in the city. On your way in, you might catch a glimpse of Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, former Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, state Rep. Mark Waller, developers Doug Quimby or John Cassiani, or Regional Business Alliance bigwig Joe Raso. But sit down and you'll find that the dim and quiet atmosphere allows for confidential strategy sessions. And if your lunch runs long, know that happy hour begins at 4, with $3 well drinks, drafts and house wines. — PZ

Food Truck

The Local


Though this food truck can often be found at downtown's Curbside Cuisine — and at farmers markets, weddings, and other events of ill repute — where The Local really lives is in our hearts. (Also, I guess, at its home base of Raven's Nest Coffee, likewise co-owned by Jo Marini, Phil Petty and Sara Crowell.) Combining a millennial flair for communication and design with a modern recognition of what people are eating — a lentil stew with gluten-free focaccia, for instance, or a Colorado-beef burger rubbed with coffee, adobo chili and brown sugar — the Local is everywhere we want to be. — BC


Monica's Taco Shop

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

Having been told for years of the unalloyed joys of Monica's, I stopped in at the Fillmore spot to see what the buzz was all about. I ordered a carne asada burrito, took bottles of both red and green salsas, and retired to the dining space at the back with plenty of napkins. The thing was homeric, stuffed to exploding with chewy beef, and ready to absorb squirts of red and green between bites. Note: Be sure to sample the goods at both Springs locations; they are individually operated by members of the Rodriguez family, and each serves up its own proprietary recipes. MJM

Restaurant Wine List
Neighborhood Restaurant: South

The Blue Star

1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086,

We went to the Blue Star to celebrate a friend's birthday on a recent Friday night. When the birthday turned into a marriage proposal, the staff took it in stride. The next night, while having a pre-movie drink at the bar, we saw our waiter from the night before. He said he'd had another proposal at a table that evening. That's what happens at a fantastic neighborhood restaurant: Quick meals or drinks can be grabbed, or life-changing moments can be hosted. And about the wine? You might consider perusing their website before visiting, given that the lists are the oenophile's War and Peace, only far less boring. (And those wines are even half-price on Sundays.) — LE


China Village

203 N. Union Blvd., 475-8299

I moved to Colorado Springs in the mid-'80s. Having come from New York, I decided that two types of food would be off-limits to me out here: Italian and Chinese. Except, that is, if the latter came from China Village. The restaurant, which has been open for 31 years, was the only place where my family and I could get wonton soup and egg rolls reminiscent of those from East Coast restaurants. Since then, the offerings in town have improved considerably, but I still return to China Village as a place where I can expect consistently good food and friendly service. — LE

Waffle Creations

Urban Steam Coffee Bar

1025 S. Sierra Madre St., 473-7832,

You may love the off-the-beaten-path Urban Steam Coffee Bar for its caffeinated pour-overs. And rightly so. But I love the shop for its sweet and savory waffles. You can find me there often on a Sunday morning, chowing down on one of their seven options. Most often I choose the Waffle Caprese, a buttermilk waffle perched atop fresh baby spinach, with soft mozzarella hunks and tomato slices, a red pepper tapanade and balsamic drizzle. But when I'm feeling the sweets, I order up the Monkeywrench, featuring bananas, walnuts and, oh my god yes, Nutella. — KA

Local Pizza Joint

Borriello Brothers

Multiple locations, 884-2020,

Shortly after moving to the Springs, I asked a buddy of mine where the best pizza was hiding. Borriello Brothers, he said. How many brothers are there? I asked. His response: "We're all Borriello Brothers, man." I was skeptical. But Borriello does cater to all, whether you're a pizza traditionalist or prefer your pie a little post-modern. The Colorado Green Chili Pie, which features King's Chef green chili, is highly recommended. The one that converted me, though, was the Godfather, with roasted tomato, crisp ham and Provolone cheese. One bite turned into one slice. One slice turned into a whole pie. I wiped my face with a napkin. Pushed back my chair. Let out a grunt of satisfaction. And considered myself a Borriello Brother, man. — JH

Neighborhood Restaurant: North

Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill

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

You don't expect much in the way of fresh food at your average Mexican/Tex-Mex/Whathaveyou joint. But Salsa Brava is different. Both locations offer what they call a "Clean Cooked" menu, which one employee says is "our version of the Paleo diet." He explains that as cooks prepare dishes like a vegan portobello mushroom fajita wrap, they make sure to remove leftover oils and sprays used from the rest of the menu, and eschew any kind of processed foods. Sounds like a great option for a lot of folks, and celiacs will appreciate the gluten-free menu. But as for me, I'm sticking with their good old chimichanga. — EA


Little Nepal

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

Little Nepal recently opened on Flintridge after years of success at its Eighth Street location. The original locale has also expanded, adding a gift shop where full-bellied customers can pick up bags of lentils, Indian spices, and arts and crafts items with ethnic flair. But the reason that Little Nepal has remained popular is definitely the food. Co-owner Raj Adhikari says Nepalese cuisine is very similar to northern Indian cuisine — the spice balance is just slightly different. "We have a touch of Nepal flavor," he says. "All the flavors are very equally settled together." The restaurant does tasty renditions of saag paneer, chicken korma, garlic naan and mango lassi. A buffet is available during limited hours and features many of the restaurant's most popular items, along with a few rotating surprises like gajarka halwa, a creamy carrot dessert. Keep in mind: Take-out is available for both the buffet and regular menu items. — JAS


Paravicini's Italian Bistro

2802 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8200,

When I wrote a 10-year-anniversary review of Paravicini's a few months ago, I was quite impressed by a number of plates, from an excellent eggplant rollatini to a cream-gushing Burrata and decadent mandarin orange vanilla panna cotta. I summarized that the neighborhood eatery had made good on its early potential. And you clearly agree, having awarded it Best Italian in the city dating back to 2005. "It's a stick-to-what-you-know kinda thing," says chef/co-owner Franco Pisani. "When I cook, less is more. Most of my dishes are five ingredients or less. Too many people are trying to complicate food flavors too much, building layers and layers. I just stick to the basics: good, fresh ingredients." — MS


Jun Japanese Restaurant

1760 Dublin Blvd., 531-9368; 3276 Centennial Blvd., 227-8690;

It's what isn't on the menu that brings some people back to Jun year after year. Don't get us wrong — the menu is long and varied. But "at this point," says Jun's general manager Roy McCartney, "we just keep doing what we're doing." So those in the know will ask, "What are you guys doing that's new?" It's a question the folks at Jun, from owner Jun Aizu on down, love to hear. If you ask they will build it, and chances are very good you will like it. — BW

Place for Jambalaya and Wild Tchoupitoulas

Creole Kitchen by Gus

Mobile, 464-5394

Even if you don't know what it means to miss New Orleans, you'll definitely want to visit the Creole Kitchen food truck, which rolled into the Curbside Cuisine lot across from Acacia Park and instantly became a mecca for fans of Crescent City cooking. NOLA transplant Gus Bootle serves up gator, gumbo and jambalaya that can give the best Big Easy eateries a run for their money. Accompany with a can of Barq's, a bag of Zapps Voodoo chips, a comfortable patio chair, and a connoisseurs' collection of recordings that range from the Wild Tchoupitoulas to Professor Longhair, and you'll never want to leave. — BF

Biscuits and Gravy

Over Easy, a Daytime Eatery

28 S. Tejon St., 471-2311,

It takes a lot to knock the Omelette Parlor off its breakfast throne, but what choice did our voters have when considering Over Easy? I mean, the place is filled with gluten-free options, and even has a menu section called "Pancake Bliss." And you want eggs Benedict? There are at least four varieties, ranging from options including house hollandaise and chorizo to prosciutto and balsamic. Plus, the downtown restaurant has wicked biscuits and gravy laced with sage and made from scratch. The only thing our northern eaters might like better is a closer location, so, naturally, look for a University Village Colorado expansion in 2014. — BC


Springs Orleans

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

The people have spoken on Springs Orleans' Bayou authenticity, and not just you good-looking Indy readers. "Coming from a guy that lives in and was born and raised in New Orleans," reads one comment on the restaurant's Facebook page, "I gotta tell you, y'all are doing it right!" Not bad for a hotel restaurant, though the place has always meant more than that to the downtown community. After all, with live music worth listening to, memorable food, and beignets that could float off the plate, Springs Orleans brings travelers to the foot of the Mississippi. — BC

Restaurant for Kids that Isn't Fast Food
Place to Dine Alone

Poor Richard's Restaurant

324½ N. Tejon St., 632-7721,

Imagine a place that has all your favorite smells: pizza, Pinot Noir, old books, new toys. Imagine a place with your favorite sounds: the voices of your best couple of friends, children playing in the background, the clinking of wine glasses. Welcome to Poor Richard's. Let your kids play while you discuss the latest print thriller. Write your masterpiece here without being bothered by servers trying to turn a table. All the while, experience why this place has become truly iconic in downtown Colorado Springs. — JMT

Neighborhood Restaurant: West

Front Range Barbeque

2330 W. Colorado Ave., 632-2596,

No surprise here. This is the 10th year in a row that Front Range has placed first in barbecue. It's also had a lock on best west-side neighborhood restaurant since the category's debut back in 2011. Front Range's rabidly loyal clientele is drawn to an alluring combination of down-home cooking and live performances by local and national touring acts. Owner Brian Fortinberry is enthusiastic about offering a "great little music venue" to the town, along with a new rotisserie smoker and an ever-expanding schedule of "Meet the Brewer" and other craft beer events. In the aftermath of disasters that have ultimately drawn people together, Fortinberry says he's proud to be part of this community and looks forward to a "return to normality and growth" in the years ahead. — BF



2607 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8272,

Are you a foodie with less adventurous friends? Do you find yourself eating at places where you sacrifice your taste buds for the sake of good company? TAPAteria offers a solution, one small plate at a time. With nothing but tapas on the menu (all gluten-free, many vegetarian and vegan), it's the perfect place for the gastronomically squeamish to try a bite or two without having to fork over the price for a full meal. And the foodies among us can satisfy our needs with offerings like bison carpaccio, Basque escargot, and chorizo and figs. — LE

Neighborhood Restaurant: Monument

La Casa Fiesta

230 Front St., Monument, 481-1234,

There are at least three more awards from the Indy on the walls here at La Casa Fiesta, but you'd probably miss them among all the festive Mexican decoration that also adorns the restaurant's interior. It's part of what makes La Casa Fiesta all things to all people, along with a cozy bar, spacious dining area and incredible heated patio. Among other "neighborhood restaurant" offerings: Well-priced kids menu? Check. Speedy service? Check. American food for the group's token gringo? Check. Chipotle-lime ribs that literally fall off the bone? Check! — JK

Place to Break off the Santa Fe Trail

Speed Trap

84 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, 488-2007,

It's about 20-some miles from downtown Colorado Springs to Palmer Lake. Via I-25, that's about 25 minutes, plus whatever extra time it takes to maneuver the construction mess that is the highway right now. Meanwhile, on a bike, it's a leisurely and quite pleasant 2½-hour morning ride north on the Santa Fe Trail. Which means by the time you hit Palmer Lake, you'll be craving a calorie-buster. At Speed Trap, you can go sweet with the orange-infused cream cheese French toast, or savory with the smoked salmon Benedict with asparagus (and excellent cheddar potatoes). Add a mimosa, but just one. You've still gotta get back home on two wheels. — KA

Local/Regional Restaurant Chain

Il Vicino

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

No longer do north-enders have to suffer the perils of I-25 to enjoy the goodness of Il Vicino. With the addition of the University Village location, they can more conveniently indulge in the wood-fired pizza goodness and glorious local brews for which Il Vicino is known. The long lines are worth the stacked Da Vinci's capocollo ham, artichoke hearts and Portobello mushrooms in a bed of mozzarella and marinara. Just grab a napkin to dab the drool while you wait. — NK


Tong Tong

2036 S. Academy Blvd., 591-8585

For the second year in a row, Tong Tong has earned your vote for Best Korean eatery in the Springs. After my recent visit, I'm crystal clear (well, at least glass-noodle clear) why. My servers were super-sweet and attentive, slicing my awesome kimchi pancake tableside off the dim sum cart and keeping my lovely hot root tea topped off. Tong Tong's banchan (array of complimentary side plates) are vibrant and generous, and the sizzle of sweet bulgogi meat on cast iron is music to the ears before it is a treat for the mouth, especially when paired with delicious sweet potato noodles. A free cinnamon-water finish with the bill also speaks volumes, in a language all eaters understand. — MS


Edelweiss German Restaurant

34 E. Ramona Ave., 633-2220,

Despite the Old World associations that come with much German food, Edelweiss' authentic menu is anything but static. And for good reason: Manager Dieter Schnakenberg says his parents go to Germany every other year for some research and development. The wienerschnitzel tends to be something your whole family can enjoy, while the bayrische schweinshaxe — a 22-ounce, skin-on, bone-in ham shank — answers the most primeval of calls. All Edelweiss' imported beers come from Germany, by the way, and many of the servers do, too. — JMT

Green Chili
Late-Night Dining

King's Chef Diner

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

The only Colorado roadside attraction to be featured in a Zippy the Pinhead comic strip, King's Chef has grown considerably from its humble origins in the mobile-home-sized, purple-painted castle on East Costilla Street. With two current locations, it's swept the Diner, Green Chili and Late-Night Dining categories for the last five years, thanks to calories-be-damned comfort foods like "The Grump," a massive mound that incorporates nearly all your most cherished breakfast staples. (Just add coffee!) Be sure not to skimp on the green chili, which is sold at Whole Foods but still made by hand at the Bijou Street location. Owner Gary Geiser also brags to us about his restaurant's new line of non-GMO and locally sourced ingredients. Best of all, King's Chef's weekend night-owl hours mean clubgoers can appease their appetites until 4:30 a.m. without ever having to set foot in a Denny's. — BF

Patio Dining

Amanda's Fonda

3625 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1975; 8050 N. Academy Blvd., 266-6680;

Amanda's Fonda is a perennial Best Of winner, and it's not just for the "great service, great food, great margaritas and great atmosphere," as Cyndi Strickland puts it. The Colorado Avenue location's assistant manager says the secret is the familial feeling among the staff. "We look out for each other. If somebody has something trying going on, like a death in the family, we'll pool together money to help them out." That support gave the staff strength after co-founder Amanda Lopez Burr died in 2005. Now, they carry on her determination to keep the west-side patio open year-round. February's opening of the North Academy location has given diners another patio to enjoy — along with the marvelous margaritas and Mexican cuisine. — RVP

Sunday Brunch

Lake Terrace at the Broadmoor

1 Lake Ave., 577-5771,

Hailed as the "Grand Dame of the Rockies" upon its completion in 1918, the Broadmoor has long been an elegant, cultured staple of Colorado Springs life. For more than 50 consecutive years, the hotel has received a Five-Star rating from Forbes Travel Guide, and it can boast three 18-hole golf courses, super-high-end shopping and the finest in spa packages. But the Broadmoor really pulls out all the stops when it comes to brunch. Every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., guests cram inside the Lake Terrace room ($45/person, reservations a must) for a buffet spread of more than 100 items. There's live piano music and ice sculptures and, most importantly, chocolate fondue fountains. — JH

Cute Dinner for Grown-Ups

Chicken pot pie at Wines of Colorado

8045 W. U.S. Hwy. 24, Cascade, 684-0900,

I didn't pick this just because of the heart-shaped cracker that comes on top of each pie. It helps, but this heaping dish hardly needs much décor — the crispy, flaky top covering creamy vegetables and healthy chunks of chicken are more than enough. According to the general manager, this house specialty is by far one of the restaurant's most popular items, and starts out as nothing more than a chicken dumpling soup blanketed with a puff pastry crust. And since it's a mere $8.95, you have cash left over to indulge in the joint's more adult namesake offerings. — EA


Mediterranean Café

118 E. Kiowa St., 633-0115,

Owners and chefs Mike Bergman and Pat Kennelly opened Mediterranean Café 14 years ago because they wanted to offer a healthier alternative to fast food. Today they use spices from the nearby Savory Spice Shop, and the well-tested recipes "are as good as they are going to get," says Kennelly. The veggie plate with falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj and dolmas rates as a favorite among vegans, while the half-falafel, half-gyro pita is also popular. When responding to customers who say the hummus is the best they've ever had, Kennelly says the tahini they use is more expensive than your typical version, and that they make their hummus fresh every day. Says Kennelly: "You cannot get hummus any fresher than that." — DM


Coquette's Bistro & Bakery

915 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-2420 (bistro) 651-3892 (bakery),

Originally opened about four years ago by Michelle Marx and her daughter Turu Marx-Eurich as a gluten-free creperie, Coquette's saw its menu expand when Turu's husband and chef Danny Eurich joined the team. But it's still all gluten-free; coming up with their unique proprietary blend of flour "took about six months of experimenting," says Marx-Eurich. "With the altitude, we had lots of challenges. It even gets tricky when the weather changes." But they've obviously got it right, because they're expanding their retail and wholesale lines (in Whole Foods Markets) and planning to open a second location next year for a restaurant and retail space in downtown Colorado Springs. — KK


La Baguette French Bakery-Café, La Baguette French Bistro

2417 W. Colorado Ave., 577-4818,; 117 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 636-5020,; 4440 N. Chestnut St., 599-0686,

This year, not only has La Baguette taken the French award for items like its rockin' French onion soup and cheese fondue, but it's reclaimed the Bread award it first won in 1994. The Old Colorado City locale is home to the bakers who produce for that shop, as well as for the separately owned downtown restaurant and La Baguette French Bistro on Chestnut Street, which has the most French offerings and serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday nights. A bakery staffer says though numbers fluctuate, they bake about 300 French rolls daily, Monday through Thursday. That means more than 62,000 rolls a year. A whole lotta baking — which doesn't even include their loaves, baguettes, batards, boules or to-die-for apple croissants. — KA

Middle Eastern

Heart of Jerusalem Café

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

Falafel. Kufta kabobs. Shawermah. Dolmas. Tabouleh. Babaganooj. Turkish coffee. It doesn't really matter what you order off of Heart of Jerusalem Café's loaded five-page menu of Middle Eastern delicacies, because, frankly, it's all good. Nor does it matter which of the two locations you visit, because when you walk in the door you'll be welcomed like family at both. Top off a visit with the walnut-almond-pistachio-honey baklava, and you'll go home smiling. — KA


Heart of Jerusalem Café

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

Jake & Telly's Greek Taverna (tie)

2616 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0406,

In the hummus smack-down, we've got two strong contenders. On one side of the ring, brothers Jake and Telly Topakas and their family recipe brought to the States from the Aegean isle of Chios. On the other side, Hussein Abukhdeir and his authentic Jerusalem chickpea concoction, available at two locations. You may prefer to dip your warm pita slices in one version over the other, but in this year's Best Of bout, it's a well-deserved international tie. — KA

Frozen Yogurt


Multiple locations,

There are several local fro-yo joints you can visit to get your pay-by-the-ounce fix, but YoYogurt is a clear favorite, having won this category for the last three years. At any of this family-run business' four locations, you can select your own mix of sweet and sometimes tangy flavors, with the self-serve machines containing options from chocolate to cheesecake, with the occasional seasonal flavor (pumpkin pie?) thrown in. The health-conscious will appreciate the highly visible nutritional information posted next to each offering that includes details such as the calorie count, sugar and carbohydrate content. (There are also gluten-free, fat-free, no-sugar-added and kosher options.) And all of us can appreciate the freely available sample cups. — DM


Wild Ginger

27 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 634-5025

Wild Ginger has been serving up consistently crowd-pleasing dishes from a large Thai menu since 1998, and doing so in its pretty Manitou Avenue location since 2010. Owners Khon Onexayvieng and her husband and head chef, Elmer, have kept the manner in which the food is prepared the same since the doors first opened, Elmer being one of only two cooks in the place. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And brother, it ain't broke; their soups are some of the best in the business! — MB


Saigon Café

20 E. Colorado Ave., 633-2888,

The city has no shortage of Vietnamese restaurants, but Saigon Café has won this category for a decade. The secret appears to be the use of fresh ingredients, consistency and expedient service. It also doesn't hurt that Saigon is located downtown, in a beautifully remodeled space that has the same light feel as the food. While favorites like noodle bowls and pho are always a hit, Saigon also offers many lesser-known goodies. We loved the spicy sweetness of the grilled beef short ribs on a recent visit. — JAS

Local Coffee House

The Perk Downtown

14 S. Tejon St., 635-1600

Hold on to your travel mug, and cruise through your commute knowing you are making a difference. The Perk Downtown has carried ethically traded coffees for a while, but now you can go onto its Facebook page and order a pound of Purple Mountain Coffee's Traffic Jam, proceeds from which "Help Push to End Human Trafficking." Owners Don and Kay Heaberlin don't want to just bag coffee. "We want to be a part of things. People need to know that trafficking happens, and not just overseas, but right here in the U.S. and in Colorado." With the addition of their new rooftop lounge area, they hope to expand the space where people can meet and talk, as well as maybe add a spot for local wine and beer tastings. — BW

Dessert Destination

Marigold Café and Bakery

4605 Centennial Blvd., 599-4776,

Sophie Chavanon, general manager and daughter of founders Elaine and Dominique Chavanon, says Marigold owes its continuing popularity to a combination of top-quality ingredients and the recipes her mom learned in France. "Our team of bakers [led by José Aguilar] starts the day baking at 4 a.m.," she says. "Our muffins, croissants, cinnamon twists, scones, cookies and other pastries are baked fresh each morning and still warm for the early birds." Marigold's most popular dessert? The fresh fruit tart. — MJM

Ice Cream/Gelato

Josh & John's Naturally Homemade Ice Creams

111 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 632-0299,

Want to know the best day to have ice cream? If you answered every day, you're right. But to show your true ice cream dedication, head downtown on a day when the temperatures don't go above 0 degrees Fahrenheit. On these rare days, ordering one regular scoop of ice cream earns you 15 punches — that's a free cone! — on the Josh & John's loyalty card. Yes, the colder it gets, the more punches you earn. Answering the often-challenging trivia questions correctly can also earn you extra punches. And the only thing better than Josh & John's ice cream (winner in this category since 1994) is free Josh & John's ice cream. — LE

New Cookie Concoctions

salt + butter co.


You may think the world revolves around homemade chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies, but once you've tried Mundi Ross' local-ingredient-heavy offerings, such as pumpkin curry oatmeal with potato chips, chocolate anise with pears, or lemon-basil with honey and walnuts, your taste buds will be spoiled for life. Perhaps it's a good thing that her home at the Colorado Farm and Art Market has shut down for the season. Wait, what's that? As of Oct. 26, Ross will be housed year-round at Stir? And she's working on a partnership with the Local food truck? Gotta run ... — KA

Local Coffee Roaster

Colorado Coffee Merchants

302 E. Fillmore St., 473-8878,

'Quality before profit. It's always been that way," says Colorado Coffee Merchants owner Eric Umenhofer of his coffees. Umenhofer and Co. are so dedicated to the perfect bean, they've expanded operations to offer classes in brewing and roasting the dark elixir. To do that, they've taken over the rest of their Fillmore Street building, adding 50 percent more room. "We can offer formal and informal classes," Umenhofer notes. "If a person wants to know how to brew a specific roast, we can take them to a place and show them, right then and there." He hopes to open up the more formal classes in roasting and brewing for the public by the middle of November. — BW

Sweet Addition to Fillmore

Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery

610 E. Fillmore St., 264-0177,

My drive time from home to Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery may have been halved by its recent move from the northeast side of town to its significantly larger Fillmore Street shop, but my wait has doubled. I don't mind, though — it just gives me more time to contemplate which pastry to pick. (Cranberry scone, almond croissant or bear claw?) And how many éclairs, Napoleons and strudels to have them toss in the bag. And whether to get powdered sugar or not on my Oliebollen. Or if I can justify an entire Black Forest cake for just my husband and me. — KA

Spot for Spot of Tea


1019 S. Tejon St., 520-0672

When I was a kid in Portland, Ore., my mother and I used to walk to breakfast on Sunday mornings. Our favorite spot was very tiny and very wallpapered. It looked like it had been furnished by rummaging through old ladies' attics. I always ordered the tea, which came in a small china pot with a teacup and saucer and made me feel like a proper lady in a Brontë novel. The first time I walked into Montague's, it was like entering a portal into the past. There, once again, was the wallpaper, the teapots, the gabbing bunches of gray-haired ladies, even the cakes under glass domes. Montague's emphasizes its large selection of teas, but it also offers coffee drinks, baked goods (including a gluten-free selection) and a menu that features sandwiches and soups. No wonder it's won this category four years in a row. Mom would approve. — JAS

Restaurant for a Wedding Reception

Briarhurst Manor Estate

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

The elegant and historic Briarhurst Manor Estate has taken gold every year since this category's debut in 2005. The estate can accommodate six weddings and receptions a day, Friday through Sunday, or one gigantic wedding at a time, filling up all six of its celebration locations with tulle and flower petals. When it comes to themed weddings, director of sales and marketing Janice Montoya has seen it all, but the most memorable was a bride in a Renaissance gown and a groom wearing a metal tux: "I've been here since 2004 and it was my very, very first suit of armor." — MJM

Chain champions

Congrats to some bigger businesses that locals love:

Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

7425 N. Academy Blvd., 594-9464; 2905 Geyser Drive, 219-1500;


Golden Corral

1970 Waynoka Road, 591-9870; 5410 E. Woodmen Road, 260-9369;


Red Robin Gourmet Burgers

2230 Southgate Road, 447-8810; 3770 Bloomington St., 622-8157; 1410 Jamboree Drive, 598-2473;


Jason's Deli

7455 N. Academy Blvd., 302-0234,

National Chain Coffee House

Starbucks Coffee Company

Multiple locations,

National Pizza Chain

Papa Murphy's

Multiple locations,

Neighborhood Restaurant: East

Rock Bottom Restaurant Brewery

3316 Cinema Point Drive, 550-3586,


Souper Salad

808 Garden of the Gods Road, 277-0687; 3636 Citadel Drive, 597-6124; 1434 Kelly Johnson Blvd., 533-0614;


Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches

Multiple locations,


Bonefish Grill

5102 N. Nevada Ave., 598-0826,

Smoothie/Juice Bar

Jamba Juice

1708 E. Woodmen Road, 598-1939; 3730 Bloomington St., 574-8787;


Panera Bread

Multiple locations,

Wait Staff

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant

513 N. Academy Blvd., 591-1210; 7815 N. Academy Blvd., 260-6677;

Buy article reprints!

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast