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Best of Goods and Services: Making us look good


Best Bakery

Readers' Poll Winner
Marigold Caf and Bakery
4605 Centennial Blvd., 599-4776

See, if aliens landed in Colorado Springs, no, wait! If Captain Kirk came to the Springs with aliens, and with Spock and the doctor, and these aliens wanted to know all about humans, or maybe they wanted to become humans, or were judging humans or something. Wait, where was I? Oh, yeah, they come here, and Kirk shows them Pikes Peak, and the doctor sings "America the Beautiful" or "Jimmy Crack Corn" and then Spock talks about all the high-tech industry and maybe how illogical something is, but then to teach these aliens the sum total of all that humanity has achieved, they take them to Marigold's for bread. The aliens smile, if they have mouths, and chew happily and, like, one of them pinches Kirk on the butt. -- mbp

Best Rehearsal Dinner Backup
Pasta di Solazzi
4659 Centennial Blvd., 531-6906

What's a bride to do? She wakes up the day before her wedding to find her groom still tanked from his bachelor party the night before. Not a travesty, to be sure. At least he didn't run off with the cocktail waitress. But timing is an issue: In four short hours, they should be leaving for the rehearsal. In five short hours, 45 hungry friends and family member will be descending on the happy couple's home for a little backyard whoop-dee-doo. The hitch? In a particularly ambitious moment, the groom and his brother had offered to prepare the rehearsal dinner. But in the warm glow of reality, the bride questions whether the groom and his brother will be upright by evening, never mind functional enough to wield knives and operate the grill. The soon-to-be-mother-in-law arrives and, observing neither of her sons hard at work in the kitchen, whisks the bride away to Pasta di Solazzi. They nibble on olives, taste-test salads, linger over casseroles and cheeses and chocolate bread. A wave of relief washes over the bride. She decides she'll get married after all. -- tp

Best Specialty Food Store

Readers' Poll Winner
Zugspitze International Gourmet
3819 Maizeland Road, 574-3819

Simply put, this is the store for cooks, young and old, inexperienced and well seasoned, basic or extravagant. And, as Owen Meredith said (in 1860):
We may live without poetry, music and art;
We may live without conscience, and live without heart;
We may live without friends; we may live without books;
But civilized man cannot live without cooks!

-- mbp

Best Furniture Store

Readers' Poll Winner
American Furniture
2805 N. Chestnut St., 633-4220

Name your toughest criteria -- American Furniture can meet it. You need a Scotchgarded couch that can resist the rough-and-tumble of three children under the age of 7. You need a recliner that your husband will find comfortable but won't collapse under the combined weight of your father-in-law, your children, your nieces and nephews and someone's puppy. You want upholstery that matches your cat's hair, so you won't have to vacuum so often. You want comfortable bar stools for your breakfast nook so your teenagers won't eat standing up. You want a dining room table that goes from 4 to 12 in 60 seconds with no pinched fingers or frayed nerves. You desire a bedroom suite that reaches a delicate balance between rugged cowboy and feminine floral. It's all here. -- mbp

Best Service and Knowledge When You're Trying to Buy Hiking Boots
1376 E. Woodmen Rd., 260-1455

It's a tossup over which is better, the sheer knowledge about the bazillion styles and brands of hiking boots, or the superb customer service. The REI folks refuse to be rushed, and will let you try on as many pairs of boots as you like. Of course, they're going to make you get off your butt and tramp around the store in them, hike up and down the fake rocks, bounce on your toes and rock on your heels. This is not a passive experience. Plus they'll show you how to tie your boots in several different ways to help you adjust the fit still further, but then you have to go through all the walking and hopping and bobbing again. It's worth it, if you don't want to blister on the trail. -- mbp

Best Reason to Leave Work Early
4:30 Bikram at Yoga Source
623 N. Nevada Ave., 475-9908

I was never able to say, "I have to go now," and leave the office at a reasonable time until I discovered the miracle of ending the day with yoga in a super-heated room. When Merry Peniston opened the doors of Yoga Source last January, I immediately fell in love with the beautifully decorated building and the heat. Ahhhhhhh, the heat. It heals what ails you. It turns your joints and limbs into rubber. It sweats out all the tensions and toxins. It's the perfect buffer between work and home. -- kce

Best Place to Buy Music

Readers' Poll Winner
Independent Records
Five locations around town

Offering the ultimate selection of music (new, used and vinyl), as well as cult videos, up-to-date concert information and fine water pipe accessories, Independent Records caters to both the serious connoisseur and casual browser. With five locations throughout the city, including one store devoted almost entirely to used discs, this mini empire's voluminous music selections make for some of the best perusing in town. Ska, punk, soul, rap, gospel, metal, classical, rock, country, show tunes and rare vinyl all live under the same roof and share equal billing.

But best of all, Independent Records may be the last shred of evidence that a thriving underground counterculture still exists in this city. While other retailers try to tone down their less traditional looking employees by either restricting jewelry and hair color, or dressing them in polo shirts and khakis, Independent Records celebrates the free-to-be-you-and-me spirit with patrons and employees alike. And sure, there may be some attitude that occasionally accompanies the counterperson, but they know their stuff and are as helpful as bright-eyed Boy Scouts. -- sb

Best Tattoo Parlor

Readers' Poll Winner
Art with a Pulse
729-1/2 W. Colorado Ave., 630-3628

They've won every freaking year. Every year. We've investigated and we're pretty sure they're not stuffing ballots or bribing staff, so it must be legit. And seeing as how Art with a Pulse is also sparkling clean and beyond sterile, and the staff is talented, experienced and way cooler than you or I, it's no surprise that they've won Best Tattoo Parlor once again. See you next year, guys. -- ks

Best Place to Get Your Dog Detailed
1625 W. Uintah St., Suite H, 457-9274

It looked like Sparky had the mange, but in fact she was just really, really dirty. A hard month's labor for Sparky had brought her to this degree of grossness, and she wasn't about to just give it up. There had to be an intervention. And it had to be at Wag-N-Wash.

Sparky suspiciously climbed up the nonskid ladder and into the big tub, and allowed herself to be tethered to the breakaway leash lines. Once the temperature-controlled water came on, Sparky knew she was a goner. Pounds of hair and filth went down the drain.

After her perfumy shampoo and low-heat blow-dry, Sparky's chocolate lab curls shone like polished mahogany. She wiggled as the attendant gave her a cookie and helped her down from the counter. She was thinner, her hair had more body, and she had energy to do the things she always wanted to do, like jump out of the car and head straight for the mud puddle.

We'll be back real soon. -- ks

Best Way to Find a Delinquent Friend
Call the Criminal Justice Center

Friends unusually late? Not been seen for a few days? Is your friend that type who can take care of himself, but has a tendency toward public drunkenness? Petty theft? Bar brawling? Street fighting? Graffiti? Flashing? Whatever your missing friend's illegal hobbies may be, you might find them with just one quick and easy call. Dial 390-2000, and you'll be put through to a helpful El Paso County Corrections Officer, who will be more than happy to try multiple spellings of your friend's name in order to find out if that old jokester has landed him/herself a night in the clink. Don't lose sleep calling the neighbors, driving around town, checking old haunts! Just call 390-2000. El Paso County -- making sure your dumb-ass friends are safe, sound and easily reached. -- ks

Best Men's Clothing Store

Readers' Poll Winner
The Men's Wearhouse
693 N. Academy Blvd., 637-1574

Recently I went along on a suit-shopping expedition for the first time. Let me tell you, I was dreading this experience. We started off at the Men's Wearhouse on North Academy where the manager, Warfield Nance, stepped up to help us. He sized my honey in minutes, pointed us to the right section for the size, pulled out a few jackets in the color scheme we were interested in and left us alone! After trying on only three, we found the perfect jacket. Mr. Nance returned to double-check the fit, asked if we needed anything else and got us checked out. What I feared would be an all-day event turned into a less-than-an-hour event and we left with money in our pockets. -- cs

Best Supermarket

Readers' Poll Winner
King Soopers
Nine locations around town

People look at you funny when you're standing in the checkout line at 10:30 p.m. to purchase Drain-O, cat food and whipped cream. The woman buying cat litter, a pint of Ben and Jerry's, Oreos and People magazine? She has PMS. The guy buying hot dogs, corn chips and lots of beer is eating alone, but the guy buying broccoli, Cornish hens and Uncle Ben's rice has a date coming over. The woman buying extra-strength pain reliever, fake-meat veggie crumbles, baby carrots, whole wheat bread and 12 boxes of macaroni and cheese is probably me, so don't point and laugh. It's rude. -- mbp

Best Used Books

Readers' Poll Winner
The Book Broker

(formerly: FourCorners, Gateway)

119 E. Bijou St., 635-4514 (formerly at 1635 W. Uintah St.)

There's nothing better than a lazy, undisturbed afternoon, preferably a rainy one, in a used bookstore. The air is faintly musty, the lighting indirect but bright enough to read by. You can wander up and down the aisles, pausing here and there to pull a volume from the shelf and read the back cover, the reviews inside the front cover, maybe the first few pages. You can find adventure, romance, suspense, horror and self-help, not to mention all sorts of how-tos and cookbooks, Westerns, biographies and world histories. Don't forget to wander through the children's section, where pulling "Charlotte's Web," "Pippi Longstocking" or "Little House in the Big Woods" can transport you instantly back to your childhood and make you crave a cup of hot chocolate and a comfy couch. Go home and call your mom. -- mbp

Best Women's Clothing

Readers' Poll Winner

Terra Verde

Also voted Best Home Accessories Store and Best Place for Eclectic Gift by Independent Readers

208 N. Tejon St., 444-8621

It wasn't the first date, but it was the first date that mattered. Where else could I possibly have gotten the perfect outfit -- a blend of sophistication, hipness and studied casualness? The tough part was deciding what to buy. "Get it all," whispered all the bad influences buzzing in my brain. "Oh, OK," I replied.

On other shopping quests the prize was the perfect gift for another. Whether birthday or wedding present (I have friends who married just so they could get goodies from Terra Verde -- at least it seemed that way), this is the place to search. From picture frames and candleholders to pine armoires, from duvet covers to silk pillows, gorgeous jewelry to whimsical holiday decorations, this is unique, one-stop shopping at its best. It seems to get better with every season. An added plus: friendly staff with sublime gift-wrapping skills. -- nh

Best Health Club/Gym

Readers' Poll Winner
YMCA-USO of the Pikes Peak Region
Four locations around town

Ever look closely at those print and television ads for membership specials at local gyms? The ones that feature 20-something gods and goddesses whose chiseled muscles glisten? Ever been discouraged at the very real thought that you don't look quite so good in spandex? Take heart and head for the Y. Real people work out there.

From little kids with their first set of soccer shoes to grannies staving off the aging process, YMCA membership mirrors our city. Activities and facilities are equally varied: day camp for kids; movie night poolside for teens; classes in kick-boxing, pilates, aerobics, yoga; and more fitness machines than any work(out)aholic needs. And membership fees are still a relative bargain.

The newest Y out in Briargate has some spiffy stuff, but the heart of any town is its downtown, and the heart of the multi-sited Y is its Nevada location. Runners head out toward Monument Valley Park; society movers shmooze from rowing machines. Now if they would just work on the air-conditioning ... -- nh

Best Free Service
Car Seat Safety Checks
DRIVESMART Colorado Springs, 533-8424

For a technologically advanced nation, we're curiously clumsy when it comes to installing our children's car seats. And an incorrectly installed car seat is little better than no car seat. Fortunately for our kids, there is a group of people in Colorado Springs who will thoroughly, in minute detail, examine your car seats and teach you about proper installation and use. If you've got one kid or four kids in car seats, they will inspect each and every seat with an amazing attention to detail, and it's all for FREE!!! Isn't the safety of your children worth the time it will take to get their seats inspected? Call Maile Gray of DRIVESMART Colorado Springs, 533-8424, to get all the details about getting your car seats inspected. -- mbp

Best Bike Shop

Readers' Poll Winner
Criterium Bicycles
6150 Corporate Drive, 599-0149

The people at Criterium know bikes like fat babies know heavy. Look around at the sales staff-- they've all got those knotty muscular calves that come from people who actually ride their bikes. A lot. But the best part about Criterium is their lack of discrimination. You could be an Olympic-level, hairless, sun- and wind-burned hard-core cyclist, but you won't get treated any better than the frazzled stay-at-home mom whose child-bearing butt hasn't touched her mountain bike in four years but wants new bike shorts so she can try to get out on the trail again. -- mbp

Best Source for an Impromptu Cocktail Party

Also voted Best Deli by Independent readers
Cunningham's Market
10 S. Tejon St., 328-1900

It's Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Your office phone rings; it's your roommate.
You are having a cocktail party. Tonight.
She will get the liquor. You are in charge of food.
Panic sets in. What? Where? How fast?
Then you remember ... the best little deli in the Springs.
Cunningham's. Conveniently downtown.
Everything you need is available in individual serving sizes, prepared, easy -- from meat to salads to dessert.
You are saved. Your roommate is saved.
Dinner at 7.

-- cs

Best Place to Buy Feta and Black Olives
Briar Mart International Market and Caf
1843 Briargate Blvd., 528-6869

Besides three types of feta (French, Hungarian and Greek), plus tubs and jars of black olives at the lowest price in town, this is also the best place to buy pita bread, Persian cucumbers, pomegranate molasses, Israeli couscous, kabob seasoning and pickled eggplant. Added bonus: There isn't another store in the Springs that smells so appetizing when you wander the aisles. -- mbp

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