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Cultura sets sights on a more wholesome Pueblo West




Cultura does not have the burgers and fries you're looking for.

Pueblo, like Colorado Springs and the wider world, has plenty of those, plus other heavy standards. This 8-month-old sandwich stop seeks to be the truly healthy alternative, branded with an easy, modern design that includes a bright, glass-walled dining room and basic, wholly recognizable menu.

If the name sounds futuristic, maybe it's because trends do seem to indicate that organic and natural ingredients (used where affordable, fairly widely here), plus locally produced items and ample gluten-free alternatives, are where customers are headed in coming years. But when owner Amy Morrison opts for local green chilies and Boulder Natural meat for a Southwest chicken panini on sourdough, and only prices it at $6.99 believing that's all her market will bear, it shows that she's balancing business savvy with community investment.

And Cultura feels like a true neighborhood spot, located just across from a library, county sheriff's office, fire department and a sprawl of residences. Morrison's daughter and son aid in superior service that for us includes a mindfully packed, ice-bagged to-go box in order to get our cold items down the road in proper form.

While waiting, we do (healthier) dessert first in the form of the Pikes Peak granola bowl ($5.99), a mix of crunchy granola clumps, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and bananas with a local honey drizzle and a topping-swirled beehive of tart Yoki Bliss yogurt from Boulder (previously sourced by Buttercup's Frozen Yogurt here).

Sips from the smoothie list incorporate the yogurt again to general delight. The Snowmass ($5.29) mimics a thin piña colada with pineapple and coconut simplicity; the Java Drift Mocha ($4.99) adds coconut milk and roast-rich coffee and chocolate elements without falling too sweet; the Mount Massive ($5.89), our favorite despite a touch of chalkiness, hippies out with hemp, chia, agave and cocoa powder in a filling banana base.

Come sandwich time, a Caprese-esque Pesto with Mozzarella on Pueblo's Banquet Schusters Bakery focaccia ($6.99) handles the good green stuff well, with ample basil essence. A Muffuletta ($8.99) justifies the two extra bucks with a thick turkey, salami and ham strata, if not quite enough chopped olive content for the style. A chicken salad sandwich ($6.99) sports an overly dry whole grain bread and nothing special to distinguish it (such as a notable fruit or spice element).

Of all, the Heisenberg ($7.99) leads the pack on excellent Outside the Breadbox oat bread that's imperceptibly gluten-free and plenty sturdy; chicken, bacon, Pepper Jack and veggies collide with ranch dressing for heavier heartiness. Poultry stars again on the hugely portioned roasted chicken salad ($7.89), featuring mostly organic greens with noticeably fresh vegetables and a fun green chile ranch dressing.

Though there are no major reinventions past the good intentions at Cultura, it sips and smacks as a solid sandwich shop all-round. Safe and satisfying as a chewy, moist homemade cheesecake brownie ($2), it also cares enough to not throw another Pueblo slopper in your direction.

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