Rockyard American Grill & Brewing
880 Castleton Road, Castle Rock, 303/814-9273, rockyard.com
Back in December, Matthew got all gushy on two Rockyard beers he sampled at Coaltrain Wine & Spirits' annual Christmas tasting: Rockyard's Double IPA and Bourbon Barrel Stout, upgrades of the company's flagship Hopyard IPA and Lighting Strike Stout, respectively.
The Castle Rock company's seasonal Excavator Doppel Bock ($8.99, four-pack) is also a strong beer, perhaps the best American-made Bock I've tried. The German style enjoys a proud history of being a meal replacement drink to sustain Monks during times of fasting — essentially a liquid bread. Dark amber with a robust and slightly sweet malt flavor, this 7.5 percent ABV lager performs equally well as a nice, cold pint to accompany your meat and potatoes. Generally brewed and released in winter months, it's quite a treat to find early in the summer. — Steve Hitchcock
Dutch Mill Tavern
503 W. Colorado Ave., 471-3370, dutchmilltavern.com
Mi Lee's drink spot is as lived-in a bar as you're going to find, full of wood, regulars and friendly snark. The shades have likely been mostly closed for decades, the jukebox is in the corner, and please note the sign above the bar: "No checks, no foo-foo drinks and no talking to imaginary people!!!"
The food's pretty standard, too, until you get to the kimchi burger ($7.95) and the smelt basket ($6.50). Sporting a mixed patty of beef, the spicy fermented cabbage, green onions, garlic, ginger and sesame seeds, the burger's an interesting, though incomplete, idea. It comes topped with pickled red onions and lots of mayo, and has a nice tang to it, but badly needs a fresh component to balance. The smelt's just fun: a basket of whole, 4-inch-long fish, deep-fried and munched with tartar. Its crunchy bones go down without a fight, at least until you get to a big one. — Bryce Crawford
Do Drop Inn
944 E. Kimble Drive, Pueblo West, 719/547-8440, menusfirst.com/pueblo/dodropinn.htm
There's been a Do Drop downtown since 1977, but I visited this 11-year-old extension to try the pizza (pies, $14.99 to $24.89). They're locally legendary and perhaps the only dish worth visiting for, both in my experience and from what I've culled from online reviews.
It's a thick-crust, super-dense, sweet-dough pizza; all the staff will say is that it's made with sugar. Mortifying to some, supremely gratifying to others. Sauce and toppings are fairly light, but items like sausage taste great with the sweetness. It's truly unlike any pizza I've ever eaten.
A huevos rancheros ($6.98) is lamer than most; a salmon salad ($10.99), fresh but dominated by briny artichoke hearts; and an Alfredo-drenched, Fontina-and-Canadian-bacon Chicken Cordon Blu ($12.99), heavy and sort of generic. — Matthew Schniper