34 E. Ramona Ave., 633-2220, edelweissrest.com
Edelweiss' patio needs to be talked about more. Or, more to the point, enjoyed more often as the transportive, shaded respite it is at lunchtime. We sip through a six-pour German bier flight ($7) — itself a respite from high-ABV, hop-crazed American craft beers — and enjoy the generally light, yeasty, Old World beer profiles.
And damn, does their breadiness pair well with a Reuben ($10.50), stacked thick on Wimberger's German rye with corned beef and a generous quantity of sauerkraut. Plus the sauerbraten ($10.25), which hits hard with tangy vinegar influence both in a saucy red cabbage sauerkraut and the house "sweet-sour" thick gravy that cloaks large discs of marinade-tenderized beef. A slice of beautifully layered chocolate rum torte ($5.25) quickly convinces me we should also be talking about Edelweiss' pastry program, with the reverence we use with Marigold and Broadmoor kitchens. Good stuff going on all over here. — Matthew Schniper
934 Manitou Ave., #105, Manitou Springs, facebook.com/loftmanitou
Not to be confused with The Loft in Old Colorado City, Loft the coffee shop in the Manitou Spa Building acts as a pay-it-forward-style entity where if you're in need, you can grab a sip or bite thanks to someone who overpaid before you. For example, my handwritten receipt details a suggested $4.10 for a medium dirty chai and $3.75 for a small one, for a total of $7.85. We drop 10 bucks and don't ask for change, so $2.15 goes into the kitty. ... Oops, I later realize I didn't delineate any as a staff gratuity.
That staff's otherwise good about explaining the system as they greet you from behind a dark wood barista counter amid lots of local artwork and handicrafts for sale. Framed chalkboards display syrup, soup, salad, espresso and breakfast options, while pastries rest under domed glass pie covers atop the counter. A man in moccasins requests a slightly damaged one gratis, as we happily sip our Oregon Chais infused with Barista Espresso. Ah, Manitou. — Matthew Schniper
773 Garden of the Gods Road, 219-6882, jbdogs.com
The gods have decreed there must always be a purveyor of Vienna Beef, and thus we're joined by Johnny B's, which aims to bring "a taste of Chicago" to town. It's a clean, surprisingly large space boldly decorated in the expected yellow, blue and red, along with black-and-white pictorial callbacks to the Windy City and a map on which Chicagoans can mark their neighborhoods.
You can get the meat in the Italian beef sandwich ($8.49 plus 49 cents for giardiniera) dry or wet, or have the whole thing dipped in jus. I opt for the latter, leading to an oily, soggy mess of happiness. This thing will melt in your hands, but not before a thick layer of tender shavings mixes with fat cuts of sweet peppers and just enough salt. Kind of gross, but so satisfying. A pillowy, steamed pastrami sandwich ($6.49) features Swiss cheese oozing down the poppyseed bun. And Johnny's Chicago dog ($3.79) is textbook, with lots of celery salt, for once. — Bryce Crawford