Good Karma Coffee Lounge
110 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, goodkarmacoffeelounge.com
Good Karma nears 1½ years in business soon, making a good go of the former Naturally's spot (better remembered as the longtime home of Adam's Mountain Café). It's forged enough of its own identity for cozy coffee and colorful breakfast plates, striking serviceable but not superlative notes, as evidenced by a basic ham and cheese omelet and the Pueblo potato bowl (each $8.95).
Generous, filling portions aren't a problem, with ample melted cheddar caps and lots of hefty-size home fries, nor are fluffy-enough eggs. A very safe, mild, starchy green chile hits the Pueblo's snooze button, though, and the omelet really only comes alive under ample bottled hot-sauce garnishing. A Barista Espresso Cafe Vienna ($3.50) does sparkle, with cinnamon, honey and dark chocolate essence finely avoiding cloying territory. — Matthew Schniper
757 Gold Hill Place, Woodland Park, loveeachothercafe.com
Sometimes you just need to do what the sandwich board says: On Cafe Leo’s patio, it promotes a lavender latte ($4.20/12 ounces) concocted with a house-made lavender-brown sugar simple syrup, and a banana pudding milkshake ($5.35/16 ounces) made simply with the fruit, vanilla ice cream and Nilla Wafers.
Personable owner Dennis Fryer, who bought the former Gold Hill Java business in mid-2012, whips both up to perfection (the floral accent seamless and natural-tasting in the espresso) while discussing his style as it relates to the upcoming roast-off for Colorado Springs Craft Week. Fryer roasts a “true trade” single-origin Ugandan coffee for Yobel Market (which hosts a small kiosk at Leo), which will be the featured competition bean at the May 2 Crafter’s Festival. That advantage and this awesome latte might make him the guy to beat. — Matthew Schniper
908 N. Circle Drive, 473-6998
Located on the west side of Circle, La Dona is a pretty restaurant done up in warm colors, with market scenes and flamenco dresses on the walls. We entered into a small front room where, behind the counter, dishes, some more alluring looking than others, bubbled in their pans. We were all set to dive into them too, until it was roughly communicated that the restaurant is cash-only, meaning we could only afford to try the tacos dorados ($6.99).
Six small fried tacos stuffed with a creamy potato filling soon graced our table, topped with cabbage, a tomato and what looked like cotija cheese. They were warm, crispy and fast and fun to eat, but the whole affair was fairly low on flavor. The adjoining salsa bar helped some, but most offerings there were watery and under-seasoned. Go with the mildly zesty tomatillo if you go at all. — Bryce Crawford