- Matthew Schniper
- To customize your perfect pizza, try Bambino’s.
Eric, 42, is a Department of Defense contractor. He’s divorced, and while he has his kids for the weekend, he wants to spend some quality time with them. For breakfast, he’ll take them to the Denver Biscuit Co. (denbisco.com), a newish place that’s made its mark on the Springs with biscuit sandwiches, French toast biscuits and massive, bacon-covered cinnamon rolls. It’s an indulgent breakfast, but the kids get their choice between sweet and savory, and dad gets all the coffee he can drink. For lunch, he’ll take the kids somewhere they can have even more choice over what they want to eat. The build-your-own, fixed-price pizzas at Bambino’s Urban Pizzeria (bambinosurbanpizzeria.com) let the kids build whatever pizza or mac-and-cheese creation they want. And if he wants something a little healthier for himself, he can build a veggie-covered pizza or a salad. It’s a great compromise between flexible menu offerings and familiar fare, and for families, it’s a fine choice. For dinner, dad’s chosen to go meaty with Front Range Barbeque (frbbq.com). Choices abound here, too, including pork, beef, chicken and catfish options. Southern-style sides like slaw or red beans and rice make the meal complete, and for adult dessert, there’s a rotating selection of craft beers on tap.
Maya, 22, studies at a local university, and her family is visiting to celebrate her impending graduation. She wants to show off some of the coolest spots in town and score brownie points with judgy Aunt Rita. For breakfast, she’ll guide her family to King’s Chef Diner (cosdiner.com), where she’s had more than a few green chile dishes to perk herself up after late nights studying. Whatever they go for, she knows her family will get a taste of legitimate Southwestern cuisine. For lunch, she just has to introduce them to the Brazilian coconut shrimp soup at Shuga’s (shugas.com), which she knows Aunt Rita will go gaga over. But the whole menu’s full of eats as hip and eclectic as the decor inside this comparatively quaint little spot, and if her folks are feeling in the right mood, cocktails available by pitcher or by glass will surely hit the spot, too. For dinner, she will take the folks to Odyssey Gastropub (odysseygastropub.com) to dine on eclectic yet approachable bites like a chicken and waffles rendition with guajillo chile butter. Her folks can try something a little different without feeling totally out of their depth. The cocktail menu has some fun to offer, and if someone in the family’s a beer aficionado, they’ll find sound offerings as well.
- Matthew Schniper
- Adam’s Mountain: A Manitou go-to for a reason.
Twila, 36, is a yoga instructor who’s toying with the idea of going vegan but wants to know she’ll still be able to go out with friends. For breakfast, she’ll scout out Adam’s Mountain Café (adamsmountaincafe.com), which has a selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings for her to choose from, as the menu is 65 percent vegetarian and 40 percent vegan, so she isn’t confined to the salad section. Her options veer global, too, and she could easily come back for lunch and dinner. But for lunch this time, she’ll head north and sample the new Sprig (sprigeats.com), which offers plant-centric and wellness eating in a familiar fast casual setting, perfect for blitzing her chakras with a smoothie bowl or a brown rice or quinoa bowl topped with a variety of veggies. It also has a drive-thru for when she’s on the go, and the house-made juices make it tempting to stop by for a healthy snack. For dinner, she’ll hit the Springs’ beloved vegan dive bar, Burrowing Owl (burrowingowllounge.com), for bar bites and comfort food that nonetheless lets her avoid animal products. She can choose from tacos, nachos and mac and cheese, or she can plan ahead and sample one of the weekly specials. The Owl also serves cheap, creative cocktails and a jaw-dropping array of canned beers, so she can get her drink on, too.
- Matthew Schniper
- Fall in love with Piglatin Cocina’s quesadillas.
No coat requiredSome of the best meals we’ve had have come from simple, unpretentious eateries. Tlaquepaque (restauranttlaquepaque.com) always blows our minds with tortas, birria and other dishes. El Taco Rey (eltacorey.com)’s avocado pork burritos and tacos are an indulgent delight every time. Mediterranean Cafe (medcafe-co.com) has earned our loyalty through affordable quality in all of its dishes. Slice 420 (slice420.com) dishes out New York-sized slices with an array of toppings. And the naked fried chicken at Al’s Chicken & Waffles (facebook.com/alschickenandwaffles) merits a stop whenever we can spare the time. Of the plethora of good Thai spots in town, we’re partial to Thai Mint (thai-mint.com/index) and Arharn Thai (arharnthai.net). In addition to their noodle bowls, Rooster’s House of Ramen (makeamericaslurpagain.com) dishes interesting Banh Mi sandwiches. Speaking of Vietnamese fare, pho places abound, but Saigon Cafe (coloradosaigoncafe.com) and Pho-nomenal (phonomenalrestaurant.com) command a huge local following. And, lastly in this sweeping snapshot, Uchenna (uchennaalive.com) serves lovely Ethiopian dishes.
- Griffin Swartzell
- Find authentic desserts at The French Kitchen.
Pour some sugar on meFor most, desserts rule, and the Springs’ eateries can sugar up anyone who’s got a little cash and a little time. Springs ice creamery Josh & John’s Ice Cream (joshandjohns.com) has three locations around town, with signature flavors that should satisfy more conventional palates and seasonal flavors for an offbeat treat. Boonzaaijer’s Dutch Bakery (dutchpastry.com) offers a tantalizing variety of European-style baked goods, from impulse-buy desserts to go with its coffee drinks to special occasion cakes. Visitors to The French Kitchen (tfkcc.com) may favor a pain au chocolat, or they might prefer a piece of opera cake, but they’ll be wowed by the authentic French patisserie whatever they choose. Those looking to avoid gluten have a few options around town, with the most venerated being Coquette’s Bistro (coquettesbistro.com), which built its reputation on a foundation of cupcakes. And those who prefer candy have strong choices in Cacao Chemistry (cacaochemistry.com) or Bonbon Bombardier (bonbonbombardier.com), both sound options.
Shaken, stirred and built
- Matthew Schniper