I Love Pho
1817 S. Nevada Ave., 328-1000
The most amazing thing about I Love Pho is that it's still here after a year. You might recall the establishment's earlier re-brands (TK's Mongolian Grill and Gloni Italian Street Food), which came and went in a matter of months. Apparently, joining Colorado Springs' pho boom is just what the dining doctor ordered.
I'd enjoyed the namesake soup last year, and thus went for an equally light lunch of the com ga nuong grilled chicken plate ($6.95) this go-round. It's a dish that's economical in every sense of the word: cheap in price, restrained in complexity and really humble in its clean flavor simplicity. Jasmine rice drinks the side nuoc cham for sweet fishiness, a tiny cucumber-carrot salad adds fresh crunch, and green onions garnish the thin, charred poultry strips that are perfectly plain. Not much excitement here, but no disappointment, either. — Matthew Schniper
Fifty Fifty Coffee House
330 N. Institute St., facebook.com/ravensnestcoffee
Fifty Fifty encapsulates a little bit of Colorado Springs' community-gathering rebirth, where a hip space — think the now-defunct Domino furniture shop that used to live in Old Colorado City — meets food with intent; where you're likely to find gluten-free pastries, non-GMO chips, vegan cream cheese, and butter from grass-fed cows, like you do here.
A large, $4 mocha arrives in a tall glass cup, with thick, homemade whipped cream forming a peak in the center. The sweet, single-source chocolate comes courtesy of an outfit in Portland. A pressed turkey sandwich ($7) plays nice as well, with thick slices of local turkey combining with double-crème Brie, ripe avocado and tomato slices on sourdough. Other items on the small menu include granola, bagels and an egg sandwich featuring Karami Japanese Salsa made by Teppei, a new, innovative company from Boulder that uses gluten-free soy sauce. — Bryce Crawford
2704 E. Fountain Blvd., 632-0512
If there's one thing that Fountain Boulevard can't get enough of, it's a friendly spot slinging sugar. Luckily, there's Amy's Donuts, a medium-sized outfit done up in sherbet pinks and oranges boasting glass display cases brimming with mouth (and eye) candy. Some of the beautiful creations are unreal — I'm talking to you, maple bar topped with strips of crispy bacon — while other vibrant rounds of dough look straight from The Simpsons.
And hey, there's even something for the lunch crowd, with jalapeño pigs-in-a-blanket or ham-and-cheese croissants ($2.89), the latter doing a tender, moist and salty thing between pillowy layers. The large apple fritter ($1.79) is just as filling, and its dense, soft dough is perfect for the suspended cubes of zinging apple. One bite fills your mouth with steaming cinnamon. A chocolate donut with chopped peanuts (95 cents) is physical proof that bread can melt in your mouth. — Bryce Crawford