- Griffin Swartzell
- Upper 90 Tavern: convenience, plus a great view of the soccer fields below.
It's the 21st century — fall and winter no longer mean the end of soccer season. The Colorado Springs Sports Center, located near Peterson Road and Constitution Avenue, has indoor soccer fields for east Springs residents and those willing to schlep out to Cimarron Hills. But last October, we reported that the Rockrimmon neighborhood would be getting its own indoor fields to serve the western half of the city, dubbed Soccer Haus.
That's a cool development, but cooler yet, there's a tavern upstairs. Dubbed Upper 90, the little eatery offers food, coffee, smoothies and a beer-and-wine bar. It overlooks both adult fields and the kids' field for easy viewing. Expect semi-pro games from the Colorado Blizzards as well as local league play. They've even got men's flag football sometimes — the American kind.
A co-worker's friend, who's been playing soccer for 30 years, says he's impressed so far with the facility. "The turf is much easier on the joints because there is sand and dirt under it instead of concrete," he notes. There's also plenty of space. The two adult fields are 15 percent bigger than a regulation indoor soccer field, only 25 percent smaller than outdoor standards, according to CEO John Riding, who greeted us on both visits. Well-placed windows give the space enough natural light so it doesn't feel like a warehouse. So by all accounts, it's a nice place to kick a ball around.
Moving on to the food, everything's inexpensive and riddled with soccer puns. Appetizers run around $6 and entrées around $7. It's nice to see Upper 90 take the effort to french their chicken wings, but they're dry and under-sauced. Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers fare better, juicy inside and crisp outside. Past "defensive nachos," the "offensive chili cheese fries" land pretty PC, though a bit conservative on cumin-rich beans-and-meat chili.
A spicy chicken sandwich piles two chicken strips with chipotle mayo, swiss cheese and fried jalapeño slices. There's enough fat that the spice gets muted, but the meat stays moist. Those same chicken strips show up sliced in the fried chicken salad atop iceberg lettuce with cheese and crispy bacon bits for a generously portioned "healthy" bite. We try the tacos with shredded beef, which prove moist under ample cheese and pico de gallo. On special, a shredded pork quesadilla verges on juicy with its meat and cheese filling, though the accompanying scoops of sour cream and guacamole add little.
For drinks, Bristol beers fill six of eight taps and the Haus offers wine and Angry Orchard cider for gluten-intolerant drinkers. Non-drinkers can get a real-fruit milkshake made with milk — the banana comes mild on fruit flavor but undeniably creamy. Kirkland beans brew for a decent cup of coffee, which arrives in a foam cup. The cappuccino has little to do with the classic Italian drink, filling a pint glass. Lacking asbestos hands, maybe start with a straw.
Bizarre and ignored details like that dot our experience at Upper 90, and ultimately, the message is clear: The tavern doesn't coexist with the soccer fields below, it's subordinate to them. Using simple, safe Sysco options keeps the food consistent and serviceable, if uninspired. But there are worse things than affordable beer sponges, and the smoothies will keep the kids happy. Upper 90, and more importantly, Soccer Haus, serves the purpose for which it was built.