anna know a secret? Many secrets, actually — hidden places where you can find the offbeat and intimate. They may not be the bright-signed, well-lit spots along the main drag, but these small eat-and-drink places offer a lot of charm. Sometimes the best part of a secret is sharing it. So, just between us, enjoy!
Ask for speakeasy seating at Rooster’s House of Ramen
, and you’ll find yourself whisked past a hidden door marked with a cherry blossom into a quiet, tastefully decorated bar, complete with hot towels and welcome drinks. Enjoy a few appetizers and maybe a signature cocktail or two, or go straight for the selection of high-end spirits, including hard-to-find Japanese whiskies.
Come for the selection of absinthe, served in the French style with a sugar cube and fountain of ice-cold water. Stay for the massive wine list (including flights), cocktails, small plates and desserts, including baked goods from downstairs. Watch the long summer nights fade, or warm up by the fire in winter.
Designed to resemble a wine cellar, this atmospheric spot serves genuine higher-end Mexican fare like Sonoran rib-eye and Chile en Nogada, available with a selection of wines and spirits, including fun margarita variations. Co-owner Miguel Castrejon compares it to Sonora, Mexico, saying “on the tucked-away streets is where you find the best food.”
Motif Jazz Café
With helping hands from an acoustic engineer, the new Motif is designed first and foremost as a spot to catch live jazz, and for that, this dark and stylish club is excellent (thanks also to a list of excellent musicians who stock our city). That they don’t charge a cover only sweetens the deal. Pair the music with a few drinks and selections from a rotating menu.
Less hidden and more just easy to miss, Manitou Springs’ brewery has been expanding into its main-drag location for the last year. They’ve recently expanded their offerings on tap. Plans are to start a barrel aging program by late 2018. In the meantime, their kitchen does amazing work with pork belly.
Located upstairs from Jay Gust’s Pizzeria Rustica, Enoteca (rough translation: “wine library”) offers small plates and a spectrum of fancy beers, wines, spirits and cocktails for the discerning diner. It’s also a fine place to grab a drink and wait for a seat downstairs to open up.
With a gorgeous view of the mountains, this year-old spot, located above Paravicini’s Italian Bistro, wows with not-so-small small plates. The polenta is particularly satisfying, and it’s even better paired with one of a hundred wines, with additional port, grappa and cocktail offerings. Great for dinner, drinks or both.
The haberdashery front and its 1920s prices are a thin façade, but this speakeasy, the tasting room for Lee Spirits Company, is no joke, serving small plates and some next-level cocktails, all gin-based and all the more affordable for the house-made components. Many a local gin skeptic has here learned the versatility of the spirit and met its wonders anew.