Kat Cole understands the gut-bomb. Just ask the 35-year-old head of Cinnabon about the company's signature product.
"It's almost pornographic," she told Bloomberg Businessweek in 2013. "It's just so over-the-top, it's a sensory experience."
And there's your definition of what we were trying to accomplish with this list. Each item on here will offer you a tantalizing choice between beach body and bodily bliss. We trust you'll do the right thing.•••
There is pizza, and there is macaroni and cheese. Some would say that exhausts the basic food groups. It is for them that Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizza in Manitou Springs (9 Ruxton Ave., 685-4355) dollops the latter on the former for its mac and cheese pizza ($4 a slice, $18/small, $20/large).
Who thought of such a thing? "A couple of stoners got together and decided that would be a great idea to put on a pizza?" guesses Ruffrano's chef John Weber. He starts with a flat dough, adds some olive oil, then cooked macaroni and American and mozzarella cheeses and, after baking, yes, more cheese: Parmesan.
"For some reason it's that one kind of weird pizza that everyone wants, because it's different," Weber says. "I just sold three slices and made another one for the counter." — Robert Meyerowitz•••
If sandwich quality is measured by how much of it you wear out of the restaurant on your chin and clothes, then Trivelli's Hoagies is king. I bellied up to my half-size/6-inch Italian Steak Hoagie ($5.89) with added sweet cherry peppers (74 cents), seated at a Naugahyde-wrapped tabletop at the new Trivelli's location (2819 N. Nevada Ave., trivellis.com). It would be a cheesy, beefy, sloppy-wet affair, juices leaking through the toasted roll and a paper-lined basket, and thwarting two paper napkins before colorfully anointing my T-shirt and jeans. Strings of melted provolone stretched from sandwich to fingers (you can request a fork, but it won't help) over a spicy pile of tender strips of Callicrate-sourced beef and Mama Trivelli's tomato sauce.
Such are the over-the-top delights offered at the last family-owned Trivelli's Colorado Springs, a business started in 1976 by Barbara and John Trivelli and continued by son Steve. When you go, head straight for the hot hoagies. — Mary Jo Meade•••
Pho doesn't sound like your average gut-bomb, what with all the broth and veggies, but excess does make a difference, and the Pho-nomenal Challenge at Pho-nomenal Restaurant (5825 Stetson Hills Blvd., #100, phonomenalrestaurant.com) is case in point. It's two pounds of meat, two pounds of noodles and a bucket of broth that you have one hour to eat. No bathroom breaks allowed.
In Pho-nomenal's 13 months in business, an employee says, only one person has won the challenge out of the dozens who have tried. That guy was a pro cyclist, who (take a hint from him) ate the solids first and then sipped the broth through a straw.
Mr. Ultra-metabolism was the only person who didn't have to then eat the $35 bill and don a pink "Loser" T-shirt for a picture on Pho's Wall of Shame. And ladies, Pho's only had one female contender ever. She failed in February, although an employee says she did manage "to put down three pounds of food." You go, girl. — Edie Adelstein•••
Lechon kawali ($5.75 to $7.95 depending on portion) has it all: fried crunchiness, unctuous fattiness, saltiness. After all, the special-occasion Filipino dish is an item consisting solely of seasoned pork belly.
Julie's Kitchen (3750 Astrozon Blvd., #110, 596-4019) co-owner Romeo Arruiza takes 24 hours to make it in full, first with a boil that includes several spices and vinegar, next with time to set up in the fridge overnight, and lastly with a 20- to 25-minute fry job that results in a thick, chicharrón-like skin. Think mega pork rinds. Crack through them to reveal the gelatinous, fatty center (swine mecca, if you will), and be ready to chug water about 20 minutes later as all the salt and grease catches up with your system and you start craving any green thing (cabbage leaves do nicely) to mitigate the gustatory assault of awesome proportion. — Matthew Schniper•••
A few things to keep in mind about Nachos Especial at The Loop (965 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, theloopatmanitou.com):
1) For $11.99, it's enough food to satisfy three reasonable people.
2) Two, maybe three, ingredients in this entire dish could be considered "lean."
3) It's an appetizer, which means the folks at The Loop think you're brave enough to keep eating when you've polished off this sucker. (They're wrong.)
The dish starts off with a hefty serving of corn chips, doused in refried beans, Jack and cheddar cheeses, and meat of your choice. It's topped with guacamole, sour cream, black olives, pico de gallo and canned jalapeño peppers. Generally, when eating this monstrosity, you eventually find yourself sopping up the soggy chips at the bottom with your dirty fingers. Yes, it sounds gross, but it's actually kind of orgasmic. — J. Adrian Stanley•••
Summer lethargy can be found for $7.25 in the carne asada fries at Viva El Taco (5945 N. Academy Blvd., 592-0113). Not even close to the well-known breakfast burrito we're all used to, this dish is a nonsensical pile of cultural gluttony listed under "side dishes" on the menu. Things get messy the moment you lay eyes on the thing, and the dish itself is the image of how you'll feel after eating it.
Dollops of guac and sour cream, placed haphazardly atop a mass of seasoned chopped beef, sink into a solid bed of french fries filling the large to-go box. Utensils are a given. And I can't not mention the aggressive amount of cheese. So much cheese. — Craig Lemley•••
When the Beastie Boys released their "Cookie Puss" single back in 1983, the reference was pretty much lost on those of us who hadn't grown up hearing the gravely voice of Tom Carvel promoting his chain of East Coast ice cream shops. As the popularity of the brick-and-mortar franchise began to peak, the company switched its focus to national supermarkets, who currently stock enough Carvel ice cream cakes to meet all of your birthday, holiday and other self-destructive needs.
Sadly, you won't find Cookie Puss, Fudgie the Whale, or any of their crudely rendered, high-calorie brethren at your local King Soopers, but you will find more generic offerings that promise the same sugar rush. As a public service to Indy readers, I recently purchased a Carvel Love & Laughter Cake ("It's What Happy Tastes Like!" $13.99), which turned out to be kind of good in that hot summer night "why did I just eat that" kind of way. Plus, just two servings supply you with all the saturated fat you need for an entire day! — Bill Forman•••
The Colossal Burger's ($15.96) name is no overstatement. This behemoth of savory succulence (pictured below) starts with a whole ground pound of half buffalo and half beef that's assaulted with garlic and black pepper before the inch-thick patty gets topped with melted cheddar, kicking jalapeños, avocado slices and tomatoes. But the pièce de résistance has to be the stack of fat slices of moist gyro meat.
Asked to explain its existence, DeVine Grill (366 Second St., Monument, 481-4900) chef Shani Antosiak says, "We were trying to be creative, I don't know. I actually had a little kid eat it — he might've been 12." Good parenting, good grief, good food, let's eat. — Bryce Crawford•••
The Speed Trap Bistro (84 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, speedtrapbistro.com) tops two crepes with moist smoked salmon, perfectly poached eggs, fresh asparagus and buttery hollandaise, and serves it all up with a side of cheddar potatoes. You bug out your eyes at the size of it, get to eating, and even though you might need to let out your belt a notch, you'll do so just so you can lick your fingers (and perhaps the plate).
Don't ignore your thirst, however. Take Speed Trap owner Caroline Bilodeau's advice and pair the Smoked Salmon Benedict with Asparagus ($11.49) with one of the restaurant's traditional Mimosas for a nice blend of savory and sweet. — Kirsten Akens•••
It's a Mexican matryoshka: In the center, there's cheese, cheddar and Monterey Jack. Wrapped around that is an Anaheim chili, shipped in from California. Around that is a breading that takes on a delicate crunch after 15 seconds of frying on each side. And around that is a heap of burrito fixins — Mexican rice, beans, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc. — embraced by a flour tortilla made fresh on-site.
This is how Azada Mexican Grill (16 E. Bijou St., 634-8338) does its chili relleno burrito ($7.50), an off-menu request that Chilo Hernandez and Co. are happy to oblige and assemble right in front of you. Eat half, and the lightness of both breading and tortilla actually may leave you feeling pretty spry; eat it all, and you'll have a meat-free belly bludgeon, that rarest of treasures. — Kirk Woundy•••
For maximum caloric transference, consider the ice-cream nachos at Rock House Ice Cream (24 State Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, rockhouseicecream.com). For around six bucks, owner Jeannine Engel serves a layer of cone chips in an old-fashioned banana-split boat. To top the chips, customers select six 1-ounce scoops of Rock House ice cream, produced on-site, then three sundae toppings of your choice — there are 10 or so to choose from — plus whipped cream, nuts and a cherry.
"Come in for a chili-cheese dog and ice cream nachos, and that bikini won't be fitting for very long," says Engel proudly. — Bret Wright