Bites 2013: Moscato and Ginger Mousse
This dessert is hella sexy, but in a refined, classy way — like an attractive person at the Broadmoor's swimming pool. It's light and airy, with a ginger simple syrup adding a pleasantly biting zing to the creaminess. Then comes a garnish of salted peanut praline for caramelized contrast and a side of Moscato-ginger honey infused with both lemon and vanilla ... so many lovely flavors hitting in harmony. Genius. Pure genius. ($6)
Best Of 2012: Place to Eat Local/Sustainable
Best Of 2012: Restaurant for Herbivores
Best Of 2012: Neighborhood Restaurant: Manitou
An institution in downtown Manitou Springs, Adam's takes multiple titles each year. There are a couple major reasons, says owner Farley McDonough: "First, we try to be as consistent as possible. ... Second, we don't waver from that which we do well." And why would they? Look at the huevos rancheros, for instance. "It seriously rocks: The green chile is great, the avocado is fresh, the beans are spiced just right, and the eggs are local," says McDonough. As for those most partial to dining on Adam's creekside patio, McDonough has more good news: "My hope for the future is that we can find a way to keep the patio open all winter," she says. — Celine Wright
Bites 2013: Christmas Mountain Falls
Yeah, the menu says Green or Red Mountain Falls, but locals know you can mix them to dramatic effect. Onto a bed of toasted polenta (yup — 'dem ITALian corn grits) capped in cheddar cheese come the vegetarian chilies garnished with scallions and tomatoes and cooled slightly by a dollop of sour cream. Get the added eggs your style (over medium, perhaps?) because the yolk adds another pleasing dimension. There you have it: Christmas year-round. ($7/$10.25 with two eggs).Click here for Adam's Mountain Cafe's Indian Braised Romanesco Recipe!
Best Of 2012: IndyPick • Bourbon Infusion
Chef Victor Matthews makes five different Mint Julep versions, differing in the deployment of agave, honey, simple syrup and/or molasses. To create the best one I've ever had, by a long shot, he puréed mint with organic raw agave in a small food processor. A little soda splash, some Maker's 46 (chosen from among his selection of nearly 50 bourbons) and ... heaven. My recommendation: Ascend Ute Pass for customized bourbon tasting flights ahead of Denver's much-hyped Southern Hospitality opening, for which Matthews plays a consulting role and compiled a beefy bourbon book. Follow your neat pours with a sweet Mint Julep ... then call a cab. — Matthew Schniper
Currently open for winter hours only, Thursday through Saturday, the Bear is the culinary playground of chef Victor Matthews and his Paragon Culinary School students. Catch expansive chef tables, but also à la carte comfort food and special events.
Chef and proprietor Victor Matthews offers a dining experience that few in town can replicate. Perhaps the most memorable option is the Chef's Table Tasting Menu, where the chef or one of his star Paragon Culinary School pupils comes out and customizes a full-course meal for the table.
Bites 2013: Almond Rosemary Crusted Salmon
From the "rooted entrees" section of the cocktail lounge menu comes this favorite dish, which places a focus on simple ingredients in less-is-more fashion. Almonds are crushed and mixed with rosemary leaves for a gluten-free salmon coating, which sees a browning during a pan sear. A honey Worcestershire hits umami notes while rice pilaf gets a paprika dusting and salt-and-pepper rain over haricot verts. ($16)
Best Of 2012: Restaurant for a Wedding Reception
There's no more romantic setting for a post-nuptial celebration than a stately Victorian manor house built in 1876 (incidentally, the same year Colorado became a state). On the outside, ivy climbs and balconies beckon, from which the bride can unfurl her veil or toss her bouquet. Inside, woven rugs, carved wooden stairway railings, glowing fireplaces and fine dining in every room, including the master bedroom, help guarantee that the Briarhurst further appeals to those given to flights of fancy and formality. So it is that this elegant fixture wins this category for the seventh consecutive year. — Pam Zubeck
Have a prix fixe four-course meal in the cozy castle, perfect also for periodic murder mystery dinners. Savory items include decadently prepared game meats like red deer with mushroom duxelle; sweets include well-executed classics.
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and for pre-theater dining, Café 36 just returned to the oversight of Garden of the Gods Gourmet. Look for dressy salads, gourmet sandwiches and entrées like a citrus-glazed mahi mahi. Still, nothing beats the view.
Bites 2013: Rib Eye
It all comes down to the USDA Prime beef on the menu, raised in Nebraska. Less than 2 percent of American cattle will earn the rating, meaning the good stuff goes to the finest eateries. High marbling equals super tender, flavorful flesh. The preparation at Carlos' changes often, but you'll likely see something classically swanky like a peppercorn brandy sauce next to garlic mashers and veggies. ($46, half-off during 5 to 5:30 p.m. early bird hours)
Insider Guide 2010
Cheyenne Mountain Resort offers an "immaculately groomed" 18-hole golf course, a country club, a tennis club, a fitness club (and perhaps just a club, for when you need to hit people), not to mention a killer Sunday brunch buffet.
Bites 2013: Colorado Lamb
Though the lamb presentation changes a few times a year, the Centennial State's most underrated game meat will always be on the Cliff House's menu. And these folks consistently treat it right. I've seen it as strips inside a phyllo purse under a mint-apricot-apple purée with sweet balsamic spinach (schwing!); under a merlot demi-glace; and, most recently, with a huckleberry jus and port foam next to sweet potatoes duchesse. (Around $26 to $30)
Insider Guide 2010
The Cliff House offers not only some of the area's finest dining, but also a great sleeping experience, having been rated a AAA Four-Diamond destination.
Writer's Pick: Best Dining Atmosphere, the Cliff House at Pikes Peak's Veranda
I said in a food review that the cushy wicker chairs and relaxing sound of a nearby courtyard fountain make the Cliff House's veranda the type of space where you could envision lounging and reading a thick book every day for the rest of your life. Sure, there's sweet patio dining all over town, and places with even more scenic overlooks, but there's something truly special about this comfortable and romantic porch. Call it part of the odd Manitou Springs energy if you wish. But you'll find yourself as content as a housecat on a sunny stretch of linoleum the moment you sit down here. — Matthew Schniper
Late last year, lauded chef Brent Beavers returned to downtown with co-chef Aaron Retka, bringing a sustainability focus to lunch and dinner. Brilliant scallop plates; bangin' bison entrées; the Sencha salad. Cheaper at lunch, plus $8 late-night menu. Oh — and cooking classes.
Bites 2013: Craftwood Inn Tapas
You go to Craftwood to eat game meats, expertly treated. Seasonal menus switch up the preparations, and it's often difficult to choose between all the allure. Enter the tapas sampler, currently featuring house-made duck sausage under pomegranate syrup; Arancini (fried risotto balls) stuffed with Fontina and pheasant confit; and elk-antelope-deer meatballs coated in a sexy black-garlic sauce. ($18)
Complete with a fantastic patio in the former La Petite Maison space, Faerie Tales offers a delicious, diverse pastry list that shows its cake and catering roots. But the savory menu excels, too: crab cakes Benedict at brunch, steak lollipops at dinner ... and that's just the beginning.