"The trouble with America is that there are far too many wide-open spaces surrounded by teeth." Charles Luckman
Best Of 2011: Pet Groomer
You never realize that dogs have toes until one day you try and wash one and she hates it so much you can see those toes clenched to the edge of the bathtub, while your shirt hangs soaked and shredded, and the shower curtain lies in a puddle, ripped off its rings. Yeah, some dogs don't like baths. And no promise of liver brownies, mackerel ravioli or even a pig's ear will get that dog wet. It's sponge baths for some of us, but for the less hydrophobic, Wag N' Wash is the place to clean your pup and then indulge him or her with gourmet treats, accessories and specialty dog food. Started right here in the Springs in 1999, WNW has expanded to six locations around Colorado and in Arizona, cleaning and feeding our stinky, spoiled pups. — Edie Adelstein
Insider Guide 2010
Wash tubs? Check. Kibble? Check. Toys? Check. Two resident cats to keep an eye on the place and make sure you pick up cat food, too? Double check. Visit Wag N' Wash when your dog's dirty, hungry or antsy. Just keep in mind that he'll love you forever if you forego the wash and just lead him over to the in-house bakery for samples.
Best Of 2013: Place to Buy a Thoughtful, Over-the-Top Gift
Best Of 2013: Place to Buy a Thoughtful, Inexpensive Gift
Best Of 2013: Store for Accessories
Best Of 2013: Non-chain Store for Women's Fasions
Terra Verde's 1,200 scarves are just the beginning. While clothing and jewelry are the best-sellers, this perennial favorite stocks everything from leather boots to bamboo bowls and kids' toys. Inventory is always changing to appeal to the frequent shoppers who make Terra Verde their go-to for gifts both modest and marvelous. Gift-wrapping is free, and owner Chris Sondermann says, "I make sure that when someone receives a gift from Terra Verde, the presentation has a big 'wow' factor." Canine companions are welcome and may sniff out the dog bones under the counter while you're busy smelling the aromatic candles and scented soap, or admiring a pair of pink Boston terrier flannel pajamas. — Darcie Mankell
Best Of 2012: Tanning Salon
In a city where sun-blocking clouds are scarce, it seems counterintuitive to go inside to absorb some UVA and UVB rays. But, Tan Your Hide owner Liz Melahn points out, "In a salon, it's controlled. When you're outside, especially in Colorado, you're apt to get burned, even in the wintertime." And Indy readers have voted Melahn's 31-year-old tanning studios the top indoor place to tan for eight years running. The spa-like salon offers 10 levels of tanning, including UV, airbrush and sunless, with different levels in each category. However you get it, Melahn says, "You need Vitamin D, you need some sunlight, and you need 15 minutes a day." — Darcie Mankell
Best Of 2013: Burger
Best Of 2013: Non-Chain Book Store
Poor Richard's has won this category every year since 2005. "I think the secret to our success is we keep our prices affordable for used books," says manager Marie Poole. "But what a lot of people don't know is we also carry new books, and we can special-order new books, too. Plus, we carry very unique and affordable cards, purses, scarves, jewelry and gift items. We've always been very concerned with issues related to the community, so the community supports us, too." But back to the books, since that's what we're talking about here: "The beauty of used bookstores is you'll see books about things you didn't even know existed," Poole says, "or you didn't even know might spark an interest in you. I like to think we sell ideas." — Kendall Kullman
Best Of 2013: Cutting Edge Restaurant
Nosh has won this category since 2008, back when it was called "Innovative Menu." Which is kind of amusing, since the menu hasn't actually changed a whole lot since mid-2010, when then-chef Shane Lyons (who recently opened Distilled NY in Tribeca, to positive reviews) created many of what have become known as the "staples," in manager Tyler Schiedel's words. But that's how good they've been — to carry on at the forefront of the collective culinary consciousness, as if exciting introductions were still being made. Well, the good news, according to Schiedel, is that tinkering is about to begin again under consulting chef Andrew Sherrill from the Blue Star; expect new dishes in the next few months. Nosh's bar program, too, deserves a nod, highlighting quality craft beers and creative cocktails. "We couldn't do it without the entire staff," says Schiedel.— Matthew Schniper
Bites 2013: Spicy Bison Sandwich
If ever a better way to eat bison tongue has existed, we know it not. Nosh's chefs braise the meat stupid-tender with tomato paste and red wine over the course of 24-plus hours at 200 degrees. They then cook it with caramelized onions, jalapeños and Anaheims, receiving more kick from cayenne mayo and pepper jack cheese, melted onto Old School Bakery bread. Dunk that in a sweet jus constructed of the braising liquid refortified with extra carrots to draw out natural sugars. Tatonka! ($9.50 includes a side, lunch only)
For a little diner, it offers a lot of charm. A wide menu of skillets, omelets and Mexican items at breakfast, and Ranch Foods Direct burgers among lunch offerings (BOGO for a nickel, weekends after 2 p.m.). Homemade soups, green chile, and a new gluten-free menu as well.
The North End Diner is a hodgepodge of good ideas: free Wi-Fi, meat from Ranch Foods Direct, a buy-one-burger-get-one-for-five-cents deal on Wednesdays, and more. Around since 1958, the diner also proudly offers jobs to help ex-convicts successfully re-adjust to society (though it won't accept anyone who has served time for a violent crime). Consider a burger with benefits.
Best Of 2013: Taqueria
Having been told for years of the unalloyed joys of Monica's, I stopped in at the Fillmore spot to see what the buzz was all about. I ordered a carne asada burrito, took bottles of both red and green salsas, and retired to the dining space at the back with plenty of napkins. The thing was homeric, stuffed to exploding with chewy beef, and ready to absorb squirts of red and green between bites. Note: Be sure to sample the goods at both Springs locations; they are individually operated by members of the Rodriguez family, and each serves up its own proprietary recipes. — Mary Jo Meade
So there I am, driving to Denver with a fresh Monica's breakfast burrito steaming in my hand, burning my mouth each time I bite, yet I can't stop or wait for it to cool. I'm inexplicably compelled to suffer gloriously onward. Is it the chorizo? The salsa verde? Who cares. It is epic.
Best Of 2013: Mediterranean
Owners and chefs Mike Bergman and Pat Kennelly opened Mediterranean Café 14 years ago because they wanted to offer a healthier alternative to fast food. Today they use spices from the nearby Savory Spice Shop, and the well-tested recipes "are as good as they are going to get," says Kennelly. The veggie plate with falafel, hummus, baba ghanouj and dolmas rates as a favorite among vegans, while the half-falafel, half-gyro pita is also popular. When responding to customers who say the hummus is the best they've ever had, Kennelly says the tahini they use is more expensive than your typical version, and that they make their hummus fresh every day. Says Kennelly: "You cannot get hummus any fresher than that." — Darcie Mankell
Bites 2013: Half & Half Pita Sandwich
An ode to the indecisive: chewy lamb-and-beef gyro meat and crispy falafel pieces served inside a single pita. All the fixins are there, too: salty feta cheese crumbles, tomato, cucumber, giardiniera (pickled veggie mix). Plus three different sauces: semi-bitter tahini, zippy tzatziki and harissa hot chili sauce. It covers every flavor perception as a catch-all kingpin — and yes, we did just say "zippy" while employing three colons. ($6.50)
Best Of 2013: Power Lunch
Weekly "Fresh Sheet" choices, and a staff with a great memory for names and faces, make this underground downtown hideaway a primo place to talk turkey or get the lowdown on what's going on in the city. On your way in, you might catch a glimpse of Colorado Springs Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, former Springs Mayor Mary Lou Makepeace, state Rep. Mark Waller, developers Doug Quimby or John Cassiani, or Regional Business Alliance bigwig Joe Raso. But sit down and you'll find that the dim and quiet atmosphere allows for confidential strategy sessions. And if your lunch runs long, know that happy hour begins at 4, with $3 well drinks, drafts and house wines. — Pam Zubeck
Subterranean swank, courtesy Concept Restaurants. Dark wood, deep martinis, burly steaks and a weekly fresh sheet that proves longtime Springs chef Pete Moreno hasn't fallen asleep on the job. For us: Ahi salad at lunch, and Colorado rack of lamb at dinner, please.
Happy hour: Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m.
The goods: $3 wells, wines and drafts, $5 select martinis and half-price ($5) on three select appetizers
Best Of 2012: Vintage Clothing Store
It's not been two years since Adam Leech's Pit moved to its current North Nevada Avenue location, closer to Colorado College and its throngs of post-ironic retro-chic hunters. Too close, perhaps — apparently Leech will be relocating again in the near future, as Colorado College doesn't intend to renew the lease on the property. It hasn't seemed to damage his confidence, though, as he notes that his store doesn't only sell clothes: "I would challenge anybody to an arm-wrestling contest who claims there's a better stock of vinyl in Colorado Springs." And Leech doesn't stop there. "I'd contend we've got Denver beat, too," he adds. "On a good day." — Wyatt Miller
Best Of 2013: Diner
Best Of 2013: Green Chili
Best Of 2013: Late-Night Dining
The only Colorado roadside attraction to be featured in a Zippy the Pinhead comic strip, King's Chef has grown considerably from its humble origins in the mobile-home-sized, purple-painted castle on East Costilla Street. With two current locations, it's swept the Diner, Green Chili and Late-Night Dining categories for the last five years, thanks to calories-be-damned comfort foods like "The Grump," a massive mound that incorporates nearly all your most cherished breakfast staples. (Just add coffee!) Be sure not to skimp on the green chili, which is sold at Whole Foods but still made by hand at the Bijou Street location. Owner Gary Geiser also brags to us about his restaurant's new line of non-GMO and locally sourced ingredients. Best of all, King's Chef's weekend night-owl hours mean clubgoers can appease their appetites until 4:30 a.m. without ever having to set foot in a Denny's. — Bill Forman
Bites 2013: Breakfast Burrito
Fit for the Food Network, this is Colorado in a bite. Why? Because green chili pumps through our veins, and King's Chef's is undisputedly badass. Even heat-freaks get it on the side to measure the madness. The fire-roasted green god-sauce, made with Pueblo green chiles and California habañeros, is gluten-free and vegan. You can keep the burrito vegetarian by subbing in MorningStar Farms veggie sausage in place of the real deal for no charge. Along with either of those sausages, bacon or ham, the flour wrap gets two eggs, onions, filling hash browns and some shredded cheese. If the whole thing were made into a movie, it'd be called, There Will Be Burn. And it'd win an Oscar. ($8.95 full/$6.50 half)
Best Of 2013: Movie Theater
Earlier this year, the venerable and virtually unbeatable Kimball's Peak Three made the transition from actual film to digital projection. Kimball Bayles, owner and namesake of the indie film house, wasn't too sad to see the old stuff go: "It's mostly a pain in the ass." Now? "This is all computerized," he says. "We don't even do anything." But don't worry — just because the film grain is gone doesn't mean the independent and art house films that made Kimball's an Indy favorite for the last two decades are. "If I ever run something too mainstream," Bayles says, "you should see the emails I get!" — Jeff Koch