Best of 2011: Bar Crowd
Walk into SouthSide Johnny's just once, and you probably wouldn't understand why the place would win this new category. That's because just one visit doesn't begin to tell the story. You have to go back, at different times, to get the full idea. SouthSide Johnny's has its regulars, but it also has its lunch crowd, its happy-hour crowd, its music-loving late-night crowd, its Saturday-Sunday brunch crowd and its "weekend warrior" motorcycle crowd, and they aren't the same people — though they do get along with each other quite well. You might see downtown attorneys, young and not-so-young professionals, or fans of Colorado College hockey (even CC head coach Scott Owens, along with former Tigers still living here). Put it all together, and that's how your bar crowd beats the rest. — Ralph Routon
Best of 2015: Cultural Attraction/Museum
Best of 2015: Art Exhibition
The selection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Eloquent Objects as "best" in these respective categories makes perfect sense in 2015 (The Year of O'Keeffe, according to the FAC). Of the four institutions to host the traveling exhibition nationally, the FAC is geographically closest to O'Keeffe's landscape muse. And the museum's deep ties to the American Southwest radiated from the lower galleries throughout the building thanks to impressive and diverse pieces from its permanent collection. They served both as stunning support to the visiting works of O'Keeffe and 25 of her contemporaries, as well as the aesthetic connector responsible for transforming the FAC into an eloquent object in its own right. As former Indy Arts Editor Edie Adelstein noted in her coverage of the exhibition in June, "The arts center itself may be the real star of the show." Indeed. — Vanessa Martinez
Source: Barista Espresso and Specialty Roasting
Get the: White Zombie (white espresso, Ghirardelli white chocolate)
Under new ownership with a slightly revamped menu and later hours, the Coffee Exchange serves breakfast sandwiches and drinks like Irish coffees (thanks to its liquor license). Barista coffee products and four beers are available on tap.
Best Of 2014: Local Coffee House
It may not be the fictional Double R Diner, but The Perk is your favorite place in town to get, you'll pardon my language, a damned fine cup of coffee. The 6-year-old downtown location hosts two floors: a cozy cafe downstairs, which shows little to no sign of the fire that shut down the business earlier this year, and a more open space upstairs that routinely plays host to everything from music to Bible study groups to business meetings. General manager Ashlynn Moore also credits her awesome baristas with the Perk's success. Add in awesome food and prime Tejon real estate, and it's a spunky local joint for everyone. But none of this would matter without good coffee, which it has in spades. —Griffin Swartzell
Recently expanded, years ahead of schedule, Trinity has deservedly blown up thanks to top-notch, experimental saison production on top of great flagship beers like the seasonally changing Farmhouse. To mitigate the buzz (from the alcohol, not the community), grab lamb sliders, seitan wings or the Mak' N Bacon.
Happy hour: Monday and Thursday, 2-6 p.m.
The goods: $3 house brews, $1 off all snacks
Much of Trinity's interior was constructed from repurposed materials, including the psychedelic bar top, made from shards of beer bottle glass layered in resin. But its business model is anything but recycled: Trinity implements Slow Food (local, organic) principles in the kitchen and rewards human-powered arrival (biking, walking) with discounted beer. As for the beer, Trinity keeps it flowing from 30-plus taps, both imported craft brews and refreshing creations from head brewer and owner Jason Yester.
Head to Trinity for tapas-style dining paired with outstanding house-made craft beers and a rare assembly of obscure, low-production beers. The artful, wood-adorned outfit dishes everything from sweet potato fries and a bacon basket to yummy beer-cheese soup, decadent salads and sandwiches and stuffers. Get an ice cream stout float for dessert.