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Yes, there are cover and tribute bands, but the Thirsty Parrot has also hosted packed performances by Jason Derülo and Billy Bob Thornton (not together). The upstairs space also has top-notch acoustics well-suited for its popular Wednesday evening big band performances.
Happy hour: Tuesday-Saturday, 4-7 p.m.
The goods: $2 wells and domestic drafts; $2.50 wines, microbrews and imports
Favorite pour: "I enjoy them all the same. Pouring a drink is pouring a drink."
Sure, there's cover bands (including those touring Led Zep guys), but what other Springs venue can boast performances by Billy Bob Thornton and Firefall? The music takes place upstairs, away from the serious drinking, and features top-notch acoustics well-suited for weekly performances by local jazz players, as well as the occasional itinerant blues artist.
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: Place to Meet Women
Best of 2015: Place to Meet Men
Grab a stool after work at the Ritz's bar and you won't be drinking alone for long. Its 3½-hour happy hour, featuring specials on wells, wines, beer and martinis, ensures an inexpensive place to unwind for you and the rest of the Springs singles crowd. You're just as likely to strike up a conversation with a banker as you are a musician ... and once you do, the casual dinner menu makes it easy to turn that conversation into dinner. And with deejays and live music Thursdays through Sundays, dinner can turn into dancing. The rest is up to you. — Carrie Simison
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)
Bites 2013: Lamb Stew
t's snowing outside, quiet little flakes, so you stop at the pub for some bites and a beer. You do a bowl of lamb stew, a mahogany concoction flecked with red chunks of tomato and scallions. You're enveloped in hot steam, you taste rosemary, Guinness and soft potatoes, and you sop with crumbly bites of soda bread. ($7.95 lunch/$12.95 dinner)
Best Of 2010: Weekly Bar Event
Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz
With more than 20 primo Irish whiskeys in addition to a large, international beer list, McCabe's could be considered a drink destination first, especially during European soccer matches, pub quiz nights and Colorado College hockey games. But there's plenty of authentic Irish eats as well, in addition to a rockin' Sunday brunch. Grab the divine Rosemary Guinness Lamb Stew at lunch or a shepherd's pie or bangers & mash for dinner. Stay in Ireland with a rich Guinness chocolate cake with Irish cream sauce for dessert.
Because you can't have enough Irish bars — let alone Irish bars with plentiful 2-for-1 deals — in Colorado Springs, or anywhere else for that matter. And yes, since you ask, they do have karaoke.
Happy hour: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 3-7 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 3-9; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The goods: Two-for-one wines, wells and drafts
Favorite pour: "Let's go with the Red-Headed Slut."