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    Bites 2012

    Not just a haunt for Colorado College students and faculty, Wooglin's is a fine stop for anyone at all three meals. A cup of Barista coffee with an outstanding quiche in the a.m.; a spicy bagel melt or giant Greek salad at lunch; or daily house soup, French dip, or portobello Swiss burger with a beer at dinner.

    InSider 2010

    Wooglin's offers almost everything: perfect coffee creations (including a velvety mocha), hot and cold "overstuffed" sandwiches, hummus, burgers, quesadillas, salads and even veggie chili. With live music in the eclectic interior, it's no wonder that townies help Colorado College kids keep it busy at all hours.

    Best Of 2013: Bar Crowd

    Best Of 2013: College Bar

    Best Of 2013: Bang-for-Your-Buck Bar

    Best Of 2013: Neighborhood Bar: Central

    Most of us think of Tony's in terms of things we can put in our mouths: Pabst Blue Ribbon, cheese curds, pickled eggs, that cute ... never mind. Anyway, owner Eel Anderson points out that there is something deeper to this Packers bar: a sense of community. "We treat everyone equally down here," he says. Even back in 1999, when the bar first opened, everyone meant everyone: old folks, lawyers, skater types. So you can expect them to follow when Tony's relocates across the street around Thanksgiving. Anderson says the new place has 4,200 square feet compared to the current 2,300, and they'll be able to buy instead of rent. While Anderson says it's hard to say goodbye to the familiar digs, he notes that the new spot will have a smoking patio, pool tables, a stage for private parties and shows, more bathroom stalls for the ladies, and a bigger kitchen that will allow for a menu expansion. Among the new items: broasted chicken.— J. Adrian Stanley

    Bites 2013: Fried Cheese Curds

    Until Springside Cheese Shop opened in Pueblo last year, ushering real Wisconsin cheese curds into the region's retail marketplace, Tony's was the go-to spot when your gut told you it was time to lay a happy clogging on those uppity arteries. It remains the place to have them fried for you and served with either a ranch or bleu cheese dip, or even jelly. There's greasy crunch, tooth-tickling curd-squeak and the certain sense that though this food is not good for you, it's somehow good for you — especially with beer. ($7.30)

    Click here for Tony's Grilled Turkey Reuben Sandwich Recipe!

    Bites 2013: Margherita Pizza

    Hotdogs, macaroni, Buffalo wings ... all things arguably disgracefully placed upon pizza in modern times. All of which makes the existence of a true, traditional classic pizza even more important. A retreat. A refuge. Something so perfect, in the case of the Margherita, that it need not ever have been built upon. Thin wood-oven pizza, lauded San Marzano tomatoes, fragrant basil, house-made mozzarella. Done, done and done. Don't talk to me, I'm eating over here. ($11.95) Beignets and Café Au Lait at Springs Orleans

    Click here for Pizzeria Rustica's Local Vegetable Antipasto Recipe!

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    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

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    Best Of 2014: Place to Shoot Pool

    Best Of 2014: Bar Patio

    Best Of 2014: Restaurant for Tourists

    According to online billiards trivia gathered by "Dr. Dave" Alciatore, the largest pool hall ever built — a place called "The Recreation," in 1920s Detroit — held 103 tables, plus 88 bowling lanes, 20 barber chairs and 14 cigar stands. Yeah, but ... did it have a sweet patio looking down on the streets below, its own slate of brews and lemon Tabasco fried chicken? Then let's give some credit to Phantom Canyon, which does have all of the above, as well as a downtown location and responsive wait staff that help make it your favorite place to bring out-of-town guests. Plus, I'll gladly settle for "just" 13 tables when I also get a lively happy hour (3 to 6, seven days a week) and no rogue hairs from a barber's chair floating in my beer. — Kirk Woundy

    Bites 2013: Blonde Ale & Smoked Gouda Soup

    Like the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones or one of those geek-ass elven blades from The Lord of the Rings, this soup is legend. It's not so much that wars have been fought over it (aside from the personal mental battle of resisting eating it all the time) as the fact that it's pretty much the greatest beer-cheese soup in the known realm. With its Queen's Blonde Ale base and thick cheese, it's so rich it's royal. ($3.25 cup/$5 bowl)

    Click here for Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.'s Pork Green Chili

    Best Of 2014: Italian

    Franco Pisani, who's seared, sautéed and sauced Paravicini's to this top spot yearly since 2005, says his restaurant deals in "East Coast Italian with more Southern Italian influences." But he's quick to note that you can trace all dishes back to Italian tradition, broadly — even dishes like Paravicini's unique Veal Giuseppe, where veal gets paired with spicy Italian sausage, hot cherry peppers, Kalamata olives, capers and garlic. And he stresses that it's not ALL about the food, after all; he says he tells his staff, "You can get spaghetti and meatballs in this town in a dozen places and most of them are pretty good. It's just about creating an experience when guests come in, you know?" — Kirk Woundy

    Bites 2013: Tiramisu

    A good tiramisu is like a classic painting in that all the culinary brushstrokes are authentic, you know when you're seeing the real deal, and a lame knockoff simply will never capture the original's spirit. Paravicini's tiramisu is the equivalent of a primo museum piece, with the ideal creamy texture plus balanced coffee and chocolate notes. A masterpiece. ($6)

    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)

    Click here for Nosh's Two-Faced Apple Curry Soup Recipe!


    Best Of 2012: Wait Staff

    At Mona Lisa, the servers are extremely experienced — one has been there for 15 of the restaurant's 16 years, and the average is about six years. In short, they've been around long enough to know they're not the main event at this fine-dining attraction. "They're attentive, but not overbearing," Mona Lisa owner Jeff Kiepke says simply. Most customers come to Mona Lisa to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other life event, which means a 2½-hour, four-course fondue meal. And in an environment like that there's a lot to be said for servers who can blend into the background but never be missed. But perhaps the clearest thing you can say: They're the best around. — Pam Zubeck

    Bites 2013: Fondue For Two

    Customize your own four courses, but here's how we'd roll: the Caesar salad first, then the Old World cheese option for the bread-veggie-and-fruit round. The Wild Game Entrée Platter for the main affair, featuring buffalo, trout, boar and more. And then a dark chocolate dessert fondue at meal's end, with a liqueur shot of your choice — Amaretto perhaps? — for a buck more per head. ($49 per person)

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    Bites 2013: Grinder Sandwich

    "Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders, navy beans, navy beans ..." Sorry. But get that reference and you've earned a grinder at Mollica's. (You're still paying for it.) Anyhoo, fennel-forward house-made Italian sausage lays down on a La Baguette French Bakery roll before its smothered with sautéed bell peppers, gooey provolone and chunky house tomato sauce. ($7.89)

    Best of 2012: Bar for a Margarita

    Most of us probably drink our margaritas at night, Mexican vacations excepted. But at the Loop, a lot of people drink margaritas in the middle of the day. They are men waiting for their wives to finish shopping, or exhausted hikers returning from the Incline. "That's my favorite thing on Saturday morning, Sunday morning, is people coming down [from the Incline] and saying it's like the light at the end of the tunnel," Loop manager Amanda Galloway says. The Loop offers 14 margaritas in a regular or grande (32- to 34-ounce) size, but will also make the drink with a tequila of your choice — it's got more than 40 to choose from. Favorites have long included the house and the Horni Grandma with Grand Marnier, but Galloway says people lately have been going for the Skinny, made with lime juice, agave nectar and Partida tequila. — J. Adrian Stanley

    Best Of 2014: Indian/Curry

    Co-owner Raj Adhikari always has a warm hello and a big smile for his customers, whether he's working at the Eighth Street restaurant or up north — which makes it not only a tasty trip to visit Little Nepal, but a welcoming one. Start your meal with an assortment of samosas and pakoras. Add an entreé of tandoori, kabobs or curry. Say yes when asked if you'd like some garlic naan and a mango lassi. Wrap it all up with some kheer, and Adhikari will smile at you as you roll yourself back out of his restaurant. Maybe a trip through the buffet next time? — Kirsten Akens

    Bites 2012

    Best-sellers at this Best Of victor, according to co-owner Muku Bhandari: the masalas, kormas, makhani and curries, all with lamb, chicken, shrimp, and salmon options and lovely, intoxicating sauces. Catch monthly belly dances, a daily lunch buffet and a Thursday dinner buffet.

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    Best Of 2014: Sunday Brunch

    For the seventh year in a row, the Lake Terrace Dining Room at the Broadmoor takes this category. And who's to argue with the "Grand Dame of the Rockies"? At Sunday brunch, she serves up 150 offerings — entrées, carving-station meats, salads, savory and dessert crepes — and staffs action stations with chefs who make food to order. The menu changes weekly, but you can count on culinary excellence, plus some ice sculptures and live piano music. All things considered, the $52 price per person is well worth it, says manager Susan Krokidis. Located on the mezzanine level of Broadmoor Main, the buffet runs from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended. — Anna Palmer

    Bites 2012

    With island influences from Hawaii to Indonesia, La'au's offers more fresh crunch than the average taco stop (think mango and papaya toppings), though there's hearty pork, steak and chicken options, too. Nobody beats the all-day happy hours: two Bristols for $5, $1.50 PBRs, $3 margaritas.

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    Best Of 2014: French

    Best Of 2014: Soup

    As always when you vote for La Baguette, we have to point out that there are three separately owned locations in town, and that each marches to the beat of its own wooden spoon against a stock pot. Next point: Though you can find seasonal soups like gazpacho and Vichyssoise at these places, we know you actually voted for the French onion soup, with gooey melted cheese and spongy croutons capping beef broth loaded with opaque onions. And finally: As good as that is, remember that French food encompasses much more than what can fit in a single bowl, and at La Baguette you'll find buttery pastries, intricately constructed sandwiches and more that are award-worthy. — Matthew Schniper

 

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