woodnymph 
Member since Jun 11, 2010

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retired teacher, Starbucks barista

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    Best Of 2013: • Indy Pick: Chicken pot pie

    I didn't pick this just because of the heart-shaped cracker that comes on top of each pie. It helps, but this heaping dish hardly needs much décor — the crispy, flaky top covering creamy vegetables and healthy chunks of chicken are more than enough. According to the general manager, this house specialty is by far one of the restaurant's most popular items, and starts out as nothing more than a chicken dumpling soup blanketed with a puff pastry crust. And since it's a mere $8.95, you have cash left over to indulge in the joint's more adult namesake offerings. — Edie Adelstein

    Bites 2013: Carrot Cake

    Though it comes in the shape of a slice, this huge monolith of dessert has more layers than Shrek, feeds up to four people, and fits just fine in a completely empty, jumbo-sized freezer (because you're not eating this whole thing at once). It's a symphony of creamy frosting, soft layers of cake and all the caloric guilt you can muster. ($9.95)

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    Best Of 2013: Thai

    Wild Ginger has been serving up consistently crowd-pleasing dishes from a large Thai menu since 1998, and doing so in its pretty Manitou Avenue location since 2010. Owners Khon Onexayvieng and her husband and head chef, Elmer, have kept the manner in which the food is prepared the same since the doors first opened, Elmer being one of only two cooks in the place. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And brother, it ain't broke; their soups are some of the best in the business!— Miguel Bustamante

    Bites 2013: Green Curry

    So much depends upon a red wheel barrow ... we mean, um, the green curry — at Wild Ginger. Of course it depends on the heat level you order, and whether you prefer tofu, chicken, beef, pork or shrimp as your protein. But however you construct it, the kitchen won't let you down when it comes to spiking the velvety coconut milk sauce with all the usual suspects like fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and basil. Flavorful, floral, essential. ($10.95)

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    Best Of 2013: National Chain Coffee House

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    Bites 2012

    Take in a charming Jersey attitude, on and off the sub, with classic East Coast items like Tastykakes and Boylan's Birch Beer playing backup. We like the ground Italian sausage sub a lot, heaped with grilled peppers, onions and gooey cheese. If this be your heritage, you'll be at home.

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    Best Of 2015: Bar for a Creative Cocktail (tie)

    The Principal's Office at Ivywild redesigns its cocktail menu about four times a year, which keeps creative juices of all types flowing — and, according to manager Tyler Hill, ingredients as fresh as possible. Expect a new fall menu sometime in October (if it's not already on tap), which will include some "good, savory, keep-you-warm kind of drinks," darker rums and whiskeys, fun house-made infusions and a Negroni that's been barrel-aging for the last couple of months. Meanwhile, Shuga's introduced its fall menu less than a month ago with additions like Harvey Wrote Some Lyrics. A wash of absinthe, Mahon gin, a house-made pistachio cream, simple syrup and a nutmeg garnish bring out everything special about pistachio. "We do have a lot of things on the menu that have that counterintuitive mix of ingredients," says bartender Lisa Schoenstein, "things that are fresh and surprising, and things people will try and say, 'Only Shuga's would have this.'" — Kirsten Akens and Griffin Swartzell

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    Drink 2010

    Happy hour: Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close

    The goods: $3 house drafts, wines and wells, $5 appetizers

    InSider 2010

    Rock Bottom may be corporate, but its Springs location does all its brewing on-site, every beer the product of local brewmaster Jason Leeman. He picked up two awards at the Manitou Craft Lager Festival last summer, and each month unveils a new creation. Rock Bottom usually offers about 14 brews on tap, but don't expect to find Bud or Coors: "If we don't brew it," Leeman says, "we don't serve it."

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    Best Of 2015: Italian

    Chef Franco Pisani has brought his love of cooking to multiple platforms. His monthly culinary videos (available on Paravicini's website) include segments like "Feast of the 7 Fishes" and "Farmer's Market Shopping and Cooking." He also has a book available on Amazon (Mama Mia! Now That's Italian) filled with family stories and recipes from his youth. As a board member of the Colorado Restaurant Association's Pikes Peak Chapter, Pisani has advocated for more independent, chef-driven restaurants in town. In December he told the Indy, "There are meal-replacement restaurants, and then there's dining experiences." It's safe to say Paravicini's is the latter. — Amanda Lundgren

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    Bites 2013: Smoked Salmon Cakes

    Precious few items remain fixed on Margarita's ever-changing menu, but this is one that's earned its spot by popular demand. The salmon's rubbed with brown sugar, salt and pepper and hickory smoked on the stove-top. Insert a bed of spinach salad, caper cream cheese and either a horseradish crema or lemon-dill tarter sauce. And son, you're in happytown. ($10 on the lounge menu/$13 at brunch)

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    Best of 2015: Bar for a Margarita

    The Loop serves its margaritas in two sizes. Manager Anna Cipolletti says "the regulars are pretty large, and the grandes are huge." Which is why we always recommend pairing your Silver or your Skinny (or whatever flavor strikes your margarita fancy) with a good, solid meal. Options abound, but you might try Cipolletti's suggestion of the special Molcajete: a chicken, pork and steak dish, with veggies, onions, spicy poblano sauce and nopal (aka prickly pear) cactus. — Kirsten Akens

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    Best Of 2015: Neighborhood Bar: Manitou

    The Keg is truly one of those places that always come to mind when you think of Manitou Springs. "It's very family-friendly," says Jocelyn Redfern, a Manitou native and Keg patron. "It's the only bar we've brought the kids to." When you find someplace close to home where you can get a killer buffalo burger, a signature berry salad, local beer and cocktails for the adults, and bottomless soda for the kids, yes, you've got yourself a favorite. — Carrie Simison

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    Best Of 2014: Japanese/Sushi

    Jun has won gold in this category almost perennially since 1995, partly because owner Jun Aizu focuses on the freshest fish he can get. He serves Colorado fish when he can, and flies the rest in daily. Aizu opened his first location on Dublin 23 years ago; nine years ago he opened the Centennial location. The menus, concept and specialties of the two restaurants do differ: For example, while both serve sushi, the Dublin location offers ramen noodles made from scratch, and the Centennial location features cooking tables. "My favorite quality in Japanese cuisine is that it's simple, it's natural, and it's fresh without heavy sauces," says Aizu. Any plans for a third location? "Not yet," he says, smiling. — Kendall Kullman

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    Best Of 2014: Japanese/Sushi

    Jun has won gold in this category almost perennially since 1995, partly because owner Jun Aizu focuses on the freshest fish he can get. He serves Colorado fish when he can, and flies the rest in daily. Aizu opened his first location on Dublin 23 years ago; nine years ago he opened the Centennial location. The menus, concept and specialties of the two restaurants do differ: For example, while both serve sushi, the Dublin location offers ramen noodles made from scratch, and the Centennial location features cooking tables. "My favorite quality in Japanese cuisine is that it's simple, it's natural, and it's fresh without heavy sauces," says Aizu. Any plans for a third location? "Not yet," he says, smiling. — Kendall Kullman

    Bites 2013: Shabu- Shabu

    Jun is the only place in the city you can find Shabu-Shabu, commonly called "Japanese fondue." You take carpaccio-thin steak cuts of your choice and quickly boil them in dashi water (dried kelp and fermented tuna flake) with optional spicy sauce and miso paste enhancement. In goes cabbage, onions and other veggies, all of which is spooned out over rice or plonked in bright, house-made Ponzu, Yuzu or sesame dips. (New York strip/$39.50, filet/$47.50, Kobe filet /$89.50)

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    Best Of 2014: Neighborhood Restaurant (tie)

    Even with all the good eats on the west side, Front Range has won or shared gold for Best Neighborhood Restaurant every year since this category started four years ago. Clearly, the guys and gals there are doing lots of things right, not least of which are the live music and beer-tasting events. (It's also worth noting that non-carnivores actually can eat there, thanks to good veggie burgers and salads.) As for Jake & Telly's, look no further than the classic "Opa!" toast screamed on all manner of occasions, including just for fun on any old night of the week when Ouzo is flowing liberally and friends are gathered around a bountiful mixed mezze plate. Next comes a rack of lamb or moussaka ... and it's always over too soon. — Kendall Kullman

    Bites 2013: Mixed Mezze

    Another ode to the indecisive: the all-encompassing platter that lets one sample widely. A meat version features Keftethes (zesty Greek meatballs) and gyro meat while a vegetarian rendition subs in grilled veggies and gigantes (big-ass seasoned white beans). Both get the feta, olives, hummus, spanakopita, dolmadakia, pita and tzatziki that collectively whisper the finest essence of the Mediterranean in tones of salt, garlic, yogurt tang, grape-leaf bitterness and phyllo dough crunch. ($16 each)

 

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