Tattoo Artist : Currently employed at "Best of Colorado Springs" Silver Medal "Place to get Tattooed" Pens & Needles.
Best of 2012: Place to Get Tattooed
Best of 2012: Piercing Parlor
Even though Pens & Needles owner Kristina Wright says she's "running out of space" on her body for more tattoos, she still has some personal limits when it comes to body art. One of her master artists had a young lady, "four-eleven, probably 80 pounds, [who] sat for nine, nine and a half hours straight, except for an occasional break for eating.
"She impressed me," Wright says. "I mean, I'm not sitting there for nine hours!"
Wright, who's retired military, has limits for her employees, too.
"It's a requirement — they have to know how to draw," she says. "They have to know how to be a custom artist, which means when the customer comes up to you, whip up some designs. Just start sketching some things. I think that builds way more trust than, 'Hey, I'm gonna get Number 31 from the wall.'"
And people seem to be receptive. Her tattoo artists produce more than 200 tats a month; her piercers, about 75 holes a month. And Wright, who opened the original Pens & Needles on Weber Street in 2008, just opened a second store on Drennan Road six months ago. Each shop is designed to offer a bit of privacy; employees have their own defined spaces, allowing customers to be able to sit longer, watch their own TVs, and relax more, "in their own little zone."
Perfect, perhaps, for the introverted among us, or those who want something more unusual. Wright hesitates when asked about the most outrageous tats her artists have done. "I don't know if I can say this over the phone," she says, laughing. "We've had a couple 'good spots.'"
How do the artists feel about those "spots"? "Some of the old-school guys," she says, "they don't care as long as you're paying for it."
But it does depend on the artist.
"We have one female artist," Wright explains. "She's really kinda flexible also, it just depends on exactly where you're gonna put it.
"She doesn't do too many of the wangs." — Kirsten Akens
Bites 2013: Oyster Rockefeller
These are the closest thing to fatty, charred bone marrow that's not, you know, actually bone marrow: A light crust of baked hollandaise sits over molten cheese swirled with spinach, bits of bacon and the licorice bite of Pernod. That there are also oysters at the bottom speaks to God's grace. ($15)
Best Of 2012: Running Club: Jack Quinn's Running Club
Best Of 2012: Weekly Bar Event
Shawn Finley knows how much he brings to the runners and downtown. People talk about overcoming health issues and depression after joining Jack Quinn's Running Club for its Tuesday night runs. Hell, he even met his future wife on one. That sense of community brought out another record number of people this last June with nearly 1,800 runners, walkers and joggers. "I'm not the only one struggling on the hill by CC on Uintah," he says. "There's 500 more people doing the same thing." They're also supporting downtown business on a weeknight: Finley says a study the club conducted revealed that his runners and friends spend an average of $11 per person. — Sonja Bjelland
Best of 2012: Irish Pub
Quinn's is on our list for the seventh consecutive time because it does Irish right. Traditional staples such as Boxty and Shepherd's Pie share the menu with orange balsamic chicken and grilled salmon. In October, they added new items to the menu, including Guinness Brats and Pretzel Kabobs, Lime and Dill Salmon, Shepherd's Pie in a bread bowl, and a Salmon Trio appetizer. In addition to traditional Irish beers and ales, Quinn's has added a tap IPA lineup from Colorado's Ska, Odell and Avery breweries. — Bret Wright
Best Of 2012: Deli
Jimmy John's delivers on a number of levels, from rushing sandwiches direct to your door to having them wrapped up and ready to go pretty much by the time you reach the end of the counter. The brainchild of Jimmy John Liautaud, who started the first shop as an Illinois teen in 1983, the chain has grown to 690 stores across the nation. And as its Web site boasts, there are no additives, no junk and, at least according to a sign in the downtown franchise, no hippies. (If a location opens up in Manitou, this will surely change.) There's also classic rock, so you can get a dose of Zeppelin and Clapton with your lunchtime fix. — Bill Forman
Happy hour: Monday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close
The goods: $3 house drafts, wines and wells, $5 appetizers
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."