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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)
Best Of 2013: Natural Foods Store
Best Of 2013: Natural Foods Store
Insider Guide 2010
Named after the famous entertainer and a burning ball of cosmic gas; located 8,000 feet above sea level; and standing 114 feet high is the final resting place of Spencer and Julie Penrose, along with some friends of the couple. It's the best view in the city, and accessible through a toll-gate at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.
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.
Best Of 2013: Neighborhood Bar: West
Although we haven't been around long enough to directly verify it, we're told that the west side's favorite bar gets its name from a pair of elk, Thunder and Buttons, who back in the 1880s drew their owner's carriage up and down Colorado Avenue, with its 21 saloons. In addition to late-night happy hours and weekly meetings of the Westside Running Club and Geeks Who Drink, the homey saloon and eatery recently expanded its patio. "We got our liquor license expanded to cover the front patio," says owner Heather Joffe, "so we can enjoy drinking a beer while reading the Indy out front." We're on our way. — Bill Forman
Catch daily food specials like steak sliders and blackened shrimp fettuccine, beyond a sizeable sandwich and salad menu. See their website for daily happy hour and late-night drink specials. Also open mic comedy night, Geeks Who Drink and live music nights.
Bites 2013: Butter Chicken
You'd swear the golden pool full of cubed chicken chunks, easily splitting into pink shreds, was 90-percent sweet cream. But ginger zings, then garlic sings, then yogurt and tomatoes vibrate with biting tang. Then you're taking another bite, then you're out of steaming, grilled naan to pile it onto, then you're out of room to eat, so you roll to the car. ($12.95)
Best Of 2010: Indian/Curry
For the love of good gravy! At least that's the way Taste of India owner Tajinder Dhillon see things. Dhillon describes curry — an aromatic mix of onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon and more — as Indian gravy, something found in every Indian home. And he bristles at the oft-heard belief that all Indian food is spicy; in his culture, heat is only achieved through the addition of chilies. So you can get your lamb, beef or mushroom curry mild, medium or hot, or even opt for a creamy dish, like the much-revered butter chicken. Dip some fresh-prepared naan into that sauce, and you'll see why Taste of India has been converting even skeptics into regulars since 1997. —Monika Mitchell Randall
Here you'll find the tastiest butter chicken in the city, and a family-dominated staff that will take care of you — just two reasons why Taste of India earned our readers' Best Indian nod in 2009. Lunch buffets here are legendary, and will help you quickly understand why the outfit has such a fine reputation within the local Indian community.
Go to a dome in Hollywood, and all you get is big movies. But in the Springs, you'll find the newly opened Stargazers, a large geodesic dome where local and national acts share the stage with the occasional Ben Franklin impersonator. Built 40 years ago by Hollywood Cinerama architect Vincent G. Raney, the venue that's previously served as a theater, opera house and series of churches has found new life (desperate pun intended) yet again.
Happy hour: Daily, 3-6 p.m.
The goods: $3 wells, $2 Coors Light drafts, $4 house wines, $1 off any call drink, and half price appetizers
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 Biking Trail
Considering it's in Colorado, this trail possesses a rare, prized quality: It's more or less flat. In places, it's also wide, and even paved. In fact, a large section south of America the Beautiful Park just got a fresh layer of concrete. Known in parts of the Springs as the Pikes Peak Greenway, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail mostly follows Fountain and Monument creeks and spans from Palmer Lake to just outside the town of Fountain. (Sections of it are also called the Fountain Creek Regional Trail.) Kurt Schroeder, manager of the city's parks maintenance, open space and trails, says of this one, "There aren't any significant grades, and it goes through some beautiful areas of town." — J. Adrian Stanley
Insider Guide 2010
If you hike around the Springs area, you'll find cascading fonts of water ... but nowhere else can you get seven of them right off a main thoroughfare. Bring your walking shoes, inhaler and maybe a sandwich, because 224 steps, and not one fewer, will get you to the top. Tickets range $5.75 to $10.75; look for the lights at night.