I am the octopus (apologies to John).
Bites 2013: Colorado Lamb
Though the lamb presentation changes a few times a year, the Centennial State's most underrated game meat will always be on the Cliff House's menu. And these folks consistently treat it right. I've seen it as strips inside a phyllo purse under a mint-apricot-apple purée with sweet balsamic spinach (schwing!); under a merlot demi-glace; and, most recently, with a huckleberry jus and port foam next to sweet potatoes duchesse. (Around $26 to $30)
Insider Guide 2010
The Cliff House offers not only some of the area's finest dining, but also a great sleeping experience, having been rated a AAA Four-Diamond destination.
Writer's Pick: Best Dining Atmosphere, the Cliff House at Pikes Peak's Veranda
I said in a food review that the cushy wicker chairs and relaxing sound of a nearby courtyard fountain make the Cliff House's veranda the type of space where you could envision lounging and reading a thick book every day for the rest of your life. Sure, there's sweet patio dining all over town, and places with even more scenic overlooks, but there's something truly special about this comfortable and romantic porch. Call it part of the odd Manitou Springs energy if you wish. But you'll find yourself as content as a housecat on a sunny stretch of linoleum the moment you sit down here. — Matthew Schniper
Bites 2013: Orange and Saffron caramel Cream
Oh, the love poems we've written to this one over the years ... a perfectly textured and executed cream-and-egg-based vanilla bean flan that's sent over the top by ample orange zest and a lovely Iranian saffron infusion. Enter house-made caramel sauce plus berries and a dollop of whipped cream for garnish, and you have yourself one hell of a belly dance, mister. ($5.95)
Bites 2013: Rib Eye
It all comes down to the USDA Prime beef on the menu, raised in Nebraska. Less than 2 percent of American cattle will earn the rating, meaning the good stuff goes to the finest eateries. High marbling equals super tender, flavorful flesh. The preparation at Carlos' changes often, but you'll likely see something classically swanky like a peppercorn brandy sauce next to garlic mashers and veggies. ($46, half-off during 5 to 5:30 p.m. early bird hours)
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and for pre-theater dining, Café 36 just returned to the oversight of Garden of the Gods Gourmet. Look for dressy salads, gourmet sandwiches and entrées like a citrus-glazed mahi mahi. Still, nothing beats the view.
Insider Guide 2010
Sure, you make the drive to gamble, then you eat, but where do you lay down your empty wallet at night? Here. Once the Cripple Creek High School, Carr Manor offers rooms and suites ranging from $125 to $300, with military price specials and romance packages available.
Best Of 2013: Local Hotel/Motel
Following its 2011 sale to media man and Colorado resident Philip Anschutz, the Broadmoor launched a $60 million expansion and renovation program that's continuing into 2014 with additions such as Ristorante del Lago, an Italian concept that'll replace Charles Court. This past April, we were treated to the opening of the swank bowling bar, Play at the Broadmoor, as well as a sleek update of the Golden Bee, among other upgrades. All of which is to say it takes much effort to annually earn the most prestigious five stars and five diamonds awarded to hotels and eateries by Forbes and AAA, which sets the Broadmoor in an elite class of its own. In this category, it's truly no contest. — Matthew Schniper
Best Of 2013: Restaurant Wine List
Best Of 2013: Neighborhood Restaurant: South
We went to the Blue Star to celebrate a friend's birthday on a recent Friday night. When the birthday turned into a marriage proposal, the staff took it in stride. The next night, while having a pre-movie drink at the bar, we saw our waiter from the night before. He said he'd had another proposal at a table that evening. That's what happens at a fantastic neighborhood restaurant: Quick meals or drinks can be grabbed, or life-changing moments can be hosted. And about the wine? You might consider perusing their website before visiting, given that the lists are the oenophile's War and Peace, only far less boring. (And those wines are even half-price on Sundays.) — Laura Eurich
Best Of 2013: Bartender
Nate Windham, 40, has been with the Blue Star for three years and has become known for spiking his spirits with a little history. Sure, you've had a great Manhattan before, but was it made with the original ingredients: true pre-Prohibition-era maraschino cherries, Russell's Rye Whiskey and Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth? I doubt it. In line with that old-school approach, Windham himself is a throwback — a true gentleman, not the kind of bartender flashing around and posturing for a tip. If you haven't yet, it's worth coming in and fighting your way through his regulars. — Joshua Michael Torres
Bites 2013: Almond Rosemary Crusted Salmon
From the "rooted entrees" section of the cocktail lounge menu comes this favorite dish, which places a focus on simple ingredients in less-is-more fashion. Almonds are crushed and mixed with rosemary leaves for a gluten-free salmon coating, which sees a browning during a pan sear. A honey Worcestershire hits umami notes while rice pilaf gets a paprika dusting and salt-and-pepper rain over haricot verts. ($16)