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)
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 2015: Hotel
Whether you stay in the historic Broadmoor Hotel, the longest-running 5-star hotel in the country, or book at one of the newer "luxury wilderness" retreats, you're bound for something special. The Broadmoor, which has entertained U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries, offers amenities including a private lake with paddleboats, three golf courses, a spa and an infinity pool. Impeccably trained staff members remember your personal preferences and greet you by name. And then there's the food. The hotel's seven restaurants range from casual to formal, but it's the Lake Terrace Dining Room that wins Best Sunday Brunch, with 150-plus offerings that together compose an unparalleled flavor orgy. — Jill Thomas
Best Of 2015: Restaurant Wine List
A while ago, a meme was going around on social media: "The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink." As the mother of two girls, I can tell you, no, the wine is not the most expensive part of parenting, but that's mainly because I take advantage of The Blue Star's half-off-wine Sundays. I can choose from hundreds of bottles and pay just 50 percent of the usual price. And right now, The Blue Star is showcasing some of its 1.5-liter offerings on special weekends. "It's pretty rare to open a large bottle and sell it by the glass," says manager Erika Mullett. She's excited to uncork a 1997 Chateau Routas, a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet. Me, I'm looking to find some new wines that age well ... the teenage years aren't that far away. — Amanda Lundgren
Best Of 2014: Restaurant for Herbivores
Best Of 2014: Neighborhood Restaurant: Manitou
"The biggest thing" to hit Adam's Mountain Café over the past year, according to owner Farley McDonough, is that the restaurant has gone full-bar. After 30 years without, that is a big deal. "We're not trying to do a big bar scene," McDonough says with a laugh, "but people can come in for a killer Bloody Mary at breakfast, or a Manhattan with dinner." Of course, in keeping with the rest of Adam's style, the bar leans local and Colorado when possible. And that Bloody Mary? It's extra special — with organic ingredients and vegan, house-made Worcestershire sauce. — Kirsten Akens