Bites 2013: Korean Pork Belly
Not that anything that begins with stir-fried pork belly can fail — You can't derail the swine train, sucka! — but this dish really hits the high points of fatty delight. Seared onions and a fantastic Korean hot chili sauce flavor the meat, which, ordered as a wrap, lets you roll it with fresh lettuce leaves, raw garlic slices (hell, yes!) and jalapeño slivers. ($13.99; $5 extra for wrap ingredients)
Bites 2013: Doro Wat
The chicken and egg come at the same time here (get it?), whole ovals and super tender legs drowned in a heavy, mole-esque red wine and butter sauce that's spiked with a berbere spice mix, more undisclosed spices, ginger, garlic and onions. It's poultry perfected. ... "If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved." ($13)
IndyPick • Best Of 2010: Cultural Cuisine Addition
The central reason Uchenna deserves applause is that the outfit has brought our city its first authentic Ethiopian restaurant. Any entirely new cuisine on our scene excites, but Uchenna excels too, with food endowed by the passion of owner Maya Hetman. The Ethiopia native takes her time cooking family recipes from scratch, with 70 percent organic ingredients and intoxicating spices. Her doro wat — chicken lathered in a red wine and butter sauce that's granted a mole-like texture and flavor from undisclosed hot spices, garlic, ginger and onions — is the type of dish that alone could make the eatery famous. Scoop a variety of vibrant, flavorful items, including lentil, chickpea, lamb and beef dishes, with gluten-free, teff-flour injera (a stretchy, thin bread of sorts) and save room for excellent Mediterranean pastries like baklava. Uchenna truly offers an unparalleled eating experience, which we're overjoyed is now available in Colorado Springs. — Matthew Schniper
Our only Moroccan eatery, featuring weekend bellydancing and multi-course meals that include cous-cous, clay pot-cooked meats, seafood and vegetables, warming soups and phyllo pastries. Take off your shoes and let orange and rose blossom water prepare your hands for feasting.
The great thing about this, the city’s only Moroccan restaurant, is sitting in comfy cushions on the floor and eating with your fingers. Under glamorous drapes and tapestries, the four- and six-course meals begin with soup and homemade honey wheat bread and move to lovely Mediterranean-spiced meat and veggie entrees. Catch belly dancers on Fridays and Saturdays.
Best Of 2015: Happy Hour
The day I discovered that Sonterra Grill has the best happy hour on Tejon, I felt a bit silly. All this time, I'd been searching for that perfect combination of cheap drinks and quality eats and it was right there in the heart of downtown, quietly waiting for me. From 3 to 7 (and most of Saturday), you'll find $3 drinks and tapas; affordable, tasty apps; and $5 martinis. Whether your workday was something to relish or something to regret, this is the place to do it. — Bridgett Harris
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
Best Of 2014: Neighborhood Restaurant: North
Best Of 2014: Chips and salsa
Salsa Brava does salsa right, grilling fresh ingredients, adding a unique blend of herbs and spices, and puréeing it all into the perfect consistency — every day. The blackened tomato salsa is served gratis with chips (lightly fried in cholesterol-free canola oil), but you can also request pico de gallo, pineapple habanero (the perfect blend of sweet and heat), and occasionally a seasonal salsa like the roasted arbol, featuring a small, potent Mexican chile pepper. The patio, complete with fire pit, is an inviting space to relax with a margarita (maybe at happy hour, when it'll only set you back $3.50). Top off with bananas Foster, made right at your table. — Amanda Lundgren
Bites 2013: Beef Bulgogi
Bulgogi is the poster child of marinated meat, which is to say it's one of the finest expressions of thin beef cuts patiently tenderized and seasoned to a palate-pleasing perfection. Due to language barriers, we couldn't tell you exactly what's in San Chang's rendition — likely it includes the classic soy, sugar, sesame and garlic and onion inputs — but we can say theirs is as good as the dish gets around here. Semi-sweet, salty and umami at once. ($8.99 lunch/$12.99 dinner)
Best Of 2011: Korean
One of my colleagues here at the Indy is a San Chang House aficionado. She says that it long ago set the bar for local Korean food; all else must be compared to these colorful plates. My guess is that she's not alone, considering Indy voters have put San Chang House at the top every year we've offered this category. Perhaps they, too, appreciate the friendly staff, who always make sure that new eaters of Korean cuisine know how to dip, mix-and-match, and eat everything. Or maybe they agree with signage that Korean food is healthy. When the results of fermentation taste this good and make you happy, who'd want to argue? — Matthew Schniper
Best Of 2010: Korean
I'm a newbie to authentic Korean dining, the kind of experience that comes with multiple side dishes and lots of kimchi. When that inexperience came through to my waitress at San Chang House, she patiently walked me through the menu, made vegetarian suggestions to please my palate, and not only served my food in record time, but showed me how to assemble my bi bim bap. No wonder why San Chang has won this award every time Indy readers have voted on it. Future plans include a remodel, and continually improved-upon recipes. —Suzie Calvin
Best Of 2015: Upscale Bar
It doesn't matter which way you go; you're sure to drink something tasty, especially with a menu like this. Like beer? Besides the few taps — all local beers — The Rabbit Hole stocks a variety, with almost any style available, and most brewed in Colorado. More of a wine drinker? Try reds and whites from across the country and around the world, with a few sparkling and champagne bottles available as well. For cocktails, options range from the Duchess, a champagne-grapefruit cocktail served with an orchid, to the Purple Drank, described as "some drank, some purple, all good." — Griffin Swartzell
The 30-year-old Eighth Street location is newly remodeled, and you too can keep it fresh with Facebook coupons for weekly featured Panino sandwiches (some 30, unique rolled-dough creations). Fat calzones plus all-you-can-eat pizza Tuesdays ($7.99) and spaghetti Wednesdays ($8.99).
Best Of 2015: Spot for Spot of Tea
A counter filled with treats greets you as you step into Montague's, cementing your dessert-scarfing fate long before you've even begun to peruse the collection of fine teas and coffees. The food menu boasts sandwiches and quiches, as well as a famous pumpkin-tomato soup. Featuring cushy chairs and low tables, Montague's offers patrons a quiet, cozy atmosphere in which to read their favorite book, chat up an old friend, or simply contemplate life in the shimmering surface of a hot cup of tea. — Bridgett Harris
Bites 2013: Grinder Sandwich
"Hoagies and grinders, hoagies and grinders, navy beans, navy beans ..." Sorry. But get that reference and you've earned a grinder at Mollica's. (You're still paying for it.) Anyhoo, fennel-forward house-made Italian sausage lays down on a La Baguette French Bakery roll before its smothered with sautéed bell peppers, gooey provolone and chunky house tomato sauce. ($7.89)
Source: A community in Brazil
Get the: Maté
Operated by friendly members of our local Twelve Tribes community (no, not a cult), this maté stop procures high quality yerba maté direct from a community in Brazil. The warm, wood-dominant atmosphere offers a great place to study or socialize late; snacks and sweets are available, too.
It's a Manitou tribute to '50s icon Marilyn Monroe, owned by the same folks as the Ancient Mariner. The pies are pleasant enough, as recently evidenced by the 10-inch Manitou ($9.75) with feta, mozzarella, olives, artichoke hearts and garlic sauce on thin crust.