Best Of 2013: Place to Meet Men (tie)
With 10 years under its belt, it's easy to see why Club Q bills itself as "Colorado Springs' best gay bar." It also makes sense that patrons would choose it as Colorado Springs' best place to meet men, a distinction it shares this year with Zodiac. The downtown venue may have the corner on live music, but Club Q boasts the inexhaustibly talented drag deejay Kyree Myst, who can lay claim to hosting, performing at or producing some 200 events a year. And while the two clubs were neck-and-neck in this category, we're confident they'll rise above any rivalry. After all, there are plenty of men to go around. — Bill Forman
Best Of 2013: Place to Meet Women
Adam Shotwell started Sinful Living in January in an effort to "make Colorado Springs more fun for people who don't like to go to church." Even if you do go to church, you might still find a place for yourself with these folks, as their only objective is to create enjoyable events in a judgment-free environment. A party with Adam and Co. might feature fire spinners, body painters and naughty games. One group you might not expect to find in attendance? A significant swinger population from within the military. But lo and behold, with Sinful Living, expect the unexpected.— Gracie Ramsdell
Best Of 2013: Open Mic Night
Best Of 2013: Karaoke Bar
This is the second year in a row that Zodiac has won for its Monday night open mics, and the first for its Thursday night karaoke. Not at all bad for a venue that has yet to reach its third anniversary, and won't until this coming February. "I think we've solidified our identity as Zodiac," says Gentle Fritz, "as opposed to being the bar that used to be ..." The venue co-owner can be forgiven for trailing off before reminding folks of the location's former tenant. (Spoiler: It was the Rocket Room.) Also complementing ongoing live performances by local and touring musicians, Zodiac has added Kids Karaoke on the first Saturday of each month. — Bill Forman
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
Happy hour: Daily, 3-7 p.m., 10 to midnight
The goods: Two-for-one wines, wells and drafts; $1 off bottles and pitchers
Favorite pour: "I pour beer. Definitely not martinis."
Mona Lisa boasts a downstairs wine cellar where you can enjoy more than 80 wines by the glass or as a flight, along with a cheese or chocolate fondue.
Best Of 2011: Neighborhood Bar: West
Say this for Meadow Muffins: It doesn't live in the past or rely on the same equation, year after year. After pushing a larger food menu for a while, now the focus is more on burgers, pizzas and wings, though if you talk to many who frequent the bar, the wings stand out. In fact, Meadow Muffins probably has the best wings west of I-25, and what's wrong with that distinction? It's still a humongous place, about 10,000 square feet, so you can party with a big group or hide in a quiet corner. Live music on weekends at the front bar, with DJs in the back, has developed its own following. And it's still a great place to go on Sundays to watch pro football. — Ralph Routon
It racked up a handful of second-place finishes in the 2011 Indy Best Of, and 30-plus-year-old José's is always a strong contender as the Tex-Mex heart of the local Concept Restaurants dynasty. Great happy hours and margaritas and hearty fare from mahi mahi to buffalo plates.
Best Of 2010: Patio Dining
So this is supposed to be a paean to the much-loved patio at José's downtown, the fire-pit-and-bar-accented enclave that some of you can't resist even when the snow flies. But we'd be remiss not to take this opportunity to tell you that, yes, there will be a distinctive patio at José's new location, 5710 S. Carefree Circle. When it opens (hopefully in November), says general manager Cindy Biondo, a few dozen people can sit in "sort of an indoor-outdoor" area — a space adjacent to huge garage doors that will open on nice days. Down the road, you can look for a truly outdoor patio over there as well. Winter forecast: "I have to say that I'm the worst at predicting that stuff. I'm going to say it's going to be a mild winter, so it'll probably be the opposite."— Kirk Woundy
Best of 2013: Irish Pub
Jack Quinn's maintains an element of craic, an Irish term for good banter and great times — that vibe you get when you walk into a place that feels like home. However, the authentic Irish feel isn't the only thing that's earned Quinn's this win for the eighth year in a row. Stellar food abounds, including the traditional Boxty, which manager Martin Troy describes as a "giant Irish burrito." It's a large potato pancake filled with ingredients such as sautéed onions, mashed potatoes, corned beef, cabbage and more. This month, stop in for Scotchtoberfest to enjoy glasses of scotch paired with dishes that complement. — Gracie Ramsdell
Bites 2013: Shepherd's Pie
Must. Get. Through. Description. Without. Mentioning. Guinness. ... D'oh! Quinn's and the famous stout are inextricable. And seeing as how heavy beers call for heavy food, the shepherd's pie is a natural choice from the Irish selections. A custom bread boule (yeah, not bowl, ya' eegit!) from Colorado Bread Company holds the mashed potatoes, molten cheddar and ground sirloin and veggies (mushrooms, onions, carrot, peas) seasoned simply with salt, pepper and thyme. ($10.95)
Because you can't have enough Irish bars — let alone Irish bars with plentiful 2-for-1 deals — in Colorado Springs, or anywhere else for that matter. And yes, since you ask, they do have karaoke.
Happy hour: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 3-7 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, 3-9; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The goods: Two-for-one wines, wells and drafts
Favorite pour: "Let's go with the Red-Headed Slut."
Best Of 2012: Place to Two-Step
Of all the Tejon Street establishments owned by Sam and Kathy Guadagnoli — including the Mansion, Blondie's and Gasoline Alley — Cowboys is the best-known and most distinctive. Sure, there's a bowling alley upstairs, but the world-famous magic can be found in the throngs of Western-attired revelers line-dancing to pop country hits and, in a bizarre genre aberration I'll never fully understand, Clarence Carter's suggestive soul hit, "Strokin'." Go for the novelty, stay for the fun. — Bill Forman
Best Of 2010: New Bar (since July 1, 2009)
Where can you find walls of Jack Daniels bottles protected by chicken wire, a Confederate flag proudly bearing the word "Redneck," and a patio lined with whiskey barrel tables? Why, the same place you can find neon palm trees and a purely decorative John Deere tractor: Colorado Springs' favorite new bar, Copperhead Road. In the remodeled old Black Angus Steakhouse restaurant building off North Academy Boulevard, you get not only evenings of live country music, but a staff of beautiful and busty beer-slinging servers who put on Coyote Ugly-style bartop performances. Whether or not you live the country life by day, all you've got to do is head to Copperhead Road for a taste of the country nightlife. — Jill Thomas
Happy hour: Wednesday-Friday, 5-9 p.m.
The goods: Wednesdays: $1 drafts; $2 wells; $3 bombs; Thursday: ladies drink free
Favorite pour: "Our bomb shots are always popular. I would have to say those and Cowboy Cocktails for $3."