Member since Sep 30, 2009

Favorite Places

    Best Of 2014: Barbecue

    Front Range has won gold for Best Barbecue since 2004. Looking for a measure of its authenticity? Manager Michelle Evans has a note about FRBBQ's growing catering business: "We have a new smoker-trailer to take on-site that can roast a whole pig." — Kendall Kullman

    Best Of 2014: Neighborhood Restaurant (tie)

    Even with all the good eats on the west side, Front Range has won or shared gold for Best Neighborhood Restaurant every year since this category started four years ago. Clearly, the guys and gals there are doing lots of things right, not least of which are the live music and beer-tasting events. (It's also worth noting that non-carnivores actually can eat there, thanks to good veggie burgers and salads.) As for Jake & Telly's, look no further than the classic "Opa!" toast screamed on all manner of occasions, including just for fun on any old night of the week when Ouzo is flowing liberally and friends are gathered around a bountiful mixed mezze plate. Next comes a rack of lamb or moussaka ... and it's always over too soon. — Kendall Kullman

    Bites 2013: Riblet Plate

    Think of Front Range's riblet offering simply as a big-ass plate of Southern goodness. Tender, slow-cooked St. Louis rack ends sport a light char but copious hickory and mesquite flavor. They're served naked (got your attention) so you can choose your own house sauce tableside: Mustard Wine, Sweet n' Spicy or our favorite, the Original Tangy. ($16 includes choice of two sides)

    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

    Bites 2012

    For five years, Song Brinck has steadily built clientele at her beautiful, modern space. She recently added Teppanyaki service to the Japanese entrées and sushi. Happy hours are a good time to visit, for buy-one-get-one drinks and $1 to $1.50 off popular items like the Research Roll.

    Best Of 2014 • Writer's Pick: Agitation of Heifer

    I have a food friend who travels quite a bit, often hitting Vietnamese establishments around the world — hey, everybody's gotta have some obsession — and often ordering a personal favorite, Bo Luc Lac, translated as "shaken beef." It's not seen on many local menus, and it's not a super-flashy dish, but more like a deeply satisfying stir-fry that allows simple ingredients to shine. At least that's how Dung My Tram's version at Vietnamese Garden hits the mouth. Unsalted butter plays a key role, as do rice wine, vinegar and gluten-free soy in a sauce that's otherwise spiked with lots of minced garlic and the bite of white peppercorns playing off slivers of sliced and pan-flipped beef. Simply put, this is not your average wok fodder — it's much better. — Matthew Schniper

    Bites 2013: Potato Fritters

    It's like Hanukkah's golden latkes went to Vietnam for a makeover. Rough-grated carrots and yams are battered in Vietnamese beer and gluten-free rice flour, then deep-fried crisp. Great, right? But it's what comes next that pushes it off the charts: fresh mint, basil and cilantro served with crisp lettuce leaves for wrapping, then dunking into a sweet house sauce. Epic. ($7.45)

    Drink 2010

    Happy hour: Daily, 3-7 p.m.

    The goods: 50 cents off domestic drafts, bottles and wells

    Favorite pour: "Fuck Me Hard. It's got nine different alcohols and it's fun to make."

    Best Of 2010: Fitness Center

    Bites 2013: Tortas de Pierna

    The mouth-gasm commences as a chewy, grilled, hoagie-like telera roll relents quickly, revealing salsa fresca and tender shredded pork shoulder marinated to a divine heat in chipotle peppers, tomato sauce and garlic. There's smoke and a pleasant back-of-the-throat burn, moderated only by a little shredded lettuce and the cooling dairy elements of crema espesa (Mexican sour cream) and Monterey jack cheese. ($8.49)

    Best Of 2014: Middle Eastern

    It's been eight years since Hussein Abukhdeir opened his first Pikes Peak area Middle Eastern restaurant. Now he's got two locations and a five-page menu, featuring everything from beef, lamb and chicken shawarmah and falafel, to hummus and Greek salad. All of which you can get on the Ultimate Plate, which shift manager Audi Lockwood says is probably the restaurant's best-selling item "because you get to try a little bit of everything." Make sure to add a cup of Turkish coffee to your order; Lockwood says they house-brew the concoction with cardamom, orange zest and a thick espresso. — Kirsten Akens

    ReLeaf Winter 2015

    Strains: 20

    Top strain: Slim Shady

    Top edible: BlueKudu

    Unique feature: A focus on high-CBD strains.

    Best Of 2014: Caterer

    As it explains on its "Ordering FAQ" page, Garden of the Gods Gourmet Catering will use your family recipes if you ask: "We try our best to duplicate your treasured memories." Which is nice. But if your memories don't include many servings of House Citrus Smoked Salmon or Grilled Pork Loin with Apples and Caraway, you may just want to let the pros do their thing. While you're at it, you can let them handle your whole function, whatever it is, from equipment rental to liquor delivery to cake-cutting (at no charge) to breakdown. — Kirk Woundy

    Best Of 2014: Thai

    NaRai opened a southern location around the turn of 2014, if expansion is any indication of success. (It is.) In her new, larger kitchen, owner Jasmine Andrew has introduced playful items such as a Thai twist on Korean short ribs, and a soon-to-arrive Thai quesadilla, using a four-cheese Mexican blend melted over shrimp seasoned with a roasted Thai chili sauce. Still, it's likely that some of her Thai staples really earned her this win. "I'm not saying I'm the most authentic," she says. "But I grew up in Thailand, and all the flavors here are based on my favorite flavors." She modifies to American palates — for example, using chicken breast instead of traditionally used whole chickens, which make for oilier plates — and recommends a medium heat for the best balance between saltiness and sweetness, though she's all too happy to burn you out if you order Thai hot. Go for it. — Matthew Schniper


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