Not just a haunt for Colorado College students and faculty, Wooglin's is a fine stop for anyone at all three meals. A cup of Barista coffee with an outstanding quiche in the a.m.; a spicy bagel melt or giant Greek salad at lunch; or daily house soup, French dip, or portobello Swiss burger with a beer at dinner.
Wooglin's offers almost everything: perfect coffee creations (including a velvety mocha), hot and cold "overstuffed" sandwiches, hummus, burgers, quesadillas, salads and even veggie chili. With live music in the eclectic interior, it's no wonder that townies help Colorado College kids keep it busy at all hours.
Best Of 2012: Place to Buy a Thoughtful, Over-the-Top Gift
Best Of 2012: Place to Buy a Thoughtful, Inexpensive Gift
Best Of 2012: Store for Accessories
Best Of 2012: Local Store for Women's Fasions
Terra Verde can dominate these categories because it offers something for everyone, literally. Walking through the various rooms, you'll find your eyes drawn to some items that cost $10, and others that run 10 times that. For accessibility's sake, here are some top picks in the "thoughtful, inexpensive" realm: serving ware from India Handicrafts, imported French soap from Pré de Provence, or a Votivo candle (my favorite: the Bright Leaf Tobacco). Because, after all, a great gift is "something chosen with love, regardless of the price," says Karen Rivera, marketing rep for the store. — Celine Wright
Best Of 2012: Garden Supply/Nursery
They share the title for top garden go-to every year, despite the fact that the two places are disparate businesses, and have been since 1976. In a way it's fitting, since Rick's Garden and Rick's Nursery share a happy, symbiotic relationship. Set back-to-back on the west side, each shop sends customers to its neighbor, calling on complementary expertise. And given the recent boom in urban homesteading, or just growing your own veggies in the backyard, it only makes sense there's double the help on a local level. Because we're all in this together, right? Just see Rick's of 18th Street's "About Us" webpage: "Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others," Philippians 2:4. — Edie Adelstein
Bites 2013: Tiramisu
A good tiramisu is like a classic painting in that all the culinary brushstrokes are authentic, you know when you're seeing the real deal, and a lame knockoff simply will never capture the original's spirit. Paravicini's tiramisu is the equivalent of a primo museum piece, with the ideal creamy texture plus balanced coffee and chocolate notes. A masterpiece. ($6)
Best Of 2012: Local Sports Store/Outdoor Outfitter
As compared to the big boys and bargain websites, Mountain Chalet walks softly. But it carries a big stick in Colorado Springs. Dan Foster's store has been outfitting gearheads for more than four decades with everything from carabiners to skis to tents to high-quality outerwear. The friendly and knowledgeable staff help keep people coming back, but discerning shoppers also value Mountain Chalet for its community involvement. When the Waldo Canyon Fire incinerated locals' closets this summer, the store organized multiple giveaways, passing out literally hundreds of clothing items to victims. And throughout the year(s), Mountain Chalet has helped host amazing events, ranging from the occasional adventure slide-shows and presentations to major offerings like the Banff Mountain Film Fest. — Steve Hitchcock
Best Of 2012: Taqueria
Monica's Taco Shop has it all: burritos, tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, tortas and quesadillas. Enormous portions and fresh ingredients, always complemented with two delicious homemade salsas, make for an instant winner — or more specifically, a seven-year-consecutive Best Of winner. If you enjoy a nice burn with your Mexican food, pick the red salsa over the green. A Monica's employee says the red starts with japones chilies (tiny peppers that weigh in at around 35,000 Scoville units). With a bit of vegetable oil, the chiles are "crisped up" on the grill before they go into a blender with garlic, tomatoes, oregano and some salt, giving it the perfect kick. — Kiki Lenihan
So there I am, driving to Denver with a fresh Monica's breakfast burrito steaming in my hand, burning my mouth each time I bite, yet I can't stop or wait for it to cool. I'm inexplicably compelled to suffer gloriously onward. Is it the chorizo? The salsa verde? Who cares. It is epic.
Best Of 2012: Wait Staff
At Mona Lisa, the servers are extremely experienced — one has been there for 15 of the restaurant's 16 years, and the average is about six years. In short, they've been around long enough to know they're not the main event at this fine-dining attraction. "They're attentive, but not overbearing," Mona Lisa owner Jeff Kiepke says simply. Most customers come to Mona Lisa to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other life event, which means a 2½-hour, four-course fondue meal. And in an environment like that there's a lot to be said for servers who can blend into the background but never be missed. But perhaps the clearest thing you can say: They're the best around. — Pam Zubeck
Bites 2013: Fondue For Two
Customize your own four courses, but here's how we'd roll: the Caesar salad first, then the Old World cheese option for the bread-veggie-and-fruit round. The Wild Game Entrée Platter for the main affair, featuring buffalo, trout, boar and more. And then a dark chocolate dessert fondue at meal's end, with a liqueur shot of your choice — Amaretto perhaps? — for a buck more per head. ($49 per person)
Best of 2012: Bar for a Margarita
Most of us probably drink our margaritas at night, Mexican vacations excepted. But at the Loop, a lot of people drink margaritas in the middle of the day. They are men waiting for their wives to finish shopping, or exhausted hikers returning from the Incline. "That's my favorite thing on Saturday morning, Sunday morning, is people coming down [from the Incline] and saying it's like the light at the end of the tunnel," Loop manager Amanda Galloway says. The Loop offers 14 margaritas in a regular or grande (32- to 34-ounce) size, but will also make the drink with a tequila of your choice — it's got more than 40 to choose from. Favorites have long included the house and the Horni Grandma with Grand Marnier, but Galloway says people lately have been going for the Skinny, made with lime juice, agave nectar and Partida tequila. — J. Adrian Stanley
Best Of 2012: Toy Store
You drink microbrews, frequent farmers markets, and wear beanies spun from local, gently harvested alpaca fiber. When it comes to toys, then, why would you go mass-production? You wouldn't. You would, instead, go to Little Richard's Toy Store, the section of the Poor Richard's emporium where, as co-owner Richard Skorman puts it, "three-quarters of the customers might be under 5 years old, and laughing." Over 17 years, Skorman and company have cultivated relationships with small manufacturers and distributors who make toys that "have a purpose," and often an educational link. The place (which still makes sure to stock the classic Slinkies, Erector Sets, etc.) teems with energy and inspiration. Make sure you're signed up for the birthday club, which gets you sizable discounts once a year. — Kirk Woundy
Best Of 2012: Vintage Clothing Store
It's not been two years since Adam Leech's Pit moved to its current North Nevada Avenue location, closer to Colorado College and its throngs of post-ironic retro-chic hunters. Too close, perhaps — apparently Leech will be relocating again in the near future, as Colorado College doesn't intend to renew the lease on the property. It hasn't seemed to damage his confidence, though, as he notes that his store doesn't only sell clothes: "I would challenge anybody to an arm-wrestling contest who claims there's a better stock of vinyl in Colorado Springs." And Leech doesn't stop there. "I'd contend we've got Denver beat, too," he adds. "On a good day." — Wyatt Miller
Best Of 2012: Grocery Store
Best Of 2012: Middle Eastern
Best Of 2012: Hummus
Hummus is like Goldilocks' porridge: One has too much garlic, one's too chunky, another tastes bland. Hussein Abukhdeir's is just right. Savory, smooth and perfectly seasoned, with a little olive oil floating on top, this hummus demands to be eaten. It's not a happy accident. Abukhdeir, who owns the area's two Heart of Jerusalem restaurants, boils his own garbanzo beans, instead of buying cans (whose beans, he says, aren't fully cooked). He peels the beans and processes them in a special blender he bought just for that task. In addition to the beans, he uses cumin, olive oil and "strong" tahini that he ships in from California. "It's my mom's recipe," Abukhdeir says — one that perfectly complements not only pita, but, say, the lamb, beef and chicken in a Heart of Jerusalem sandwich. Abukhdeir adds that he plans to open a new restaurant, but won't say where — fearing that, as in the past, competitors will encroach. — J. Adrian Stanley
The 2011 winner for Best Middle Eastern and Hummus, Heart of Jerusalem is affordable and delicious. Fun blends like the "chikofel" and "beefofel" buck the norm, but it's hard to argue against the $8, shawarma-loaded hummus bowl plate. Baklava mandatory.
Best Of 2011: Shoe Store
Best Of 2010: Shoe Store