The Coffee Exchange
526 S. Tejon St., 635-0277, the-coffee-exchange.com
"I'm like a Jewish mother," says Andy Schlesinger. "I love feeding and taking care of people." And since early December, Schlesinger's been taking care of the Coffee Exchange's longtime fans. The shop's new owner (by way of Miami) has introduced an authentic Cuban sandwich and Cuban coffee — including a two-shot "cafecito" and a "colada," which is several shots intended for sharing.
The remainder of the menu looks the same except for upgrades to Boar's Head meats, plus more specials. The Mediterranean chicken salad ($11.95 and ordered prior to me discovering the Cuban fare) sports thick, moist chunks of the bird, more croutons than olives and feta, and a pretty snappy vinaigrette. Potent, syrup-laced Zombie Drinks ($3.90 to $4.75) remain a draw: The coconut proves a velvety treat while the Fruit Looped comes off especially sweet, but with strawberry-lavender essences. — Matthew Schniper
Alice's at the FAC
30 W. Dale St., 634-5583, csfineartscenter.org
Several entities have had a tough go of making the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center's Café 36 viable for lunch service. So the move to at least temporarily abandon it (save for pre-theater dining and private functions) in favor of a grab-and-go coffee-and-sandwich spot in the beautifully designed former gift shop space smacks as strategically smart.
The always-excellent Barista Espresso handles the Kona and Swiss Water Decaf drip coffee options ($1.50), and Summit Catering (summitcatering.net) now preps a couple of main items, a few sides and baked goodies. Its turkey-Provolone baguette ($5.75) is perfectly proficient with generous meat, while a grilled vegetable salad ($6) stands surprisingly crisp with its asparagus, onion, zucchini and bell peppers still bearing tooth alongside the char marks. A pecan chocolate chip cookie ($2) ends artfully with a coffee dunk. Dine in the courtyard grass on a fine day. — Matthew Schniper
5644 S. Hwy. 85/87, #6, 638-4974
There seemed to be only two people working at Schnitzel King during our mildly crowded lunch, which meant for us a total turnaround time of around an hour and 45 minutes. You can pass the time enjoying the traditional trappings — dig the Stammtisch table in the corner — and the less traditional. (Hello, Matchbox Twenty.) We asked what was unique about the "German coffee" ($3), but our server was confused as to what we were even talking about. She did merrily deliver our food a half-hour later with a friendly "Bitte schön," but it was before our drinks had even arrived.
All that said, I'm happy to report that the fried pork cutlets in the Robber Schnitzel ($7.50) and Schnitzel Hawaii ($7.50) are dope. The former combines the meat with a delicious tangy and savory butter sauce that sits like a brick; the latter brings a pineapple slice and maraschino cherry to the party. Skip the soupy salad dressing, either way. — Bryce Crawford