Comfort Food Series
This is the final installment in a three-part series reviewing iconic comfort-food destinations in Colorado Springs. The first two parts are available at csindy.com.
"Green chili has more vitamin C than orange juice."
That was my girlfriend's best guess as to why Western Omelette has a reputation as a great hangover-cure place. I'd heard this vitamin C factoid several times before heading to the comfort food favorite; interestingly enough, an Internet check proved it right.
Just off Colorado Avenue, in the shadow of Interstate 25, Western Omelette's parking lot remains almost perpetually jammed by diners on a green-chili pilgrimage. (Certainly, not all of them are hard drinkers.)
The 19-year-old diner has remained hip, even as it has grown worn. Native American portraits, dreamcatchers and handmade crafts mix with images of chili peppers. The peeling and yellowing Southwestern wallpaper holds the memory of a time when ashtrays were as common on restaurant tables as salt and pepper shakers.
Like a good skillet breakfast, the staff is well-seasoned. They glide through the crowded restaurant and are quick to offer tastings of green and red chili something you might want to take advantage of, given that the chilis contain the super-hot Habaero pepper. Thick and gravy-like, the green comes in two temperatures: hot and hotter. The red, with chunks of ground beef, falls somewhere in between.
During our first trip, Southwestern dishes like huevos rancheros and the Southern Scrambled (both $7.05) shone. The huevos arrived with a large flour tortilla, stuffed with cheese and chorizo then smothered in a choice of green or red chili and topped with an egg choice. The Scrambled jazzily mixed eggs, chorizo, strips of green chili, onions and cheese. The plate was adorned with crispy strips of corn tortillas and a large jalapeo, blistered by heat.
With my cheddar-scrambled eggs and corn beef hash ($5.25) came disappointment. The hash arrived piping hot, but the tepid eggs couldn't melt the cheese, sprinkled on top like an afterthought. However, we were all impressed by the side of thick-sliced slab bacon ($2.75), nearly 10 inches long and perfectly crunchy.
At lunch, we focused on Western Omelette's heartier fare: Salisbury steak ($7.79), chicken-fried steak ($8.99) and pork chops ($8.99).
Any self-respecting diner should have a chicken-fried steak on the menu, and this one hit the spot: thick, crisp and tender. It didn't get soggy under the weight of the rich gravy thanks equally to a great breading and the speed with which I ate it.
Grilled mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and brown gravy smothered the Salisbury steak, but the primary eater thought it lacked seasoning. The pork chops arrived dry, which may have been our own fault; a late arrival and order probably subjected the already-ordered chops to an extended time under heat lamps. Each dish came with the standard vegetables and choice of potato; we each went for the comfort of the creamy mashed, which rated pretty average.
Something refreshing about Western Omelette is the offbeat coolness to the crowd. It's a cross-section of our community, in which you're apt to see almost anybody. And making anyone and everyone comfortable may be why the place still scores.
Well, that and the green chili.
Western Omelette Restaurant
16 S. Walnut St., 636-2286, westernomelette.com
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.