Favorite

Eats: Part II 

Italian

Fratelli Ristorante Italiano

124 N. Nevada Ave., 575-9571

fratelliristorante.com

Offering Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, Fratelli makes wonderful organic salads and top-notch gnocchi. Traditional entres like veal scallopini and fettuccine Bolognese pair wonderfully with a glass of Chianti. At lunch, a plate of aged Italian meats makes a great starter or entre.

Mollica's Italian Market & Deli

985A Garden of the Gods Road, 598-1088

mollicas.com

A family business opened just over 20 years ago, Mollica's is a classic Italian restaurant with a fully stocked deli inside. There's lots of tradition here, including dinner entres of lasagna, ravioli, tortellini and manicotti. Finish off your meal with one of the best cannolis in town.

Paravicini's Italian Bistro

2802 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8200

75 S. Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, 481-2222

coloradoeats.com/ paravicinis

Best Of 'o8

Grab a glass of wine, a calamari or artichoke fritti appetizer, and a plate of penne la vodka or the original chicken Carsoni, which brings a roasted garlic pesto cream sauce fit for a finicky mobster. Finish with a tiramisu, if you know what's good for you.

Jamaican

Island Grill Take-out

1107 S. Nevada Ave., #101, 578-1468

When feeling like a pick-me-up lunch, stop in for some jerk chicken. Curried chicken and ackee also stand out among a variety of interesting main and side-dish choices.

Jamaican Flavor

3016 S. Academy Blvd., 391-0142

At Jamaican Flavor, the atmosphere is warm and the food is hot but balanced, too, so you can taste the allspice, coconut milk, garlic and whatever else has infused it. The goat curry's an authentic meal, as is the oxtail and ackee, and it all goes down well with a ginger beer.

Korean

Halla San Korean BBQ

1231 N. Academy Blvd., 622-9595

Like every Korean restaurant in town, Halla San offers traditional dishes, including bulgogi (tender, marinated thin-sliced beef), rice and noodle dishes. You won't want to put your spoon down while slurping the sinus-clearing kimchi cabbage soup or the rich Korean miso soup.

San Chang House

3659 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 598-1707

Best Of 'o8

The menu at San Chang House includes references to vitamin A, iron, fiber and enzymes. In fact, it is so bold as to proclaim, "You can eat as much Korean food as you like without gaining weight." So go ahead, gorge yourself on kimchi and bul go ki.

Tong Tong

2036 S. Academy Blvd., 591-8585

Short of boarding a plane and heading for Seoul, Tong Tong is about as authentic as you're gonna get. Korean staples like bulgogi come served on an iron skillet, and each meal includes side dishes like kimchi and bok choy.

Yummy Korean BBQ

4703 N. Academy Blvd., 266-9944

This traditional operation offers an array of soups, fried rice dishes and noodle plates, among other things.

Mediterranean

Arabica Café

12 S. Tejon St., 471-2444

cravearabica.com

The Falafel District's newest arrival, Arabica specializes in authentic shawarma, strips of beef, chicken and turkey that are marinated nightly and slow-roasted on a rotating skewer. The pulled chicken pita sandwich is also a highlight. Of course, if you go lighter with, say, a hummus bowl, you can accommodate a mango smoothie dessert ...

Caspian Café

4375 Sinton Road, 528-1155

caspiancafe.com

Drawing influence from Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Spain, Caspian's Mediterranean smattering includes everything from gyros, falafel and kebabs to moussaka, seafood and Middle Eastern salads all well-executed. Finish, please, with the unbelievable orange saffron caramel custard.

Greek Grill

4486 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 264-1165

8844 N. Union Blvd., 282-7776

A favorite Mediterranean destination outside of downtown, Greek Grill dishes a solid homemade falafel and all the stand-bys: gyros, hummus, pita, Greek salad.

Heart of Jerusalem Café

15 E. Bijou St., 477-1777

4587 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 685-9554

heartofjerusalemcafe.com

Best Of 'o8

Chikofel and Beefofel. Made-up words, yes, but also delicious menu items at both quick-stop HOJ locations. Veggie and dolma plates make great options for herbivores, and meatheads can't go wrong with the Heart of Jerusalem Sandwich with mixed beef, lamb and chicken. Deliciously flaky falafel balls, zesty fries and creamy hummus should be followed by the outstanding house-made baklava.

Jake and Telly's

2616 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0406

jakeandtellys.com

Best Of 'o8

As at the Caspian Caf, you'll want to relax at Jake and Telly's. Start with a feta-rich Greek salad accompanied by a nice Greek red wine. Move on to anything lamb, or the souvlaki or moussaka. And since you're taking your time, save room for baklava.

Mediterranean Café

118 E. Kiowa St., 633-0115

medcafe-co.com

Best Of 'o8

Daily-prepared sauces and fresh ingredients create outstanding flavors at downtown's original Mediterranean spot, which sees busy daily lunch rushes. A guaranteed winner is the gyro, with seasoned beef and lamb dressed in feta, onion, tomato and yogurt-y tzatziki. But if you're torn, just pick the Greek sampler.

Persian Grill

36 E. Bijou St., 635-7749

Persian Grill stands out for two reasons: its late hours and its killer gyros and kebabs. Try the kebabs in a pita sandwich and also the dolmas, elegantly seasoned rice in grape leaves. For dessert, get the havij bastani, a large cup of freshly pulverized carrot juice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and cardamom.

Tajine Alami

10 Old Man's Trail, Manitou Springs, 685-1119

tajinealami.com

Great things about this, the city's only Moroccan restaurant: sitting in comfy cushions on the floor and eating with your fingers. Under glamorous drapes and tapestries, the four- and six-course meals begin with soup and homemade honey-wheat bread before moving to lovely Mediterranean-spiced meat and veggie entres. Catch belly dancers on Fridays and Saturdays.

Mexican, Tex-Mex & Southwestern

Just a note here: The Springs hosts more taco stops and salsa spots than one could realistically hope to catalog in anything smaller than a paperback copy of James Joyce's Ulysses. Here are a few standouts.

Amanda's Fonda

3625 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1975

Best Of 'o8

With a creekside mountain cabin on the outside and a Mexican fiesta on the inside, atmosphere makes the Amanda's Fonda experience. The food leans more toward traditional than Tex-Mex, with excellent enchiladas, a formidable green chili and menudo (tripe soup) for the brave or hung-over.

El Taco Rey

330 E. Colorado Ave., 475-9722

eltacorey.com

"El Taco Rey" translates to "The Taco King," and at lunch, this tiny place reigns among Mexican fare. Get the avocado pork burrito, and order it "deluxe," as in smothered in green chili. Just be prepared for a short wait if the small dining room and outdoor picnic table are full. You can wait for a king, can't you?

El Tesoro Restaurant & Gallery

10 N. Sierra Madre St., 471-0106

el-tesoro.com

For a Santa Fe-style meal, this "treasure," tucked into an early 20th-century adobe building downtown, keeps the lights low and the flavors clean, and actually goes the linen-napkin route without being too dressy. Plus, it's a gallery, so there's always local artwork to ogle.

José Muldoon's

222 N. Tejon St., 636-2311

josemuldoons.com

Best Of 'o8

Jos's is a downtown institution, having served Mexican food and its famous margaritas for more than 30 years. On a warm day, the back patio is transportive. Hit happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays for $2.50 house wines and margaritas, draft beers, sangrias and well drinks.

La'au's Taco Shop

830 N. Tejon St., #110, 578-5228

Best Of 'o8

Though it's tucked into an alley next to Colorado College, this Hawaiian-inspired joint stays busy. That's a testament to just how good the la carte tacos are. Whether mango salsa over mahi mahi, or steak dressed in cilantro, onion and pico de gallo, affordable treats pull CC staff and students plus smart Springs connoisseurs into the chic, colorful space.

La Carreta

35 Iowa Ave., 477-1157

This family-owned establishment serves unique, traditional food and an amazing homemade tomatillo sauce that's delicious on the chile relleno burrito. It also offers an exclusive chocolate sauce to top one of many specialty burritos. The family feeling distracts you from the strip-mall location and florescent lighting.

La Casita Patio Café

360 S. Eighth St., 633-9616

4295 N. Nevada Ave., 599-7829

3725 E. Woodmen Road, 536-0375

lacasitapatiocafe.com

Best Of 'o8

La Casita's bright pink paint and multi-colored awnings create a beacon for the hungry. Garnish your own burrito, taco, chile relleno or whatever at the complimentary salsa and condiment bar. FYI: Cilantro makes everything pop. La Casita's hand-made flour tortillas are the best around, perhaps yummiest when loaded with egg and chorizo in the morning.

The Loop

965 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9344

theloopatmanitou.com

You'll find the typical Mexican choices here, as well as killer margaritas. Try the much-honored chile verde, a perfect mix of fire and flavor, plus the tilapia tacos and the Baja burritos.

Monica's Taco Shop

30 E. Fillmore St., 473-1996

5829 Palmer Park Blvd., 597-7022

Best Of 'o8

Monica's breakfast burritos loaded with potatoes, egg, cheese and, of course, a little swine send hangovers packing in style, especially if you order the hot salsa. The sparse English spoken by staff members speaks to Monica's authenticity, but it's no hindrance to landing a yummy plate, quick and cheap.

Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill

802 Village Center Drive, 266-9244

9420 Briar Village Point, 955-6650

salsabravaonline.com

Best Of 'o8

Daily-made fresh salsas are the highlight here, unless margaritas are your bag. (If the latter's true, hit weekday happy hours from 4 to 7 p.m. for $3.50 drinks.) Blackened mahi mahi tacos, sporting a killer mango salsa, highlight lunch. At dinner, you'll do fine with the enchiladas, fajitas or a specialty plate like ribs and coconut shrimp.

Sonterra Grill

28B S. Tejon St., 471-9222

sonterragrill.com

Sonterra remains a Tejon Street favorite, known for fresh seafood, dry-aged steaks and casually elegant atmosphere. Go for the barbecue ribs and coconut shrimp at lunch or coconut curry halibut at dinner.

Super Carniceria del Norte

3819 Maizeland Road, 573-5993

We tried to send a photographer here, but the folks at Super Carniceria have more important things to do than to engage in self-promotion. For instance: dishing fantastic soft-corn tacos with an array of authentic fillings and accoutrements (for $1.50 each!) from the back of their ethnic market. Try the nopales, strips of cactus with pork and green chili and also fresh ceviche and shrimp cocktail in a fresh pico de gallo sauce and ketchup.

Vallejo's

111 S. Corona St., 635-0980

This tucked-away Mexican place seems like a well-kept secret except that people have kept it busy since 1962. The recipes came from original co-owner Paula Vallejo, who immigrated from Mexico in the 1920s. Start with hot chips and salsa, then pick from straightforward enchiladas, tamales, chile rellenos and combinations with a choice of sauces.

Sushi

Ai Sushi

4655 Centennial Blvd. 266-5858

aisushi.us

A sushi staple on the north end, Ai serves teppanyaki (food cooked on Benihana-style countertops) rice bowls, tempura and noodle dishes and Japanese entres in addition to sushi. But the creative rolls are what draw crowds. Some favorites: the Crazy Horse, E.T. Roll, Ai Roll, Volcano, Bettina and, of course, Monkey Brain. For pyros: the flaming lobster roll.

Fujiyama

22 S. Tejon St., 630-1167

fujiyamasushi.com

The recently (and beautifully) expanded Fujiyama now offers more options: For a show, hit the teppan tables to see knives fly and food sizzle. For more personal service, sit at the sushi bar, where the chefs gauge your tastes. Or enjoy an intimate dinner at one of the many high and low tables. Tackle the Dragon Roll if you haven't eaten in three days.

Jun Japanese Restaurant

1760 Dublin Blvd., 531-9368

3276 Centennial Blvd., 227-8690

junjapanese.com

Best Of 'o8

Whatever sushi platter you build, make sure to include Jun's Yummy Roll: tempura shrimp folded in with avocado and salmon. Jun offers an extensive Japanese and sushi menu, and serves fresh fish purchased from around the world. At the daily 5 to 6:30 p.m. sushi happy hours, you can maximize your consumptive carnage.

Sakura

3117 W. Colorado Ave., 632-7866

sakurasushi.us

Sakura has specialty rolls as big as your palm, stuffed with tempera shrimp, soft shell crab, tuna, yellowtail, avocado, salmon, special sauces, cream cheese and eel. But Sakura's simple rolls also set it apart. For instance, the negihama roll nothing but green onions and yellowtail hits the spot.

Shinji's

308-M S. Eighth St., 475-0669

Sure, the dcor is unremarkable and sometimes the food takes a while, but that's because Shinji Shibuya preps sushi alone, true to small-town, rural Japanese restaurants. Every bite is worth the wait, and Shinji's unconventional special rolls redefine the genre.

Sushi Ai

6552 S. Academy Blvd., 576-8855

Sushi Ai serves a tasty combination of newer sushi dishes and traditional creations. Try the Unagi Dragon, a delightful fusion of avocado, eel and shrimp, or the Smoky Roll, with smoked salmon, seared tuna, crab and shrimp.

Tomo Sushi

975 N. Academy Blvd., 597-2422

(Also Tomo II at 8029 N. Academy Blvd., 277-0200)

eatattomo.com

Tomo offers highly creative contemporary sushi rolls delicately prepared by a friendly crew of sushi chefs. It also serves teriyaki dishes, yakitori and an array of delicious appetizers, soups and salads, and specialty sakes. Must haves: the Andy roll, Volcano roll and Tijuana Ninja roll.

Yoo Mae

21 E. Kiowa St., 473-8105

Belly up to the sushi bar and delight in chef JJ's easygoing humor and unique United States-themed rolls and specials. Yoo Mae offers quick and affordable lunches. Case in point is the Bento Box, comprised of salad, tempura, a pair of California roll pieces and beef or teriyaki chicken over rice, for just under $7.

Thai

Bhan Thai

1025 N. Academy Blvd., 574-3401

4431 Centennial Blvd., 266-1309 bhanthai.net

Come for the pad Thai, stay for the large portions and lunchtime prices during dinner hours. All the curries Massamon, Panang, red, green are solid. But the noodle dishes stand out among others in town. Get the black soy or drunken noodles with a coconut juice or Thai iced tea.

NaRai Thai Restaurant

805 Village Center Drive, 531-5175

narai-thai.com

NaRai sticks largely to the traditional and avoids the pitfalls of Americanized Thai. Start with a sweet Thai ginger or coconut drink and a larb chicken salad or papaya salad. Then go for your favorite curry style, the drunken noodles or pad Thai. For dessert: coconut ice cream or Thai custard.

Tao's Oriental Cuisine

13888 Gleneagle Drive, 481-3418

taosoriental.com

Dishing up Thai, Chinese and Korean specialties, Tao's overwhelms with an extensive and diverse menu, rich with sweet, savory and spicy plates. Tao's does beautiful things to fresh vegetables with Thai brown sauce, and gives equal treatment to pork, beef, seafood and chicken offerings over rice and noodles.

Taste of Thai Spice

1609 Lashelle Way, 226-1999

Unlike what´s served in most American Thai restaurants, the food here tastes like it does in Thailand. Go for amazing pad Thai and curry dishes, papaya salad and unbelievable homemade coconut ice cream. Never mind the strip-mall setting and the unremarkable south end location; it's all about the food.

Wild Ginger

3020 W. Colorado Ave., 634-5025

Best Of 'o8

Wild Ginger is the answer to Thai on the west side. Everything's solid as readers have attested by electing it their top Thai restaurant every year since 2000 and best consumed with a sweet Thai iced tea in hand.

Vietnamese

Fine Asian Cuisine

4153 Centennial Blvd., 278-9388

This modest restaurant offers a full range of Vietnamese cuisine, from noodle bowls to grilled pork and rice, as well as a long list of Chinese favorites like Mongolian beef, egg rolls and sesame chicken.

Lemongrass Bistro

6840 N. Academy Blvd., 592-1391

restauranteur.com/ lemongrassbistro

Fresh mint, cilantro and basil give both flavor and fragrance to the light dishes at Lemongrass Bistro. The starters crisp spring rolls and citrus-infused sliced beef among them are excellent. Try a coconut milk-based seafood dish, rich with squid, mussels, scallops and shrimp.

Pho 54

1371 N. Academy Blvd., 380-0000

Branch out with an avocado-flavored bubble tea, then get Pho's Pho, thin-sliced steak, brisket or chicken over rice noodles in clove-enhanced beef broth.

Saigon Café

20 E. Colorado Ave., 633-2888

Best Of 'o8

Saigon is downtown's go-to spot for authentic Vietnamese. Dishes are consistently fresh and tasty. Go for a bun (a house noodle specialty) or one of the traditional rice dishes, lo mein, chow mein and creative stir-fry combinations. Jasmine tea pairs perfectly with the light eating.

Saigon Grill

3119 W. Colorado Ave., 635-0336

The Saigon Grill, a casual west side spot, is a great place to be introduced to the wide variety of Vietnamese food, including roll-your-own spring rolls. The noodle bowls here are big, with lots of rice noodles, seasoned meat, fresh veggies and a lightly sweet sauce.

Vietnamese Garden

3043 W. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-9299

vietnamesegarden.net

This little house has been home to a number of different culinary experiments in recent years. The new-ish Vietnamese Garden deserves to stick around: Everything here is traditional, and from scratch. Start with the beer-battered potato fritters, rolled in fresh herbs and crisp lettuce. Get bun or an order of the fragrant lemongrass chicken. End with the mung bean and tapioca pudding.

Other town staples

Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant

10 S. Sierra Madre St., 635-3111

giuseppes-depot.com

Located in an old train depot, Giuseppe's spans several cuisines with everything from stone-baked pizzas and calzones to thick meat sandwiches and steaks. The pasta offerings also draw patronage, as does a weekday 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. happy hour featuring $2.75 wells, wines or drafts.

Keg Lounge

730 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9531

There's bar food, good bar food, and then there's the Keg. The steaks come from Ranch Foods Direct, including the filet mignon burger and the juicy buffalo burger. The marinated chicken sandwich is great, but the salads, such as the berry salad, are the favorite of many. On Wednesdays, two dinners go for just $21.95.

Panino's Restaurant

604 N. Tejon St., 635-7452

1721 S. Eighth St., 635-1188

paninos.com

Though it offers a menu complete with pizza, pasta and salads, start with the signature sandwich, the panino. It's a tasty concoction of fillings including meats, veggies, cheese and sauces that come wrapped in a crispy, toasted pizza-like crust.

Ritz Grill

15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484

ritzgrill.com

Categorizing the Ritz depends on when you go. At lunch, it caters to the business crowd, with solid sandwiches and rich entres. At dinner, it bumps up a notch to serve more elegant dishes, like miso-glazed mahi mahi and filet mignon. Then, once the night's band finishes soundcheck, tables disappear and the party crowd pours in for cocktails and dancing.

SouthSide Johnny's

528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487

southsidejohnnys.biz

SouthSide Johnny's serves everything from soups and salads to burgers and steaks, catering to a wide demographic. Try the 12-ounce Angus ribeye steak with sweet potato fries. And stick around after dinner to catch live music.

Stagecoach Inn

702 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9400

stagecoachinn.com

Built in 1881, the Stagecoach Inn in Manitou Springs has long thrilled tourists with its Western shtick. But the dependable, hearty country fare beefy chili, chicken-fried steak and traditional turkey dinners make it a local favorite, too. Dine on the covered back porch on a breezy summer afternoon.

To find more restaurants, go to csindy.com and click on the Food/Drink tab.

  • Italian, Mexican/Tex-Mex, Sushi and town staples.

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