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Good Karma: Enlightenment found in Manitou Springs 

Appetite

The name's pure Manitou Springs dippy-ness, but Good Karma Coffee Lounge & Deli really does do a good job of taking a space — in this case, the former home of Naturally's Market & Cafe — and making it feel functionally feng shui.

The room's sort of sectioned, with mismatched chairs, an umbrella holder and a plush couch in front of wooden beams; scattered live plants and exposed brick near the door; and a collection of tables in the back.

It's classic-rock greats on the radio, with "Hotel California" giving way to "Light My Fire." In the corner, Naturally's old countertop has met a case of baked goods and deli meats, and is topped with displays of dangling jewelry, while bright, acrylic abstracts created by local artists hang on the walls.

Menu-wise, mother-and-daughter co-owners Kelly Myers and Kirstin Gonyo have gone relatively simple-but-solid, doing sandwiches, coffee from Barista Espresso and baked goods like outrageous chewy macaroons made by Myers (who formerly owned Benny's Restaurant & Lounge for seven years). And though some food needs help, there's very little here I'd be sad to find in front of me again.

First, the juicy meats come from US Foods' Metro Deli, while bread arrives custom-cut via Bluepoint Bakery in Denver. The thin potato-rosemary slices aren't quite up to the task of containing the goat cheese, spinach and red-pepper spread in the Tuscan Turkey ($7.95), but there's nothing wrong with a buttery croissant full of moist roast beef and melted Swiss in the Karma Dip ($7.95). We paired both with an over-salted, under-curried pumpkin soup topped with toasted seeds, and some naked chunks of potato salad in need of more of everything.

Moving on, here are the must-orders: that dip; The Rachel ($7.95), an inch-thick layer of shredded turkey with Swiss and sauerkraut on toasted marble rye; the Sweet, Hot N' Hammy ($7.95) ham, cream cheese and jalapeño jam on buttered sourdough (which was a blast to eat and disappeared too fast); and the king of them all, the Beef N' Bella Melt ($7.95). This beautiful mess of funky love combined stacks of roast beef and slabs of portobello mushrooms with horseradish mayo to make a meaty steak-house coffin that can bury me any day.

The Cordon Bleu ($7.95) is a lovely idea and won't hurt your feelings, but more than the straight ham, turkey and Swiss is needed for standout status. Same with the B.L.T.C. ($7.95), which rocks a nice little wing-sauce mayo and thick bacon, but is better suited for those seeking something safe.

For bean-heads, a thick lavender chai latte ($3.50) could have passed for a thin eggnog if you squinted, but tasted great, and the dark-chocolate Cafe Vienna ($3.50) paired just fine with a big, chewy, homemade cinnamon roll ($2.95) that, for once, didn't try to kill me with sugar.

The only consistent downside to the whole place is the same problem you find in Old Colorado City: It closes at 5. But Gonyo says they'll probably expand their hours come springtime, which is all to the good, considering the pure joy of sitting in the sunshine on the sidewalk of that little side street. It's clear that mother and daughter have taken a recently turned-over restaurant full of castoffs from thrift stores, estate sales and "alley drive-bys" and turned it into someplace soulful.

bryce@csindy.com

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