5644 N. Academy Blvd., 535-9196, indiapalacecoloradosprings.com
India Palace's Facebook page title still reads "new owners," despite the very capable Raj Kumar and Co. having taken over more than three years ago to illuminate the culinary gifts of India's northern Punjab region. No matter: The food's as bright as it was last time we fully reviewed the spot in 2011.
Start with a basket of oily papadum (lentil chips, $1) and mango chutney ($2.25), and if dining with a vegan (as I was), head for the aloo gobi ($11.95) and bengan bhurtha ($12.95). We ordered both medium, which proves quite spicy actually, with lovely cumin, garlic and ginger notes. The former, a mix of soft potatoes and cauliflower, also bears floral, garam masala-blend accents, like cardamom. The latter, grilled and mashed eggplant stirred to a near paste with sautéed onions, lacks the bitterness you might expect. Our only suggestion: Offer coconut milk as a cream substitute to expand vegan offerings. — Matthew Schniper
Urban Steam Coffee Bar and Café
1025 S. Sierra Madre St., 473-7832, urbansteamcoffee.com
In a few months, Urban Steam will turn two years old, but it's managed to become an institution already for so many savvy Third Wavers and ordinary caffeine and cocktail consumers. Currently, it's also somewhat of a home base for the exciting, nearby Urban Singletrack Project — a launch point and refreshment station for its Monday Night Chill MTB Rides.
When next in, try the stellar Flat White ($3.50), described by a placard as Aussie- and Kiwi-launched and latte-like, but smaller in volume, with a bigger coffee-to-milk ratio and "more velvety." In it, latte art's paintbrush (steamed milk microfoam from the pitcher's bottom) meets a double shot of "ristretto" espresso (i.e., "restrained," or a "short shot"). The combination yields richness and creaminess, making for a drink that's robust without being bitter. Coffee used: Atlas Coffee Importers' multi-bean Rosebud Espresso Blend, roasted on-site. — Matthew Schniper
Wimberger's Old World Bakery & Delicatessen
2321 Bott Ave., 634-6313, wimbergers.com
Even in a steady drizzle you can smell Wimberger's, Colorado Springs' German bakery for over 40 years, from the parking lot: invisible tendrils of cream, rising dough and sugar. I've never been in when it wasn't bustling with families crowded in front of the deli case, or with the elderly-and-accented poring over bread sticks baked daily, and this trip is no different. Customers in front of me depart with a pleasant, "Tschüss" while a smiling woman wearing a plastic hairnet rings in my bag of pretzel rolls (50 cents each) and cherry pastry ($2.50) next to stickers rocking the big "D" for "Deutschland."
The soft, brown-and-white rolls flecked with chunks of salt taste deeply of bread, but smell like sweet pastry. I daydream about smoked ham and whole-grain mustard. The actual pastry is a flaky, buttery affair with a thick layer of fat, gooey cherries, and I daydream about buying another. — Bryce Crawford