Favorite

Life's Pleasures 

click to enlarge Best Ladies Room: Edens fine settees give a gal a - chance to spread out and relax. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Best Ladies Room: Edens fine settees give a gal a chance to spread out and relax.

Best Place to Mourn New Orleans

Editorial pick

Cedars Jazz Club

3125 Sinton Road, 578-5744

Sitting safe inside our landlocked state, it's difficult to imagine what survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita must feel like. But instead of wallowing in pity and regret, let's do what we can, at least to celebrate the spirit (and spirits) of the Big Easy. New Orleans was the birthplace of jazz and the best place to party, and with decently priced cocktails that pack a punch, along with fantastic music just about every night of the week, Cedars is the perfect place to sit back and reminisce about that wonderful city. Remember, the music never dies, so let the boogie move you, and raise your glass in hopes that New Orleans will rise again. -- BLS

click to enlarge Best Poker Night - Readers poll winner - Thunder & Buttons II - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Best Poker Night Readers poll winner Thunder & Buttons II

Best Hookah Hook-up

Editorial pick

Hooked On Hookah
124 E. Cheyenne Road, 630-7024

Apple, cherry, coconut, cola, grape, bubble gum and mango. Where are you? Outside a sno-cone stand? Melon, mint, orange, peach, pineapple, strawberry, fruit punch or vanilla. Is it an ice cream or gelato shop? Nope. Cognac, margarita, pia colada, rose. Oh, you're at a bar. Actually, you're lounging in front of a large water pipe at Hooked On Hookah, deciding which lovely flavor of smoke to imbibe. Thanks to the wise and hospitable Eshak brothers and their hookah joint, Colorado Springs now serves up one of the Middle East's greatest passions. The smokin' is smooth, the atmosphere carefree, and $8.50 to $10.50 buys a traditional or premium blend that'll burn for the better part of an hour. Inhale, exhale, relax. -- MS

Best Pool Tables

click to enlarge Best Wi-Fi Coffee Experience - Editorial pick - The Coffee Warehouse
  • Best Wi-Fi Coffee Experience Editorial pick The Coffee Warehouse

Editorial pick

Phantom Canyon
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-2800

phantomcanyon.com

This is no dark, smoky, sticky-floored pool hall where sharks are waiting to bite. Phantom Canyon's second-floor billiard hall lays out walls of windows, a spotlessly clean bar, ice-cold delicious beer brewed on the premises, friendly staff and the 12 best tables in town. For a shot that's even more on cue, be sure to check out the hall's 11 to 3 special: With any lunch purchase, you can rack 'em up for free. -- SJG

Best Place For Happy Hour

Readers poll winner

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MacKenzie's Chop House 128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536

mackenzieschophouse.com

OK, look past the beautiful, tree-shaded outdoor patio and the plush leather interior. And the attractive servers and the excellent prices -- though with $2.50 wells and half-price martinis, they are slightly unforgettable. Forget even the smoking lounge, with the excellent selection of cigars, and the perfectly portioned, tasty appetizers. MacKenzie's Happy Hour rules because of one thing: You get the cocktail shaker when you get your martini. No wimpy 3-ounce pours -- you get to administer the juice yourself. Now that, friends, is true decadence. -- BLS

Best Way to Beat the Heat on a Summer Day

Editorial pick

Lavender Martini at Shuga's
702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412

click to enlarge Bristol Beers vats overfloweth. - CREIGHTON SMITH

Shuga's owner Alexius Westin already brought us luxurious Vivace-style espresso drinks from Seattle, perfectly brewed with gilded creamy rosettes. But her latest import from the Pacific Northwest is an alluring martini of lavender-infused gin with lots of fresh lime and simple syrup. Even skeptical "nothing-but-whiskey" drinkers have been known to fall under the spell of this fragrant temptress. It's classy, refreshing and cooler than a bubble bath, with twice the booze. -- BLS

Best Venue for Live Music

Readers poll winner

Southside Johnny's
528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487

southsidejohnnys.biz

Over the past year, Southside Johnny's has hosted numerous local favorites playing more than a handful of genres: the "rockin' country" of Chute 9, Phat Daddy's Motown funk, Fina Dupa's modern rock, rockabilly by Paul Galaxy and even pub sing-a-longs with Brian Clancy. Regulars like GuyzUnGlasses, The Remotes, The Broadcasters, Toxic Waltz and The Riders have made classic rock a popular choice. So are the blues of Jason Ricci, Nick Mop and the Flip Tops, and Damon Fowler, and the roadhouse variety of the notable Front Range-traveling shakers Brethren Fast. -- VM

click to enlarge Best Hookah Hook-up - Editorial pick - Hooked On Hookah - RICK GORHAM
  • Rick Gorham
  • Best Hookah Hook-up Editorial pick Hooked On Hookah

Best Overall Restaurant

Best Restaurant Wine List

Best Wine Bar

Readers poll winner

The Blue Star 1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086

thebluestar.net

click to enlarge Best Pool Tables - Editorial pick - Phantom Canyon - SUNNIE SACKS
  • Sunnie Sacks
  • Best Pool Tables Editorial pick Phantom Canyon

The Blue Star is the place to see and be seen in the Springs. That shines truest on Sundays, when the impressive selection of wines flows at half price. Knowledgeable and fine-looking wait staff gladly reject the pretensions many wine bars embrace, making even non-oenophiles feel in the know. That hospitality is enhanced by the warm atmosphere cultivated in the softly industrial and brightly colorful, yet dimly lit, bar area, and the white-tableclothed dining room, where diners and chefs can keep curious eyes on one another. -- VM

Best Gay-Friendly Bar

Readers poll winner

Club Q
3430 N. Academy Blvd., 570-1429

clubqonline.com

click to enlarge Salsa dancing at Latin Quarters is muy caliente. - BRUCE ELLIOTT

Nearly hidden behind Saigon Springs on Academy Boulevard, Club Q presents a fairly unassuming front. Once you step inside, though, you are transported into a Mardi Gras of sights and sounds. Club Q fulfills the basic gay bar requirements: a booming sound system, a dizzying lights display (enhanced by mirrors), bar staff who fulfill your fabulous expectations, and shot specials that celebrate sex stereotypes. (Think Golden Showers and Blow Jobs.) They also offer a full menu that's as simple as a basket of fries and as complex as chicken parmigiana, along with pristine pool tables, stellar specials and enough events to fill a day planner. -- SJG

Best Club DJ Readers poll winner

Brandon Lee, ICON
5917 N. Academy Blvd., 528-6097

Thursday nights, doors at 8 p.m.

Saturday nights, 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

DJ Brandon Lee edged out the competition this year with his crowd-pleasing booty mixes and occasional scratches, and by playing familiar Top 40 favorites from the '70s through today. He understands the importance of the energetic interplay between crowd and DJ, and doesn't bother with a pre-planned set. Feeling what the dancers are responding to, he delivers what he thinks they want next. The saying goes that the MC is the Mover of the Crowd, but Lee doesn't need a frontman. He just needs his tables, his huge stack of records and some people who want to dance. -- SG

click to enlarge c7df_best_art-19167.gif

Best Public Library

Readers poll winner

Best Free Bollywood Stash

Editorial pick

Penrose Library

20 N. Cascade Avenue, 531-6333

ppld.org

click to enlarge Like a beacon in the night, the blue light of 15C - beckons. - CREIGHTON SMITH
  • Creighton Smith
  • Like a beacon in the night, the blue light of 15C beckons.

For anyone who hasn't experienced the delirious films of Mumbai, India, known as "Bollywood," the stash of videos at Penrose Library provides an excellent introduction. Within a superlative collection of movies from around the world, action/musical/family dramas such as Mohra and Mughal-E-Azan combine spastic cinematography, infectiously tacky musical interludes and strange subtitles. Though the collection is almost entirely on video instead of DVD, they always seem to be adding great new titles. From Bollywood, one then can explore other genres in the library's collection, including Japanese samurai films and French new wave cinema. And, it's free. -- DW

Best New Bar

Readers poll winner

Best Ladies' Room

Editorial pick

Eden
217 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-0999

click to enlarge Best Public Library - Readers poll winner - Best Free Bollywood Stash - Editorial pick - Penrose Library
  • Best Public Library Readers poll winner Best Free Bollywood Stash Editorial pick Penrose Library

edennightlife.com

Once one of the city's first churches, this long-empty historic building now is a bar -- actually, a series of bars under one roof. Unlike anything the city has seen before, Eden is lushly decorated in futuristic Vegas-meets-Austin Powers style. Check out the ladies' room, even if you're a guy. White leather fainting couches, Barbie-pink wallpaper, gold fixtures and crystal chandeliers beckon you to wash your hands more than once. The ice-blue Syn Lounge opens the eyes and the sinuses with its Popsicle brightness, while around the corner, another bar beckons in moody red and black. Plans are afoot to open Club 7, a full dance club, and Halo, an outdoor lounge. Meanwhile, drink specials echo Eden's unusual appeal: Saketini, anyone? Or a flavored fruit Mojito? An adventurous tapas menu with good values, especially on the hefty salads, makes Eden a dinner destination as well. -- KCE

Best Thing Not on the Menu

Editorial pick

The Tasty Staff at Taste of India Express
117 E. Bijou St., 635-8080

Let's be honest. We like to eat where the hotties are. At Taste of India Express, the hottie's behind the counter. Meet Tanwarpali Dhillon, who opened the restaurant last year. And it definitely doesn't hurt that he's serving up sweet, sweet saag paneer and buttered chicken. Tall, dark and handsome, and serving affordable, delicious food? The Indy says, "Yes, please!" -- BLS

click to enlarge d1c2_best_art-19167.gif

Best Poker Night

Readers poll winner

Thunder & Buttons II
2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888

thunderandbuttons.com

All bets are off when Thunder & Buttons II breaks out the gaming tables. The Old Colorado City strip is known more for camp and Kokopelli these days than for cards and chips, but Buttons Mark Two has cultivated a loyal following of its twice-weekly poker nights, where townies elbow out tourists to hone their games. Since opening (and picking up the torch of the original T&B) in 2004, Thunder & Buttons II has become the west side's spot for Texas Hold 'Em, drinks and good times. Ante up. -- AR

Best Wi-Fi Coffee Experience

click to enlarge Best Thing Not on the Menu - Editorial pick - The Tasty Staff at Taste of India Express - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Best Thing Not on the Menu Editorial pick The Tasty Staff at Taste of India Express

Editorial pick

The Coffee Warehouse
526 S. Tejon St., 227-8639

When the weather's good, the overhead door is rolled up in this classy warehouse-slash-coffee shop, and there's fresh air along with organic green tea or cappuccino. Plenty of small tables accommodate laptops, and there's an abundance of places to plug in for power. The wi-fi connection is strong and always functional. The dcor is warm and inviting; the music doesn't drive you out, as in many coffee shops. It's quiet and jazzy and stays in the background as you sip and type. In a perfect world, we could all just abandon our office desks and work at The Coffee Warehouse. -- KCE

Best Place for a Wedding

Readers poll winner

Hillside Gardens
1006 S. Institute St., 471-4506

hillsidegardens.net

Slightly off the beaten path, Hillside Gardens has two things other places don't: atmosphere and character. The grounds feature a spectacular view, more gorgeous plants than imaginable and an eclectic array of one-of-a-kind finds from Hillside's former incarnation as a junkyard. Where else can you take wedding-party photos next to Army bomb casings, or get drinks from an old box truck converted into a chic bar area? Once night falls, the dimly lit grounds transform into a magical garden of whimsy, with plenty of spots for romantic newlywed moments or much-fantasized wedding hook-up sneak-aways. -- SJG

Best Sustainable Blends

Editorial pick

Raven's Nest Coffee
330 N. Institute St., 632-3433

Anyone can blend coffees, but the folks at Raven's Nest seem to have the most fun, and best results, doing it. Using what the proprietors refer to as "sustainable" coffees (shade-grown, organic, fair trade or any combination thereof), they unite sometimes curious varieties of Crowfoot Valley Coffee beans, roasted in neighboring Castle Rock. And they switch it up often enough that the wholesale menus have to be updated by hand. A few of the most recent: Raven's Nest, mostly Ethiopian, part French; Super Secret, half Guatemalan, half French; Mountain Biker/Boarder, equal parts Kenyan, Ethiopian and French; and Grey Wolf, part French, mostly Kenyan. -- VM

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