Ola Juice Bar
27 E. Kiowa St., 440-4198, olajuicebar.com
Considering that the vast majority of ingredients are appreciatively organic, Ola's prices are quite reasonable for items like the build-your-own steel-cut oatmeal, which for $5.50 includes your choice of five toppings plus a milk splash and agave nectar drizzle. Two of us went for almonds, pecans, apple wedges, blueberries and strawberries in a coconut milk bath, splitting it to much delight and easily filling up with a juice each on the side.
The Red ($6/16 ounces) makes beets sing with carrot, apple, orange and pineapples, and adding ginger (25 cents) gifts welcome bite. So, too, does ginger amp up The Green ($5/12 ounces) with spinach, kale, lemon, pear and apple extracts. Healthy properties of each drink are listed on the menu, while another smart touch to the bright, beautiful space is striking fine-art works by local wood sculptor Sean O'Meallie and woodblock printer Jean Gumpper. Overall, Ola is awesome. — Matthew Schniper
404 El Paso Blvd., Manitou Springs, 685-9000, craftwood.com
You can't attend Brother Luck's Willy Wonka-themed pop up dinner this Sunday (part of his crEATe 719 Kitchen side gig), because it sold out the day he announced it. But the nature of the event hints at the playfulness found on Craftwood Inn's most recent menu. To wit: an offbeat Foie Gras PB&J ($13) consisting of grilled pineapple, toasted brioche and jalapeño chutney, with the fatty liver texturally mimicking peanut butter and contrasting interestingly with the sweet elements.
Then there's the Watermelon Pop Rocks Salad ($9), wherein the candy snaps under a lovely honey cayenne dressing with jicama, pepitas, Parmesan and the fruit. It's a culinary parlor trick perhaps more fit for an Iron Chef episode, but fun enough. Lastly, lean, beef-like kangaroo steaks ($36) atop maple glazed yams with a garnishing strawberry jam are less gamey than expected, but plenty hoppin' with Luck's treatment. — Matthew Schniper
Daniel's Taco Shop
6815 Space Village Ave., 574-2992, danielstacoshop.com
Located at the edge of town, just before the city becomes grass, Daniel's may not exactly be the official food stop for the military-minded, but you would be hard pressed to find a spot serving more of the fatigue-wearing be-badged. It's an interesting dining room, too, the ornately carved chairs looking like they just left a place more likely to serve Szechuan chicken.
Cheap menu, though, and not afraid to light a fire under your ass. The chips have a funky taste to them, but the salsa, looking like a thick enchilada sauce, burns immediately. Same with the "green chili" on the smothered vegetarian burrito ($3.70), that tastes more like tangy, green habanero paste. The machaca and eggs ($3.55) is a chunky pile of delicious meat and peppers with a chewy, folded tortilla; and much love for the chewy roll holding the adobada torta ($3.95), and its deep-red, earthy bits of pork, together. — Bryce Crawford
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