Full disclosure: I want to move to Dogtooth Coffee Company.
Its colors make me smile. The dog-themed art collection is smart, diverse and imaginatively arranged. The furniture is way nicer and more comfortable than mine. The free wifi connection usually works. The music isn't too loud, and the television is discreetly located and silent. The smell of freshly ground coffee beans infuses its every corner. The New York Times is delivered every morning.
Dogtooth is the Patty Jewett neighborhood's new coffee-gelato shop and caf, where middle school kids drop in on their way to school for a hot chocolate, and elementary kids stop in for an after-school gelato. Moms and stay-at-home dads bundle up their toddlers and leash the dogs for a mid-morning outing doggie territory is the expansive, fenced-in outdoor patio and businesspeople chat over lattes at lunch.
This place took its time unfolding over the past few months, meticulously developing every aspect before opening to the public. First came the excellent coffee, a few baked goods and fresh, inexpensive breakfast tacos ($1.50). This season's special drinks are gingerbread latte, Peppermint Chocolatte, peppermint hot chocolate and eggnog latte. The dark roast decaf, available alongside countless other regular beans and blends, is among the best in town.
Next, after a period of delay due to missing machine parts, came gelato. Made three times a week on the premises, it may be the first and only fresh gelato in the Springs. For $2.75, you get six smooth and creamy ounces, not as filling as ice cream and with fewer calories. Mix flavors if you wish I'd recommend chocolate hazelnut and Barely Legal Berry, or Leadville Latte (with crushed coffee beans) and pistachio.
Finally came real food: a menu of authentic panini on crusty ciabatta bread, regular sandwiches and a soup made fresh every day, and occasionally a special salad.
The panini, toasted on a press, are uniformly good, but two stand out. The Muse ($5.55) features thin slices of lamb or beef (gyro style), crumbled feta cheese and tangy cucumber-yogurt-dill sauce. The Caprese ($5.35) combines mozzarella, fresh basil leaves and tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar and black pepper, and smashes it all to perfection.
Sandwiches include a classic Reuben on swirled pumpernickel-rye bread; a BLT with avocado on wheat; an Italian cold cut and cheese mix (The Savio), either done panini-style or on your choice of bread; a ham and Swiss with pepper bacon and honey Dijon mustard; and a turkey avocado with bacon and dill Havarti cheese.
For the best deal in the house, choose half of any of the above, prepared to suit your taste, served alongside a cup of the daily soup ($4.85). Saturday's thick and lumpy mushroom artichoke ($3.95 for a bowl) is my favorite so far, but I've also liked Friday's New England clam chowder, Thursday's chunky steak soup, with big hunks of carrot and tender sirloin, and the mild and creamy tortilla soup served Wednesdays.
Dogtooth is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, the coffee scene, the pet lovers' world and Colorado Springs at large. The wait was excruciating, but the result is doggone down-home and delicious.
Dogtooth Coffee Company
505 E. Columbia St., 632-0125
Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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