Perkins Restaurant & Bakery
3295 E. Platte Ave., 633-8962, perkinsrestaurants.com
Perkins returned to Colorado Springs in September to surprising fanfare. Intrigued, I found culinary death. It's a restaurant completely uninterested in the last decade of corporate trends — no fresh food, Sriracha specials or small plates here to compete with its Butterball turkey specials — and one blindly interchangeable with Denny's or IHOP or Village Inn or Waffle House.
Plus, outside of some decent fried pickles ($5.79), the food was pretty gross. Next to a boring salad with yellow cheese and stale croutons, a chicken pot pie ($9.99) yielded a pale pool of oily glop and scattered vegetables. Decent crust, but it left a film on the roof of my mouth. The Tangler Burger ($9.99) was generically effective, if you like "bistro sauce" and crunchy Onion Tanglers® turned to mush. A side of onion rings will run you an extra 99 cents. (Flavor, and with some bites, onions, not included.) — Bryce Crawford
11455 County Road 17, Firestone, 303/532-9949, wildcider.com
Much respect for its place in American history — New England's star drink in colonial days, Johnny Appleseed and all that — but I've just never been much of a cider guy. I generally find it too sweet for my taste, at least when it comes to finishing a whole glass. When I picked up Wild Cider's 5 percent ABV pumpkin cider ($8.49/four-pack, 16-ounce cans), though, it completely surprised me and guests, with a non-cloying sweetness and lovely, lingering baking-spice notes, all in balance. I'm legitimately excited to try the berry, pineapple and spiced apple versions, as well as the plain apple. (They're all gluten-free, as highlighted on the can.)
Wild Cider's orchard is located in a small town east of Longmont, in Weld County (yay for something other than fracking!), and on May 16, it'll for the first time open a seasonal, outdoor tasting area for sipping among the saplings. Wanna go? — Matthew Schniper
Seeds Community Cafe
109 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 473-8206, seedscommunitycafe.org
Seeds continues its meaty mission work with a "pay as you can afford" model and community engagement around mindful food. Much of it is gluten-free, locally sourced or vegetarian or vegan (at a suggested donation of $15 for an entrée, soup or salad, and drink, plus option for seconds). One good reason the model appears to be working: Everything tastes wonderful.
The freshness of our simple side salad and kale salad (with its zesty vegan Worcestershire, lemon and nutritional yeast dressing) balances the indulgence of a pulled pork sandwich and the outstanding, house ABC Burger. Fluffy Sourdough Boulangerie ciabatta buns (of Colorado wheat) embrace each, and pickles and a crisp apple slaw bolster the pork. Bleu cheese in and on the burger joins a garnishing avocado mash plus more Worcestershire and local Papa Joe's Italian dressing as piquing seasonings. Alkalize along with the way with Kangen water. — Matthew Schniper