Alligator Po-Boy at Culpepper's Cajun Kitchen
6502 S. Academy Blvd., 282-8479, culpeppers.net
Texturally speaking, eating 'gator is like a cross between eating chicken and shrimp; it's a bit fibrous, but with a touch of some seafood's plump loft. Battered in flour and spices and fried crisp, then thrown on a locally made Louisiana-style French bread roll lathered with house remoulade and garnished with pickles, lettuce and tomato, alligator is simply awesome. ($12.99 includes chips or fries)
Mussels at Summit at the Broadmoor
19 Lake Circle, 577-5896, broadmoor.com/summit
If Sisyphus' punishment could have been to endlessly dunk superb Broadmoor house-baked bread into these mussels' magic white broth and devour it, rather than roll that big-ass boulder up a hill for eternity, then a) it wouldn't have been much of a punishment, but rather a nirvana-like gift; b) it would break the barriers of myth and reality, not to mention time and space. My point is that the steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels are epic and excellently prepared on their own, but the classic broth — white wine, butter, garlic, shallots, Italian parsley and tomato concasse — is simply divine. ($13 at dinner/$16 with fries at brunch)
Homemade Coconut Ice Cream at Taste of Thai Spice
1609 Lashelle Way, 226-1999
Synthetic coconut taste has to be one of the worst, when you feel like you're imbibing sunblock or bronzing oil, flashes of Miami Vice episodes or that one grotesquely hairy man at the beach. Well, this ain't that. Picture a creamy coconut milk base, not too sweet, with peanut crumbles the perfect salty counterbalance. You scream because I just stole your ice cream. ($3.95)
Panang Curry at Thai Satay
821 Cheyenne Meadows Road, 540-8288
Oh the things that one can do to coconut milk to make it sing ... like spiking it with fish sauce, lime leaf, galangal, chilies, garlic, shallots and honey. Into said bath of glory, Thai Satay plops hunks of sweet yam and tender chicken, plus onions and colorful bell peppers. Peanut crumbles for garnish. Voilà! ($6.75/$8.50)
Maine Lobster Bisque at Walter's Bistro
146 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 630-0201, waltersbistro.com
In today's economy especially, it's amazing to ponder that back in colonial days, lobsters were fed to prisoners. But chances are quite great (certain, really) that those naughty boys never had it this good. Walter's bisque starts with the finest pinchers, whose shells give up the ghost for a rich stock flavor incorporated beautifully into a velvety, creamy body that begs for your French dinner roll's dip. Trust us, you'll want the bowl. ($7.50/cup, $10/bowl)
Spend a little time in this section of town, and you'll hear someone raving about each of the places listed below.
Chopsticks Asian Bistro
120 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 579-9111, chopsticksasianbistro.com
Chopsticks promotes "a contemporary twist on Asian fusion," which equates to a lovely, "zen-inspired" atmosphere and gourmet renditions of your favorite Chinese classics. Example: a Beef Mimosa plate of sherry-wine-sautéed flank steak with chilies and sun-dried tangerine.
Flatiron's American Bar & Grill
2540 Tenderfoot Hill St., 576-2540, flatirons.biz
Joining Ritz Grill, MacKenzie's Chop House and two other spots under Concept Restaurants' umbrella, this is your spot for pre- and post-CC-hockey game deals, NHL games and daily specials like a Saturday prime rib night. Outside the expansive lunch and dinner menus of classic American plates, there's also a wide gluten-free menu. Dig the complimentary house chips dropped with drinks.
252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-5223, hatchcover.biz
A recent tweet from our pals at the Hatch Cover: "If your idea of a 'Running Club' is bellying up to the bar and runnin' your mouth, then we're the bar for you." Other attractions: 50-cent teriyaki and spicy barbecue wings, a chili cheese dog personal pizza, and honkin'-big drink menu spanning micros and the mass-produced.
1747 S. Eighth St., 477-6997, lnepal.com
Get your glutton on at a wonderful daily lunch buffet, Thursday dinner buffet, or Sunday evening vegetarian/vegan buffet. Tibetan, Nepalese and Indian cuisines are represented with vibrant dishes ranging from curries and vindaloos to excellent vegetarian fare, like standout saag paneer and sweet potato masala.
Olde World Bagels & Deli
1670 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 527-9651, oldeworldbagel.com
If you order a bagel at one of the finer hotels in town, such as the DoubleTree by Hilton, Cheyenne Mountain Resort or the Broadmoor, you'll get an Olde World bagel. More than 50 other area businesses serve them as well. Here at home base, you can get one just out of the kitchen — perhaps for lunch, stacked with preservative-free Metro Deli meats.
Sushi o Sushi
3643 Star Ranch Road, 576-9830
Enter the realm of highly experienced sushi badass Kyung Lee, and don't stop at the nigiri and rolls. Venture out into the entrée list and experience a stellar miso sea bass or whatever random fish, such as a Japanese black porgy, that happens to be featured at the time.
Other featured eateries with South locations:
Bird Dog BBQ, 6965 Mesa Ridge Parkway, #190, Fountain, 322-0900, see here
Borriello Brothers, 5180 Fontaine Blvd., Fountain; Building 1532, Fort Carson, 884-2020, see here
La Casita Mexican Grill, 3991 N. Elizabeth St., Pueblo, 543-7287, see here
Panino's, 1721 S. Eighth St., 635-1188, see here
Taste of Jerusalem Café, 2810 S. Academy Blvd., #150, 391-1777, see here