Parking-lot-land-with-a-view, the area around the intersection of Garden of the Gods Road and Centennial Boulevard has become a new dining district of sorts in restaurant-challenged Colorado Springs. Dewey's American Grill, housed in the glamorous digs originally designed for Pasta di Solazzi a few years back, holds the solid middle space between fine dining and fast fare, offering chain-restaurant comfort food, a big, cozy bar and a good selection of beers late into the night, seven days a week.
Be warned: On a busy night, you might have to wrangle a waiter to get food at the bar. Be aggressive or take a seat in the dining room.
The menu is largely western and Tex-Mex, heavy on fajitas, burgers and steaks. There's a good number of sandwiches and salads, most served in enormous portions beyond the pale of the calorie-counter.
The chicken skewers appetizer ($8.99) probably is the heart-healthiest choice on the menu (along with grilled Asian salmon). Six wooden skewers loaded with moist strips of dark and white meat, rubbed with Chinese five-spice powder and grilled, are propped into a little teepee over a pile of tangy slaw of bell peppers, red onions, tomatoes and zucchini marinated in peppery vinegar. The dipping sauce on the side is, well, soy sauce with a few sesame seeds floating on top.
The fish and chips are ample and satisfying. Four huge hunks of flaky, moist cod swelter in thick, crisp, deep-fried batter, and sit on a mountain of thin-cut fries with decent tartar sauce and creamy coleslaw. Highly recommended with a cold Samuel Adams during happy hour, when all drinks are half-off, or on Friday, all-you-can-eat fish night.
The soups are standouts and come in a reasonable cup size for $3.99. The chicken tortilla soup, a slightly spicy broth thick with carrots, chicken, celery and torn corn tortillas, comes with a rainbow of slivered orange, yellow and green tortilla chips. The Denver chili is a spoon-stander: beefy and beany, tomato-based, turned mahogany with fistfuls of mild chili powder and topped with sharp cheddar cheese and chopped red onions.
The flavors of all these perfectly adequate dishes pale, however, in comparison to the burgers. Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing the praise of the Mustang Burger ($8.49): grilled sourdough bread with a honkin' half-pound patty cooked to perfection, smothered with Swiss cheese and mayo and a drippy glob of guacamole, topped with two slices of crisp bacon. I figure I can have one a year without risking a heart attack. (Turkey, buffalo or garden patties are available for a buck extra.)
Desserts are as big as doorstops. I'd skip the bread pudding, which is too dense and heavy, with a greasy margarine aftertaste and no hint of apples, as promised.
Dewey's trademark is the presence of nearly 30 television sets arranged on every wall. You don't have to listen to them, thank God, as the air is filled with too-loud, continuous loops of innocuous country, pop and oldies. The sight of professional bull-riding with instant replay of particularly gory stompings doesn't mix well with dinner. But you might be lucky, as I was, to see a dad sing a delirious version of "The Magic Bus" to his delighted daughters over burgers and fries.
Dewey's American Grill
4659 Centennial Blvd., 262-9100
Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Friday,
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.