Favorite

The 2011 Bites Dining Guide - Listings 


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2000 Wok

Chinese ~ $

Central: 115 E. Fillmore St., 633-6900

Best of 2010

Do you really need to be told how awesome a deal $1.75 per item is? Your "item" can be a giant scoop of fried rice or lo mein, or beef and broccoli, or my personal favorite: spicy chicken with onions and pineapple, ready for drenching in Sriracha. Get it to-go — the portions are bigger.

Adam's Mountain Café

Café/Vegetarian ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 934 Manitou Ave., 685-1430, adamsmountain.com

Best of 2010

Adam's Mountain Café, one of our perennial Best Of winners, executes a beautiful menu with slow food principles and an eye toward local and organic ingredients. Regulars all have a breakfast favorite: huevos rancheros, orange almond French toast, whole grain pancakes — what's yours? Lunch ushers in stand-bys like the nut- and rice-based Planet Burger, and dinner brings amazing dishes like the Brazilian-style barramundi in a coconut milk sauce and the Malibari Curry: organic turkey meatballs in a traditional Indian sauce. Call ahead, or enjoy the art of Manitou legend Charles Rockey while you wait.

Ai Sushi & Grill / Sushi Ai

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Multiple locations

Ever the confusing restaurant grouping, we've lumped the three local sushi eateries that incorporate "Ai" into their name into one blurb for ease in this guide, though they're all owned separately. We know they all serve competent, contemporary sushi and that the Cinema Point location incorporates teppan tables, but in previous years when Ai has been voted to the top in our Best Of guide, we never knew which exact location readers were picking as their favorite. Our advice: Try them all.

Amanda's Fonda

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

West side: 3625 W. Colorado Ave., 227-1975

Best of 2010

Our readers have voted Amanda's Fonda the Best Mexican food around for 11 of the past 12 years: They love the hefty portions of Tex-Mex standards, made from treasured family recipes. Go for a margarita and some chile rellenos, and in summer make sure to dine on the lovely creekside patio.

Amuzé at the FAC

Gourmet ~ $$$

Downtown: 30 W. Dale St., 477-4377, csfineartscenter.org/amuze.asp

Reviewed: Aug. 5

In July, Amuzé and chef Bill Sherman traded in the four-table Palmer Lake space for the room and responsibility of dishing in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and, mostly, the results are impressive. Sherman's French influences are reinvented in artistic ways, like the Zia sun symbol arrangement of the filet mignon carpaccio, which pays homage to the FAC's architectural leanings. Look for brunch, lunch and (pricey) dinner service, including special pre-theater menus.

Arabica Café

Mediterranean ~ $

Downtown: 12 S. Tejon St., 471-2444, cravearabica.com

Best of 2010

Arabica Café owner and Palestine native Kamel Elwazeir won this year's Best Of pick for his standout hummus, a thick, rich chickpea blend with a perfect balance of lemon, cumin and tahini. It's his mother's recipe, and it's delicious paired with most of his menu. The outfit's beef shawarma is also a highlight, laced with Lebanese spices and marinated overnight to deliver great flavor.

Arharn Thai

Thai ~ $

Powers: 3739 Bloomington St., 596-6559, arharnthai.net

Arharn, which literally translates to "food," is a Powers Boulevard gem run by owner and Bangkok native Doungsamorn "Pong" Peanvanvanich. Her menu abounds with gluten-free options, bright, crisp vegetables, floral, pore-opening spices, and generous strips of meat atop rice and noodle plates. The unique Pad Thai Ho Kai (a great rendition of the staple, folded inside an egg purse) is a go-for dish. Start with a papaya salad or the fish cakes and end with coconut ice cream.

B&E Filling Station Restaurant

Gourmet ~ $$$

Palmer Lake: 25 State Hwy. 105, 481-4780, bandefillingstation.com

For nearly 15 years, B&E was a gourmet destination for Springsters heading north; it enjoyed a devoted brunch crowd and built a solid dinner reputation as well. But recently, the outfit was sold to new owners. Now, there's only evening service with a focused, fairly pricey menu that reads beautifully online. Early reports have been mixed and we haven't yet visited to say for ourselves. Stay tuned ...

Bambino's Italian Eatery and Sports Bar

Italian ~ $

Central: 2849 E. Platte Ave., 630-8121, bambinospizza.com

There aren't enough pizza buffets in this world — especially pizza buffets that for $7.95 deliver meaty, Sicilian deep dish pies, light Hawaiian-esque options, and a dozen well-executed selections in between. That deal, offered daily at lunch and from 5 to 8 on Wednesday and Sunday nights, would be enough by itself to recommend Bambino's. But the Megyeri family's à la carte offerings are flavorful and hearty, too, led by the chicken Parmesan and the Flag Platter of lasagna, fettucini alfredo, and linguini with pesto.

Bara Sushi & Grill

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Briargate: 1645 Briargate Pkwy., #245, 599-7330, sushibara.com

Bara, which means "to create," has a sister operation in Denver; both are sleek and modern with gorgeous plate presentations. Lunch boxes, complete with soup, salad, rice and items like teriyaki chicken, beef or salmon, are a great deal. Tempura and noodle entrées are available, but the sushi stars, with fresh nigiri pieces and quality specialty rolls like the unique Bara Roll of salmon, asparagus and bacon.

Barney's Diner

Diner ~ $

Downtown: 129 W. Las Animas St., 632-1756

Barney's has been around for 46 years, which says a lot. Overlooking the Martin Drake Power Plant, it's a classic, super-affordable breakfast and lunch diner (think full meals for $6 to $8) that attracts diverse clientele. Surprisingly, it manages to incorporate some sustainability-minded products, including locally sourced beef and sausage. For diner grub and the price, it's pretty damn good food.

Bhan Thai

Thai ~ $

North Academy: 1025 N. Academy Blvd., 574-3401, bhanthaico.com

Northwest: 4431 Centennial Blvd., 266-1309, bhanthai.net

Notice that each location above has its own website; that's because the owners parted paths a while back, each taking a restaurant. Though the menus remain almost identical (enough so to lump the eateries together here), some locals are partial to one location or the other. The curries are delicious and the Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles are equally fine. Prices are competition-beaters.

BierWerks Brewery

Brewpub ~ $

Woodland Park: 121 E. Midland Ave., 686-8100, bierwerks.com

Reviewed: Sept. 30

A relative newcomer to the local craft brew scene, BierWerks offers traditional German lagers, and complements them with cold eats from the Mucky Duck in Green Mountain Falls. All are found either within a darkly lit converted service station, or the fire pit outside. The Wee Heavy Scotch Ale and the brewery's helles are standout examples of the craft.

Big Burrito

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

North Academy: 3659 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 598-0843

Reviewed: Nov. 11

Late-night dining is often the only reason to hit the 24-hour burrito spots scattered throughout the city, but Big Burrito offers a quality that demands a visit at any time. Like the name suggests, the burritos are hefty — try the steak burrito filled with fresh guacamole and tender carne asada. In other offerings, the adobada torta is a little heavy on the chewy bread, but the marinated chopped pork sports a nice, easy burn, and the carne asada fries are like Mexican poutine.

Billy's Old World Pizza

Pizza ~ $$

West side: 308 S. Eighth St., Suite E, 630-3400, billyspizza.net

Billy's is a taste of Chicago, located in a small strip mall on South Eighth Street. Look for "old world-style" deep-dish pizza "worthy of Chicago's heritage and reflecting the discerning tastes of the owner's passion for great food," as it's put on Billy's website. In addition to pastas and sandwiches, look for thick pizzas featuring homemade Italian sausage, beef and meatballs as well as the traditional assortment of veggies and cheese.

Bingo Burger

American ~ $

Pueblo: 101 Central Plaza, 719/225-8363, bingoburger.com

Reviewed: April 1, Best of 2010

One of the highest compliments we can pay to a Pueblo eatery is to say with full sincerity that it is worth the drive from Colorado Springs — and without a doubt, Bingo Burger is. The fire-roasted green chile-stuffed Bingo Burger itself made our Top 10 list of favorite dishes we ate in 2010; loaded with extras like bacon and egg, it's a stunner. Think gourmet fast food with a sustainable flair: fries made with San Luis Valley potatoes and burgers composed of Colorado-raised, grass-fed beef. From the first sip of your Hopscotch Bakery ice cream milkshake to the last bite of your Colorado lamb burger, you'll be ecstatic.

Bird Dog BBQ

Barbecue ~ $

Powers: 5984 Stetson Hills Blvd., #200, 596-4900

Briargate: 1645 Briargate Pkwy., #243, 599-4655 birddogbbq.com

Around since 2004, Bird Dog defines itself as Oklahoma-style barbecue, opting to smoke its meats with oak — it's a milder flavor than hickory or mesquite, allowing the meat's natural flavors to come through. And Bird Dog serves its house-made sauces on the side for meat purists. The Smokehouse ­— brisket topped with a hot link — has been known to make tails wag. Look for a new location in Fountain sometime around early March.

Bistro de Pinto

Gourmet ~ $$$

Downtown: 26 E. Kiowa St., 473-3538, bistrodepinto.com

Bistro de Pinto opened in 2006 under Tammy and Mike Pinto and has been a downtown fine-dining fixture ever since. Meats are sourced from Ranch Foods Direct, one sign that they put a lot of care into their creative menu. Lunch items include soups, salads, burgers, pastas and a few Mexican plates. Dinner brings starters such as lobster ravioli and entrées like a brandy apricot chicken.

The Black Bear

Gourmet ~ $$$

Green Mountain Falls: 10375 Ute Pass Ave., 684-9648, blackbearrestaurant.com

Victor Matthews and his Paragon Culinary School students offer a unique and ever-changing menu inside this cozy Green Mountain Falls relic. The concept honors Thomas Keller by being built around "small elite courses," meaning pricey, customized chef's tasting menus of five, seven or 12 courses. You can also go à la carte and get modestly priced comfort food, like a chicken-fried steak or a burger.

The Blue Star

Gourmet ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086, thebluestar.net

Best of 2010

The Blue Star netted our readers' vote for Best Overall Restaurant for a third year running in 2010. So, really, what else do you need to know? That it also won for Best Wait Staff, Fine Dining and Restaurant Wine List? Fine. The lounge and dinner menus are roughly the same price these days, so sit wherever you're comfortable, unless you're after a burger (lounge) versus a rack of wild boar (dining room). Incoming head chef Daniel Gerson and chef de cuisine Andrew Sherrill recently added new menu items, with more on the way. Wine tastings and dinners abound; whenever you go, save room for pastry chef Alicia Prescott's superb sweets.

Bona Dea Teahouse & Emporium

Tea/Café ~ $

Old Colorado City: 1824 W. Colorado Ave., 473-8322

Bona Dea is located inside a charming Victorian, and each spot in the dining room represents a stop in owner Lari Trogani's travels. Alongside internationally sourced teas of every variety imaginable, you'll find delicious puff pastries filled with items like chicken, crab or salmon salad. Finish with a lavish cake or a sipping chocolate.

Borriello Brothers

Pizza ~ $

Multiple locations: borriellobrothers.com

Best of 2010

From eight Springs locations, Borriello Brothers dishes out our readers' favorite pizza. Pies are 18-inch, hand-tossed New York-style beauties, topped with the standards of your choosing. Personal-sized gluten-free pizzas are also available, as are salads, subs, appetizers and calzones. But really, wouldn't you rather be eating the Five Boroughs pie: olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, sausage and pepperoni?

Briarhurst Manor Estate

Gourmet ~ $$$

Manitou Springs: 404 Manitou Ave., 685-1864, briarhurst.com

Best of 2010

Young and talented chef Tyler Peoples has designed a colorful, creative and very gourmet menu built around four-course dinners that include an amuse bouche, salad and intermezzo in addition to your entrée. Mains include rabbit, elk, duck, bison, lamb and, of course, decadent beef steaks. Apps include foie gras and escargot, and dessert tempts with plates like the Oaxacan dark chocolate torte with espresso reduction. Did I mention you're dining inside a gorgeous "haunted" castle?

Cafe El Paso

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Central: 3840 N. Nevada Ave., 634-3940

El Paso native Sandra Santoscoy-Sherer and her husband Paul opened Cafe El Paso 10 years ago and have earned loyalty with items like stuffed jalapeños under mango jalapeño salsa. The menu of Tex-Mex classics also features a popular Dos Pistolas salsa that has recently experienced a retail explosion. It's sold in Whole Foods and Albertsons, and the cafe's Travis Taylor says they're currently moving 4,000 jars weekly. Drop in to taste where it all began.

Carlos' Bistro

Gourmet ~ $$$

West side: 1025 S. 21st St., 471-2905

Peruvian native and owner Carlos Echeandia is so hands-on with his outfit that he can often be found greeting you in the parking lot. That attention to detail continues with excellent martinis and delightful appetizers, as well as standout surf-and-turf entrée selections. Since 2004, his superb plates have attracted the Broadmoor crowd as well as special-occasion diners. You'll pay, but you'll smile.

Caspian Café

Mediterranean ~ $$

Central: 4375 Sinton Road, 528-1155, caspiancafe.com

It's Mediterranean in spirit, but multi-ethnic in practice. Dish influences come from Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and beyond. From the huge menu, start with hummus, mussels or the awesome eggplant in spicy honey sauce. Then go for a gyros platter, lamb shank or vegetarian moussaka. Finish with baklava or our favorite, the orange and saffron caramel custard.

China Village

Chinese ~ $

Central: 203 N. Union Blvd., 475-8299, menu4food.com/chinavillage

China Village is in its 28th year of serving delicious and affordable Szechuan and Mandarin eats (what you and I just call Chinese), and the free delivery option within four miles has earned many a faithful customer. The menu is huge, and lunches come with rice and an egg roll and top out at $6.45. The dinner menu counts up to some 129 items: just about every way you can imagine that shrimp, beef, pork, chicken and vegetable can be stir-fried and sauced.

City of Philly Cheese Steaks

American ~ $

North Academy: 4747 Flintridge Drive, 265-5770

Reviewed: Oct. 14

Tucked into the corner of a strip mall at Academy Boulevard and Flintridge Drive, City of Philly is the place to find father-and-son duo Tim and Chris Cotrinaz dishing steaming steak sandwiches on chewy bread from Philly-based Amoroso's Baking Co. Hoagies, hamburgers and a bevy of side options prevail, but the namesake is all the reason to visit you'll need.

The Cliff House at Pikes Peak

Gourmet ~ $$$

Manitou Springs: 306 Cañon Ave., 685-3000, thecliffhouse.com

How serious is the Cliff House? Let's just say that chef Scott Savage has his own Internet cooking show — comedic and instructional video segments posted on the outfit's website. The historic hotel's seasonal wicker-chair-filled veranda rivals the most comfortable dining anywhere in the city, and the newer Red Mountain Bar & Grill offers fantastic patio views with modestly priced appetizers. The main dining room's menu is also priced under most fine dining places — a welcome reprieve, considering the excellent eats. Get the Colorado lamb T-bone.

Coffee Cup Café

Café/coffeehouse ~ $

Monument: 251 Front St., 488-0663, coffeecupmonument.com

Another Pint / A Second Cup

Café/coffeehouse ~ $

Gleneagle: 13860 Gleneagle Drive, 481-6446, asecondcup.net

It all started at the homey Front Street location, with delicious down-home breakfast and lunch eats for fair prices. Then longtime Coffee Cup Café owners Jeremy and Wendy Diggins decided to spread the love a little further south with A Second Cup, which added dinner service and a serious drink list. Now, A Second Cup has added "Another Pint" to its name to reflect a kick-ass tap list of more than 30 mostly rare beers that legitimately rivals any in state. See the online beer menu to be impressed.

Colorado Mountain Brewery

Brewpub ~ $$

Briargate: 11202 Rampart Hills View, 434-5750, cmbrew.com

Reviewed: Sept. 30

The new home of former Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. brewer Andrew Bradley, CMB offers six signature beers — which Bradley assures us are fully "dialed in" after a hit-and-miss opening sample — as well as rotating specialty batches. A full and largely delicious menu accompanies the booze. We recommend the venison spring rolls, full of venison sausage, black beans, bell peppers, cheese, onions and mustard with a sweet chili sauce.

Coquette's Bistro and Bakery

Creperie ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 915 Manitou Ave., 685-2420, coquettecreperie.com

Best of 2010

As the west side's answer to Shuga's, Coquette continues to convert hippies to hipsters. With the recent acquisition of Ceres' Kitchen, the name changed from Coquette Creperie to Coquette's Bistro and Bakery, but the outfit is on a gluten-free mission to delight. To the existing list of sassy savory and sweet crêpes you'll soon see an expanded menu of goodies like French toast as well as more of a retail focus on gluten-free goods like pizza dough, breads and muffins. On the drink side, look for GF beers, wines, martinis and fancy coffee drinks.

The Corner Cafe

Café ~ $

Downtown: 7 E. Vermijo Ave., 520-1843, cornercafecs.com

Best of 2010

As I wrote this blurb, three of my colleagues left for lunch at the Corner Cafe. Because of its proximity and general excellence, it's a favorite Indy destination. Owners Virginia and Bob Smoot brought their homey ways from California in 2004 and immediately captured the hearts of the court crowd and downtown workers. Their sandwiches, made from sustainably sourced meats, are entirely satisfying, especially next to fries and a cup of Bob's outstanding pork green chile. Breakfast specials are also great, particularly with Bob's garlic habañero ketchup.

Craftwood Inn

Gourmet ~ $$$

Manitou Springs: 404 El Paso Blvd., 685-9000, craftwood.com

Reviewed: Feb. 18

Though boasting nearly 100 years of history, the Craftwood is anything but staid. Longtime chef Jeff Knight recently moved to the general manager spot and yielded the line to young talent Ben Hoffer. Some classic plates like the Colorado elk in red wine hunter's sauce remain, but creative, contemporary takes on everything from local lamb to antelope and ostrich otherwise dominate the gamey menu. Oh — and pumpkin butter foie gras, anyone? The best way to sample the soaring selection is by printing a $50, four-course, dinner-for-two coupon off Craftwood's website.

Crêpes Française International

Creperie ~ $

Downtown: 321 N. Tejon St., 473-6999

Reviewed: March 18

In the former Flavors on Tejon spot, proprietor and Cameroon native Florence Reinhardt serves some of the most gourmet crêpes in town; most are classic French recipes such as the Crêpe Oeuf with Swiss cheese, egg and ham. The Florence offering beautifully pairs spinach and mushroom with Mornay sauce, and presentations on both the savories and sweets range from fun beggar's purses to cool pyramids. For the sweets, we liked the standards such as the berry- and whipped-cream-stuffed Chantilly and the simple Citron of lemon juice and powdered sugar. Also look for delicious soups and salads, sandwiches and entrées like Steak au Poivre.

Culpepper's Cajun Kitchen

Cajun/Southern ~ $

South Academy: 6502 S. Academy Blvd., 282-8479, culpeppers.net

Owners Martin and Kathy Anderson moved Culpepper's from the north side to South Academy Boulevard a couple years back and reworked the menu for a more casual, less expensive dining experience. That experience remains satisfying with the fantastic flavors of Louisiana and the Gulf: shrimp, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, gator bites, Po-boys, blackened catfish, maque choux, jambalaya and more. Finish with house-made beignets and look out for boiled crawfish specials from April to July.

The Curry Leaf Restaurant

Greater Asia/Sri Lankan ~ $

Downtown: 26 S. Wahsatch Ave., 447-0608, curryleafrestaurant.com

The Springs' only Sri Lankan restaurant, the Curry Leaf is a delight. Run by native Sri Lankan Lana Hillstrom, it captures the true flavors of a country with culinary influences that include India, Malaysia, China and Western European nations. Amazing curries reveal hints of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and more rare spices like rumpe and goraka. The chicken curry is particularly euphoric, and the deviled shrimp will burn you. End with the stellar coconut caramel custard.

Dad's Kwik Inn Diner

Diner ~ $

Security: 385 Main St., 392-5063, dadskwikinn.com

Reviewed: Dec. 9

When all you want is comfort and calories, Dad's has you covered. Larry Neuhalfen and his son Larry Jr. used to dish barbecue from Dad's Smokewagon until the restaurant's current space came open, which mandated an expansion into breakfast and diner staples, like the solid chicken-fried steak. Grab the Front Range Mountain Man to taste hamburger excess, or the three-meat, two-side option to sample good pulled pork or chopped brisket.

Dale Street Café

Café/Bistro ~ $$

Downtown: 115 E. Dale St., 578-9898, mydalestreetcafe.com

Set in a charming Victorian, Dale Street boasts a extensive lunch and dinner menu that's made it a downtown staple. The artichoke dip and cream of artichoke soup are two starter standouts. From there, you can go pizza, pasta, quiche, frittata or sandwich. Entrées usher in everything from Jaegerschnitzel to Cajun pasta to peanut-crusted mahi mahi.

The Dutch Kitchen

Café ~ $

Manitou Springs: 1025 Manitou Ave., 685-9962

When you've been around since 1959, you can afford to close down in winter and make people wait until March to get another slice of locally famous buttermilk pie. Though the Flynn family is best known for that and other pies, the Dutch Kitchen also serves standout sandwiches like the cabbage and corned beef, as well as burgers and the like.

E Ado

Korean ~ $$

South Academy: 296 S. Academy Blvd., 591-7809

Reviewed: April 15

When owner E.J. Ruchalski isn't around, communication in English at E Ado can be a bit difficult, but as long as you can place an order, you won't care. The food's authentic and super-flavorful, with a wonderful, rotating array of banchan (small, shared side dishes such as kimchi varieties, cured beans and sautéed veggies in hot chili sauces) as well as delicious entrées. Start with pot stickers and get the perfectly sweet and slightly salty beef bulgogi or unctuous duck hunks, and be ready for a to-go box.

Edelweiss Restaurant

German ~ $$

Cheyenne Mountain: 34 E. Ramona Ave., 633-2220, edelweissrest.com

Best of 2010

Our Best Of winner for the past 13 years, Edelweiss delivers an authentic taste of Germany with delicious schnitzel, bratwurst, sauerbraten, steak selections and much more. Lunch brings sandwiches like a Reuben and Cordon Bleu — and spätzle for the kiddies. Most exciting for some diners is the wide German draft list with all the fine imports you desire (see: Franziskaner Weissbier). Drink 'em out of a big boot for $20, or just go with the half-liter for $5.25.

El Taco Rey

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Downtown: 330 E. Colorado Ave., 475-9722, eltacorey.com

"The Taco King" has reigned supreme downtown since 1976, under the great care of the Aguilar family. It's often tough to find a seat in the small eatery during lunch hours, a testament to how great the Mexican standards are here. The avocado pork burrito wins the most awards, but you truly won't go wrong with anything on the menu.

El Tesoro Restaurant & Gallery

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Downtown: 10 N. Sierra Madre St., 471-0106, el-tesoro.com

This downtown fixture features Santa Fe-style, quasi-fine dining that incorporates the heat of chipotle, jalapeño, ancho, poblano and Anaheim chiles, among others. Mango quesadillas make a nice accompaniment to a top-shelf margarita to start you off. Traditional entrées like the yummy spinach and mushroom burrito run around $10 to $15.

English Dockside

Cajun/Southern ~ $

North Academy: 2220 N. Academy Place, 380-7732, englishdockside.com

Thomas English and family, Alabama natives, run this standout seafood joint that pays beautiful tribute to the South. Find everything from whole crawfish, crab salad, snow crab and whole snapper to nine different Po-Boys, a superb clam chowder and Ranch Foods Direct steaks and ribs. We keep hoping our readers will rightfully vote it Best Seafood over Red Lobster one year. ... We can dream, right?

Estela's Mexican Restaurant

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Cheyenne Mountain: 925 S. Eighth St., 575-0244

Reviewed: Jan. 7

Originally open from 1993 to 2000, and closed due to an illness in the Mares family, Estela's made an unlikely comeback in mid-2009, reopening in its original location. The family also runs Pueblo's nearly three-decade-old Mill Stop Café, also popular for the family's daily-made, from-scratch green and red chiles. Those sauces smother most menu items delightfully; the chile relleno plate is a highlight. The best part to a meal: outstanding, authentic sopapillas served with honey and cinnamon sugar at meal's end, for no charge.

European Café

Café ~ $

Manitou Springs: 935A Manitou Ave., 685-3556

Chef and owner Bozena Jakubczyk runs this popular Manitou breakfast spot, known for its delightful sweet cheese crepes, omelets and the like. But drop in for lunch sometime, too: The generously portioned Reuben shines, and locals love the French Dip and burgers. Special orders of Polish favorites can be arranged.

Everest Nepal Restaurant

Greater Asia/Nepalese/Indian ~ $

Downtown: 28 E. Bijou St., 473-3890, everesttibetimports.com/restaurant.html

Operated by the same folks who run the Everest Tibet Imports store across the street, Everest Nepal Restaurant is a downtown staple for an affordable weekday lunch buffet. Nepali and Indian staples rule the roost: daal dishes, curry plates, wonderfully seasoned meats and vibrant veggie offerings pair well with sweet lassis, chai tea or beer.

The Famous

Steakhouse ~ $$$

Downtown: 31 N. Tejon St., 227-7333, thefamoussteakhouse.net

Best of 2010

A regular contender (and winner) in the Steakhouse and Restaurant for Carnivores categories in our annual Best Of guide, the Famous presents some of the priciest plates in town, including a $50, 24-ounce Porterhouse for people who believe that eating that much meat in one sitting is a bright idea. All the high-end steaks are, of course, delicious and tasty, and family-style sides pair beautifully. If you just want to gaze over dark wood and feel leather on your bum, nab a $12, kick-ass cheeseburger at lunch.

Flatiron's American Bar & Grill

American ~ $$

Cheyenne Mountain: 2540 Tenderfoot Hill St., 576-2540, flatirons.biz

Reviewed: Sept. 2, Best of 2010

Launched in the shell of a former Bennigan's, this fifth Concept Restaurants spawn serves a family-friendly menu with something for everyone — truly. The awesome $8 Monte Cristo Sliders star alongside a $26 filet mignon and even a menu-topping $125 bottle of Napa Cab. Complimentary hot kettle chips hit the table before menus, and the flatbread pizzas, hot and cold sandwiches, burgers and salads are interesting enough to have garnered our readers' vote for Best New Restaurant of 2010.

The Flow of Mexico

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Downtown: 16 E. Bijou St., 633-2526

Reviewed: May 13

The Flow of Mexico has thus far held its ground in a spot that's spurned other Mexican outfits. Why? Because owner and chef Jose "Chelis" Luis Flores is a badass with 35 years' culinary experience. His is no mediocre Tex-Mex. Where others are greasy and heavy, Flow is crisp, fresh and somehow lighter. Try the excellent and chocolatey mole de pollo or get the ceviche de pescado y camarón or campechana: giant goblets of mixed seafood bearing refreshing citrus broths, cilantro, tomatoes and a touch of jalapeño heat.

Frankie's Bar and Grill

Pub food ~ $

Powers: 945 N. Powers Blvd., 574-4881, frankiesbargrill.com

Frankie's Too

Pub food ~ $

Falcon: 7376 McLaughlin Road, Suite A, 495-8707

Best of 2010

Frankie Patton opened Frankie's Bar and Grill in 1984, long before Powers Boulevard started wearing chains. In the last 26 years, it's become a favorite hangout of Pete Field employees but also east-siders, as evidenced by 2010's Best Of win for east-side Neighborhood Bar. From the starter, sandwich and burger menu, go for Frankie's Original Slopper or the classic hot wings. When in Falcon, check out Frankie's Too.

Fratelli Ristorante Italiano

Italian ~ $$

Downtown: 124 N. Nevada Ave., 575-9571, fratelliristorante.com

For 16 years, Fratelli has been dishing out an outstanding, authentic blend of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, including classics like linguine con carne and fettuccine Bolognese. Look for separate lunch and dinner menus and a great wine list as well as iconic Italian desserts like tiramisu, gelato and Grand Marnier Crème.

Front Range Barbeque

Barbecue ~ $

Old Colorado City: 2330 W. Colorado Ave., 632-2596

Central: 4935 Templeton Gap Road, 598-8895, frontrangebbq.com

Best of 2010

Award-winning Front Range is the child of Alabama native Brian Fortinberry, who has converted many a Colorado Springs local with his family's favorite Southern recipes. Catch live music at the west location and from the extensive menu, enjoy a heaping plate of ribs, brisket or a pulled pork sandwich. Or go for an elk, buffalo or veggie burger and some spicy cole slaw next to a local microbrew; end with pecan pie.

Fruition Restaurant

Gourmet ~ $$$

Denver: 1313 E. Sixth Ave., 303/831-1962, fruitionrestaurant.com

Reviewed: July 29

We almost never review in Denver, being Springs-centric and all, but we simply had to try Fruition after chef Alex Seidel was named one of the 10 Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine in April. That and previous awards prove to be well-deserved. The food — featuring items from Seidel's Larkspur farm — is spectacular: Complexity and simplicity hang in perfect balance, and minor accents leave you breathless. Get the signature duck breast over risotto garnished with house-smoked duck prosciutto and red onion marmalade, and you'll understand Fruition's excellence in one bite.

Fujiyama

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Downtown: 22 S. Tejon St., Suite A, 630-1167, fujiyamasushi.com

Best of 2010

Winner of this year's Best Happy Hour, Fujiyama just released a new sushi menu that sports hilariously named, complex rolls like the Michael Jackson (too soon?), X-Men, Moby Dick, Sugar Daddy and Deer Butt. Drop by to find out what's in them, or just go for standard two-piece nigiri selections. Lunch inside the bamboo-accented walls brings delicious and affordable noodle bowls and bento boxes. Dinner offers a teppanyaki menu and a show at hibachi grills.

Fusion World Cuisine

Greater Asia/Fusion ~ $$

Gleneagle: 15910 Jackson Creek Pkwy., 488-3900, fusionworldcuisine.com

Reviewed: Feb. 4

Fusion was born in late 2009 as a quasi-fine dining, abstract-rich space capped off with a gorgeous, wavy concrete table. Chef Wai Tung lends the outfit his international cooking experience; the result is a largely Asian-influenced menu with some involved culinary combinations, some twists on countries' classics, and some dishes that remain true to their land of origin. Think everything from scallops and mussels to larb-like marinated duck and chicken wraps and Pad Thai, all with interesting sauces.

Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant

Italian ~ $$

Downtown: 10 S. Sierra Madre St., 635-3111, giuseppesdepot.com

Reviewed: Sept. 9

The roughly 40-year-old restaurant had taken a turn toward the unpalatable in recent years, but the addition of chef Brent Beavers — of the much-missed Sencha — changed much of that. Out went the can openers, and in came fresh sauces made from scratch. Beavers says he's got a three-year plan to turn Giuseppe's into the best Italian in the city, and he's off to a fine start. The ribeye steak is thick and buttery, while the grilled sausage pasta sports well-spiced Polidori Sausage from Denver.

Glad's Original Bar-B-Q

Barbecue ~ $

South Academy: 3750 Astrozon Blvd., #110, 392-4156

Fountain: 1510 Chiles Ave., 576-1851

gladsbbq.com

Alabama natives Grey and Marilyn Davis used to invite young soldiers into their home for food and counsel many years ago, and they've always kept one goal in mind: to bring comfort through cooking. Their affordable dinners range from $5.99 to $14.99; go for the tender barbecued ribs covered in a thick, zesty spice rub. For sides: The cabbage and collard greens are great, and you won't stumble with the extra cheesy mac 'n cheese.

The Goose Berry Patch

Diner ~ $

Penrose: 660 State Hwy. 115, 372-3910

Heart-adorned window shutters, goose-print lace curtains, knickknacks galore: The Goose Berry Patch exemplifies small-town charm. It's worth a stop when headed south down 115, mainly for the outstanding pies. But you'll also enjoy any of the specialty burgers and the down-home comfort food at affordable prices.

The Hatch Cover

Pub food ~ $

Cheyenne Mountain: 252 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-5223, hatchcover.biz

Best of 2010

The Hatch Cover tied SouthSide Johnny's in 2010's Best Of issue for south-end Neighborhood Bar. The live music and karaoke and expansive bar selections are partly to credit, but 50-cent wings, all day, every day, in a variety of sauces such as sweet Thai chile probably swayed some voters. The full menu of burgers, steaks, seafood plates, pastas and starters recently saw new additions, like chicken sandwiches.

Heart of Jerusalem Café

Mediterranean ~ $

Central: 4587 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 685-9554

Manitou Springs: 718 Manitou Ave., 685-1325

heartofjerusalemcafe.com

Best of 2010

This year's recipient of the Best Middle Eastern crown, Heart of Jerusalem dishes delightful fare that includes the expected falafel, gyros and shawermah, but also fun blends like the "chikofel" or "beefofel" sandwiches (a mix of those meats with falafel). The outfit also placed second for Best Hummus, and the Crisspura Fries are a lovely sandwich accompaniment. Finish with a great house-made baklava.

I-95 Restaurant and Bar

Café ~ $

Powers: 5934 Stetson Hills Blvd., 597-6923

Reviewed: April 22

Like something of an upscale Perkins, I-95 can take care of your bacon and syrup needs in the morning, patty melt cravings at lunchtime and desire for a New York strip or blackened salmon in the evening. Since she bought the former East Coast Deli, owner Feng Yang has also added some Asian-inspired appetizers to the otherwise All-American, family-friendly menu. Prices are fair and generally affordable, and portions are on the generous side, especially when it comes to outstanding desserts like turnovers and carrot cake.

Il Postino

Italian ~ $$

Downtown: 123 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-0123, ilpostinocs.com

Reviewed: Dec. 2

Il Postino is the first arm of the upcoming The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Hotel project. With a focus on health and wellness, the overall affordable eatery sought menu input from a sports nutritionist who works for the Olympic Training Center. The result is somewhat of an Italian and Mediterranean fusion with some American and international touches. Look for everything from delicious white truffle frites, crab cakes and light soups and salads to sandwiches, pastas and a menu-topping $23 Colorado beef petite filet. A chef swap currently under way may affect the direction of the next seasonal menu.

Il Vicino

Pizza ~ $

Downtown: 11 S. Tejon St., 475-9224, ilvicino.com

Il Vicino is a small chain that now extends into four states, but its downtown eatery has always felt local. It's popular for a pint and a delectable, gourmet wood-oven pizza. The paninis and salads are also satisfying. Beer is no longer made at this site, but the outfit recently completed a new brewery in Albuquerque to meet demand for all the locations.

India Palace

Greater Asia/Indian ~ $

North Academy: 5644 N. Academy Blvd., 535-9196

India Palace has long been a Springs favorite for Indian standards and a great buffet. The outfit came under new ownership last February, which also ushered in a decor change, a new chef and some minor menu updates. Ever-unpredictable diner reviews on the Web appear to lean largely positive, and if it's any indication of quality, new owner Vivek Chandra hired a celebrity Indian chef who's opened nearly 70 restaurants in 23 states to train his staff.

It's All Good Soul Food Restaurant

Cajun/Southern ~ $

South Academy: 3117 S. Academy Blvd., 393-0677, itsallgoodsoulfood.com

Reviewed: Nov. 18

Look for grease-borne, lethargy-inducing comfort food and all its much-loved hallmarks: salt, sauce and a Southern-hospitality-sized dose of sweetness. Not everything measures up: Stay away from the gizzard basket and the fried chicken. But note that owner Sheryl Burns makes most of her ingredients from scratch, including her barbecue sauce, rubs and gravies.

Jack Quinn Irish Alehouse & Pub

Irish/English ~ $$

Downtown: 21 S. Tejon St., 385-0766, jackquinnspub.com

Best of 2010

"Quinn's," our regular Best Irish Pub winner, is a downtown staple, and offers more than a good pint of Guinness in a traditional pub setting. It's also home to an enormous weekly running club, traditional Irish music sessions and a pub quiz. As for dining, in addition to American pub standards, look for more unusual Irish fare like a Celtic Reuben, Irish Stout Beef Boxty, a traditional Irish breakfast and, of course, Bangers & Mash.

Jake & Telly's Greek Taverna

Mediterranean ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2616 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0406, greekdining.com

Jake & Telly's is operated by the Topakas brothers (can you guess their names?), who continue to reshape and re-create their menu in creative ways. Catch a wallet-friendly, three-course, $10 lunch from 11 to 3, Monday through Friday, and great happy hour specials from 3 to 6. Rather than try to outline the exhaustive options, let's let one starter speak to the gourmet excellence: the Saganaki of sheep's milk Kasseri cheese grilled and then flambéed with lemon and served with grilled pita. Yum.

Jasmine Cafe Chinese Restaurant

Chinese ~ $$

Powers: 6064 Stetson Hills Blvd., 591-9898

Reviewed: Nov. 24

Owner David Bang apparently relocates each time his restaurant gets overrun with customers clamoring for his rich broths and clean flavors. Now out off Powers Boulevard, Bang is dishing out great Pad Thai, egg rolls, teriyaki beef and coconut-flake-battered fried shrimp, among other offerings. For liquid lovers, his wor wonton soup was named one of the Indy's favorite dishes of 2010.

Joey's Pizza

Pizza ~ $$

Briargate: 1829 Briargate Blvd., 265-6922, myspace.com/joeysnypizza

Joey Stasolla might still be in his 20s, but the Long Island-born pizza slinger certainly knows his craft well, having been at it since he was 14. He's fanatic about his daily-made dough and sauces, and loves to introduce diners to "real" New York-style pizza with quality toppings. If not in for a pie, get the knockout Rocky Balboa hoagie.

Jo-Mamas Pizza

Pizza/Italian ~ $$

Woodland Park: 751 Gold Hill Place, 687-8786, jo-mamas-pizza.com

Reviewed: Dec. 16

While some of the snarkily named restaurant's menu items are hit-and-miss, the hits are home runs. The pepperoni pizza is greasy and good, while the Ultimate Italiano is perfect: a toasted sub loaded with mortadella, capicola, pepperoni, ham, salami and veggies. And the Sloppy Bird of smoked turkey and provolone topped in cole slaw proves as tasty as it is wet.

José Muldoon's

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Downtown: 222 N. Tejon St., 636-2311

Powers: 5710 S. Carefree Circle, 574-5673

josemuldoons.com

Best of 2010

Perennial winner in the Best Patio Dining category for its lovely interior atrium as well as sidewalk tables downtown, José's thrilled east-siders by opening a second location in late 2009. Springs diners love the weekday happy hour deals from 4 to 7 and specials like a Sunday margarita brunch from 9:30 to 2. Otherwise, they come for tasty Tex-Mex staples, a sizzling skillet of buffalo, or lighter fare like the vegetable topolobampo. (Try and say that after three house margaritas.)

Joseph's Fine Dining

Gourmet ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1606 S. Eighth St., 630-3631, josephsdining.com

Owner Joseph Freyre boasts of more than 25 years in the fine dining industry, and it shows when he greets you tableside to prepare your lovely Hot Spinach Pernod salad or Cherries Jubilee Flambé dessert. In between those courses, find delicious starters like the Escargots en Croute and lavishly dressed entrées like lamb, scallops, veal, trout and filet mignon.

Judge Baldwin's Brewing Company

Brewpub ~ $

Downtown: Antlers Hilton Hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave., 955-5600, antlers.com

Judge Baldwin's has always promoted a generous happy hour to lure those not staying at the hotel into the sharp space. The house-made beers don't top those from other local microbreweries, but under former Plate World Cuisine chef Ryan Blanchard, the eats have improved. Catch a game at the bar and go for the Maine Lobster Roll sandwich.

Jun Japanese Restaurant

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

North Academy: 1760 Dublin Blvd., 531-9368

West Side: 3276 Centennial Blvd., 227-8690, junjapanese.com

Best of 2010

All that you really need to know about Jun is that the outfit, operated by owner Jun Aizu, has won our readers' vote for Best Japanese/Sushi for the past 15 years. Some employees have been with the meticulous operation for more than 20 years. Where many sushi outfits get wacky with odd roll fillings, Jun and his talented team tend to focus on tight execution and overall quality.

Keg Lounge

Pub food ~ $

Manitou Springs: 730 Manitou Ave., 685-9531

Best of 2010

The Keg is a Manitou icon that's less dive than it is delicious. The food surpasses mere bar eats with items like the locally famous buffalo cheese burger and other meaty delights like a flatiron steak, all sourced from Ranch Foods Direct. On the lighter side, the popular berry salad delivers fresh fruit mixed with bleu cheese and chicken teriyaki.

King's Chef Diner

Diner ~ $

Downtown: 110 E. Costilla St., 634-9135; 131 E. Bijou St., 636-5010

kingschefdiner.com

Best of 2010

Winner (again) of Best Of's greasy spoon trifecta — Diner, Late-Night Dining and Green Chili — King's Chef is famous for its seriously hot vegetarian green chili (with a gluten-free version now, too). That sauce is so freakin' good, you can now buy it at places like Whole Foods. When dining at either location, pour it over the enormous breakfast burrito or try it on the green chili cheeseburger. Hello gut-bomb goodness, goodbye hangover.

Kura Japanese Restaurant

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Powers: 3478B Research Pkwy., 282-8238

Four-year-old Kura, run by former Jun server Song Brinck, tends to surprise at every turn, offering more than 100 traditional types of sushi, sashimi, Japanese tapas and tempura items. A popular Wednesday ladies' night out continues indefinitely with great specials, wine tastings and more. And even those who roll with man bags will find delight in well-executed creations like the Research Roll.

La'au's Taco Shop

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Downtown: 830 N. Tejon St., #110, 578-5228, laaustacoshop.com

La'au's has dropped its satellite location inside Bristol Brewing Co. (though it added a new location in Boulder). So locally, hit the original Colorado College location for killer drink specials during a generous 6 to 9 p.m. happy hour, or drink coconut water, Mexican Coke or Horchata with your tacos, bowl, burrito or salad. Protein options for those include mahi mahi, shrimp, steak and peanut miso chicken dressed with bright toppings like mango, papaya and pico de gallo.

La Baguette

Café/Bakery ~ $

Multiple locations: labaguette-co.com

Best of 2010

The four area La Baguette stores are operated independently and keep slightly different menus, but all receive their baked goods from the Old Colorado City location. Visit the outfit's website to see a selection of gorgeous breads and croissants that meet fine French standards and earned our readers' vote for Best French outfit in 2010. The French onion soup is superb, and baguette sandwiches make for an affordable and tasty lunch.

La Casita Mexican Grill

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Multiple locations: lacasitamexigrill.com

With its pink stucco buildings, La Casita doesn't trade in subtlety — it trades in value, and delicious, bountiful salsas as well as quality Tex-Mex standards. The enchiladas always hit the spot, and the braised pork carnitas with guacamole are delicious. Satisfying breakfast plates in the $5 range include huevos rancheros and eggs and chorizo. Load up on the aforementioned salsas at the complimentary garnish bar.

La Creperie Bistro

Crêperie ~ $$$

Downtown: 204 N. Tejon St., 632-0984

Best of 2010

In a year when four other crêperies opened locally, our readers still voted La Creperie to the top, speaking to its 30-plus years as a local favorite for Francophiles and American crêpe-lovers alike. The tiny dining room and cozy sidewalk patio offer a charming intimacy in which to enjoy your savory or sweet treat. A full French menu and lovely wine list complement the popular pancakes.

La Perla Tapatía Mexican Taqueria

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

West Side: 511 N. 30th St., 228-6006

La Perla Tapatía, run by Guadalajara, Mexico native Sergio Lauriano, serves fantastic tacos al pastor: pineapple-juice-tenderized pork in soft corn tacos. It also serves the Springs' only torta ahogada, or drowned sandwich — a baguette filled with pulled pork and tomato sauce. Even if you opt for a standard burrito instead, finish with a delicious, flan-like jericallas.

Lake Terrace Dining Room at The Broadmoor

Gourmet/breakfast ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1 Lake Ave., 577-5771, broadmoor.com/lake-terrace.php

Best of 2010

Lake Terrace routinely wins our Best Sunday Brunch award by making a routine of excellence. Chef Siegfried Eisenberger's opulent spread ($39) contains more than 100 options underneath beautiful ice carvings, and each week brings a new focus on a different international cuisine. Catch lavish breakfast plates like Trout Oscar or Belgian waffles through the rest of the week, for anywhere between $7 and $20.

Lanna Thai

Thai ~ $

Briargate: 8810 N. Union Blvd., 282-0474

Lanna Thai is named after owner Varanya Meyer's daughter, and Meyer appears to show her menu equal love. The food is largely tremendous, laced with floral notes of sweet basil, lemongrass, cilantro, kaffir lime leaves and, thankfully, no MSG. Start with the excellent tom yum goong soup and a papaya salad, then grab either the Pad Thai or pa-nang talay, which features buttery scallops, calamari, shrimp and white fish in a basil-rich coconut milk bath.

Lanshing Café

Chinese ~ $

Briargate: 9475 Briar Village Point, #150, 266-8351

Lanshing Café is the passion of longtime owners Cheau and Simpson Jiang. Their Chinese standards are uniformly fresh and delicious, as evidenced by standouts like the pork egg fu young. Portions are generous, and super-affordable deals include a $6.75 lunch special in which your main course comes with soup, rice and an egg roll.

Lemongrass Bistro

Vietnamese ~ $

North Academy: 6840 N. Academy Blvd., 592-1391, restauranteur.com/lemongrassbistro

Owner Dang Truong and Lemongrass Bistro serve superior Vietnamese renditions that exude freshness with bright herbs like cilantro, mint and basil. Grab a combination bun, pho, fried rice platter or curry dish, or get one of the specialties like grilled pork and shrimp paste on sugarcanes.

Little Nepal

Greater Asia/Indian/Tibetan/Nepalese ~ $$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1747 S. Eighth St., 477-6997, lnepal.com

With a large, varied menu, Little Nepal is the type of place where you could eat for more than a month without duplicating dishes. Good thing they offer a $9.99 lunch buffet where you can sample widely in one sitting. Dishes are uniformly piquant, from tandoori oven-cooked masalas to traditional Indian curries, basmati rice biryanis, potato vindaloos and meat kormas cooked with whipped cream, coconut milk and nuts.

The Loop

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 965 Manitou Ave., 685-9344, theloopatmanitou.com

Best of 2010

The Loop, which recently renovated its bar area, seldom fails to claim Best Bar for a Margarita from our readers, thanks to 16 lively specialty offerings that include top-shelf tequilas and sweet fruit liqueurs. Beyond that, a border-sized menu draws large tourist crowds and Manitou locals. It's all here in Mexi-color (it's like technicolor, but makes you salivate): enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, seafood plates, mole and more.

Louie's Pizza

Pizza ~ $

Multiple locations: louies-pizza.com

Since 1985, family-owned and -operated Louie's has rocked affordable Italian pastas, sandwiches, salads and of course pizzas, growing to five Springs locations currently. The buttery garlic bread is a favorite, and the pizzas and calzones are plenty hearty. "La Fruita" dessert pizzas put fruit spreads and icing over a cinnamon-sugar crust.

Luigi's Homemade Italian Food

Italian ~ $$

Downtown: 947 S. Tejon St., 632-7339, luigiscoloradosprings.com

Leo and Anne Cervetti opened Luigi's in 1958. Today, their daughter, Gina Costley, and her husband Les run the eatery. And thankfully, they haven't changed much within the authentic Northern Italian menu. Rich, homemade sauces continue to define the pastas and stone-baked pizzas. From ravioli to ribeyes, Luigi's pleases, then finishes you off with a yummy tiramisu.

MacKenzie's Chop House

Gourmet/Steakhouse ~ $$$

Downtown: 128 S. Tejon St., 635-3536, mackenzieschophouse.com

Concept Restaurants' swankiest joint, MacKenzie's is the dark wood, exposed brick, subterranean lair where carnivores go to feast and sip specialty martinis. Talented chef Pete Moreno oversees the large menu and a weekly fresh sheet that sports some of the best choices. Steaks run from around $24 to $39, but favorites like the basil-poblano tortellini will only set you back $16.95. Cut that price nearly in half at lunch next to items like a stellar $9.95 Reuben.

The Margarita at PineCreek

Gourmet ~ $$$

Northwest: 7350 Pine Creek Road, 598-8667, margaritaatpinecreek.com

Reviewed: Jan. 21

Chef Eric Viedt and Cathy Werle's three-, five- and six-course, wine-paired prix fixe dinners ($34 to $75) change daily and incorporate cuisines from around the world. They're awesome, but for a more affordable meal, we love the downstairs lounge menu that ranges from about $4 to $15 and currently features killer plates like scallops bouillabaisse, braised oxtail and Peking duck confit. Brunch and lunch are also great, as are a dinner-and-a-movie night and the seasonal, Saturday morning Colorado Farm and Art Market.

Marigold Café and Bakery

Gourmet/Bistro ~$$$

Northwest: 4605 Centennial Blvd., 599-4776, marigoldcoloradosprings.com

Best of 2010

Marigold is nearing the 20-year mark, and it has once again earned our readers' votes for Best Bakery/Patisserie and Best Dessert Destination. The cake and pastry cases are simply gorgeous, and flavors match the presentation. In the savory department, look for a diverse, contemporary French bistro-inspired selection of gourmet items ranging from salmon roulade and lamb chops to mussel and clam linguini and pizzas.

The Mason Jar

American ~ $

Old Colorado City: 2925 W. Colorado Ave., 632-4820

Northwest: 5905 Corporate Drive, 260-6555

masonjarcolorado.com

The Mason Jar has been kickin' it comfort-food style since 1982, and its chicken-fried steak has become locally famous. But that's just the beginning of your happy, food-induced lethargy. Biscuits and gravy, anyone? How 'bout mozzarella cheese sticks, a three-cheese burger, prime rib or pork chops? Oh, no — you didn't say buttermilk-crusted fruit cobbler ...

Maxi's Restaurant and Lounge at the DoubleTree Hotel - World Arena

Gourmet ~ $$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1775 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 576-8900, coloradospringsworldarena.doubletree.com

Reviewed: March 11

The feather in Maxi's cap is talented chef Jay Gust, of longtime Ritz Grill repute. Charged with the task of reviving a once-hoppin' spot, Gust has created a satisfying bar menu with items like mahi mahi tacos, Kobe sliders and seared ahi hovering in the $10 range. His overhauled and similarly priced lunch menu includes signature VooDoo Chicken Tenders and solid sandwiches such as pastrami and Swiss on rye. At dinner, which sports items like a $23 New York strip, look for more gourmet touches like truffle cream sauce and merlot demi-glace.

McCabe's Tavern

Irish/English ~ $

Downtown: 520 S. Tejon St., 633-3300, mccabestavern.com

With more than 20 primo Irish whiskeys in addition to a large, international beer list, McCabe's could be considered a drink destination first, especially during European soccer matches, pub quiz nights and Colorado College hockey games. But there's plenty of authentic Irish eats as well, in addition to a rockin' Sunday brunch. Grab the divine Rosemary Guinness Lamb Stew at lunch or a shepherd's pie or bangers & mash for dinner. Stay in Ireland with a rich Guinness chocolate cake with Irish cream sauce for dessert.

Meadow Muffins

Pub food ~ $

Old Colorado City: 2432 W. Colorado Ave., 633-0583

Best of 2010

Ladies and gents: your pick for Best Neighborhood Bar on the west side. We recall advertisements for Meadow Muffins that said something like "Party down at the Muff," which says plenty about the tenor of this drink spot, which dates back more than 30 years. Under all kinds of cool wall decorations you'll find a great daily happy hour and standard pub eats like wings, pizzas and loaded burgers.

Mediterranean Café

Mediterranean ~ $

Downtown: 118 E. Kiowa St., 633-0115, medcafe-co.com

Best of 2010

When you've won our readers' nod for Best Mediterranean so many years in a row, you've eventually got to break out of your routine of domination and try something new. Why not a cupcake truck? Seriously, that's what Mike Bergman and Pat Kennelly did a few months back (see thespringscupcaketruck.com), and someday we may see a mobile Mediterranean cart. Meanwhile, the downtown outfit's food is simply fantastic, with bright flavors, truly fresh ingredients and damn good renditions of the usual suspects. This is one Med everyone should be on.

The Melting Pot

Fondue ~ $$$

Downtown: 30-A E. Pikes Peak Ave., 385-0300, meltingpot.com

Owners Steve and Tracy Carlson have given our Melting Pot as much of a local feel as their franchise agreement allows, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere with a top-notch wine list. In addition to dipping items into cheese, hot broths and chocolate for tremendous results, catch regular special events like murder mystery and wine dinners.

Mission Bell Inn

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 178 Crystal Park Road, 685-9089, missionbellinn.com

The Masias family has changed little since it opened the Mission Bell in 1962. It's dinner only, and the outfit boasts specialities like Norteños (beef- and onion-stuffed green chiles with cheese sauce) and chalupas (sopapillas packed with pork, cheese, refried beans and green chile). The sopapillas repeat at dessert, with honey or vanilla ice cream.

Mollica's Italian Market & Deli

Italian ~ $

Northwest: 985A Garden of the Gods Road, 598-1088, mollicas.com

This past November, Mollica's closed its newbie satellite location in Southgate, placing all its resources back into its 23-year-old market on Garden of the Gods Road. That retreat speaks more to the tough economy than Mollica's products, which generally shine. The Italian sandwiches range from $7.25 to $8.95 and feature goodies like the hot pastrami, Italian hero and homemade Italian sausage grinder.

The Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant

Fondue ~ $$$

Manitou Springs: 733 Manitou Ave., 685-0277, monalisafondue.com

Enjoy a wine flight with cheese or chocolate fondue in Mona's Wine Cellar, or splurge for the four-course fondue dinner for two ($40 to $49 a head) upstairs in the charming restaurant. Start with a choice of two salads, then three cheese fondues. Next it's either a wild game, seafood or traditional entrée platter, and then your choice of decadent chocolate fondues. À la carte options are also available.

Monica's Taco Shop

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Central: 30 E. Fillmore St., 473-1996

Powers: 5829 Palmer Park Blvd., 597-7022

Best of 2010

Really cheap prices and a killer salsa verde — what more do you want, people? Monica's continues to garner the Indy's Best Tacqueria/Taco Cart award for standout dishes like the chorizo burrito, and carne asada or adobada tacos. Get extra guacamole. The fat breakfast burritos also must be tried, whether having imbibed the night prior or not.

Montague's Parlour

Tea/Café ~ $

Downtown: 1019 S. Tejon St., 623-6774, montaguesparlour.com

Best of 2010

Whereas many coffee cafés are sleek and ultramodern, Montague's charms with comfortable antique furniture that encourages unplanned lingering over conversation and that piece of amazing cake you just can't resist. Before it, you will have already shared a pot of fine loose-leaf tea or a couple of dolled-up coffee drinks in giant mugs. Or maybe you've just come in for a delicate soup and sandwich. Open until midnight on weekends, this parlour offers a great alcohol alternative.

Motif

Gourmet ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2432 Cucharras St., 635-5635, motifwest.com

Reviewed: Aug. 19, Best of 2010

Motif is the hippest spot west of the Blue Star, and in fact rivals the chic of that iconic restaurant. The walls are covered in warm hues, the bar changes colors, the room resonates with the sounds of live jazz, and the food more than holds its own. Amazing Kobe beef sliders took a Writer's Pick in our 2010 Best Of issues, and quality cocktails alongside your tapas make every visit (open Fridays and Saturdays only) an experience.

moZaic

Gourmet ~ $$$

Palmer Lake: 443 S. Hwy. 105, 481-1800, innatpalmerdivide.com

Chef Scott Miller oversees this fine eatery located at the upscale Inn at Palmer Divide; the views are excellent and the seasonal menus are billed as classical European with a nouveau flair. Translation: bison and venison sausage cassoulet, Colorado lamb braised with Bristol beer, sea scallops with vanilla proscuitto sauce and so on. Catch a $26 Sunday brunch that includes a large spread and bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys.

Mucky Duck

Café/Bistro ~ $$

Green Mountain Falls: 10530 Ute Pass Ave., 684-2008, muckyduckco.com

Finally — a website! After years of drawing Sunday brunch crowds for its lovely, Hollandaise-rich eggs Benedict plates and dinner crowds for its mix of gourmet steak and seafood plates, the Mucky Duck was sold this past October, and the new owners have ushered it into the digital era. But wisely, they haven't tinkered with the popular menu. Lunch offers great, affordable sandwiches, and dinner includes items like a buffalo tenderloin with blueberry merlot sauce.

Nanay Betty's Filipino Restaurant and Karaoke Bar

Greater Asia/Filipino ~ $

South Academy: 1863 S. Academy Blvd., 596-4019

Nanay Betty and family have brought the ginger-amped soul food taste of the Philippines to Colorado Springs, and they promise that incoming new ownership will keep that intact, while adding Hawaiian flavors to the mix. Apps include dense and satisfying beef egg rolls that provide a perfect prequel to adobo chicken, which swims in a rich red sauce. And that chicken segues so nicely into fried plantains wrapped in rice paper, flash-fried and topped with a sugary glaze. There's no other taste in town quite like this.

Nawlins BarBQ and Seafood

Cajun/Southern ~ $$

Powers: 3317 Cinema Point Drive, 571-9777, nawlinsbarbq.com

Best of 2010

Nawlins owner Martin Allred relocated to the Springs after Hurricane Katrina and started at a now-closed Falcon location. He's bravely held on since where other indies have failed, next to the IMAX theater, and in fact won 2010's vote for Best Cajun/Southern outfit. That's because items like his delicious alligator green chili, pecan wood-smoked barbecue and Po-Boy sandwiches have earned a following. He recently updated his menu with new items like a blackened chicken pasta, crawfish and shrimp etouffee, and Ranch Foods Direct burgers.

The Nile Café

Mediterranean/Egyptian ~ $

Manitou Springs: 954 Manitou Ave., 685-1410, thenilecafeco.com

Yes, it is a hookah lounge, too, but the Nile Café also dishes respectable Mediterranean eats. The large hot platters — lamb, shish kabab, veggie and more — make for satisfying entrées, and the Meze appetizer platter complete with tzatziki, baba ghanoush and hummus makes for a great starter. Dropping in for a quick falafel also works, or a pastry and a coffee drink.

North End Diner

Diner ~ $

Central: 3005 N. Hancock Ave., 442-1833, northenddiner.com

The North End Diner is a hodgepodge of good ideas: free Wi-Fi, meat from Ranch Foods Direct, a buy-one-burger-get-one-for-five-cents deal on Wednesdays, and more. Around since 1958, the diner also proudly offers jobs to help ex-convicts successfully re-adjust to society (though it won't accept anyone who has served time for a violent crime). Consider a burger with benefits.

Nosh

Gourmet ~ $$

Downtown: 121 S. Tejon St., 634-6674, nosh121.com

Reviewed: June 24, Best of 2010

A perennial winner in our Best Of issues, this past year for Appetizers/Tapas and Innovative Menu, Nosh is usually tasty and always interesting. Chef Shane Lyons' Crispy Korean Wings took our pick as the best dish we reviewed in 2010, and its commitment to unusual and diverse flavors is as compelling to the senses as the giant koi pond wall décor in the dining room. Oh ... and the spicy bison sandwich at lunch: amazing.

The Olive Branch Restaurant

Café/Bistro ~ $$

Downtown: 23 S. Tejon St., 475-1199, theolivebranchrest.com

The Olive Branch has been a valuable downtown go-to for more than 20 years for all meals of the day. New, extensive gluten-free menus show that it knows how to adapt to demand. Overall highlights: a juice bar (tons of drink options, for that matter); pancakes and omelettes until 4; the French Dip sandwich at lunch; and steak and seafood entrées at dinner.

O'Malley's Steak Pub

Pub food ~ $

Palmer Lake: 104 State Hwy. 105, 488-0321, omalleys.biz

Best of 2010

Take the "21 @ the 'O'" challenge: 21 shots and a souvenir T-shirt for $49.99, or catch Saturday night karaoke, Monday night cribbage and sporadic, multi-course beer dinners. Your pick for the Best Neighborhood Bar in Monument even offers shuttle-bus rides home. But the real attraction is the grill-your-own steak menu, featuring various rib eye and New York strip sizes. Feeling lazy? Let them make you a buffalo burger or sandwich instead. Also cool: O'Malley's serves its full menu from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day of the year.

The Omelette Parlor

Diner ~ $

Central: 900 E. Fillmore St., 633-7770, co-spgs-omeletteparlor.com

Best of 2010

The annual winner for Best Breakfast dating back 14 years, the Omelette Parlor is the type of place whose parking lot is perpetually packed during morning and lunch hours. There's a full sandwich and salad menu we've never tried because we can't stay away from the delightful breakfast items: Belgian "Wa-fulls," eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy and, of course, cleverly named three-egg omelettes with choice of sides.

Omelets Etc.

Diner ~ $

Cheyenne Mountain: 1616 S. Eighth St., 634-7321, omeletsetc.com

Reviewed: Nov. 4

A generic name belies the surprising quality to be found at Robin Turner and Juan Gonzalez's breakfast spot. The Philly Griller of roast beef, sautéed onions and mushrooms and Swiss cheese is cheap, good and greasy, while the pork chops are pleasantly salty and tender. Stopping in for pastries and coffee alone is also a wise idea.

Opb&j

American ~ $

Downtown: 3 E. Bijou St., 571-9854, opbandj.com

Reviewed: Aug. 12

The friendly spot tucked into East Bijou Avenue spins the childhood staple of peanut butter and jelly into a full-on, mostly organic meal. More than 700 variations are available from the combination of the restaurant's 10 bread options with toppings like watercress, sprouts and sugar snap peas, and jellies that range from sweet to savory to spicy. But if you've never been, get the Bomb ­— trust us.

Orange Plate Café

Café ~ $

Powers: 1825 Peterson Road, 574-2060

Reviewed: May 6

Its claim to fame is the Bulgogi Hoagie, courtesy of owner and Korea native Ramona Burns' imagination. Think: strips of beef marinated in soy, sugar, sesame oil and garlic, then sautéed with veggies like sweet red onion and mushrooms. Then, stuff that mix in a hoagie with a melted Provolone top. Other yummy sandwiches include staples like a club and Philly cheese steak. Breakfast is served all day next to oversized coffee mugs. The French toast, biscuits and gravy, and breakfast burrito with homemade green chile (everything's made from scratch, for that matter) are all sizeable, affordable and memorable.

Oscar's Tejon Street

Pub food ~ $

Downtown: 333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070

Powers: 5910 Omaha Blvd., 574-7447 (reopening mid-February)

Best of 2010

Oscar's is a downtown go-to at lunch hours for a satisfying, largely better-than-bar-food menu of thick burgers and sandwiches, plus gourmet treats like a spicy crawfish bisque and fresh oysters. The outfit wins a perennial pick for Best Smokin' Patio, where local tunes may also be enjoyed over drinks. By night, it's known more as a bar.

Panino's Restaurant

Italian ~ $

Downtown: 604 N. Tejon St., 635-7452

Cheyenne Mountain: 1721 S. Eighth St., 635-1188, paninos.com

Though it also has single locations in Minnesota and Fort Collins, longtime Springs dining hub Panino's is family-owned and -operated, and offers a hearty menu with pizzas, pasta, salads and more than 30 signature baked Panino sandwiches. Weekly specials and generous happy hours vary slightly between the locations, but look for promotions like all-you-can-eat pizza for $6.99, or spaghetti for $8.99.

Pantry Restaurant

American ~ $

Green Mountain Falls: 6980 Lake St., 684-9018

The Pantry is Green Mountain Falls' other wildly popular breakfast spot (along with the Mucky Duck) with more than a half-century of history, where everything is currently made from scratch, including the wonderful breads and pastries. The cinnamon raisin bread is locally famous, as is a French toast plate made with a cinnamon roll. Also look for custom omelettes, great eggs Benedict plates and giant burgers.

Paravicini's Italian Bistro

Italian ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2802 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8200, paravicinis.com

Best of 2010

A regular winner for Best Italian in the city, seven-year-old Paravicini's offers a sizeable menu designed by chef and co-owner Franco Pisani and overseen in the dining room by co-owner Ted Sexton. The traditional, rich plates became so popular that the duo opened a sister outfit in Palmer Lake called La Zingara a couple years back. But spread too thin between the two, they sold it on craigslist this past April. That kind of focus on quality is likely why they've earned your vote, and why that gnocchi bolognese tastes so good.

Paris Crepe Euro Café

Creperie ~ $

Downtown: 218 N. Tejon St., 444-0110, pariscrepeeurocafe.org

Reviewed: Aug. 26

A full-fledged member of Colorado Springs' crêpe surge, Paris Crepe goes the bargain route, offering regional crêpes of varying quality for $3 to $7.95. The Thai beef is a wonderful example: Made from a rice-flour batter, it's full of peanut crumbles, pickled pear, cilantro and peanut sauce. The sweet crêpes overall eclipse the savories, with well-made usual suspects and all-out rock stars like the S'more and cheesecake crêpes.

Penrose Room

Gourmet ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1 Lake Ave., 577-5773, broadmoor.com/penrose-room.php

The Penrose Room is the Springs' pinnacle dining spot. It's one of only 15 eateries in the nation to hold both AAA's Five Diamond rating and Forbes Travel Guide's Five Star rating. The food is stunning, and the service truly impeccable. Three-course tasting menus run $72 a head; four courses, $78; and the full chef's tasting menu paired with wine tops out at $158 per person. Good news: You may eat à la carte and spend as little as $30 on a bottle of wine to savor the surprisingly comfortable atmosphere.

The Pepper Tree

Gourmet ~ $$$

West side: 888 W. Moreno Ave., 471-4888, peppertreecs.com

Sister restaurant to Woodland Park's Swiss Chalet, the Pepper Tree is a perennial contender in our Best Of poll's Fine Dining category. Open for dinner only and boasting a great view of the city skyline, it offers lavish seafood entrées, rich steak courses prepared or finished tableside, and classic flavors like Colorado rack of lamb with a mint rosemary demi-glace. Call this our favorite tree to climb.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

Brewpub ~ $$

Downtown: 2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 635-2800, phantomcanyon.com

Best of 2010

Gov. John Hickenlooper began his recent State of the State speech with the story of how he opened Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. in 1993; it's since changed hands but remains a downtown cornerstone that maintains excellent pool tables and solid, higher-end pub food. Brewer Alan Stiles put out some lovely beers in 2010 and has stabilized the drink list. Our readers voted Phantom as Best Restaurant for Tourists largely because the famous and spectacular blonde ale and smoked gouda soup leaves many guests wanting to move here. (Not really, but it's damn good.)

Piazza Italian Kitchen

Italian ~ $$

Northwest: 806 Village Center Drive, 266-5300, piazzawinebar.com

Reviewed: Jan. 28

In what was the original Slayton's Barbeque location, the Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group, which also runs Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill and Salsa Bravas in Briargate and Rockrimmon, has opted to try its hand at a wine-forward Italian joint with meals topping out at $16. The starters like the bruschetta sampler and fried eggplant tower are awesome: The former sports a unique ricotta, date and pistachio concoction, and the latter bears roasted peppers, mozzarella, pine nuts and wild mushrooms under an excellent tomato pomodoro sauce. Crunchy, flatbread pizzas with gourmet toppings also succeed, as do classic pasta renditions and fine desserts.

Pita Bella

Mediterranean ~ $

Briargate: 3578 Hartsel Drive, Unit F, 599-0400

Cheyenne Mountain: 3669 Star Ranch Road, 576-9338, pitabella.com

Reviewed: Jan. 14

Jordan native Rami Jdour and his wife Manal opened their north side Pita Bella in early November 2009 and their south location just a couple months later, showing ambition from the get-go. Good thing their Greek, Turkish, Moroccan, Georgian and Yemeni dishes back it up. Go for salads, pitas or platters filled with excellently spiced shawarma and kafta or a curry- and cumin-rich falafel. The hummus and baba ghanoush sides are better than most, and a great homemade baklava delivers a perfectly sweet finish.

Pizza Time

Pizza/Italian ~ $

Briargate: 8794 N. Union Blvd., 282-4177, pizzatimecolorado.com

Pizza Time offers a solid mix of pizzas, subs, salads and pastas with gluten-free options among its pies, noodles, sandwiches and even beer. Start with some garlic breadsticks or the awesome antipasto salad, and then try the Philly Cheesesteak if not making your own custom pie or calzone. Finish with a Hawaiian shaved ice.

Pizzeria Rustica

Pizza/Italian ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2527 W. Colorado Ave., 632-8121, pizzeriarustica.com

Before Dave Brackett opened TAPAteria this past fall, he launched Pizzeria Rustica. With an eye toward sustainability, he quickly racked up a rare and respectable three stars from the Green Restaurant Association. But what you really care about are the fantastic wood-oven pizzas like the perfectly simple Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes, basil and house-made mozzarella. Appetizers like the caprese salad and desserts like the pistachio gelato or limoncello sorbetto are equally memorable.

Poor Richard's & Rico's Coffee, Chocolate and Wine Bar

Pizza/Drink House ~ $$

Downtown: 322-324 N. Tejon St., 632-7721, poorrichards.biz

Best of 2010

The fact that Poor Richard's and Rico's took first and second places, respectively, in 2010 for Best Place to Dine Alone (in addition to several other food awards and a Best Wine Bar nod for Rico's) makes them sound like somber hermitages. They're actually super-lively hangouts where loners can somehow blend in comfortably. Rico's has your tastes covered with fine wines, drinking chocolates, teas and coffee drinks, and Poor Richard's satisfies that never-ending craving for awesome gourmet pizza. The adjoining book and toy stores make food waits painless. Oh — and the real Richard, or Rico, or whatever you call him, might just muscle his way to becoming our city's first strong mayor this year.

Rasta Pasta

Italian Caribbean Fusion ~ $$

Downtown: 405 N. Tejon St., 481-6888, rastapastacs.com

Rasta Pasta started in Breckenridge and Fort Collins and expanded to a Springs location thanks to some devoted locals. Its menu relies heavily on a proprietary blend of dry jerk seasoning and a house marinara sauce, with choice of heat level. Try the odd and awesome Tortellini Jamaica Mon or stick with the signature Rasta Pasta. Bananas Marley finishes strong; a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 offers $2 Red Stripes and more.

R&R Coffee Café

Café/Coffeehouse ~ $

Black Forest: 11425 Black Forest Road, 494-8300, rnrcoffeecafe.com

Not merely a coffee shop with delicious, scratch-made baked goods, R&R is an earnest breakfast, lunch and dinner spot that enjoys the gourmet touch of chef Carla Erick. Ryan Wanner is a medium-profile roaster who doesn't dig sugar-bomb-style drinks. His are well-balanced, letting the coffee and espresso speak for themselves. Look for the addition of specialty coffee-tasting menus soon. (Think: the coffee equivalent of a wine flight.)

Restaurant Fifteen Twentyone

Gourmet ~ $$$

Pueblo: 123 N. Main St., 719/542-9999, restaurant1521.com

One-time Denver chef Duy Pham opened this Pueblo gem in fall 2008; it's fine dining at its finest. Classical French techniques show through great entrées such as duck served two ways: confit and roasted. Or there's the porcini-dusted filet mignon, or fennel-spiced Colorado lamb. Look for sandwiches in the $10 range at lunch, and a seasonally changing menu.

Ritz Grill

Gourmet Bistro ~ $$

Downtown: 15 S. Tejon St., 635-8484, ritzgrill.com

The Ritz turns 24 this year, and it is many locals' favorite of the Concept Restaurants. Lunch draws the business crowd, and Don Draper wannabes get the $15 executive plate of a 12-ounce New York strip with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a house martini. Dinner can be cheap with a $10 pizza or flashy with a $27 filet topped with gorgonzola. Catch regular happy hours, weekend brunches and a lively club scene with live music and DJs at night.

Roman Villa Pizza

Italian ~ $$

Central: 3005 N. Nevada Ave., 635-1806

Roman Villa dates back to 1959, and in the 14-table dining room, the Biondi family has literally served several generations of other families, with delicious Italian staples made from scratch. The crispy-crust pizzas are great, especially with the homemade sausage. The ravioli also makes for a smart choice.

Rudy's Little Hideaway

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Cheyenne Mountain: 945 S. Eighth St., 632-9527

Reviewed: Oct. 7

After calling South Nevada Avenue home for 16 years, Rudy's picked up and moved last year to South Eighth Street, right next door to Estela's Mexican Restaurant. A "rising tide" mentality has allowed Rudy Escobedo and Co. to blend in comfortably, while dishes like the pork con chile verde make their food stand out.

Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizza

Pizza ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 9 Ruxton Ave., 685-4355, hellskitchenmanitou.com

Reviewed: Oct. 21

Say what you want about owner Nelson Rufran's claim that his pizza is the best his customers have ever tried — it's damned good. A smattering of house pies, side salads and mini pizzas are available, as are offerings with gluten-free crusts. Grab the Hellfire Pie: Italian garlic sausage strips, onions, mozzarella and a spicy special sauce give enough burn to back up the restaurant's name.

Rumi's Kabab

Greater Asia/Afghani ~ $

Downtown: 36 E. Bijou St., 635-7749

Rumi's, aptly named for the mystic poet, is the Springs' only Afghani restaurant, and its floral flavors are brilliant, touching on both Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Catch hints of rosewater and cardamom and enjoy delicious yogurt sauces such as the one that covers the kadu, made from sweet baked pumpkins. Owner Shams Forough recently swapped the lunch buffet for walk-up window service onto the Bijou sidewalk with quick, tasty gyros and falafel. But you can still dine from the full menu of kababs and the like inside for lunch and dinner.

Sabores del Peru

Peruvian ~ $$

South Academy: 2356 S. Academy Blvd., 447-9646

Reviewed: March 25

It's the Springs' only Peruvian outfit, presenting a few Puerto Rican dishes as well. Expect interesting accents like cinnamon and cumin creeping into the chicken fried rice, and cloves appearing in a sweet Peruvian iced-tea-like corn drink called chichi morada. The carne frita con mofongo, fried pork hunks with mashed plantains in a garlic sauce, is a go-for item, as is the papa rellena: ground beef, raisins, chunks of hard-boiled eggs and spices wrapped with fluffy mashed potatoes, dusted with flour and fried into a ball of something like shepherd's pie.

Saigon Café

Vietnamese ~ $$

Downtown: 20 E. Colorado Ave., 633-2888, coloradosaigoncafe.com

Best of 2010

If it's award-winning, and it's Vietnamese, it's Saigon Café. This downtown staple took our award for Best Vietnamese for the eighth consecutive year, mostly on the power of its noodle bowls and great service. A large lunch menu boasts more than 19 combination plates alone. Even better, each plate comes with white rice, soup and an egg roll — not a bad haul for around $8.

Salsa Latina

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

Downtown: 28 E. Rio Grande St., 328-1513

If the food at Salsa Latina seems similar to that of nearby El Taco Rey, it should — owner Danny Aguilar's East Rio Grande Street spot is a direct descendant of his father's restaurant. A wonderful green chili is the can't-miss item, and an expanded dining room should give you all the more space in which to enjoy it.

Salsa Brava Fresh Mexican Grill

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Central: 802 Village Center Drive, 266-9244

Briargate: 9420 Briar Village Point, #100, 955-6650, rockymtnrg.com/salsabrava

Sure, you can find killer chips and salsa — made daily — not to mention all the hallmarks of solid Mexican food, but we know why you really Brava up: the running and cycling clubs. Apparently, running on Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in Briargate, and biking on Saturdays at 10 a.m. in Rockrimmon, you really get your gears grinding for great guacamole. We salute you for it.

San Chang House

Korean ~ $

Central: 3659 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., 598-1707

Best of 2010

Besides winning our award for Best Korean, San Chang stands out for its great service. It's not uncommon to have the server help you on heat amounts, or to walk you through vegetarian suggestions. If you're the meat-eating type, however, you can't go wrong with the bulgogi or the tasty squid stir-fry.

Schnitzel Fritz

German ~ $

Powers: 4037 Tutt Blvd., 573-2000, schnitzelfritz.com

It can't be easy, competing against perennial powerhouse Edelweiss German Restaurant, but Schnitzel more than holds its own through quality food and perks like the daily special for $7.49 to $9.99. Mondays bring fleischkaese, spiegelei, bratkhartoffeln and salat (baked German bologna with egg and fried potatoes); while Wednesdays offer two frikadellen, kartoffelpuree und rotkohl (or two meatballs, mashed potatoes and red cabbage).

Shuga's

Café/Drink House ~ $

Downtown: 702 S. Cascade Ave., 328-1412, shugas.com

You might say that Shuga's is a great place to end the night, but it's a little too specific: Shuga's is a great place to start the night, spend the night and end the night. Just go there. The boozy cocktails are quality, the atmosphere is always changing — a flock of folded paper cranes dominated as of this writing — and the food, especially the ever-lauded spicy Brazilian coconut shrimp soup, is as good as the drinks.

Silver Pond Chinese Gourmet

Chinese ~ $$

North Academy: 5670 N. Academy Blvd., 594-9343, bestsilverpondchinese.com

If you're reading this before Feb. 5, consider celebrating Chinese New Year with Silver Pond and its special dinners. If not, find your own reason to celebrate anytime with a large, lively and affordable menu that boasts unique plates like the strawberry or mango chicken and shrimp entrées. Lots of spicy options, including the triple kung pao, are happy to deliver an afterburn. Dinner tops out in the $18 range, with delicious plates like crispy duck and honey walnut poultry or prawns.

The Silver Tongue Devil Saloon

Pub food ~ $$

Green Mountain Falls: 10530 Ute Pass Ave., 684-2555, thesilvertonguedevil.com

Reviewed: March 4

Formerly the Pine Gables Stray Dog Saloon, the reshaped Silver Tongue Devil far surpasses bar-food expectations. After all, it is a bar, with big-screen TVs, a jukebox, arcade games and doodled-on dollar bills stapled about. But then you eat the finest jalapeño poppers ever to be stuffed into an egg-roll wrapper, and you realize the kitchen ain't playin' around. The buffalo and barbecue wings are also excellent, and the pizzas are totally solid. Also, you can order from the neighboring Mucky Duck's menu during lunch hours. Here, the details are in the Devil.

Slayton's Tejon Street Grill

Barbecue ~ $$

Downtown: 28A S. Tejon St., 471-2311, rockymtnrg.com/slaytonsbbq

Part of the local Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group, just like Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill, Slayton's specializes in Kansas City-style barbecue smoked with apple and hickory wood. In addition to ribs, brisket, pulled pork and the like, look also for upscale burgers like the Guinness Stout Burger and classic salads and sandwiches. Catch $3 and $5 drink specials from 2 to 6 at the daily happy hour.

Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

Downtown: 28B S. Tejon St., 471-9222, rockymtnrg.com/sonterragrill

Like Slayton's (above), Sonterra claims on its website to use local and organic ingredients when possible, which is always appreciated, as are the gluten-free options. The "innovative Southwest grill," complete with cacti and a cool, cloud-painted ceiling, is otherwise known for dry-aged steaks and gourmet, Coastal Mexican-type seafood plates enlivened by accents such as a sweet chile mango chutney. Catch $3 tapas, $3 to $5 drink specials and $5 to $9 app specials from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 3 to 7, Mondays through Fridays.

South Jersey Subs

American ~ $

North Academy: 1726 Brookwood Drive, 531-5100, southjerseysubs.com

South Jersey Subs nails the East Coast vibe with a combination of attitude, quality ingredients and deftly prepared sandwiches. From the hot sub list, go for the zesty ground Italian sausage sub or cheese steak. Off the grill, there's the ample Genoa salami, capicola and provolone sub, full of veggies of your choice. Don't leave without eating a Tastykake or knocking back a birch beer.

SouthSide Johnny's

Pub food ~ $

Downtown: 528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487, southsidejohnnys.biz

Best of 2010

For those who love high-energy dining, SouthSide Johnny's offers an above-par menu in a packed atmosphere with a great soundtrack. (There's nary a cover band in sight, says one proud staff member.) You might come just for the drinks and the music, but you'd be missing out on tasty highlights like chicken tenders tossed in Asian bruja hot sauce, Kobe sliders on pretzel rolls, or at dinner, grilled lemon-caper ahi tuna steaks. Look for Johnny's Navajo Hogan, a similar venture, to open on North Nevada Avenue around April.

Squeak Soda Shop

American ~ $

Northwest: 812 Village Center Drive, 265-4677, squeaksodashop.com

Think of Squeak as a culinary ride through childhood for nostalgic, but sophisticated, adults. That may look like a grilled cheese sandwich next to a glass of grape soda, but it's more likely to be an oven-roasted turkey Dijon panini with a glass of custom-blended fizz flavored like an Anjou pear or graham cracker. By the time you're done eating, your inner child will be ready to tackle the in-house Wii or collection of classic board games.

Steaksmith

Steakhouse ~ $$$

Central: 3802 Maizeland Road, 596-9300, steaksmith.com

With 30 years of expertise in preparing perfect cuts of beef aged in-house, and offering some of the best service in the Springs, Steaksmith is a dependable winner for fine dining. Its list of awards is long, as is the menu — as long as diners plan on indulging their carnivorous side, they'll find something to please the palate.

The Summit at The Broadmoor

Gourmet ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1 Lake Ave., 577-5896, broadmoor.com/summit.php

The Summit emphasizes high design and graceful approaches to classic fare. The ingredients are top-notch and constantly in flux, in order to take advantage of the best of the given season. The atmosphere is more playful and relaxed, but it's still The Broadmoor — if nothing else, the towering glass-enclosed wine rack, home to an imaginative collection of vintages, should make that clear.

Sunbird

American ~ $$$

Central: 230 Point of the Pines Drive, 598-8990, thesunbird.com

A Mother's Day institution in the Springs, thanks to its expert rendering of brunch classics (and perhaps thanks to the bottomless Champagne as well), the Sunbird boasts gorgeous views and cuisine that satisfies at any time of day. Go for the Sunset Dinner menu, or browse the lounge nibbles — blue cheese kettle chips with scallions are a highlight.

Sushi Ring

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Cheyenne Mountain: 1861 S. Nevada Ave., 635-5550, sushiring.com

Reviewed: Feb. 25

Sushi Ring resembles more of an American lunch counter than a Japanese concept in design, and a small shrine to Elvis confuses at first. Then you learn that owner Takashi Kishimoto is a former Elvis impersonator who still delights customers with quick hip shimmies. Though there is an à la carte option, the real gig here is all-you-can-eat: $19.95 for lunch or $24.95 for dinner. (No cheating — finish your rice.) It's quality fish served fast at a good price, considering most eaters can easily take in about $30 to $40 worth of offerings at other sushi joints.

Swirl Wine Bar

Café ~ $$

Manitou Springs: 717 Manitou Ave., 685-2294, swirlwineemporium.com

Reviewed: Sept. 16, Best of 2010

Swirl Wine Bar is the backroom offspring of Sharon and Andrew Palmer's Swirl Wine Emporium. It tied for first as best Wine Bar in our recent Best Of competition, and its cozy parlor room with high-back seats and art-decked walls is a good place to enjoy quality international salamis and cheeses, among other offerings. The outdoor patio charms as well, and the solid drink list changes almost every other week, sporting rare and unique options.

Swiss Chalet

Gourmet ~ $$$

Woodland Park: 19263 E. U.S. Hwy. 24, 687-2001, swisschaletofwoodlandpark.com

Neil and Paula Levy's second fine dining spot, sister to the Pepper Tree, resembles an actual Swiss chalet. But there's no neutrality to be had on these premises, with the imminent flavor assault from the classy menu. At lunch, take in the view of Pikes Peak over sandwiches and entrées like a Jaegerschnitzel around $13; at dinner, mains run in the $20 to $30 range, not bad for Swiss cheese fondue, Zurich-style veal and Colorado lamb.

Tabeguache Steakhouse

Steakhouse ~ $$$

Woodland Park: 407 E. U.S. Hwy. 24, 687-8536, tabeguachesteakhouse.com

The Tabeguache is Woody P's answer to Outback Steakhouse, but it's got a conscience, sourcing all of its steaks locally through Ranch Foods Direct and serving some nice Colorado wines on the side. After the Strawberry Fields salad, topped with the fruit, bleu cheese and glazed walnuts, go for your steak cut and size of choice, then the flambéed bananas Foster.

TAPAteria

Gourmet ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2607 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8272, tapateria.com

Reviewed: Dec. 23

Dave Brackett's latest restaurant venture — he also owns and operates Pizzeria Rustica — offers small glasses of European wines and Barcelona-inspired tapas at small-plate prices in a hip setting. The charcuterie plate of peppers, olives, smoky stuffed red pepper, marinated apricots and cheese and meat selections is incredible, while his wild salmon tartare was recently chosen as one of the Indy's 10 favorite dishes of 2010.

Taste of India

Greater Asia/Indian ~ $

North Academy: 4820 Flintridge Drive, 598-3428, tasteofindiasprings.com

Best of 2010

Taste of India won your vote for Best Indian/Curry in 2010, and it's no stranger to accolades. The family-run outfit is widely respected within the local Indian community, much of which is also known to shop at the grocery store adjacent to the restaurant. Taste of India's menu is huge, so whatever it is you're after — tandoori plates, lamb curry, shrimp masala, saag paneer, aloo gobi — it's here, and often wonderful. The daily $7.95 lunch buffet can't be beat.

Taste of Jerusalem Café

Mediterranean/Yemeni ~ $

Downtown: 15 E. Bijou St., 477-1777, tasteofjerusalemcafe.com

Once part of the conflict-strewn Heart of Jerusalem Café dynasty, Taste of Jerusalem and owner Abdul Nasser broke away in 2009, and added a Yemini spin to what had been a classic Mediterranean menu. Though some dishes still resemble HOJ items, the menu has grown to encompass delicious marinated kababs and lively new veggie and meat platters in addition to falafel, shawarmah and the usual sides like dolmas and babaganooj.

Taste of Thai Spice

Thai ~ $

South Academy: 1609 Lashelle Way, 226-1999

Located just outside Fort Carson, Taste of Thai Spice is a destination drive that's well worth it. The Thai plates are super-authentic, which means delicious and often hot. Go for the green curry or excellent pad Thai, and always request a coconut ice cream when you sit down; sometimes they sell out right under your nose.

Thai Lily Cuisine and Yakitori 8

Thai/Japanese ~ $

Central: 319 N. Chelton Road, 597-8374, thaililycuisine.com

Focusing on both Thai and Japanese yakitori, Thai Lily (formerly Roungnapa) shines with time-tested family recipes. (The owners haven't changed.) Seafood lovers should try the pad phed pla muk, a combination of finely cut tender squid, bell pepper, onion and spicy Thai sauce. Poultry fans: the delicious chicken teriyaki comes in a sweet, dark sauce flecked with red chilies.

Thunder and Buttons II

Pub food ~ $

Old Colorado City: 2415 W. Colorado Ave., 447-9888 thunderandbuttons.com

Having frequently visited this Old Colorado City staple, Heather Joffe and Eric Ivey decided in mid-September of last year to make the jump into Thunder and Button II ownership themselves. Joffe says they left the menu completely intact, and that all food is made from scratch. Look for daily specials, as well as homemade soups, salads, burgers, steaks and more.

TK's Mongolian Grill

Greater Asia/Mongolia ~ $

Cheyenne Mountain: 1817 S. Nevada Ave., 328-1000

Reviewed: July 8

TK's is a local counterpart to the HuHot Mongolian Grill chain that recently hit town. The concept is basically identical: load up a small bowl with meat, veggies and other fixins, including mixtures of several sauce options, then hand it over a counter to have it cooked for you. Here, there's no teppan table or showmanship (spatula tricks, etc.); items are stir-fried in a large wok. Everything is serviceable and affordable, and MSG-free.

Tomo Sushi

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

North Academy: 975 N. Academy Blvd., 597-2422, eatattomo.com

Tomo Sushi II

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

North Academy: 8029 N. Academy Blvd., 277-0200, eatattomo.com

Tomo owner John Ra isn't satisfied with running two delicious and successful sushi joints in town: To keep from getting bored, he recently launched a new concept called Burgers and Bowls downtown. If it goes the route of Tomo, it'll do just fine. Both sushi locations sport fun and creative rolls like our favorite heat bomb, the Tijuana Ninja Roll. Tonkatsu boxes are a loaded value at lunch.

Tony's Bar

Pub food ~ $

Downtown: 311 N. Tejon St., 228-6566, tonysdowntownbar.com

Best of 2010

Three words: fried cheese curds. For those who get excited at the sight of a Pabst logo and who like their bar food to double as a coronary threat, the menu at Tony's is a dream come true. Actually, the smiling Blue Ribbon man with the cheesehead toque looks a little like some of our relatives back in the Midwest, which is exactly where Tony's feels like it was transplanted from. Residents have chosen Tony's Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Bar for six years running.

Trinity Brewing Company

Brewpub ~ $

Northwest: 1466 Garden of the Gods Road, 634-0029, trinitybrew.com

At Trinity, the excitement that employees bring to the business of drinking is palpable. New, house-made draft releases happen more or less weekly, with creative brews like the recent Farmhouse Nocturnum, a super saison brewed with sarsaparilla, sassafras, rosemary, coriander and cumin. The joy in the obscure continues with a menu that boasts authentic Belgian-style fries, portobello sliders, and a godlike concoction known as the Bacon Cone. If its recent logo update is anything to go by, this sustainability-minded outfit is going nowhere but up.

Uchenna

Ethiopian ~ $$

Old Colorado City: 2501 W. Colorado Ave., #108, 634-5070, uchennalive.com

Reviewed: July 29, Best of 2010

It's our city's first authentic Ethiopian eatery, and it's simply a gem. Ethiopia native Maya Hetman prepares her family recipes from scratch using roughly 70 percent organic ingredients and 100 percent intoxicating spices. Eat with your hands and scoop delicious items like lentils and chickpeas, or beef and lamb with teff-flour injera bread. The star item is the doro wat, a mole-esque chicken dish with an incredible sauce. House-made Mediterranean pastries like baklava complete the euphoric experience.

Uwe's German Restaurant

German ~ $

Central: 31 Iowa Ave., 475-1611

Owners Sabine and Michael Berchtold have been sharing their family recipes with the Springs since they took over this operation 15 years ago. They please regulars with homemade, traditional German staples like a variety of schnitzel plates, rouladen, sauerbraten, smoked pork chops and more. Open for lunch and dinner, they offer a full bar including popular German beers and Rieslings. Finish with the house-made apple strudel.

Vietnamese Garden

Vietnamese ~ $

West side: 3043 W. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-9299, vietnamesegarden.net

Owner Dung My Tram runs this noodle and rice spot, making traditional dishes the way her mother taught her. Her potato fritters starter is fabulous: shredded yam and carrot, battered in rice flour and Vietnamese beer, which you wrap in a lettuce leaf with fresh cilantro, mint and basil and dunk in a sweet dipping sauce. Tram makes the sauces daily and marinates meats overnight, which explains the vibrancy of her dishes. Whatever bun you get, end with the superb mung bean cake served in a tiny pool of coconut milk.

Walter's Bistro

Gourmet ~ $$$

Cheyenne Mountain: 146 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 630-0201, waltersbistrocs.com

With a relaxed yet genteel ambience, the dining room at Walter's glows. Given the extensive wine list, the diners themselves might feel a certain glow as well — at least after finding pairings for such diverse menu items as pan-fried duck and ginger pot stickers, potato-crusted Alaskan halibut with orange butter sauce, and (steady, there) Maine lobster bisque with Cognac-scented crème fraîche. You might feel a little woozy, but hang on long enough to sample the caramel mousse cheesecake before you slide under the table.

The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery

Gourmet ~ $$$

Downtown: 25 W. Cimarron St., 475-8880, thewarehouserestaurant.com

Featuring a gallery-style succession of artwork and chic décor as well as Chip Johnson's intriguing take on dinner-date favorites like seared ahi tuna and steak Oskar, the Warehouse offers fine dining with a locavore's twist. Many of the star ingredients come from Colorado ranchers and growers, as in the tender spinach and squash gnocchi or the caramelized Redmesa lamb shank with mole barbecue sauce.

Wild Ginger Thai Restaurant

Thai ~ $

Manitou Springs: 27 Manitou Ave., 634-5025, wildgingerthai.com

Best of 2010

With a new space and 10 years of Best Of plaques gracing the walls, Wild Ginger continues to please the crowds with competent versions of Thai staples and a few Isaan specialties. Go for the laarb; stay for a chat with perpetually friendly owner Khon Onexayvieng, who's happy to make menu recommendations when she's not passing the time with regulars. As she'll warn you, "Thai hot" is not for the faint of heart. We'd also counsel visitors to request no MSG.

The Wines of Colorado

American ~ $$

Cascade: 8045 W. U.S. Hwy. 24, 684-0900, winesofcolorado.com

Colorado continues to battle to be respected for its wines, but the cuisine and cellars of Wines of Colorado gives the industry a healthy boost. With items like portobello ravioli and a buffalo wine burger that comes topped with green chiles, the menu seems calculated to reflect all that's delicious in the Mile High State, including vintages from more than 40 Colorado wineries. Get your introduction with a complimentary tasting session before dining creekside.

Wisdom Tea House

Tea/Café ~ $

Monument: 65 Second St., 481-8822, wisdomteahouse.com

In Tom and Diane Wisdom's world, there's no better complement to the joys of the cuppa than the pleasures of the table. Though a single Kashmiri Green Chai latte is enough incentive to just linger in one of the antique fireside armchairs, the menu provides added incentive in the form of statuesque desserts, traditional high-tea fare and the best toasted breakfast burritos on the north side.

Wooglin's Deli & Café

Café ~ $

Downtown: 823 N. Tejon St., 578-9443, wooglinsdeli.com

Many folks probably spent their undergrad years thinking that places like Wooglin's didn't exist, and wishing fervently that they did. With a cozy, offbeat atmosphere, live music, and an all-from-scratch menu that specializes in excellent coffee drinks, veggie chili, hot and cold "overstuffed" sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas and salads you can sink your teeth into, it's a paradise for Colorado College students and Springs residents alike.

Yoo Mae

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

Downtown: 21 E. Kiowa St., 473-8105

Not many sushi eateries feature a giant map of the U.S. as part of the décor. But then again, not many sushi restaurants are helmed by a man like Chef JJ Kim, whose take on Japanese cuisine is as inventive as it is tasty. Where most menus stop at the California roll, Kim's offers diners the chance to eat Rhode Island, Alabama and all the rest in sushi form as well. (Hence the map.) The convivial atmosphere and generous lunch specials make Yoo Mae a can't-miss for sushi devotees.

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