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Big night out 

Where to live it up on your next special occasion

Yes, we're all on a budget of some sort, but don't let life pass you by without a splurge here and there. Everybody's got a birthday deserving celebration, so let yourself eat, drink and be merry at one of the following locales, where you'll find both excellence and a unique atmosphere.

The Broadmoor

It perennially earns both five stars and five diamonds, but The Broadmoor (1 Lake Ave., broadmoor.com) is not inaccessible to the general public, and you'll find no higher than its luxurious Penrose Room when you're looking to go really all-out. But Ristorante Del Lago's an Italian gem, Lake Terrace hosts lavish brunches, The Tavern has added a wonderful raw seafood bar and Prime, aged, hormone-and-antibiotic-free steaks, the Summit does bistro-casual beautifully (often equally priced to other fine dining spots in town), and Natural Epicurean caters to vegans and vegetarians during day hours with as much alluring vibrancy as a lifestyle magazine spread.

Carlos' Bistro

Service at Carlos' Bistro (1025 S. 21st St., carlosbistrocos.com) is so spectacular that you really will find owner Carlos Echeandia greeting guests at their cars and ushering them inside. Then he's at your table, describing food or talking you into one of his excellent Pisco Sours, which he'll shake himself. He serves top-of-the-line Prime beef plus wild-caught, daily-delivered seafood items dressed in superb sauces. Follow your scallops, steak or lobster tail with an artfully plated dessert, and just enjoy the show.

The Famous

Our readers voted The Famous (31 N. Tejon St., thefamoussteakhouse.net) Best Fine-Dining Restaurant and Best Overall Restaurant in 2014 for good reason. Colorado products make steady appearances; the cocktail list proves one of the smarter in town; service is superior; and plates are overall powerhouses. From a pork belly appetizer with memorable onion rings to more Prime steaks, a killer, enormous primal-cut-trim burger and many seafood options, The Famous excels.

Joseph's Fine Dining

Recently moved to new digs, Joseph's (1603 S. Eighth St., 630-3631), like Carlos' Bistro, is driven by a charismatic owner: Broadmoor alum Joseph Freyre, who's visible and meticulous. And like The Pepper Tree, it features tableside flambéing as a highlight, on items like a scallops Pernod salad or a pepper steak. High-end surf-and-turf dishes tend to star.

Marigold Café & Bakery

From its stellar sweets array to legit French cuisine, Marigold (4605 Centennial Blvd., marigoldcoloradosprings.com) hits high points across the board. You'll find excellent sandwiches on house-baked bread, rich soups, a great beef bourguignon and ample seafood selections. Cakes in particular are decadent come dessert time, but it takes more than one type of treat to be voted Best Dessert Destination in the Springs year after year.

The Pepper Tree

At the Pepper Tree (888 W. Moreno Ave., peppertreecs.com), the sweeping city panorama captures your attention when the tableside cart isn't flambéing something sexy before your eyes. Perhaps an 8-ounce filet, or Cherries Jubilee or Bananas Foster for dessert? First there will be flames, then bliss. If you happen to be in Woodland Park, consider sister outfit the Swiss Chalet, which handles swank quite nicely for a small mountain town.

Honorable mentions

We have many more favorites when it comes to finding a memorable and financially worth-it fine-dining meal in the Pikes Peak region. When the time arrives, do yourself a favor and consider the following: The Blue Star (1645 S. Tejon St., thebluestar.net); Briarhurst Manor Estate (404 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, briarhurst.com); The Cliff House at Pikes Peak (306 Cañon Ave., Manitou Springs, thecliffhouse.com); La Baguette French Bistro (4440 N. Chestnut St., labaguettefrenchbistro.com); the Margarita at PineCreek (7350 Pine Creek Road, margaritaatpinecreek.com); the Mona Lisa Fondue Restaurant (733 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, monalisafondue.com); Walter's Bistro (146 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., waltersbistrocs.com); and the Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery (25 W. Cimarron St., cospringsartrestaurant.com).

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