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Cafe Dawn, Boathouse Cantina, Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub 

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click to enlarge Boathouse Cantina - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Boathouse Cantina

Boathouse Cantina

228 N. F St., Salida, 719/539-5004, boathousesalida.com

Last year in our Salida-centric cover feature ("Rivertown bounty," July 8, 2015), we spoke highly of the super scenic Rivers Edge restaurant. Sadly, it closed down two months ago after a failure to renegotiate a lease, says operations manager Patrick Payne. Which leaves its 9-year-old sister outfit by the same ownership, also with a stellar river view, the Boathouse Cantina.

Boathouse's menu was just updated, adding 11 popular items from Rivers Edge. My hearty grass-fed Boater Burger ($13) isn't one of them, stacked high with chewy bacon, avocado wedges, green chili segments, Provolone and a mojo sauce that gets mostly buried under all the other flavors. My Local Flavor Beer Flight ($8) of four samplers spotlights nearby Elevation Beer Co.'s excellent kolsh, IPA and porter, plus Eddyline's Pumpkin Patch Ale, pleasantly less cloying than I remember it to be. A friend's Best Chicken Strips Ever ($11) actually kind of are — wow. — MS

click to enlarge Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub

Moonlight Pizza & Brewpub

242 F St., Salida, 719/539-4277, moonlightpizza.biz

If you aren't going to Salida's other microbrewery and pie house, Amicas, then you'll be here, maybe huddling from the cold in front of the gas fireplace out front for half an hour waiting for a table. No matter; the staff regularly stops by to take beer orders. Overall, the beers ($5/pint) rate solid, an Irish red hitting style, double IPA singing with hop character, cream ale bearing proper effervescence and lager-like smoothness, and special vanilla-cinnamon-raisin stout balancing the sweetness well with big seasonal spice notes.

Come dinner, our Caesar salad ($6.99/large) sports crisp cold Romaine and a garlicky, piquant dressing, though I always miss the anchovies at places not bold enough to serve 'em. The Budreaux ($18.99/large), a "fine Fronch [sic] country pie," with chicken, loads of spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes, over pesto, could use more pesto, but bears a nice, chewy browned dough, made in-house. — MS

click to enlarge Cafe Dawn - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Cafe Dawn

Cafe Dawn

203 W. First St., Salida, 719/539-5105, cafe-dawn.com

Our barista is an artist — at least when it comes to latte art. The rosetta design in our half-sweet caramel latte ($4.05/12-ounce) shows nice contrast to the espresso and beautiful symmetry of lines, kicking off our sipping with visual allure. He nails our requested under-sweetness as well, balancing a bit of buttery sugar back to the beans. After we compliment him for it, he ups the ante with a fun, spiky-edged pattern based off Japanese woodblock artist Katsushika Hokusai's well-known "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" for my half-sweet breve mocha ($4.70/12-ounce), a delightful study in velvety creaminess and dark chocolate bitterness.

The nearby farm-to-table joint, Seasons Café, produces the crumbly biscuit for Cafe Dawn's green chile egg sandwich ($6), made with melted cheese and an olive-oil-baked egg holding its form at the center; it's a nice gourmet bite, at the spot deservedly frequented by the mountain bike set. — MS

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