Central restaurants 


Ritz Grill

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

Voted by Indy readers as the city's Best Place to Meet Women, Concept Restaurants' 25-year-old martini-sipping spot draws power players at lunch and party people at night. The menus range from pizzas and pastas to seafood and a wide salad array, with good price points on generally good food. — $$


Judge Baldwin's Brewing Company

Antlers Hilton Hotel, 4 S. Cascade Ave., 955-5600, antlers.com/restaurants

The Springs' first brewery (est. 1991), JB's has always been a good happy-hour spot (4 to 7 daily), with $3 drinks and half-off apps, weekdays. From an updated menu featuring Kobe burgers, green chile and lobster bisque, the house-barbecue-sauced chicken quesadillas are popular. — $

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

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

A key player on our brewing scene, making great specialty one-offs on top of flagship favorites like the amber Railyard Ale. Best pool tables in town; great happy-hour deals; bison burgers and meatloaf; and the forever famous Blonde Ale & Smoked Gouda soup. — $$

Burgers & Sandwiches

BJ's Velvet Freez

1511 N. Union Blvd., 633-6365, bjsvelvetfreez.com

With three different owners since 1954, this classic drive-in has remained a Springs staple for soft-serve treats, including shakes, malts and floats. But you can also grab a decent burger, chili dog or some French fries with a slushie. The throwback atmosphere is half the charm. — $

Conway's Red Top

1228 E. Fillmore St., 329-1445

Since 1944 and with three Colorado Springs locations (Circle Drive, North Carefree Circle and East Fillmore Street), Conway's is locally noted for its "giant" hamburgers: 8-ounce patties on 6-inch buns. — $

Drifter's Hamburgers

4455 Mark Dabling Blvd., 548-8163, driftershamburgers.com

Our readers scolded us for not including three-year-old Drifters in a "battle of the burgers" last year, prompting a worthwhile visit to discover one of the best cheeseburgers in the city (made with Ranch Foods Direct beef). Get it "wild style" for more mustard bite. Great fries, too. — $

The Drive-In

2309 N. Weber St., 633-0618 (635-0769 in off-season)

New owner and longtime local restaurant guy Bill Miller has given a new shine to this classic drive-in, which dates back more than half a century. Linger over an inexpensive burger or P.L.T. (pastrami, lettuce and tomato) with onion rings and a soft-serve cone or sundae, March through October, daily for lunch and dinner. — $

Patty Jewett Bar and Grill

900 E. Española St., 385-6908, pattyjewettclubhouse.com

Recently acquired by the folks behind The Famous, this is essentially a relaxed golf-course clubhouse with an appropriately great view. Try breakfast omelets and the like for early starters, delicious Baja Fish Tacos or a burger at lunch, or cocktails over a sunset on the heated deck. — $

P.B. & Jellies New York Deli

106 E. Kiowa St., 465-2686, pbandjellies.com

Great weekly specials like half off everything after 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. Quality New York Deli-style sandwiches with Boar's Head meats. And the highlight: PB&Js with fun flavors of house-ground peanut butter (like pad Thai), locally made jellies (like cherry jalapeño), and add-ons. — $

Trivelli's Hoagies

2729 N. Nevada Ave., 471-7733, trivellis.net

It's one thing, executed beautifully since 1976: hoagies. Eighteen styles, to be exact. The sizzle of beef (Ranch Foods Direct's) and onions on the flat-top promises true Philly-style satisfaction. Varieties include house marinara, house-cured capicola ham and toppings like sweet cherry peppers. — $


Café 36

30 W. Dale St., 477-4377, csfineartscenter.org/cafe36.asp

Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and for pre-theater dining, Café 36 just returned to the oversight of Garden of the Gods Gourmet. Look for solid takes on dishes like curry chicken salad and a kalua pork pineapple sandwich. Still, nothing beats the view. — $$

The Corner Cafe

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

An Indy go-to by virtue of location and excellence. Co-owner Bob Smoot's humor shows on items like the "Trailer Trash Certified" chicken-fried steak. Sandwiches are built with quality ingredients; the pork green chile is awesome, as is Smoot's garlic habañero ketchup. Pie anyone? — $

Dale Street Café

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

Dale Street is the likeable local equivalent of a chain outfit, in that there truly is something for everyone on its expansive bistro menu: salads, seafood, pizza, pasta, burgers, sandwiches — even Jaegerschnitzel. Then there's the always-charming experience of dining in a Victorian. — $$

Gold Hill Java

332 N. Tejon St., 577-4291, goldhilljava.com

Roasting now out of its new location, which occupied the former Boulder Street Coffee Roasters mid-2011, Woodland Park-launched Gold Hill delivers great drip coffee and sweet seasonal drinks, be they your bag. The Kodiak is the best sandwich choice, with a house-baked cookie chaser. — $

Good 2 Go

2 N. Cascade Ave., Suite P1-A, 632-2939

Oddly located inside the Holly Sugar Building's first-level parking garage, but worth the venture for delightful house-made soups, sandwiches and specials like smoked tri-tip, and beef and lamb shepherd's pie, complemented by Colorado Coffee Merchants espresso drinks. — $

La Baguette

117 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 636-5020, labaguette-co.com

From the original four, two La Baguettes remain, both independently owned (then the French Bistro and La Tartine). The Colorado Avenue shop still bakes for all, and generates Best Of awards for bread and French onion soup, and as bakery and French spots. — $


287 E. Fountain St., #100, 520-0024

Art, music and creativity drive passionate purveyor Josh Kennard. Lofty's is a hip stop for Pueblo's sustainable Solar Roast Coffee; good, Olde World Bagel-produced sandwiches and pastries; and fun cocktails with small-batch booze, Seattle's Dry Sodas and Denver's Oogavé sodas. — $


1019 S. Tejon St., 520-0672

Yes, it's got comfy chairs, high-back antiques with the kind of charm that lends well to the cozy space, with people chatting over cute pots holding an array of fine teas. Enjoy them with stuffed French toast, turkey pot pie and/or large-enough-to-share pieces of cake. — $

The Olive Branch Restaurant

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

A downtown staple with 33 years under owner Mark Meltzer. He views his menu as "an adventure in healthful dining," which translates to no deep frying, an array of gluten-free options, most everything from scratch, and fresh-squeezed OJ at breakfast. It's a little bit of everything, done right. — $$


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

Decade-old Shuga's is so cool it hurts. Advice: always get the divine, peanutty, spicy Brazilian coconut soup, but try a different drink each visit. The award-winning cocktails are fun, as are giant mojito carafes and the legendary Lavender Blossom martini. The lemon-ginger hot tea is a treat, too. — $

Smiley's Bakery and Cafe

323 N. Tejon St., 328-9447, smileysbakerycafe.com

Doing so well that it expanded into a neighboring space last fall, nearly doubling capacity, Smiley's is your stop for tri-berry French toast, chocolate chip pancakes or a rich omelet. At lunch, it's house soups and hot sandwiches, followed by a mandatory slice of fantastic house pie. — $

Wooglin's Deli & Café

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

Not just a haunt for Colorado College students and faculty, Wooglin's is a fine stop for anyone at all three meals. A cup of Barista coffee with an outstanding quiche in the a.m.; a spicy bagel melt or giant Greek salad at lunch; or daily house soup, French dip, or portobello Swiss burger with a beer at dinner. — $


2000 Wok

115 E. Fillmore St., 633-6900

Pick from a variety of items like lo mein, fried rice and spicy pineapple chicken, each only $1.85. Some say portions are bigger if you get it to go. — $

China Town

326 S. Nevada Ave., 632-5151

China Town is many downtowners' go-to for a cold-busting wor wonton soup, as well as quick, generously portioned meals that come inexpensive and easy. — $

China Village

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

Since 1982, this affordable Mandarin and Szechuan stop has earned loyalty with its expansive menu of Chinese favorites: Hunan duck and Mongolian beef, velvet chicken and Buddha's delight. Free delivery nearby seals the saucy deal. — $

Hunan Springs

24 E. Kiowa St., 634-0800, hunansprings.net

It's perfectly satisfying Chinese on the cheap, like a full entrée of proteins, egg roll, rice and side soup for between $6.25 and $6.75 at lunch. The huge menu also features tons of seafood, fried rice, egg foo young, lo mein and vegetarian options. — $


La Creperie Bistro

204 N. Tejon St., 632-0984

With 34 years in the same family and true French roots, this 36-seat eatery offers traditional crêpes like the best-selling chicken with hollandaise or bechamel. Also: gluten-free options, including rich seafood plates, plus organic green salads and rich chocolate mousse via artisan French sourcing. — $$

Paris Crepe Euro Café

218 N. Tejon St., 444-0110

People still freak out when they discover the clever sweet crêpes like the S'more, cheesecake and Fluffernutter options. The savories also sidestep convention with international influences, from a rice-flour Thai beef with peanut sauce to vegetarian Mediterranean with tahini. — $


Barney's Diner

129 W. Las Animas St., 632-1756

Forty-seven-year-old Barney's is a great, classic, cheap greasy spoon open only for breakfast and lunch. Daily specials include sloppy joes and a locally famous fried chicken; the regular menu sports Ranch Foods Direct beef and local sausage. — $

King's Chef Diner

110 E. Costilla St., 634-9135; 131 E. Bijou St., 636-5010; kingschefdiner.com

Pretty much everything you've ever wanted a diner to be, at all hours, with consistency. A perennial Indy Best Of dominator for a green chili featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel and sold in Whole Foods Market. Get The Thing or The Grump in the a.m., a Reuben at lunch. — $$

North End Diner

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

For a little diner, it offers a lot of charm. A wide menu of skillets, omelets and Mexican items at breakfast, and Ranch Foods Direct burgers among lunch offerings (BOGO for a nickel, weekends after 2 p.m.). Homemade soups, green chile, and a new gluten-free menu as well. — $

The Omelette Parlor

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

Yup — it's that place. The one everyone loves, with the well-deserved line often stretching out the door. Big omelets, of course, and all the sweet pancakes and waffles and things that taste good under syrup or the homemade pork green chile. Big sandwiches and salads, too, if you're in a little later. — $

Sheldon's Luncheonette

204 Mount View Lane, 599-0887, sheldonslunch.com

With daily specials like meatloaf, barbecue and open-face pork, turkey and roast beef sandwiches, Sheldon's supplements its regular diner dishes of simple omelets and American breakfast items, plus burgers, melts, salads and soups. Two locations and many years in biz say a lot. — $

Fine Dining

The Blue Star

1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086, thebluestar.net

Winner for our town's Best Overall Restaurant for a fourth year running. 'Nuff said, but here's more anyway: superstar bartender Nate Windham; divine pastry chef Alicia Prescott; a trio of talented chefs pushing ever-changing menus; and big plans for the adjacent Ivywild School project. — $$$

Conscious Table

26 E. Kiowa St., 636-3276, conscioustable.net

Late last year, lauded chef Brent Beavers returned to downtown with co-chef Aaron Retka, bringing a sustainability focus to lunch and dinner. Brilliant scallop plates; bangin' bison entrées; the Sencha salad. Cheaper at lunch, plus $8 late-night menu. Oh — and cooking classes. — $$$

The Famous

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

Your favorite steakhouse, all swank and no BS. Home of a killer $12.95 cheeseburger that handily won our burger "food fight" last year, plus giant, pricey steak and seafood plates with hearty, family-style side portions. On top of weekly specials, look for new lunch promotions in 2012. — $$$

MacKenzie's Chop House

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

Subterranean swank, courtesy Concept Restaurants. Dark wood, deep martinis, burly steaks and a weekly fresh sheet that proves longtime Springs chef Pete Moreno hasn't fallen asleep on the job. For us: Ahi salad at lunch, and Colorado rack of lamb at dinner, please. — $$$

The Melting Pot

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

It's a chain with a local's feel and an expansive, quality wine list. The answer to all special-occasion needs, the fondue setup allows for jointly dipping breads and fruits into molten cheese (or chocolate), and fine meats and veggie hunks into boiling broths. — $$$


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

Your pick for five Indy Best Of nods, including Cutting-Edge Menu and Happy Hour. You'll also love the crispy Korean wings, the garli-miso-basil cauliflower (seriously) and the spicy bison sandwich. Anyone else you know serving elderflower sangria? Didn't think so. — $$

The Rabbit Hole

101 N. Tejon St., 203-5072, rabbitholedinner.com

Racking up a respectable number of Best Of awards in its first year, including Best New Restaurant, Rabbit Hole is the go-to for: great cocktails; a big Colorado craft beer list; full menu service until 1:30 a.m.; half-off-app happy hours; and playfully dressed, creative mains. — $$$

The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery

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

What's it gonna be? Coffee-rubbed bison shortribs with black bean gnocchi? Wild boar shank with apricot-cilantro chutney? Beer-marinated elk with brandied mushrooms, bacon and lingonberries? Or a build-your-own bison burger at lunch? Or weekday half-off-app-and-beer happy hours? — $$$


Edelweiss German Restaurant

34 E. Ramona Ave., 633-2220, edelweissrest.com

A Springs fixture: authentic German with more than 40 years' local history. All your great German beers on tap, everything awesome and meaty that ends in "-schnitzel" or "-braten," and wonderful house sweets like Stollen and a dozen torte varieties. Bonus: lovely patio dining. — $$

Uwe's German Restaurant

31 Iowa Ave., 475-1611

A tucked-away treasure that dishes authentic German cuisine, this is a great stop for a giant helping of Warsteiner beer over schnitzel, spätzle or sauerbraten. Another great entrée: the rouladen, with thin beef slivers enveloping bacon, pickle and onion with mustard and spices. — $

Greater Asian

The Curry Leaf Restaurant

321 N. Tejon St., 447-0608, curryleafrestaurant.com

The recently relocated Curry Leaf is simply a world-beater. Sri Lanka native Lana Hillstrom cooks true to her culture, using an array of intoxicating spices that lead to knockout plates, from a rich, brilliant eggplant curry to sweet and spicy mango curry. This, you will love. — $

Everest Nepal Restaurant

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

You've shopped in the handful of Tibetan import stores around town, now dig the restaurant, perhaps for the wholly satisfying $8.99 lunch buffet. Then or at dinner, offerings include Indian and Nepali plates — vibrant daal, curry and the like — best with a mango lassi. — $


Island Grill Take Out

1107 S. Nevada Ave., #101, 578-1468, islandgrilltakeout.com

Since 2003, Jamaican native Randal Whyte has solo-run this tiny gem of jerk goodness, focusing on flavor over empty heat. It's simply awesome, from coconut-milk rice and sweet plantains to buttery cabbage, curry goat, jerk chicken and ackee, and cod fish. — $

La'au's Taco Shop

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

With island influences from Hawaii to Indonesia, La'au's offers more fresh crunch than the average taco stop (think mango and papaya toppings), though there's hearty pork, steak and chicken options, too. Nobody beats the all-day happy hours: two Bristols for $5, $1.50 PBRs, $3 margaritas. — $

Rasta Pasta

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

One love: always. Two-for-one Bristol beers: Tuesday only. Jerk seasoning abounds, with options to turn up the heat on any pasta. Gluten-free and vegan options, too. We'll never get over the great, fruit-bearing Tortellini Jamaica Mon, though others go for the titular jerk chicken plate. — $

Spice Island Grill

10 N. Sierra Madre St., 473-8280, spiceislandgrill.com

Inhabiting El Tesoro's old haunt, this Jamaican gem is bursting with flavor. We picked its zesty house jerk sauce ($6 to $9 by the bottle) as one our top dishes of 2011, because everything it touches turns awesome, including tofu fries and chicken. For true Rastas, vegan Ital dishes. — $$


Ficco's Little Italy

1105 S. Tejon St., 434-7868

Just opened, Ficco's is still getting on its feet with a small lunch menu; dinner menu coming shortly. From the homemade Italian dishes that date back to the owner's grandmother's recipes, get The Lucky, a grinder with Denver's Polidori Sausage. Finish with superb cannoli and banana cream pie. — $

Fratelli Ristorante Italiano

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

When the USA Pro Cycling Challenge arrived, the Italian team ate here. The outfit shines with well-executed, classic Italian plates, plus specials and new menu items like risotto primavera or buffalo mozzarella with prosciutto and pears. Homemade desserts, happy hours, gluten-free options. Yum. — $$

Luigi's Homemade Italian Food

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

A 50-plus-year family legacy restaurant, Luigi's is classic, down to checkered tablecloths, empty Chianti bottles and faux vines. Popular entrées like the homemade, béchamel-rich tortellacci come with salad or soup. There's also pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and more loveliness; dinner service only. — $$

Panino's Restaurant

604 N. Tejon St., 635-7452, paninos.com

Keep it fresh with Facebook coupons for weekly featured Panino sandwiches (some 30, unique rolled-dough creations). And remember: fat calzones plus all-you-can-eat pizza Tuesdays ($7.99), and spaghetti Wednesdays ($8.99). — $

Roman Villa Pizza

3005 N. Nevada Ave., 635-1806

Turning 53 this year under the Biondi family, 14-table Roman Villa is legend, for good reasons. Here's one: homemade pastas like the outstanding three-cheese and spinach tortellacci in a caramelized onion-spiked, creamy tomato sauce. Great pizzas and house sausage, too. — $$


Arabica Café

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

Arabica Café came under new ownership last June, but the recipes are still made in the former owner's style from Palestine. The hummus and shawarma are reportedly great, with bright citrus and spice notes, respectively. — $

Caspian Café

4375 Sinton Road, 528-1155, caspiancafe.com

Go Friday or Saturday night to enjoy belly dancing next to distinctive Mediterranean food at a good price. Its multinational menu ranges from gyros and moussaka to fish, vegetarian plates and excellent desserts. — $$

In & Out Gyros

36 E. Bijou St., 635-7749

Kronos Foods provides the gyro meat and baklava, but owner Behnam Gilanpour (who ran the Persian Grill here, before the brief Rumi's Kabab era) makes most everything else, including yogurt for the house tzatziki. Get the veggie platter. Bonus: open late. — $

Mediterranean Café

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

Consistently excellent, Med Café nails the cuisine with bright spices and garlic flavors and standout renditions of hummus, baba ghanouj and tzatziki. For the discerning yet indecisive, there's the awesome Half & Half: gyro and falafel with feta, tahini and hot sauce. — $$

Taste of Jerusalem Café

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

After splitting from Heart of Jerusalem Café in 2009, Yemini owner Abdul Nasser added his own accents to the Mediterranean menu — like stuffed pita sambusa and mishkool, seasoned rice and veggies — which includes Halal items for observant Muslims. Also great shawarma, falafel, etc. — $


Alice's Mexican Cuisine

109 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 578-8882, alicesmexicancuisine.com

Turning five soon in the alleyway behind Josh & John's, Alice's does right by Tex-Mex, starting with a nice, warmed house salsa with pleasant bite. The chimichangas plate

Arceo's Mexican Family Restaurant

4608 Rusina Road, 264-0143, arceos.biz

Two locations serve Tex-Mex standards, but also unique touches, like crumbed Parmesan atop chicken enchiladas. The Chile Colorado burrito stars: top sirloin hunks under melted cheddar and Monterey Jack, with an Anaheim-and-jalapeño red sauce. — $ was our favorite on last visit, but Alice says her gorditas and chicken enchiladas sell best. Great tres leches cake by request. — $

Bean Bandit

2819 N. Nevada Ave., 634-9946

The Vasquez family's Circle Drive location turns 46 this year (see p. 78), which says plenty. This second spot just opened in early January. You'll find popular chile rellenos and shredded beef enchiladas at both, but specials and new items like a Pueblo-style slopper at the spot next to the Navajo Hogan. — $

El Taco Rey

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

Another longtime Springs fixture run by the capable Aguilar family. Lines out the door; the locally legendary pork-avocado burrito; loaded daily specials and hefty combo dinners for about $8; tres leches cake to finish. Done. — $

José Muldoon's

222 N. Tejon St., 636-2311, josemuldoons.com

It racked up a handful of second-place finishes in the 2011 Indy Best Of, and 30-plus-year-old José's is always a strong contender as the Tex-Mex heart of the local Concept Restaurants dynasty. Great happy hours and margaritas and hearty fare from mahi mahi to buffalo plates. — $$

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant

35 Iowa Ave., 477-1157

A popular lunch spot for public officials, La Carreta dishes everything from authentic Caldo de Res (beef soup) to chicken mole, Tacos al Pastor, and reportedly wonderful chile rellenos and margaritas. You'll also find fajitas, enchiladas and Tex-Mex faves. — $

La Casita Mexican Grill

4295 N. Nevada Ave., 599-7829, lacasitamexigrill.com

You can't miss the bright pink stucco on Eighth Street, North Nevada Avenue or Woodmen Road. And you shouldn't miss deals like Taco Tuesdays from 4 to 9 p.m., with BOGO half-off. Or the periodic all-you-can-eat breakfast ($5.99), lunch or dinner ($7.99) deals. — $

Monica's Taco Shop

30 E. Fillmore St., 473-1996

So there I am, driving to Denver with a fresh Monica's breakfast burrito steaming in my hand, burning my mouth each time I bite, yet I can't stop or wait for it to cool. I'm inexplicably compelled to suffer gloriously onward. Is it the chorizo? The salsa verde? Who cares. It is epic. — $

Salsa Latina

28 E. Rio Grande St., 328-1513

Open weekdays only and related by family to nearby El Taco Rey, Salsa Latina makes everything from scratch in the mornings, like its lauded green chile, from fresh Anaheims. Go for the Friday-only chile relleno burrito, a longtime obsession of at least one Indy employee. — $

Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill

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

Owned by the folks behind Slayton's and Salsa Brava, Sonterra is the seafood-centric operation (think coriander-seared scallops and blackened sea bass), with fine steak cuts as well, plus dressy tacos and enchiladas. As at its sister locations, generous happy hour deals here are worth a well-timed visit. — $$

Vallejo's Restaurant

111 S. Corona St., 635-0980

Located just behind the Cottonwood Center for the Arts and celebrating 50 years in 2012, Vallejo's offers a lot of charm via the Martinez family. (See: Chef Lydia stealing glances of her telenovelas through a kitchen window while cooking.) Get a combo plate to sample widely; great green chile tamales. — $


Borriello Brothers

215 E. Platte Ave., 884-2020, borriellobrothers.com

Our readers' longtime favorite local pizza, with eight local locations. Think kick-ass, hand-tossed New York-style creations, backed by salads, heros, calzones and more. Borriello even has its own iPhone/Android app now. — $

Il Vicino

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

Though it spans 10 locations across three states, Il Vicino maintains a mostly non-corporate vibe and local feel, with fantastic wood-oven pizzas and good craft beers shipped from the Albuquerque brew hub. The Pizza Margherita is simple beauty next to a pint. — $

Louie's Pizza

333 N. Tejon St., 635-5565; 1146 E. Fillmore St., 473-0060; louies-pizza.com

The Sciarrata family has tossed pies in the Springs dating back to 1985. Now there are five locations for your chicken alfredo or chicken taco pizza fix, plus "dyno-mite" wings and popular cinnamon-sugar crust dessert pizzas. Look for new take-n-bake stores sometime soon. — $

Poor Richard's Restaurant & Rico's Café and Wine Bar

322-324 N. Tejon St., 578-5549, poorrichards.biz

A downtown dynasty and perennial Best Of winner, with attached toy and book stores, this is the spot for everything from kick-ass pizzas (even spelt options) and salads to fine wine, cocktails, local spirits, coffee drinks, tea, sipping chocolate and live music on the weekends. — $

Pub Food

Jack Quinn Irish Alehouse & Pub

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

Guinness — check. Traditional Irish music sessions — check. Fish & chips, Irish stew, seafood boxty — check. Everything you'd expect is here, but also a much wider and hearty food menu, plus a weekly pub quiz and running club. It's a warm home away from home, especially if brogue be your lingo. — $$

Johnny's Navajo Hogan

2817 N. Nevada Ave., 344-9593

That's Johnny Nolan of SouthSide Johnny's, so you're in good hands, especially with expansive Sunday-through-Tuesday happy hours featuring $2-to-$3.50 drinks. The historic building has never looked better, and the broasted chicken is already legend. Pizzas are strong, too. — $

McCabe's Tavern

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

My colleague remains enamored with McCabe's rosemary-laced Guinness lamb stew with soda bread (yeah, I felt warm inside just writing that), but there's much more to love here, from beer-fueled pub quiz nights to a stellar Irish whiskey selection, Scotch eggs and Guinness chocolate cake. — $$

Oscar's Tejon Street

333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070, oscarsoysterbar.com

Oysters in the Springs? Why yes, please and thank you — they do 'em right here. Oscar's also channels the sea via good Creole entrées, a tight gumbo and Louisiana-style po-boys. Past that, it's your favorite smoking patio, with bountiful happy hours and live music. — $$

SouthSide Johnny's

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

From the man who's saved the Navajo Hogan comes the original Johnny's: an always-hoppin' spot with live music and a good crowd from bikers to businessmen. The diverse and overall delectable menu ranges from burgers and sandwiches at lunch to ribeyes and tuna steaks at night. — $$

Tony's Bar

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

Tony's, now 12-years old, means DJs, drinks, poker, games and, of course, award-garnering drinking and dining. Catch "Awesome Night" Tuesdays and Thursdays ($5 for a shot and 24-ounce PBR). We once made an intern eat a pickled egg here; he'd rather have had the famous cheese curds. — $


110 N. Nevada Ave., 578-7771, undergroundbars.com

The Springs' Best Gay Bar also dishes totally decent pub fare at lunch and dinner, including gourmet pizzas, sandwiches and burgers. Drinkers at the adjacent Brewer's Republic (one of the town's finest craft brew scenes) can also order from the Underground's menu. — $

Will's Sports Pub

424 S. Nevada Ave., 475-2122, liquidcommon.com/willssportspub

Will's has experienced a number of kitchen overhauls in recent years, testing everything from bar-gourmet to Tex-Mex. It most recently settled on somewhat of the bar norm: burgers, nachos, wings and the like. Take in a game or happy hour specials from 3 to 7. — $

Southern/ Barbecue/Cajun

Slayton's Tejon Street Grill

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

Great weekend happy hours offer $5 apps and $3 drinks. The apple- and hickory-wood-smoked barbecues are outstanding. Get the Firehouse Chili Burger with a smoked brisket chili and shredded cheddar top, with sweet potato fries. Or the praiseworthy cornmeal-crusted catfish fingers. — $$

Springs Orleans

123 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 520-0123, springsorleans.com

Already your pick for Best Cajun/Southern eats, this newbie is the luscious, lardon-laden lead-up to the eventual opening of the adjacent Mining Exchange hotel. Longtime lauded Blue Star chef James Davis and crew sling all things requiring roux and blackening agents. Got it, po-boy? — $$



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

Sizeable donbori bowls or bento boxes at lunch; nigiri and loaded, goofy-named specialty sushi rolls anytime; hibachi service by reservation; and an unbeatable half-off-everything happy hour from 5 to 6 on Mondays. New vegetarian menu recently added. — $$

Yoo Mae

21 E. Kiowa St., 473-8105, yoomae.com

Check out the photos on its website, and you may not question the claim that "Yoo Mae is no doubt the best sushi in Colorado Springs." Lively chef JJ Kim, having finished his 50-state roll tribute (cool map online also), recently began a car series; so far, the Jaguar and Ferrari are selling well. — $$

Yummy Yaki Japanese Restaurant

1534 S. Nevada Ave., 227-0214

After 16 years dishing Japanese staples and lots of yakitori skewers at Yummy Yaki, Thai/Vietnamese owner Vinichai Seangsoy, by customer request, recently added a Thai menu during evening and weekend hours. As evidenced by the Khang Pineapple plate, it's pretty damn good. — $


Saigon Café

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

Evidenced by its constant traffic, expansion and annual Best Of win — it's been your favorite Vietnamese spot for nine years running now — Saigon excels. It also now serves a separate gluten-free menu, beyond its spectacularly vibrant bun bowls and delicious combo platters. Always a safe bet. — $$


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