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Cheyenne Mountain Zoo welcomes upscale dining options 

click to enlarge Rocky Mountain Barbecue Company's watermelon jicama salad. - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • Rocky Mountain Barbecue Company's watermelon jicama salad.
It’s not the first spot that comes to mind when locals think of hip, quality cuisine, but executive chef Beau Green has been amping up the quality of the offerings at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo since his return. Green first started working at the zoo in 2008, opening the still-operational Grizzly Grill. He left in 2012 for a gig at the Royal Gorge Bridge, but his bosses at Service Systems Associates, the company that manages food service at the zoo and similar attractions nationwide, moved him back to the zoo in late 2017. Since he’s returned, he’s flipped the script on one on-site eatery and is in the process of opening two others. He recently invited us by for a preview lunch; here’s what we learned.
Location Details Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road
Cheyenne Mountain
Colorado Springs, CO
633-9925
Museums and Camp

Formerly the Overlook, Rocky Mountain Barbecue Company serves a mix of traditional barbecue staples and trendy small plates. The menu features Denver-made Polidori sausages and Aspen Bakery breads — sourcing local lines up nicely with the zoo’s conservation mission, and Green says all the meats used on-site come from within 200 miles of the zoo. On the trendier side, they offer watermelon jicama salad, kimchi and barbecue tofu wraps, and pimento cheese sandwiches.

As of mid-June, the zoo’s also serving oven-fired pizzas at Pizza with a View. The space bears an open kitchen barely the size of a snack bar, packed with top-of-the-line Italian pizza-making equipment, including a pizza oven with a rotating floor made to emulate traditional wood-fired ovens. It can churn out up to 250 pizzas in an hour. Guests can expect specialty pies with toppings like local mushrooms, fresh arugula, figs and more. Green also makes particular note of a fennel-apple salad with raisins, black pepper and vinaigrette, served atop creamy French-style goat cheese. Both Pizza with a View and Rocky Mountain Barbecue Co. serve a selection of canned beers from Colorado, plus canned wines from Palisade, Colorado-based Colterris Wines.

Green’s also running a coffee shop called The Cozy Goat. It’s still in the works when we visit, but the spot is already serving a full selection of coffee and tea drinks, supplied and planned by Starbucks. Green says the partnership made sense for getting the space open more quickly, though they hope to transition to local businesses for tea and coffee in the future. And while it’s drinks and bagged candies for now at the Goat, Green says they’ll be adding a small selection of sweet and savory baked goods.

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