Off-campus confidential 

Indy food critics dish up hot-line alternatives

click to enlarge Its a universal truth: College students love cheap food.
  • Its a universal truth: College students love cheap food.

They won't let you have a hot plate, the George Foreman's on the blink and you're sick of the cafeteria. Don't despair -- there are plenty of places in Colorado Springs hoping to collect your cash and feed you. This is by no means a complete list (hello, Wooglin's, you're a no-brainer), merely a smattering of suggestions as to where you might eat in, drop by late at night or order take-out. Most are in close proximity to one of the campuses in town.

Just say no!

Mirch Masala
5047 N. Academy Blvd. 599-0003

Just say no to flavorless dorm food! To revitalize your dulled taste buds, follow Union to Academy, where salvation awaits. Tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, and chicken tikka masala surely will resuscitate your gustatory senses, especially when flanked by daal (lentils), raita (Indian salad), saag paneer (spinach and cheese cubes) and naan. Don't forget the mango lhassi!

Taste of India Express
117 E. Bijou St. 635-8080

Just say no to pricey meals! Downtown, this spit-spot little formica-covered diner offers a buffet feast for mere pennies. A bowl with one entre is $3.99, two entres $4.99, three entres $5.99. Emitting their rich aromas from the steam table, the entres are tasty and varied: butter chicken, lamb vindaloo, aloo bogi (potatoes and cauliflower with spices) and saag paneer, all served over fragrant pulao rice (basmati with peas cooked in ginger and onion, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves). On the side, have a warm wedge of freshly made, buttered naan.

Roman Villa
3005 N. Nevada Ave. 635-1806

Just say no to Domino's! Between CC and UCCS, at Fillmore and Nevada, Roman Villa serves up three generations of delicious Italian-American tradition. Fresh pastas, excellent pizzas and homemade sausages are perfect cures for homesickness. The outstanding tortellacci is the cure for anything else that ails you, especially on a cold winter night.

Kings Chef Diner
110 E. Costilla St. 634-9135

Just say no to your hangover! Follow seniors to the purple castle for pure diner magic. Order "the thing": eggs, hash browns and cheese with your choice of bacon, sausage or ham, piled high on Texas toast, then smothered in spicy green chile. (In the interest of self preservation, you can order half a "thing.") Hot enough to make you sweat in February, the veggie green chile is tops in town.

Old Chicago
Three locations: 7115 Commerce Center Drive, 593-7678; 118 N. Tejon St., 634-8812; 4110 N. Academy Blvd., 536-0633

Just say no to poor selection! Big is the thing here. Big menu, big portions and a big collection of brews. Munch on pizza, burgers, wings and quesadillas while exploring over 100 beers. Regional "tours" offer t-shirts upon completion, so you can drink your way to clean clothes. Open late.

Poor Richards
324 N. Tejon St. 632-7721

Just say no to fast food! An easy walk from CC gets you a tasty and healthful lunch or dinner at Poor Richard's. Dozens of salads and sandwiches feature fresh ingredients (organic when possible), wholesome breads and clean flavors. They offer fast service, a friendly atmosphere and a damn good magazine rack for perusing while you wait for your pizza.

Lazy fare

Borriello Brothers Thin Crust Pizza
215 E. Platte Ave. 578-9312

For an excellent chewy New York-style pie, ask for Borriello's hand-tossed pizza. It leaves an oil slick in the box and is thin and soft enough to bend into a one-handed turnover for pure scarfing pleasure. Vegetarians will appreciate the Grandma Marie sub, with its thinly sliced grilled eggplant and mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan cheeses. Specialty pies include Pizza Bianca -- with no sauce and extra mozzarella, ricotta and romano cheeses -- a pesto pizza and a chicken Parmesan pie.

Hunan Springs
24 E. Kiowa St. 634-0800

Mei, owner and busy manager of Hunan Springs, could be your mother away from home. Delivery is free within a four-mile radius with a $15 minimum for dinner, $20 for lunch. Try the Hunan beef, the pan-fried noodle combo, anything with garlic sauce, or the sweet baked curry beef dumplings. If you like it spicy, Mei will ramp up the heat upon request.

Taste of Philly
1634 S. Nevada Ave., 471-1922 or 471-1858 Carefree Circle and N. Academy Boulevard (coming soon)

A few things you might not know about the sandwich shop that truly serves Colorado's best cheesesteaks: 1) the salad is fresh and crisp, with romaine, red onion, pepperoncini, cherry pepper, cukes and tomatoes, and optional toppings of grilled, Caesar-style or teriyaki chicken; 2) you can get a Boylan's black cherry or cream soda, birch beer or root beer delivered with your cheesesteak, and Tastykakes for dessert; 3) it serves a killer Reuben; 4) the cheesesteak drips with onions, mushrooms, peppers and melted cheese and comes on a soft, steamy bun; 5) it delivers seven days a week.

Late-night bites

702 S. Cascade Ave. 328-1412

Not only is Shuga's the haven of the most beautiful people in town, it also cooks circles around most late-night bastions. With Brazilian shrimp soup, a multitude of sandwiches, panini and appetizers -- plus inordinately good bevvies and espresso -- Shuga's just might rule the night.

Taco Express
Four locations: 4450 Centennial Blvd., 272-4101; 605 N. Circle Drive, 520-3599; 1750 S. Circle Drive, 477-9079; 1455 S. Nevada Ave., 520-5553

Riddle me this: What's more awesome than a late-night Mexican nosh, your munchies resoundingly beat down by spice, cheese and grease? Nothin', that's what. Taco Express has honed its trade, dishing out wicked wee-hours fare for college kids, drinkers and their ilk, all for mere chump change. An endless variety of tacos on soft corn tortillas, hefty breakfast burritos and filling combo plates does the job nicely.

Josh & Johns Naturally Homemade Ice Cream
Two locations: 111 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 632-0299; 5152 N. Academy Blvd., 593-1220

Open until midnight on weekends, Josh & John's is heaven for night-owl sweet-teeth. This, the city's best and most adventurous ice-cream purveyor, often is packed to the sprinkles with students, hipsters and date-night couples, all screamin' for cream. Sweet!

The Blue Star
1645 S. Tejon St. 632-1086

With a truly fantastic wine list and exacting, always creative food, the Star's bar menu is a no-brainer for the late-night peck. Sure, it's a bit costly, but worth it in every way. Its Asian/Mediterranean fusion rates among the Springs' finest, and its ambience and hottie staff are hard to beat.

Club Q
3430 N. Academy Blvd. 570-1429, clubqonline.com

Serving until 2 a.m., Club Q wins the late-night dine-in prize. A sprawling, campy menu (Nice Basket of Fries, anyone?) offers fun food to the city's queer community and their breeder pals, with nightly entertainment, goofy events and drink specials rounding out the offerings.

-- David Torres-Rouff, Aaron Retka, Kathryn Eastburn

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