Restaurants - Central 

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2000 Wok

Chinese ~ $

115 E. Fillmore St., 633-6900

Do you really need to be told how awesome a deal $1.75 per item is? Your "item" can be a giant scoop of fried rice or lo mein, or beef and broccoli, or our personal favorite: spicy chicken with onions and pineapple, ready for drenching in Sriracha. Get it to-go — the portions are bigger.

Amuzé at the FAC

Gourmet ~ $$$

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

In July 2010, Amuzé chef Bill Sherman traded in his four-table Palmer Lake space for the room and responsibility of dishing in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Here, his French influences emerge in artistic ways, like the Zia sun symbol arrangement of the filet mignon carpaccio, which pays homage to the FAC's architectural leanings. Look for brunch, lunch and (pricey) dinner service, including special pre-theater menus.

Arabica Café

Mediterranean ~ $

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

Arabica Café owner and Palestine native Kamel Elwazeir won this year's Best Of pick for his standout hummus, a thick, rich chickpea blend with a perfect balance of lemon, cumin and tahini. It's his mother's recipe, and it's delicious paired with most of his menu. The outfit's beef shawarma is also a highlight, laced with Lebanese spices and marinated overnight to deliver great flavor.

Bistro de Pinto

Gourmet ~ $$$

26 E. Kiowa St., 473-3538, bistrodepinto.com

Bistro de Pinto opened in 2006 under Tammy and Mike Pinto and has been a downtown fine-dining fixture ever since. Meats are sourced from Ranch Foods Direct, one sign that they put a lot of care into their creative menu. Lunch items include soups, salads, burgers, pastas and a few Mexican plates. Dinner brings starters such as lobster ravioli and entrées like a brandy apricot chicken.

The Blue Star

Gourmet ~ $$$

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

The Blue Star netted our readers' vote for Best Overall Restaurant for a third year running in 2010. So, really, what else do you need to know? That they also won for Best Wait Staff, Fine Dining and Restaurant Wine List? Fine. The lounge and dinner menus are roughly the same price these days, so sit wherever you're comfortable, unless you're after a burger (lounge) versus a rack of wild boar (dining room). Incoming head chef Daniel Gerson and chef de cuisine Andrew Sherrill recently added new menu items, with more on the way. Wine tastings and dinners abound; whenever you go, save room for pastry chef Alicia Prescott's superb sweets.

Borriello Brothers

Pizza ~ $

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

From seven Springs locations, Borriello Brothers dishes out our readers' favorite pizza. Pies are 18-inch, hand-tossed New York-style beauties, topped with the standards of your choosing. Personal-sized gluten-free pizzas are also available, as are salads, subs, appetizers and calzones. But really, wouldn't you rather be eating the Five Boroughs pie: olives, bell peppers, mushrooms, sausage and pepperoni?

Cafe El Paso

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

3840 N. Nevada Ave., 634-3940

El Paso native Sandra Santoscoy-Sherer and her husband Paul opened Cafe El Paso 10 years ago and have earned loyalty with items like stuffed jalapeños under mango jalapeño salsa. The menu of Tex-Mex classics also features a popular Dos Pistolas salsa that has recently experienced a retail explosion. It's sold in Whole Foods and Albertsons, and the cafe's Travis Taylor says they're currently moving 4,000 jars weekly.

Caspian Café

Mediterranean ~ $$

4375 Sinton Road, 528-1155, caspiancafe.com

It's Mediterranean in spirit, but multi-ethnic in practice. Dish influences come from Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and beyond. From the huge menu, start with hummus, mussels or the awesome eggplant in spicy honey sauce. Then go for a gyros platter, lamb shank or vegetarian moussaka. Finish with baklava or our favorite, the orange and saffron caramel custard.

China Village

Chinese ~ $

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

China Village is in its 28th year of serving delicious and affordable Szechuan and Mandarin eats (what most of us just call Chinese), and the free delivery option within four miles has earned many a faithful customer. The menu is huge, and lunches come with rice and an egg roll and top out at $6.45. The dinner menu counts up to some 129 items: just about every way you can imagine that shrimp, beef, pork, chicken and vegetable can be stir-fried and sauced.

The Corner Cafe

Café ~ $

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

Because of its proximity to our office and its general excellence, the Corner Cafe remains a favorite Indy destination. Owners Virginia and Bob Smoot brought their homey ways from California in 2004 and immediately captured the hearts of the courthouse crowd and downtown workers. Their sandwiches, made from sustainably sourced meats, are entirely satisfying, especially next to fries and a cup of Bob's outstanding pork green chile. Breakfast specials are also great, particularly with Bob's garlic habañero ketchup.

The Curry Leaf Restaurant

Greater Asia/Sri Lankan ~ $

26 S. Wahsatch Ave., 447-0608, curryleafrestaurant.com

The Springs' only Sri Lankan restaurant, the Curry Leaf is a delight. Run by native Sri Lankan Lana Hillstrom, it captures the true flavors of a country with culinary influences that include India, Malaysia, China and Western European nations. Amazing curries reveal hints of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and more rare spices like rumpe and goraka. The chicken curry is particularly euphoric, and the deviled shrimp will burn you. End with the stellar coconut caramel custard.

Dale Street Café

Café/Bistro ~ $$

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

Set in a charming Victorian, Dale Street boasts a extensive lunch and dinner menu that's made it a downtown staple. The artichoke dip and cream of artichoke soup are two starter standouts. From there, you can go pizza, pasta, quiche, frittata or sandwich. Entrées usher in everything from Jaegerschnitzel to Cajun pasta to peanut-crusted mahi mahi.

Edelweiss Restaurant

German ~ $$

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

Our Best Of winner for the past 13 years, Edelweiss delivers an authentic taste of Germany with delicious schnitzel, bratwurst, sauerbraten, steak selections and much more. Lunch brings sandwiches like a Reuben and Cordon Bleu — and spätzle for the kiddies. Most exciting for some diners is the wide German draft list with all the fine imports you desire (see: Franziskaner Weissbier). Drink 'em out of a big boot for $20, or just go with the half-liter for $5.25.

El Taco Rey

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

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

"The Taco King" has reigned supreme downtown since 1976, under the great care of the Aguilar family. It's often tough to find a seat in the small eatery during lunch hours, a testament to how great the Mexican standards are here. The avocado pork burrito wins the most awards, but you truly won't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Everest Nepal Restaurant

Greater Asia/Nepalese/Indian ~ $

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

Operated by the same folks who run the Everest Tibet Imports store across the street, Everest Nepal Restaurant is a downtown staple for an affordable weekday lunch buffet. Nepali and Indian staples rule the roost: daal dishes, curry plates, wonderfully seasoned meats and vibrant veggie offerings pair well with sweet lassis, chai tea or beer.

The Famous

Steakhouse ~ $$$

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

A regular contender (and winner) in the Steakhouse and Restaurant for Carnivores categories in our annual Best Of guide, the Famous presents some of the priciest plates in town, including a $50, 24-ounce Porterhouse for people who believe that eating that much meat in one sitting is a bright idea. All the high-end steaks are, of course, delicious and tasty, and family-style sides pair beautifully. If you just want to gaze over dark wood and feel leather on your bum, nab a $12, kick-ass cheeseburger at lunch.

The Flow of Mexico

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

16 E. Bijou St., 633-2526

The Flow of Mexico thus far has held its ground in a spot that's spurned other Mexican outfits. Why? Because owner and chef Jose "Chelis" Luis Flores is a badass with 35 years' culinary experience. His is no mediocre Tex-Mex. Where others are greasy and heavy, Flow is crisp, fresh and somehow lighter. Try the excellent and chocolatey mole de pollo or get the ceviche de pescado y camarón or campechana: giant goblets of mixed seafood bearing refreshing citrus broths, cilantro, tomatoes and a touch of jalapeño heat.

Fratelli Ristorante Italiano

Italian ~ $$

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

For 16 years, Fratelli has been dishing out an outstanding, authentic blend of Northern and Southern Italian cuisine, including classics like linguine con carne and fettuccine Bolognese. Look for separate lunch and dinner menus and a great wine list as well as iconic Italian desserts like tiramisu, gelato and Grand Marnier Crème.


Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

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

Winner of this year's Best Happy Hour, Fujiyama just released a new sushi menu that sports hilariously named, complex rolls like the Michael Jackson (too soon?), X-Men, Moby Dick, Sugar Daddy and Deer Butt. Drop by to find out what's in them, or just go for standard two-piece nigiri selections. Lunch inside the bamboo-accented walls brings delicious and affordable noodle bowls and bento boxes. Dinner offers a teppanyaki menu and a show at hibachi grills.

Giuseppe's Old Depot Restaurant

Italian ~ $$

10 S. Sierra Madre St., 635-3111, giuseppesdepot.com

The roughly 40-year-old restaurant had taken a turn toward the unpalatable in recent years, but the addition of chef Brent Beavers — of the much-missed Sencha — has changed much of that. Out went the can openers, and in came fresh sauces made from scratch. Beavers says he has a three-year plan to turn Giuseppe's into the best Italian in the city, and he's off to a fine start. The ribeye steak is thick and buttery, while the grilled sausage pasta sports well-spiced Polidori Sausage from Denver.

Il Vicino

Pizza ~ $

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

Il Vicino is a small chain that now extends into four states, but its downtown eatery has always felt local. It's popular for a pint and a delectable, gourmet wood-oven pizza. The paninis and salads are also satisfying. Beer is no longer made at this site, but the outfit recently completed a new brewery in Albuquerque to meet demand for all the locations.

Jack Quinn Irish Alehouse & Pub

Irish/English ~ $$

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

"Quinn's," our regular Best Irish Pub winner, is a downtown staple, and offers more than a good pint of Guinness in a traditional pub setting. It's also home to an enormous weekly running club, traditional Irish music sessions and a pub quiz. As for dining, in addition to American pub standards, look for more unusual Irish fare like a Celtic Reuben, Irish Stout Beef Boxty, or a traditional Irish breakfast.

José Muldoon's

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

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

Perennial winner in the Best Patio Dining category for its lovely interior atrium as well as sidewalk tables downtown, José's thrilled east-siders by opening a second location in late 2009. Springs diners love the weekday happy hour deals from 4 to 7 and specials like a Sunday margarita brunch from 9:30 to 2. Otherwise, they come for tasty Tex-Mex staples, a sizzling skillet of buffalo, or lighter fare like the vegetable topolobampo. (Try and say that after three house margaritas.)

Judge Baldwin's Brewing Company

Brewpub ~ $

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

Judge Baldwin's has always promoted a generous happy hour to lure those not staying at the hotel into the sharp space. The house-made beers don't top those from other local microbreweries, but under former Plate World Cuisine chef Ryan Blanchard, the eats have improved. Catch a game at the bar and go for the Maine Lobster Roll sandwich.

King's Chef Diner

Diner ~ $

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

Winner (again) of Best Of's greasy spoon trifecta — Diner, Late-Night Dining and Green Chili — King's Chef is famous for its seriously hot vegetarian green chili (with a gluten-free version now, too). That sauce is so freakin' good, you can now buy it at places like Whole Foods. When dining at either location, pour it over the enormous breakfast burrito or try it on the green chili cheeseburger. Hello gut-bomb goodness, goodbye hangover.

La Baguette

Café/Bakery ~ $

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

There are essentially four area La Baguette stores locally. Each is operated independently and keeps a slightly different menu, but all receive their baked goods from the Old Colorado City location. The Kelly Johnson Boulevard location recently changed its name to La Tartine, though, and the Chestnut Street location added "French Bistro" to its name and plans to open for dinner soon. Visit all three websites to study the French-inspired menus, which include a great French onion soup and affordable baguette sandwiches.

La Casita Mexican Grill

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

4295 N. Nevada Ave., lacasitamexigrill.com

With its pink stucco buildings, La Casita doesn't trade in subtlety — it trades in value, and delicious, bountiful salsas as well as quality Tex-Mex standards. The enchiladas always hit the spot, and the braised pork carnitas with guacamole are delicious. Satisfying breakfast plates in the $5 range include huevos rancheros and eggs and chorizo. Load up on the aforementioned salsas at the complimentary garnish bar.

La Creperie Bistro

Crêperie ~ $$$

204 N. Tejon St., 632-0984

In a year when four other crêperies opened locally, our readers still voted La Creperie to the top, speaking to its 30-plus years as a local favorite for Francophiles and American crêpe-lovers alike. The tiny dining room and cozy sidewalk patio offer a charming intimacy in which to enjoy your savory or sweet treat. A full French menu and lovely wine list complement the popular pancakes.

Louie's Pizza

333. N. Tejon St.; 1146 E. Fillmore St., louies-pizza.com

Since 1985, family-owned and -operated Louie's has rocked affordable Italian pastas, sandwiches, salads and of course pizzas, growing to five Springs locations currently. The buttery garlic bread is a favorite, and the pizzas and calzones are plenty hearty. "La Fruita" dessert pizzas put fruit spreads and icing over a cinnamon-sugar crust.

Luigi's Homemade Italian Food

Italian ~ $$

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

Leo and Anne Cervetti opened Luigi's in 1958. Today, their daughter, Gina Costley, and her husband Les run the eatery. The authentic, Northern Italian food thankfully hasn't changed. Rich, homemade sauces define the pastas and stone-baked pizzas. From ravioli to rib eyes, Luigi's pleases, then finishes you off with a yummy tiramisu.

MacKenzie's Chop House

Gourmet/Steakhouse ~ $$$

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

Concept Restaurants' swankiest joint, MacKenzie's is the dark wood, exposed brick, subterranean lair where carnivores go to feast and sip specialty martinis. Talented chef Pete Moreno oversees the large menu and a weekly fresh sheet that sports some of the best choices. Steaks run from around $24 to $39, but favorites like the basil-poblano tortellini will only set you back $16.95. Cut that price nearly in half at lunch next to items like a stellar $9.95 Reuben.

McCabe's Tavern

Irish/English ~ $

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

With more than 20 primo Irish whiskeys in addition to a large, international beer list, McCabe's could be considered a drink destination first, especially during European soccer matches, pub quiz nights and Colorado College hockey games. But there's plenty of authentic Irish eats as well, in addition to a rockin' Sunday brunch. Grab the divine Rosemary Guinness Lamb Stew at lunch or a shepherd's pie or bangers & mash for dinner.

Mediterranean Café

Mediterranean ~ $

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

When you've been voted Best Mediterranean for so many years in a row, you've eventually got to break out of your routine of domination and try something new. Why not a cupcake truck? Seriously, that's what Mike Bergman and Pat Kennelly did a few months back (see thespringscupcaketruck.com), and someday we may see a mobile Mediterranean cart. Meanwhile, the downtown outfit's food is simply fantastic, with bright flavors, fresh ingredients and damn good renditions of the usual suspects.

Monica's Taco Shop

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $

30 E. Fillmore St., 473-1996

Really cheap prices and a killer salsa verde — what more do you want, people? Monica's continues to garner the Indy's Best Tacqueria/Taco Cart award for standout dishes like the chorizo burrito, and carne asada or adobada tacos. Get extra guacamole. The fat breakfast burritos also must be tried, whether having imbibed the night before or not.

Montague's Parlour

Tea/Café ~ $

1019 S. Tejon St., 623-6774, montaguesparlour.com

Montague's charms with comfortable antique furniture that encourages unplanned lingering over conversation and that piece of amazing cake you just can't resist. Before it, you will have already shared a pot of fine loose-leaf tea or a couple of dolled-up coffee drinks in giant mugs. Or maybe you've just come in for a delicate soup and sandwich. It's open until midnight on weekends.

North End Diner

Diner ~ $

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

The North End Diner is a hodgepodge of good ideas: free Wi-Fi, meat from Ranch Foods Direct, a buy-one-burger-get-one-for-five-cents deal on Wednesdays, and more. Around since 1958, the diner also proudly offers jobs to help ex-convicts successfully re-adjust to society (though it won't accept anyone who has served time for a violent crime). Consider a burger with benefits.


Gourmet ~ $$

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

A perennial winner in our Best Of issues, this past year for Appetizers/Tapas and Innovative Menu, Nosh is usually tasty and always interesting. Chef Shane Lyons' Crispy Korean Wings took our pick as the best dish we reviewed in 2010, and it's commitment to unusual and diverse flavors is as compelling to the senses as the giant koi pond wall décor in the dining room. Oh ... and the spicy bison sandwich at lunch: amazing.

The Olive Branch Restaurant

Café/Bistro ~ $$

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

The Olive Branch has been a downtown go-to for more than 20 years for all meals of the day. New, extensive gluten-free menus show that it knows how to adapt to demand. Overall highlights: a juice bar (tons of drink options, for that matter); pancakes and omelettes until 4; the French Dip sandwich at lunch; and steak and seafood entrées at dinner.

The Omelette Parlor

Diner ~ $

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

Winner for Best Breakfast in each of the past 14 years, the Omelette Parlor is the type of place whose parking lot is perpetually packed during morning and lunch hours. There's a full sandwich and salad menu we've never tried because we can't stay away from the delightful breakfast items: Belgian "Wa-fulls," eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros, biscuits and gravy, and, of course, cleverly named three-egg omelettes.


American ~ $

3 E. Bijou St., 571-9854, opbandj.com

Opb&j spins the childhood staple of peanut butter and jelly into a full-on, mostly organic meal. More than 700 variations are available from the combination of the restaurant's 10 bread options with toppings like watercress, sprouts and sugar snap peas, and jellies that range from sweet to savory to spicy. But if you've never been, get the Bomb.

Oscar's Oyster Bar

Pub Food ~ $

333 S. Tejon St., 471-8070

Oscar's is a downtown go-to at lunch hours for a satisfying, largely better-than-bar-food menu of thick burgers and sandwiches, plus gourmet treats like a spicy seafood gumbo and fresh oysters. The outfit wins a perennial pick for Best Smokin' Patio, where local tunes may also be enjoyed over drinks. By night, it's known more as a bar.

Panino's Restaurant

Italian ~ $

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

Though it also has single locations in Minnesota and Fort Collins, longtime Springs dining hub Panino's is family-owned and -operated, and offers a hearty menu with pizzas, pasta, salads and more than 30 signature baked Panino sandwiches. Weekly specials and generous happy hours vary slightly between the locations, but look for promotions like all-you-can-eat pizza for $6.99, or spaghetti for $8.99.

Paris Crepe Euro Café

Creperie ~ $

218 N. Tejon St., 444-0110, pariscrepeeurocafe.org

A full-fledged member of Colorado Springs' crêpe surge, Paris Crepe goes the bargain route, offering regional crêpes of varying quality for $3 to $7.95. The Thai beef is a wonderful example: Made from a rice-flour batter, it's full of peanut crumbles, pickled pear, cilantro and peanut sauce. The sweet crêpes overall eclipse the savories, with well-made usual suspects and all-out rock stars like the S'more and cheesecake crêpes.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.

Brewpub ~ $$

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

Gov. John Hickenlooper opened Phantom Canyon Brewery in 1993; it's since changed hands but remains a downtown cornerstone with excellent pool tables and solid, higher-end pub food. Brewer Alan Stiles put out some excellent beers in 2010 and our readers voted Phantom as Best Restaurant for Tourists, probablly because the famous and spectacular Blonde Ale and smoked Gouda soup.


Thai/Vietnamese ~ $

125 N. Spruce St., 329-0705

In a challenging spot near the Bijou Street bridge, Pho-N-Thai dishes not only Asian standards, but American items like wings and a Philly cheese steak. The service is great, the price is right (cheap!), and you'll do well to stick with the green curry. Oh — and dig the unprecedented three free refills on Thai iced tea.

Poor Richard's & Rico's Coffee, Chocolate and Wine Bar

Pizza/Drink House ~ $$

322-324 N. Tejon St., 632-7721, poorrichards.biz

The fact that Richard Skorman's Poor Richard's and Rico's took first and second places, respectively, in 2010 for Best Place to Dine Alone (in addition to several other food awards and a Best Wine Bar nod for Rico's) makes them sound like somber hermitages. They're actually super-lively hangouts where loners can somehow blend in comfortably. Rico's has your tastes covered with fine wines, drinking chocolates, teas and coffee drinks, and Poor Richard's satisfies that never-ending craving for awesome gourmet pizza. The adjoining book and toy stores make food waits painless.

Rasta Pasta

Italian Caribbean Fusion ~ $$

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

Rasta Pasta started in Breckenridge and Fort Collins and expanded to a Springs location thanks to some devoted locals. Its menu relies heavily on a proprietary blend of dry jerk seasoning and a house marinara sauce, with choice of heat level. Try the odd and awesome Tortellini Jamaica Mon or stick with the signature Rasta Pasta. Bananas Marley finishes strong; a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 offers $2 Red Stripes and more.

Ritz Grill

Gourmet Bistro ~ $$

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

Lunch at the Ritz, which turns 24 this year, draws the business crowd, and Don Draper wannabes get the $15 executive plate of a 12-ounce New York strip with asparagus, mashed potatoes and a house martini. Dinner can be cheap with a $10 pizza or flashy with a $27 filet topped with Gorgonzola. Catch regular happy hours, weekend brunches and a lively club scene with live music and DJs at night.

Roman Villa Pizza

Italian ~ $$

3005 N. Nevada Ave., 635-1806

Roman Villa dates to 1959, and in the 14-table dining room, the Biondi family has literally served several generations of other local families with delicious Italian staples made from scratch. The crispy-crust pizzas are great, especially with the homemade sausage. The ravioli also makes for a smart choice.

Rumi's Kabab

Greater Asia/Afghani ~ $

36 E. Bijou St., 635-7749

Rumi's, aptly named for the mystic poet, is the Springs' only Afghani restaurant, and its floral flavors are brilliant, touching on both Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Catch hints of rosewater and cardamom and enjoy delicious yogurt sauces such as the one that covers the kadu, made from sweet baked pumpkins. Owner Shams Forough recently swapped the lunch buffet for walk-up window service onto the Bijou sidewalk with quick, tasty gyros and falafel. But you can still dine from the full menu of kababs and the like inside for lunch and dinner.

Saigon Café

Vietnamese ~ $$

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

If it's award-winning, and it's Vietnamese, it's Saigon Café. This downtown staple took our award for Best Vietnamese for the eighth consecutive year, mostly on the power of its noodle bowls and great service. A large lunch menu boasts more than 19 combination plates alone. Even better, each plate comes with white rice, soup and an egg roll — not a bad haul for around $8.


Café/Drink House ~ $

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

You might say that Shuga's is a great place to end the night, but it's a little too specific: Shuga's is a great place to start the night, spend the night and end the night. The boozy cocktails are quality, the atmosphere is always changing — a flock of folded paper cranes dominated as of this writing — and the food, especially the ever-lauded Brazilian coconut shrimp soup, is as good as the drinks.

Slayton's Tejon Street Grill

Barbecue ~ $$

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

Part of the local Rocky Mountain Restaurant Group, like Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill, Slayton's specializes in Kansas City-style barbecue smoked with apple and hickory wood. In addition to ribs, brisket, pulled pork and the like, look for upscale burgers like the Guinness Stout Burger and classic salads and sandwiches.

Smiley's Bakery & Café

Café ~ $

323 N. Tejon St., 328-9447

Smiley's delivers kitschy, but quaint, décor, with antique kitchen tables, novelty signs and houseplants galore. Its deli counter demands attention with pies, pastries and muffins, but Smiley's makes solid sandwiches and soups as well. French toast, pancakes and egg plates, including quiches, are popular at breakfast.

Sonterra Innovative Southwest Grill

Mexican/Southwestern ~ $$

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

Like Slayton's (above), Sonterra claims on its website to use local and organic ingredients when possible, which is always appreciated, as are the gluten-free options. The "innovative Southwest grill," complete with cacti and a cool, cloud-painted ceiling, is otherwise known for dry-aged steaks and gourmet, Coastal Mexican-type seafood plates enlivened by accents such as a sweet chile mango chutney. Catch $3 tapas, $3 to $5 drink specials and $5 to $9 app specials from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 3 to 7, Mondays through Fridays.

SouthSide Johnny's

Pub Food ~ $

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

For those who love high-energy dining, SouthSide Johnny's offers an above-par menu in a packed atmosphere with a great soundtrack. You might come just for the drinks and the music, but you'd be missing out on tasty highlights like chicken tenders tossed in Asian bruja hot sauce, Kobe sliders on pretzel rolls, or at dinner, grilled lemon-caper ahi tuna steaks. Look for Johnny's Navajo Hogan, a similar venture, to open on North Nevada Avenue.

Springs Orleans

Cajun/Southern ~ $$

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

Originally opened this past fall as Il Postino — the first arm of the upcoming The Mining Exchange, A Wyndham Hotel project — what's now Springs Orleans has undergone several changes and growing pains. Out with the healthy concept menu and old chef, and in with former Blue Star chef James Davis and a Cajun/American menu featuring Po-boys, burgers, Southern "tapatizers", gumbo, étouffée, pastas and build-your-own platters for $19.99. Look for the opening of outdoor patio dining — including beignets and café au lait — sometime this summer.

Taste of Jerusalem Café

Mediterranean/Yemeni ~ $

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

Once part of the conflict-strewn Heart of Jerusalem Café dynasty, Taste of Jerusalem and owner Abdul Nasser broke away in 2009, and added a Yemeni spin to what had been a classic Mediterranean menu. Though some dishes still resemble HOJ items, the menu has grown to encompass delicious marinated kababs and lively new veggie and meat platters in addition to the usual suspects.

Tony's Bar

Pub Food ~ $

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

Three words: fried cheese curds. For those who get excited at the sight of a Pabst logo and who like their bar food to double as a coronary threat, the menu at Tony's is a dream come true. Actually, the smiling Blue Ribbon man with the cheesehead toque looks a little like some of our relatives back in the Midwest, which is exactly where Tony's feels like it was transplanted from. The clientele is pure Springs, though — in fact, residents have chosen it Best Bang-for-Your-Buck Bar for six years running.

The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery

Gourmet ~ $$$

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

Featuring a gallery-style succession of artwork and chic décor as well as Chip Johnson's intriguing take on dinner-date favorites like seared ahi tuna and steak Oskar, the Warehouse offers fine dining with a locavore's twist. Many of the star ingredients come from Colorado ranchers and growers, as in the tender spinach and squash gnocchi or the caramelized Redmesa lamb shank with mole barbecue sauce.

Wooglin's Deli & Café

Café ~ $

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

Many folks probably spent their undergrad years thinking that places like Wooglin's didn't exist, and wishing that they did. With a cozy, offbeat atmosphere, live music, and all-from-scratch menu that specializes in excellent coffee drinks, veggie chili, hot and cold "overstuffed" sandwiches, burgers, quesadillas and salads, it's a paradise for CC students and Springs residents alike.

Yoo Mae

Sushi/Japanese ~ $$

21 E. Kiowa St., 473-8105

Few sushi restaurants feature a giant map of the United States as part of the décor. But then again, few sushi restaurants are helmed by a man like chef JJ Kim, whose take on Japanese cuisine is as inventive as it is tasty. Where most menus stop at the California roll, Kim's offers diners the chance to eat Rhode Island, Alabama and all the rest in sushi form as well. (Hence the map.) The convivial atmosphere and generous lunch specials make Yoo Mae a can't-miss for sushi devotees.

Click here for a Central Colorado Springs map!


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