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The Springs' thickening stew 

Street Smarts

No one's calling us a culinary capital at the moment. But as Colorado Springs' population diversifies, the restaurant scene steadily — and tastefully — evolves with it.

click to enlarge David Fein

David Fein of the north end runs a software company

Rate the local restaurant scene. In general, not all that great. Colorado Springs isn't exactly known for food.

What's the best-kept secret, restaurant-wise, in town? Springs Orleans. Their seafood chowder is fabulous.

What's the best place to eat on a budget? Chipotle.

If you opened a restaurant, what would your specialty be?Something this town really needs — truly excellent seafood.

What's your all-time favorite restaurant? Nepenthe, in Big Sur. It's perched atop this hill overlooking the ocean and the food is excellent. The experience is magical.

click to enlarge Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown of downtown works in a bookstore

Assess the local restaurant scene. It can't really match what Boulder and Denver offer, but I like what a lot of downtown and west side restaurants are doing.

Where would you eat if tonight were your last in town? The Rabbit Hole, because I love the ambience and it has an inventive menu, or the Blue Star because it has such excellent wine pairings.

What's the best place to eat after 10 p.m.? Either the Rabbit Hole, because they have a full menu after 10, or SuperNova, because I like to drink there and they've added things to their menu like a burger with a fried egg and jalapeños.

What's your all-time favorite restaurant? A sushi place in Denver called Izakaya Den. They have a crawfish roll that's absolutely amazing — and I'm from Texas, where we love our crawfish.

click to enlarge Sammy Shaw

Sammy Shaw of Corral Bluffs is a test engineer

Rate the local restaurant scene. Good variety. My wife and I use Groupons to eat at places we haven't been to before.

Where would you eat if this were your last night in town? Probably [Johnny's] Navajo Hogan for the broasted chicken.

Where's the best place to eat on a budget? Sandy's for breakfast. You get a huge omelet, big enough for my wife and I to split.

What's your best-ever restaurant meal? Lobster at this place on the California coast that overlooks the ocean. We ate there on our honeymoon.

How about locally in the past year? A four-course meal at Briarhurst Manor [Estate]. I had seafood, my wife had steak.

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