Fly fishers who hit the Deckers/Cheesman Canyon area know about this roadside gem around 20 minutes north (and an hour southwest of metro Denver). But so do plenty of other outdoor enthusiasts who’ve enjoyed its constantly changing menu over the past 15 years since Kurt and Karen Blackwell took over.

Our awesome bartender/server Dee Dee tells us Kurt has a deep hospitality background from the East Coast, which explains a fairly gourmet menu given the rustic setting. We order an app, couple of drinks and some flagship burgers that stay on the daily list of offerings.

Wyoming’s highly awarded Melvin IPA on draft bursts with beautiful hops, and we can’t resist a house well vodka (though there is a quality top shelf) Spicy Bloody Mary thanks to the description: “Kurt’s 37-year-old Bloody Mary mix.” (No, it’s not aged, just a descriptor trying to say the recipe is that old — we have a good laugh with Dee Dee and it’s well-made.)

The go-for app we’re lucky to discover is a basket of gluten-free, rice flour-battered cauliflower florets with a choice of teriyaki, buffalo or barbecue sauces (we request small sides of all three; commercial but serviceable) and a blue cheese dip. Soda water makes the shell airy and tempura-like and we particularly love them with the (Frank’s RedHot) buffalo sauce.

Another vegetarian offering, the “locally made” guacamole hemp burger, has good grainy flavor with notes of Italian seasoning but can’t escape a mushy consistency that blends into the mashed avocado, while Pepper Jack adds a little rich spice on a basic brioche bun.

More favorable to us, the thick, half-pound Zoka Burger earns its $15.99 price with seldom-seen Cambozola blue cheese (a triple cream gorgonzola), caramelized onions and kick-ass sweet-and-spicy bacon strips on ciabatta bread (an interesting choice that adds to the European-ness). Our sides of crisp, dry-style slaw and sweet-laced sweet potato fries are steady.

Food & Drink Editor

Matthew Schniper is the Food and Drink Editor at the Colorado Springs Indy. He began freelancing with the Indy in mid-2004 and joined full-time in early 2006, contributing arts, food, environmental and feature writing.

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