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Best Colorado Springs Restaurants

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Every chain restaurant you can imagine has found a home in Colorado Springs. It was here, after all, that drew the focus of the book Fast Food Nation. But the variety of good, local restaurants in Colorado Springs has exploded in the past decade or two. Steaks and American food reign supreme—this is Colorado, after all—but there are plenty of options for those willing to forego the familiar. You can get fresh, filling tacos and other Mexican specialties at taquerias all over town. A couple of Mexican restaurants (Jorge’s and Amanda’s Fonda) are pretty good, others not so much. An abundance of Asian restaurants attests to the town’s large Asian subculture—Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean. Many, like Shangri-La, Jun and Ai Sushi, are excellent. You’ll also find a number of good, local Italian dining spots, and a couple of great German restaurants. Excellent Greek or Mediterranean food, authentic French fare and even Irish pub grub are also available. One of the state’s best vegetarian restaurants, Adam’s Mountain Café, calls this region home.

Penrose Room

Neighborhood: Broadmoor/Southwest Price: Expensive
Colorado’s only five-star, five-diamond restaurant sits atop Broadmoor South, in The Broadmoor resort complex. Watch the sun set over Cheyenne Mountain while you dine in high style to live music. There’s even a dance floor. Service will blow you away, and the cuisine gets high marks, too. The menu changes seasonally, but they always offer the finest steaks and creatively prepared fish dishes. We especially like the Lamb Five Ways. Choose three- or four-course meals or a chef’s tasting menu, and be certain to sample some of the world’s best (and most expensive) wines here. Don’t expect to get a glass for under $10. Every course has a chef’s treat—an amuse bouche, an intermezzo (palate cleanser) and a sweet treat to take home. If you don’t want to pay $100 per person for dinner, the hotel also has some other worthwhile dining spots, from a confection and coffee shop to the excellent, but not fussy, Charles Court (our personal favorite) on the hotel’s lake. Or try Summit, for contemporary casual dining, or the Golden Bee, where you can order a reasonably priced pub sandwich. Wherever you dine at The Broadmoor, you’ll find quality from top to bottom.

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Craftwood Inn

Neighborhood: Manitou Springs Price: Expensive
Originally built as an English Tudor mansion and coppersmith’s shop in 1912, Craftwood Inn has been one of Colorado’s premier historic restaurants since 1940. It was serving regional Colorado cuisine before it had a name. Creative, innovative game dishes feature bison, elk, venison, pheasant, wild boar and antelope; its signature side dish is quinoa. Creativity doesn’t stop at dessert: If you’re adventurous, try the jalapeno—white chocolate mousse; you’ll either love it or hate it. Reservations are recommended.

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Briarhurst Manor

Neighborhood: Manitou Springs Price: Expensive
You’ll love the castle-like setting and intimate dining spaces here. The Briarhurst Manor was built by Dr. William A. Bell in 1874 as a summer home. When it burned in 1886, he rebuilt it of stone. It passed through several owners until it was turned into a restaurant in 1974, setting a new standard for fine dining in Manitou Springs. It specializes in well-prepared continental and American cuisine, with unique treatments of everything from beef Wellington to elk tournedos. Meals come with breads an amuse bouche, salad, and an intermezzo, and each entrée has a carefully chosen side accompaniment. It’s a particularly popular restaurant for groups and weddings because of its huge indoor and outdoor meeting spaces. Reservations are recommended.

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Marigold Cafe & Bakery

Neighborhood: Northwest Price: Moderate
Want a Broadmoor-quality meal at half the price (or less)? Check out Marigold Café and Bakery, a popular French bistro-style restaurant. Service is great, if not five-star—nobody will “crumb” your table and they won’t replace all your silverware six times. The best French bread, pastries and desserts in town pair with excellent preparations of steaks, seafood and our favorite, a gorgeous rack of lamb and lamb chops. Whether you get a rustic pizza or a finely sauced fish dish, you’ll be happy. And don’t miss out on the best thing on the menu—the creamy scalloped potatoes; if they don’t come with your entrée, order them on the side.

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Blue Star

Neighborhood: Broadmoor/Southwest Price: Moderate
This trendy, contemporary dining spot has earned national attention for its extensive wine cellar. A hip décor and young wait staff give it an energy more elegant places lack. Snack on tapas in the cocktail lounge (with small plates and big flavors borrowed from various world cuisines), get a fabulous burger, or choose a full-blown meat-centric meal starring boneless pork chops, trout or a steak. Whatever you choose, they’ll offer an unusual preparation. Also check out the tasty vegetarian options, such as the Portobello tartare or the spinach-and-arugula canneloni. Exotic spices, unexpected food pairings (grilled watermelon salsa with lime chips?) and interesting fusion cuisine will perk up your appetite. If you get a chance, try its sister restaurant, Nosh, downtown.

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Edelweiss Restaurant

Neighborhood: Broadmoor/Southwest Price: Moderate
A large subculture of German immigrants, dating back to post-World War II, gave rise to a number of good German restaurants in Colorado Springs. None has endured better than Edelweiss, which has been serving sausages and schnitzels for more than 40 years. They import German beer and wine to accompany their chicken cordon bleu, salmon and steaks. There’s a fire burning in the fireplace on cold winter nights, an authentic biergarten in summer, and who can resist singing Edelweiss along with the live musicians on Friday and Saturday nights?

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La Baguette

Neighborhood: Old Colorado City/West Side Price: Budget
The smell of fresh-baked French bread will lure you into La Baguette like a bee to a flower. Crusty rolls, fat loaves of rye, and the quintessential baguette make for good sandwiches or accompaniments to the world’s best French onion soup (simmered three full days before serving). Tender croissants and other pastries make it a favorite local stop in the mornings, too. A few salads, including an authentic French house salad, daily soup specials (all good) and a few richly outstanding desserts with a European flair complete the simple menu. A sprig of grapes, a wedge of cheese…who could ask for more?

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Panino's

Neighborhood: Downtown Price: Budget
This Italian favorite has been owned for 35 years by a local hockey family. The original restaurant, on Tejon Street, catered to Colorado College students. Originally called Pizza Plus, it became famous for its folded pizza sandwiches, called paninos long before the panini sandwich became popular. The name changed, but it still serves the best pizza and paninos in town. They don’t stop at sausage and pepperoni, either. You can find a broad variety of paninos on the menu, from Philly cheese steak to Mexican style. Or make up your own combo—they’re game. Also try their ravioli and lasagna, if you get a chance. We especially like the prime rib on Friday and Saturday nights. The restaurant has a second location at 1721 S. 8th Street, in the city’s Southwest sector.

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Front Range Barbeque

Neighborhood: Old Colorado City/West Side Price: Budget
With a full bar, live music and patio dining in summer, you’ll feel welcome at Front Range Barbecue, one of the city’s older barbecue restaurants. Some pretty good “Q” gets paired with some unusual sides (try the smoked, deep-fried artichokes), and the menu includes more than just the usual pulled-pork and beef brisket. Try the pulled-chicken or the catfish dinner if you’re not a red meat fan. This is Southern cooking served up with Southern hospitality. Try the new east-side location, if you’re out that direction; it’s on Templeton Gap Road.

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Casita Patio Cafe (La)

Neighborhood: Broadmoor/Southwest Price: Budget
This semi—fast-food eatery offers tasty, inexpensive, homemade Mexican specialties, from tacos to fajitas to burritos, all wrapped with warm, homemade and very fresh tortillas. Try the tamales, too. Mornings, the breakfast burritos are packed with goodies. Belly up to the salsa bar to choose hot or mild, chunky or smooth sauces to accompany your meal. The places could be cleaner (they need to sweep the floor way more often) and the tables and chairs are pretty uncomfortable, but for a cheap, authentic taste of New Mexico, this is your spot. Hint: Get your food to go. A sister café is located at 4295 N. Nevada Avenue.

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