Joseph Freyre first wandered into a kitchen more than a quarter-century ago, and since then, he hasn't quite managed to leave. He studied traditional techniques at Del Webb Culinary Institute; served a 15-year stint as maitre d' at a five-star, five-diamond hotel; and owned and operated multiple restaurants. He started Joseph's Fine Dining as a simple combination of his love for fine cuisine and the art of tableside preparation, or flambéing.
He's concocted a lot of signature creations over the years, but chief among them stands the pepper-steak flambé, marinated in mango chutney and cast ablaze in French brandy. He follows up his fiery dinners with equally flame-kissed desserts including classics such as bananas foster and cherries jubilee.
Though lunchtime showcases classic Mexican dishes such as flautas, enchiladas, and quesadillas, Las Brisas' dinner menu features a whole new level of inspiration and taste. For more than two decades, the kitchen—under the direction of Chef Ricardo—has churned out inventive Latin-fusion cuisine that draws on flavors from the Mexican coast, as well as Spain, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. He concocts a cavalcade of entrees, ranging from swordfish enchiladas to saffron-infused Spanish paella and fresh Mediterranean salmon. Friday and Saturday nights are as special as a puppy’s first words, with his crew flooding the dining room with the smoky aromas of slow-roasted baby-back ribs and succulent Spanish prime rib. Though many of their menu items are wheat-free by nature, Las Brisas caters to dietary restrictions with a special gluten-free menu that's available upon request.
A grill roars at 725 degrees Fahrenheit, the all-natural mesquite wood charcoal igniting flames that tenderly kiss the fresh cuts of meat and seafood. This centuries-old practice remains preserved in Mesquite Grill Steak & Seafood, owned since 1988 by Robert and Wendy Zamani. The couple are now celebrating the restaurant's 25th anniversary, as well as its 2012 designation as a Top Rated Restaurant by Restaurant.com. Chefs flash grill entrees such as tenderloin until they are deemed worthy to join optional supplements of fried shrimp, lobster tail, or king-crab legs on diners' plates. At lunchtime, the chefs slip grilled specialties such as hand-patted burger meat, gyros, and calamari steak between two slices of bread.
As the smells of grilled salmon, grouper, and clam chowder waft into the dining space, an air of New England emanates from the walls, which are dotted with seaside paintings, ship nets and rigging, and a colossal stuffed marlin that offers menu suggestions to picky eaters. Mesquite Grill Steak & Seafood also showcases Wendy's own hand-painted glassware, which customers can purchase, including wineglasses, decanters, and candleholders, all adorned with nontoxic paints.
For The Creek Seafood Grill owners Paul Stickler and Erin Abromeit, the menu was of the utmost importance. That's because the pair aren't just owners, but lauded chefs in their own right. They put together their years of experience—Paul was operations chef for McCormick’s Fish House and Erin is an award-winning pastry chef—to create artfully paired flavors, such as the shrimp served with Andouille sausage and cheddar grits. They specialize in seafood, with larger portions of favorites such as Cajun-seared tuna steaks and small plates of mix-and-match fare such as P.E.I. mussels steamed in craft beer. Unlike a movie about sharks in tuxedos, the restaurant even has less formal fish options. They incorporate oysters into po' boys and toss shrimp into bowls of penne in a tomato-basil sauce.
When Max Gill and Grill moved into its current location—a building constructed in the early 1900s—it joined a neighborhood institution. The building was originally home to a marine-themed tavern, a popular spot in the Washington Park neighborhood. The restaurant's throwback decor is in keeping with the spirit of the building, while also evoking seafood shack that was plucked right from the beaches of Key West. Today, the restaurant’s rustic, waterfront feel creates the ideal atmosphere in which to bring a homesick pirate, or enjoy blackened ahi tuna burgers and Alaska king crabs. You can even build your own seafood dishes and customize it right down to the cooking technique, such as pan-roasted, grilled, or blackened.
Once upon time, the Stagecoach Inn was as famous for its fried chicken and biscuits as it was for stuffing Dwight D. Eisenhower's tummy and pants pockets with mouthwatering comfort food. Though the clattering of President Eisenhower's cutlery has long since faded from the log cabin, the eatery's fried chicken continues to draw in crowds of hungry locals and travelers alike. Their chefs cook up a well-rounded menu of such time-honored classics as pork chops with molasses and bacon and their signature-stuffed steak, a local favorite. Bartenders uncork Colorado wines and local brews—including Bristol Brewing Company's award-winning Laughing Lab Scottish ale—as hungry guests dig into meaty burgers and classic fish and chips. The Stagecoach Inn's rustic décor evokes the warmth and comfort of dining at a friend's house across its café, lounge, and upstairs dining room. Guests can also enjoy their meals creek-side outdoors or by the warmth of a fire.
Though the Stagecoach Inn has long since established itself as a community staple, Manitou Springs' old-timers remember a time when the old stage stop upheld another distinctive honor. The structure also housed the town's first electric company—an important feat, since Manitou Springs enjoyed electric power before even New York. The rest of the inn's past, however, is a matter of western lore, but many believe this rustic log cabin served as American author and civil rights activist Helen Hunt Jackson’s summer cottage.