In 1984, against the advice of certain friends and family members, a man named Frankie opened a pub on the East Side of Colorado Springs. He began with little more than a small storefront and a chalkboard on which he scrawled the day's burgers and sandwiches. But over the next three decades, to the surprise of everyone except the people who ate Frankie's food, the bar doubled in size. Frankie opened a patio, installed big-screen TVs, and, with the help of his wife—who was once just one of his patrons—began printing real menus. Today, Frankie keeps his visitors full with burgers, steaks, hand-battered onion rings, and other pub eats—most of which are recipes he's been making for years and some of which were inspired by dreams about storm clouds raining nacho cheese.
But Frankie's isn't just about food and beer, it's also about community. Throughout football season, his TVs broadcast the professional and college-level games in College Tickets, games on Sunday, Monday and Thursday Tickets and ESPN's Gameplan package, ranging from regular-season match-ups to special conference games. And every Saturday, live music draws newly formed friends to the dance floor, keeping them moving long into the night.
On any given night, during any sports season, fans can gather at Overtime Sports Bar & Grill to watch their team play on a host of flat screen TVs. But it's not just about the sports here. There's also a full menu of classic grill food and a full bar stocked with frosty brews and mixed drinks. The bar hosts 10-week long poker tournaments on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Occasionally, a murder mystery crops up, with bar patrons playing the role of suspects and sleuths simultaneously, meaning they all have to figure out how to use a magnifying glass as a shield.
Though the façade hasn’t changed much since Drake Hill Sports Bar and Grill moved into the spot formerly occupied by Cafe El Paso, the interior has utterly transformed according to The Gazette. A pool table, seven flat-screen TVs, and walls hung with sports memorabilia subtly hint at the obsessions of the new occupants, and that rousing ambiance is fueled by a menu of wings, grilled sandwiches, and fried appetizers. They’ve even dedicated an entire page of the menu to build-your-own burgers and dogs: diners can top each selection with five types of cheese, grilled jalapeños, fried pickles, or a ketchup sketch of their favorite U.S. president.
Sensory overload is the stock and trade at Rawkus. The massive venue, sporting 13,000 square feet for hundreds of regular-shaped feet to stand in, carries electronic accoutrements that range from a surrealistic laser system to a pro audio system for transcendent evenings out. While sprinkling its schedule with DJs, dance parties, and rock acts, the venue also serves beer and liquor from its bar and snacks from its kitchen.
Strands of icicle lights punch pearlescent holes in smoke, which trickles from a doorway beneath a sign emblazoned with two pyramids. Inside Pyramid Hookah, patrons inhale cool vapor through hoses as shisha, a fragrant type of tobacco, smolders in bowls crafted from clay or fresh fruit. Smoke rings punctuate the low murmur of conversation and drift up toward the ceiling like letters addressed to astronauts. Beside hookahs, popcorn and cookies rest in bowls, and glasses of Egyptian tea and Turkish coffee click together against the baritone murmur of water bubbling in the pipes. Belly dancers show off on weekend nights, twisting and jangling between wreaths of fruit-scented smoke.
Meat is the primary item on the menu at Flatiron's American Bar & Grill. Blank-angus steak comes in three cuts—the signature Flatiron, the rib eye, and the New York strip—and shares a plate with a choice of veggies and potato. Orders of chicken wings, whether coated in spicy buffalo sauce or honey-chipotle glaze, weigh in at one pound, making for a hefty appetizer or a delicious paperweight. Although it's technically meat-free, the three-cheese mac-n-cheese comes with a “robust bread-crumb crown” and benefits from the addition of shredded spiced chicken, according to food critic Nathaniel Glen of The Gazette. On a daily basis, the restaurant’s chefs inspect each meat shipment to ensure top-notch quality and freshness.