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.
The chefs at MoMo Sushi Bar wok sauté pan-Asian cuisine and wrap baked and raw sushi rolls to populate their extensive menu. To prime bellies, teeth snap a crisp outer leaf before sinking into juicy poultry in the honey-garlic-chicken lettuce wrap, and in the baked green mussels with crab, New Zealand mussels saunter by forks with an entourage of crab scallions and creamy smelt bathed in eel sauce. Spoonfuls of miso soup and forkfuls of side salads keep taste buds limber for the main-course specialty rolls, which beckon to chop sticks in sundry combinations of fresh fish and zesty veggies. The baked King roll dons a baby lobster crown to reign over crab mix and avocado, and is a favorite dish among guests and groveling court jesters. Crunch batter adds dimension to the Super Crunch roll, which brims with shrimp tempura, spicy crab, cucumber, and cream cheese, and adept hands wind tuna, crab, and cream cheese into the Las Vegas roll before deep frying the raw disks and dressing them in spicy crab mix, teriyaki sauce, and a sequined head dress.
Diners leave their passports and carry-ons at home and embark on culinary odysseys to Tajine Alami, enjoying four- or six-course meals of traditional Moroccan cuisine. After leaving their shoes at the door, guests tuck into six-part dinner travelogues ($32/person; $27 vegetarian) starting with their choice of lamb-lentil or vegetarian soup followed by second and third rounds of homemade honey wheat khobz bread and a platter of Moroccan salad. Tables share the flaky fourth-course bastella, mining the phyllo-dough crust to uncover a subterranean civilization ruled by chicken, spiced eggs, almonds, and an austere oligarchy. Individual tastes take the front seat as eaters select one of the chicken, lamb, seafood, or veggie entrees simmering in the kitchen, all slow-cooked with a few friends in a traditional clay tajine or served over a pile of couscous. Baklava and hot mint tea close out the evening with a sweet curtain call and politely turn down requests to play "Where the Streets Have No Name.” Visitors afraid of overstuffing can select the slimmed down four-course experience and forego the salad and bastella ($24/person, $21 vegetarian) while youths peruse selections from the children's menu ($10.99).
Briarhurst Manor Restaurant has overlooked Garden of the Gods Park in the shadow of Pikes Peak since 1876, when Manitou Springs town founder Dr. William Bell constructed the pink sandstone Tudor-style manor. The English country architecture showcases elegant flourishes such as a tiled fireplace, dark-wood boiserie, and a garden room where sunlight streams through towering windows. Not surprisingly, Briarhurst Manor has been hailed as one of the 100 most romantic restaurants in the country according to OpenTable's 2012 and 2013 Diners' Choice awards.
The cuisine matches the interior’s opulence: Chef Neal Moreno glazes duck-shank confit in a gooseberry cassis, and augments the flavor of Colorado lamb chops with chestnut fig jus. Cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays from Napa Valley punctuate the restaurant's extensive wine list and give beer a reason to feel as insecure as a styrofoam rabbit marooned amid a pack of real wolves.
Thanks to its impressive selection of varietals from more than 95 local wineries, The Wines of Colorado has been lauded as "one of the most unique wine shops in the country" by Wine Trail Traveler and featured in the Wall Street Journal. Inside, a mural of larger-than-life bottles lines one wall, and an adjacent room houses an expansive tasting counter that stocks a lineup of bottles filled with Colorado reds and whites, which are often compared to Californian vinos. Their food has received it’s fair share of recognition as well, earning numerous awards, including Best Creekside Dining from the Gazette in 2010 and 2011. The chefs sizzle up signature buffalo wine burgers and creamy dill mahi-mahi, which guests can enjoy on the pine-tree-lined outdoor patio as they sip wine mere steps away from the burbling Fountain Creek.
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.