Just 12 minutes away from downtown Colorado Springs lies an oasis known as Sacred Grounds Coffee in the Canyon. Nestled in a historic building that wouldn't look out of place in the old west is this coffee shop, where breakfast and lunch sandwiches and baked sweets are all made in-house. Guests settle down either in the cozy café or outside on the open-air porches, where they can use a magnifying glass to bend the sun rays into keeping their coffee warm. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, the kitchen crafts take-home dinners, which are comforting options such as turkey and meatloaf, and just about everything is made with natural and organic ingredients, including the cheesecake and pie.
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Relaxing reggae music washes over the lush potted plants and mural-decorated walls inside Rasta Pasta, mingling in midair with the scents of Italian and Caribbean cuisine. Those aromas come from the kitchen, where chefs prepare entrees such as The Natural Mystic—a medley of jerk chicken, garlic, green onion, and basil in pineapple-curry sauce over penne pasta. Also in the mix are pasta dishes laden with sautéed seafood or spicy sausage, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free entrees.
Live music and hula-hooping sessions often entertain diners indoors, and abundant sunshine brightens the sidewalk patio in warmer months. Patrons can sip freshly brewed tea, local beer, and cocktails made with Jamaican rum brought to America by long-distance surfers. That rum also goes into the Bananas Marley—a booze-laced dessert with flambéed bananas and natural vanilla ice cream.
Rasta Pasta's "One Love" philosophy ensures that the restaurant holds to admirable practices both in and out of the kitchen. Among those practices are composting, recycling, and using local ingredients sourced from responsible sellers.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
The proud parent of eight sons and five daughters, Pearl Theriot – affectionately known as “Momma Pearl” – raised her youngsters on authentic Cajun dishes made from recipes that were passed down from generation to generation. These days, Pearl's 10th child, Robert “BB” Brunet, preserves his mother’s culinary legacy at Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen, where he recreates some of her best dishes. Those include 10 varieties of the classic po’ boy sandwich, including versions stuffed with Andouille sausage, ham and swiss, and even fried alligator. Beyond that southern staple, BB assembles everything from crab-stuffed mushrooms and fried frog-leg platters to traditional Louisiana crawfish etouffe. And of course, there's Chef BB's okra gumbo, available a choice of crab and shrimp or chicken and sausage, and made with the kitchen's signature Cajun gumbo roux which is available for purchase for cooks that want to replicate the dish at home or use it as an unconventional cologne.
Overhearing such words as kamikaze, sonic boom, and bomber, you might think you’re on an Air Force base instead of in a chicken restaurant. But these are the names of Wild Wings ‘N Things’ wings, slathered in 10 zesty incarnations of sauce so named for their respective abilities to send taste buds soaring. The franchise has spent the last several years cropping up across Colorado and Mississippi like hot-sauce dollops on a crisp white napkin, with its Fort Carson location serving up bone-in and boneless wings in baskets of up to 100 pieces.
As patrons lounge amid the dining room's Tabasco-red walls, chefs in the kitchen construct buffalo and teriyaki sandwiches to pair with comfort foods such as okra, fried pickles, and deep-fried recliners. After two-handing a chili-smothered slopper burger, diners can question the counter person about the weekly offerings of NFL Sunday Ticket viewable on the eatery's many flat-screen TVs.
When owner Michael moved from his home in upstate New York to Colorado Springs, he brought along his most valued possessions, including his family's recipe for New York–style pizza. In 1997, Michael capitalized on his delicious knowledge and opened Back East Pizza & Wings, and the kitchen crew has been tossing savory pies since then.
Of course, the centerpiece of the eatery’s menu is the traditional New York pizza—a chewy thin-crust masterpiece that folds in just the right spot. Along with the pizzas, which come with red or white sauce, the kitchen also fires up wings tumbled in sauces ranging in heat from medium to dragon fire, and stopping just short of spontaneously combustive. Sandwiches complete the hand-held options, making it easy to clap with your free hand as live music from local bands fills the room on weekends.