This is the ultimate guide to Colorado Springs’ food scene – restaurants, bars, and breweries! As a bonus, this list includes recommendations for nearby recreation, hikes, sight-seeing, and shopping.
When most people think of Colorado, they probably think of Denver – at least, as far as cities are concerned. I may be biased, but I like to think of Colorado Springs as Colorado’s best kept secret. For now, at least. The traffic is minimal. The people are friendly. The restaurants are phenomenal. It’s easy to navigate.
I saw a need here – a need that was just waiting to be met. No one seems to know much about little ol’ Colorado Springs – this beautiful, understated town that rests at the feet of Pike’s Peak and boasts million dollar views and a quick drive to the mountains. Since moving in July (2016), we’ve had time to try a handful of restaurants and bars and get an idea of non-food related activities, too.
There is so much more to explore, but we’ve developed a pretty good list so far. Without further ado, here is our guide to Colorado Springs.
Mediterranean Cafe – BOMB. Falafels. Baba ghanoush and hummus. Get the greek fries (and/or the honey harissa fries). They also have inexpensive, but good beer and wine. ($3 craft cans and $4 glasses of French wine.) This is Clark’s #1 favorite place to eat in Colorado Springs.
Odyssey – Best brunch in town. Hands down. The brunch tacos are the bomb. The breakfast naan-wich is yum. The omelettes are delicious. The appetizers are perfect for sharing. The cocktails don’t skimp on booze. And best of all, the service is fantastic – always friendly.
Everest Nepal – Indian food. My true love. The naan. The curries. The channa dal. The vindaloo. This place does it right, every time. It’s one of the best Indian restaurants I’ve ever tried. We’re conveniently located within delivery range of this gem.
Tapateria – I don’t order sangria often. In fact, I never order sangria unless I’m at a tapas bar. But Tapateria’s recipe changes daily, depending on what fresh fruit they have on hand. And that’s how you know it’s good. Their tapas selection ranges from vegan to charcuterie, and includes everything in between. And did I mention? The sangria.
Spice Island Grill – Jamaican food! This is a great casual spot with amazing, spicy comfort food. The cook knows exactly how to do jerk and he does it perfectly, every day. Personally, I’m a sucker for the plantains. (PS – It was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives for good reason.)
Over Easy – This place is great for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. From invigorating fresh juices and vegan quinoa breakfast bowls to down-and-dirty huevos rancheros and loaded burgers, they have something for everyone. Their downtown location on Tejon Street is usually busy, no matter what day of the week. You may have to wait for a table, but it’s never longer than 10-15 minutes. Once you’re seated, the servers are quick and super-friendly. They do NOT skimp on the servings, so keep that in mind. If you’re not starving, I recommend splitting a meal.
Rasta Pasta – This place is funky and fun. It’s an entirely Rasta-themed restaurant. The colors, the music, the decor, the drinks, the appetizers, and the pasta. They have a full menu of creative jerk-flavored pasta dishes and they let you choose how spicy you want it. A word from the wise – even if you like spicy, order it a level lower than you normally would. They don’t mess around.
Rabbit Hole – It’s situated, literally, underground. You take the stairs down from the sidewalk through what looks to be an old subway entrance. The atmosphere is dark and moody, very speakeasy-like. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date night or to bring family when they come to town.
Il Vicino – There are two pizza recommendations on this list because there are many kinds of pizza. Sometimes you want sexy, artisanal pizza with brilliant topping combinations and wood-fired crust. Sometimes you want to eat at such a pizzeria or you at least have the motivation to drive and pick it up. That’s what Il Vicino is for. Perfect, wood-fired pizza with the kind of high quality ingredients that make you feel like you’re in Italy.
Louie’s Pizza – And when you don’t want to (or shouldn’t) drive, Louie’s has your back. They’re there for those late night pizza cravings. When you’re feeling a little dirty… but not Domino’s or Papa John’s dirty. Just real hand-tossed dough and stringy cheese. They still hand-make the crust and use quality ingredients. And they deliver right to your door with discount if you pay with cash. Pro Tip – DO NOT pass up the cheese bread. You must order the “cheesy garlic bread,” even if that means you order less pizza. There are some pizzerias where you can skip the appetizers/breadsticks/garlic bread/etc. Louie’s is NOT one of those pizzerias.
Urban Steam – Best coffee in town. In fact, some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. They also have Taco Tuesday every week, during which they offer $2 street tacos. I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to tacos because honestly, nothing compares to Mexico. BUT – Urban Steam does a fantastic job. They mix up the tacos every week with creative ingredients and sauces, and they also offer $2 beers and $3 margaritas to go along with the taco magic.
PS – We’re still on the hunt for good Thai and sushi spots, but I’ll update when we find them.
What To Do
Red Rock Canyon Open Space – This is our favorite place to hike nearby. It’s consistently less crowded than Garden of the Gods, but it offers comparable views, rock formations, and more challenging hikes. There’s a beautiful lake that you can walk around. Bonus – it’s dog friendly!
Manitou Springs – It’s only a 10 minute drive from downtown Colorado Springs but it feels completely different. Plan to spend an entire day here and let me tell you why. 1) They have a massive arcade with vintage games, new games, group games, pinball, skee-ball and so much more. 2) The Manitou strip is lined with eclectic shops stocked with incense, books, local kombucha, pipes, Colorado-themed gear. 3) Manitou Brewing Co. is a must-visit. They feature a wide selection of rotating craft beers and some of the best brewpub food I’ve ever had.
Penny Arcade in Manitou Springs – One of my absolute FAVORITE things to do near us because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to feel like a kid again for a couple of hours?! This place is tucked back off the Manitou strip and it spans several small buildings, each loaded with different arcade games. They have Skee-Ball, PacMan, pinball, Space Invaders, and anything else you can imagine. This unexpected gem is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. (PS – It’s been owned by the same family since the 1960’s. <3)
Garden of the Gods – This is probably the most well-known attraction in Colorado Springs, and for good reason. It’s located just 10 minutes from downtown and the park features paved walking trails that allow you to get up close and personal with the gorgeous red rock formations. I recommend visiting on a weekday if your schedule permits – Saturdays and Sundays can be quite crowded.
CityROCK – If you’re looking for a hiking alternative or some indoor activity, CityROCK is a great climbing gym.
Poor Richard’s Bookstore (and Cafe) – On the extremely rare condition that it’s raining in Colorado Springs, or maybe it’s just too cold? Poor Richard’s is an awesome place to spend some time indoors. They have an eclectic selection of old and new books, all kinds of unique gifts, and a cute cafe adjoining it.
Old Colorado City – We love to spend weekend afternoons here. It’s the oldest part of Colorado Springs and it’s mostly composed of one main strip. Unique shops, pubs (see below, Alchemy), and restaurants (see above, Tapateria) make up most of the storefronts.
Farmer’s Market – There are several Farmer’s Markets in and around Colorado Springs, but the Saturday market in Old Colorado City is our favorite. It’s HUGE! There are tons of great produce stands, plenty of things to snack on, and the smell of green chiles roasting fills the air.
Breweries, Booze, & Bars
Manitou Brewing Co. – Our favorite brewery! It’s located on the main strip in Manitou Springs, which makes it the perfect place to stop after a long afternoon of wandering in and out of shops. They make their own pickles and then they fry the pickles in a house-made batter and serve them up with house-made sauce. AMAZING. Their truffle fries are essentially crack. The service is attentive and friendly. All around great little brewery!
Alchemy – The mixologist is world class. And the chef is incredible. Sure, it’s an Irish pub, but there’s a reason their slogan is “not just another pub.” Trust me, it’ll blow your mind.
Phantom Canyon Brewery – This is our favorite spot to grab a beer and a snack. Their happy hour runs from 3-6pm which includes half price beer and wine. And on Tuesdays they do $5 growler fills on their flagship beers. Service can be patchy, but when it’s good, it’s GOOD. Sometimes it’s just a little on the slow side, so keep that in mind if you’re on a timeline!
Coaltrain Wine & Liquors – This place is a gold mine. They have a knowledgable and incredibly friendly staff, wines from all over the world at every price point, something like 2,000+ beers, and more liquor than you can imagine.
Odyssey – This spot makes the list twice. Above, for brunch. And now, for their drinks. They make fantastic bloody marys and a wide array of other creative cocktails. They also have an ever-changing selection of local beer and great wine.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that Colorado offers legal recreational marijuana. What that means is that you can walk into a real life retail store, whether your visiting or a resident, and walk out with marijuana. Enjoy responsibly and don’t accidentally forget any of it in your purse/backpack/carry-on when leaving the state.
Emerald Fields – Colorado Springs is not known for its pot shops. In fact, there isn’t technically a recreational pot shop in the city at all (it’s much more conservative than Denver and continually votes to keep them out of the city.) However, just a short drive to Manitou Springs will bring you to the fantastic Emerald Fields dispensary. The staff is friendly, knowledgable, and helpful. They carry a rotating selection of strains and a wide variety of edibles, among other things. The prices are affordable – definitely the best in town. They’re quite busy on the weekends, so keep that in mind!
Where To Stay
I suggest going with an Airbnb that’s located near downtown Colorado Springs. We usually opt for an Airbnb over a hotel room any time it’s possible. You can walk to downtown from any of these and there are plenty more options if these don’t suit your fancy.
If you visit Colorado Springs, tell us what you think! Did you try any of our recommendations? Did you find a spot we should try/add to this guide?