How to Eat & Drink Like a Local in Colorado Springs
Colorado’s second-largest city has delicious eats and sips to accompany its breathtaking alpine landscapes.
The rising cost of living in Denver has inspired natives and transplants alike to seek homes in nearby cities like Colorado Springs, CO, a metropolis located about 70 miles south of the capital. Colorado Springs is home to 14,115-foot Pikes Peak (the snow-marbled wonder that inspired Katharine Lee Bates “America the Beautiful”) and offers access to some of Colorado’s best outdoor activities — making it a perfect home base for lovers of fresh air and sunshine. But the city’s food and drink scene have also become noteworthy, thanks to the arrival of a new crop of talented chefs, restaurateurs, distillers and other culinary pros in recent years. Read on to learn more about where to satisfy your appetite in Colorado Springs right now.
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Lumen8 Rooftop Social
Breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and elevated contemporary American fare are the draw at Lumen8 on the eighth floor of the new Springhill Suites in downtown Colorado Springs. The eatery is dedicated to sourcing as many ingredients from local farms, ranches and purveyors as possible for its menu, which includes specialties such as Colorado striped bass crudo, green chile (one of the state’s most iconic foods) and foraged mushroom risotto. Note: Reservations for the rooftop patio are only available on a first-come, first-served basis, so be prepared to wait if you don’t get there early.
In spring 2021, this popular Denver-rooted pizzeria found a second home in Colorado Springs, where it’s churning out New Haven-style pies (the crispy-bottomed, oblong-shaped cousin of the famous Neapolitan pizza). Order the Porky Porkorino, topped with red sauce, mozz, slices of Soppressa, pickled jalapeño, Pecorino and a drizzle of hot honey. White Pie also has a lineup of Sicilian-style pies, only available at the Colorado Springs location, and a killer cocktail list (we like the local Lee Spirits Gin–infused Negroni).
In 2013, a team of developers breathed new life into a shuttered elementary school building to debut Ivywild School, a community marketplace. Last year, it received another refresh, which resulted in the addition of new vendors, including Decent Pizza Co. (Detroit-style pies) and Lazo Empanadas (Argentinian dough-wrapped pastries). Original tenants of the Ivywild you also shouldn’t miss include Axe and Oak Whiskey House and Bristol Brewing Co.
Like Ivywild School, The Well is a food hall and gathering place located in a repurposed building: a former auto repair shop and bus depot. The venue has a central bar and three dining concepts (with another coming soon). Dun Sun offers Asian fusion cuisine, including bowls and tacos (try the ube-ice-cream-topped milk bread for dessert); Noble Burger slings sandwiches and double-decker burgers; and Kumbala has Mexican street eats, such as pozole and tacos.
Move over Chick-fil-A: Bird Call serves fried chicken sandwiches, tenders, and nuggets with a Colorado spin. All of the fast-growing, fast-casual chain’s poultry, bread and spices are sourced from local family farms and purveyors. One percent of the company’s profits are invested back into the communities it’s located in. So you can feel a little less guilty about devouring a stacked Nashville hot chicken sandwich or a set of crispy-juicy tenders with a strawberry shortcake shake.
Tucked near Pikes Peak in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 291 Whiskey makes up for what it lacks in frills with exquisite spirits. The production facility and tasting room are located in an unassuming business district. But those who step inside are greeted with a sitting room sparsely furnished with antiques and vintage furniture and a bar stocked with award-winning whiskies. Book a tour and tasting online to learn more about how Michael Myers, a fashion-photographer-turned-distiller, honed his craft and sip the Whiskeyrita, his refreshing, white-whiskey-infused rendition of the Mexican classic.
Homa Bar & Cafe
Homa inside Kinship Landing — a boutique hotel that opened in March 2021 with a wide array of accommodation options, from camp decks with fire pits to suites with soaking tubs — is an all-day cafe with cozy, light-drenched greenhouse seating. Don’t miss the signature hand pies, such as the St. Ives filled with braised short rib and brisket, potatoes, peppers, onion and Swiss cheese; or pair a meat, cheese and vegetable board with a cocktail like the Japanese-whiskey-forward old-fashioned.
Brooklyns on Boulder
Disguised as a haberdashery (aka men’s clothing store) in downtown Colorado Springs, this speakeasy-inspired bar from Lee Spirits Company — a maker of gin and liqueurs based in nearby Monument, CO —specializes in classic, pre-prohibition cocktails. Sidle up to the petite bar inside Brooklyns on Boulder for a Violette Fizz, made with Lee Spirits’ floral Creme de Violette and famed dry gin, or the lime-hued Grasshopper, an elixir of Creme de menthe, creme de cacao, cocoa gin and cream.
Mood Tapas Bar
At Mood, a menu of Spanish-inspired tapas is paired with a wide selection of thoughtfully-curated wines, from easy-drinking sparkling varieties to bold reds (Bonus: Over 25 are available by the glass). Guests can build their own charcuterie boards (there’s also a chef’s choice option if you want to leave it to the pros) or share a feast of small plates; we recommend the patatas bravas, fried artichoke hearts and steak tartare. A lineup of larger entrées is also available for those seeking something heartier.
While Red Gravy has satiated appetites for cacio e pepe, fried ravioli and other Italian staples in Colorado Springs for six years, it added a new on-site feature in 2021 — a bar and music venue called Blue. Local musicians grace Blue’s stage on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the full food and drink from the restaurant are available in the quaint, chandelier-bedecked space. Pop in on a weekend evening to settle into a plate of veal saltimbocca or spaghetti with a glass of vino and listen to tunes.