Colorado Springs is known for fresh air, sunshine, breathtaking scenery, hiking, rock formations, and an abundance of outdoor activities. What it’s not particularly known for is a specific type of food. It’s easy to pinpoint favorite foods in coastal locations, but a central city such as Colorado Springs isn’t as easy to gauge.
It turns out, because of its central location, Colorado, and Colorado Springs in particular, is known instead for its melting-pot of flavors. You’ll find local ingredients featured on menus, including trout and bison, imported specialties such as oysters, and also creations unique to the state, such as Rocky Mountain Oysters, specialty pizza, and even cheeseburgers.
I was invited to Colorado Springs for a stay at The Broadmoor and a chance to savor some of the local flavors. In no particular order, here are 10 fabulous foods you’ll want to try in Colorado Springs.
1. Rabbit Green Chile At Four By Brother Luck
Famed Chef Brother Luck sources locally, so it’s easy to sample a variety of Colorado specialties in one visit. With seasonal four-course tasting menus, you can start with the trout-stuffed piquillo, sip a cup of rabbit green chile, indulge in the coffee-rubbed duck breast with kumquats, celeriac puree, and glazed radish, then finish your Colorado-themed meal with a dessert of pumpkin coffee cake.
We stopped for lunch at Four by Brother Luck on the way to the airport to return home. During our visit, several people told me that I must try the Bacon Jam Burger. As Denver is the birthplace of the cheeseburger (in 1935, restaurant owner, Louis E. Ballast trademarked the creation for his Humpty Dumpty Barrel restaurant) it felt like the perfect choice in my quest for local flavors.
The Bacon Jam Burger was delicious in its simplicity. Rather than being loaded with traditional toppings of onions, lettuce, and tomato and served with ketchup and mustard, Brother Luck’s version consists of a hamburger patty on a bun with bacon jam (slightly sweet, slightly salty), herb aioli, pickles, and cheese.
The rabbit green chile was the real star of this meal. A soup reminiscent of Southwest flavors, the broth was flavorful with slight heat from the chiles. The rabbit was tender and delicious, creating a light but tasty soup.
2. Oysters On The Half Shell At Jax Fish House And Oyster Bar
When Denver-based Jax opened a restaurant in my hometown of Kansas City, I was thrilled to sample their fresh-from-the-coast seafood at the grand opening. Living on the Kansas side of the metro, raw oysters weren’t something I’d previously experienced. To taste fresh, sustainable oysters shipped daily from the Chesapeake Bay was a treat.
Although Jax originated in Denver in 1996, in 2019, the Colorado Springs location opened. Choose on the half shell or chargrilled,or try a variety of 12 Emersum boutique river oysters, a pound of snow crab, and a half-pound of peel-and-eat shrimp served with lemon and sauces in the Ice Cold Raw Bar Sampler.
Pro Tip: Jax has an oyster club and even an oyster fest.
3. Colorado Poutine At Cerberus Brewing Co.
Take potato wedges, top them with house-made chorizo, cheddar cheese curds, green chile, and cheddar ale gravy, and you have the Cerberus version of Colorado Poutine. While you’re going big on flavor, order it with a serving of the brewing company’s Berrily Blonde, a blonde beer with flavors of raspberries and vanilla.
4. Pizza At Pizzeria Rustica
You’ll find authentic Italian pizza with a local slant at Pizzeria Rustica. Located inside a historic 1889 building, the pizza crust is hand-stretched and made with imported Tipo 00 flour blended with organic Colorado whole wheat flour to create an integrated Colorado specialty. The mozzarella is made fresh by hand daily; the pizza sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes; all the toppings and ingredients are organically and sustainably farmed whenever possible.
Try the Rustica with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, and fresh arugula.
5. Bison Bolognese At Walter’s Bistro
With the open plains of Colorado often populated with American bison, you’ll find this lean meat served at many Colorado restaurants. Rather than serving the traditional bison burger, Walter’s Bistro puts a unique spin on the entree with bison bolognese served over pappardelle pasta. Enjoy the pasta with a Colorado-distilled Fresh Whiskey Margarita -- 291 Fresh Colorado Whiskey, house-made agave, sweet and sour, and peach liquor that’s shaken and served over ice with a black lava salt rim.
6. Colorado Beef At La Taverne
Sitting in the indoor garden, the atmosphere at La Taverne, The Broadmoor’s legendary steakhouse, was that of date night. Trees decorated with lights and a living wall of potted plants are the focus in the greenhouse-like space. Date night or any special occasion would be enhanced by the setting and the food.
We started with a delightful platter of crab salad, boiled shrimp, and oysters on the half shell. While the seafood was fantastic, the restaurant is known for its locally-sourced Eagles Nest Ranch Wagyu Beef, raised exclusively for The Broadmoor.
Pro Tip: Ask your server what that day’s selected cuts include.
7. Rocky Mountain Corned Beef Hash At Urban Egg
I have a personal mission to find the ultimate corned beef hash dish. My favorite so far was found at a diner in a small Kansas town. Thick chunks of slow-cooker corned beef were grilled with hash browns and long pieces of onion until brown. Then -- and this was the detail that made recipe so delicious -- the hash was slathered in gravy and cooked on the griddle until it formed a brown, crispy skin. That restaurant has since closed, and I haven’t been able to find anything like it since.
When I read the menu at Urban Egg and saw they served corned beef hash, I knew I had to add a stop there to sample their Colorado version. While it wasn’t even close to the recipe I described -- this was more of a deconstructed version of the recipe -- it was the most unique incarnation of corn beef hash I’ve tasted. A tower of stringy corned beef, sauteed peppers, and hash brown potatoes was topped with a jalapeno bacon chutney. Served with two Colorado proud eggs and toast, it was a memorable creation of a favorite dish.
8. The Slopper At Crave Real Burgers
Combine Colorado’s love of green chiles with an abundance of burger options, and you’ll find the odd, messy meal that resembles slop and is appropriately named The Slopper. The version of this Colorado burger at Crave Real Burgers includes a grilled cheese sandwich topped with a cheeseburger and then smothered in green chili and served with lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, sour cream, guacamole, and cheddar. The beef in the burgers is all certified Colorado proud.
9. Grilled Trout At Cliff House Dining Room
The Cliff House Dining Room, located inside The Cliff House at Pikes Peak (about 15 minutes northwest of Colorado Springs in Manitou Springs), serves a delicious version of grilled trout. Colorado trout is abundant in the rivers and is a perfect local flavor when wanting “seafood.” The Rocky Mountain Trout dinner includes grilled trout, lemon and dill gremolata, cranberry butter fingerling potatoes, and grilled asparagus.
10. Huevos Rancheros At Adam’s Mountain Cafe
Also located in Manitou Springs, it’s worth the 10-minute drive west to sample Adam’s Mountain Cafe’s slow food movement. The food is sourced as locally as possible and is made fresh and with intention.
Green chiles are a favorite on Colorado menus, and the huevos rancheros is a local favorite for when the craving for green chiles hits. The dish starts with a whole wheat tortilla that’s smothered with refried and black beans, vegan New Mexican green chili, two over-medium eggs, and white cheddar cheese. It’s then garnished with sliced avocado, sliced tomato, sour cream, and scallions.
A local told me that the orange spice ice tea is “to die for!” She also recommended you save room for the sticky toffee pudding.
Adam’s backstory is a bit of an American dream story in itself. Farley, the owner, started at Adam’s 20 or more years ago as a busser. She’s now the owner, and her husband David is a chef.
Pro Tip: Adam’s is a great option for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diners.
More Colorado Springs Inspiration
Since Colorado Springs is a melting pot of cultures and flavors, try a variety of cuisines at Jake and Telly’s (Greek), Urban Tandoor (Indian), Streetcar 520 (eclectic New American), and Front Range Barbeque (Southern barbecue). Once you’ve had your fill and are ready for activity, consider our advice on how to spend 48 hours in Colorado Springs.