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Nostalgic for Colorado Springs

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I found myself thinking about all the food I ate in college because of the discussion on the general board about formative chowhound experiences. I searched to see what had been posted about the Springs and was shocked not to find anything. Okay, so maybe it's not a top chowhound destination, but there's gotta be some hounds there.

Here are some restaurants I remember from my days as an impoverished CC student. It's all dreadfully out-of-date, but perhaps it will spark a discussion. My favorite place to eat used to be Poor Richard's (cheap, fast and student-friendly), before it became a lousy by-the-slice pizza place. They had a vegetarian reuben sandwich that I really liked and have never been able to find or make for myself (and I've tried and tried). Their cream cheese brownies were pretty tasty, too.

The best Mexican place I ever found (actually the credit goes to a chowhound friend from CA, since before he showed me the way, I wouldn't have known good Mexican from Taco Bell) was off of Tejon, quite a ways from the college, a bit further south than the Chinook Bookstore. Just a little hole in the wall run by a family, but so delicious. I remember best their fantastic guacamole. I wish I could remember the name. Does it sound familiar to anyone?

I never found any really good pizza in the Springs, but I have to admit-- being carless-- that my forays were in a pretty limited range. A couple of ex CC students had just opened a pizza place on Tejon right across from the college the year I left. It was decent for the Springs, but you had to ask for the pizza well-done, since they had a tendency to serve it before the crust was fully cooked.

Hands-down best icecream in the Springs-- Josh and John's. Great stuff, if you like your icecream thick enough to chew.

Best place to get drunk was Old Chicago's. Not cheap, but a vast array of unusual beers. I had my first Belgian fruit beer there, bought for me by a close friend to celebrate my 21st birthday.

Best place for picnic fixin's was Mountain Mama's-- delicious breads baked in the store, good sides like potato salad, good produce, and passable cheeses. (Most amazing place for a picnic had to be the top of one of the rocks at Garden of the Gods.)

Best place for a special occasion, and a place that I would recommend to anyone, provided it's still as good, is Gabriel's Restaurant in Sedalia, about halfway to Denver. Getting there and being convinced you must be going the wrong way is half the experience, since it's in a one-horse town in the middle of nowhere. Their shrimp with gorgonzola sauce was good enough to make me lick my plate. And the perfect end to the meal was a cafe Gabriel, a coffee spiked with amaretto and at least two other kinds of alcohol. (The service had a tendency to be snobby, though. When my stepmom said she didn't like wine and asked for a Diet Coke, she was snubbed by our French waitress for the rest of the evening.)

But maybe the thing I miss the most (apart from all my now far-flung college chums) is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo-- the only zoo I know of where you can stand face-to-face with giraffes (the bottom of their cage is 15 feet below you) and pet their soft, stubby horns while feeding them biscuits. It's one thing to read that giraffes have unusual tongues, and another thing to have a big, BLUE appendage come out of a giraffe's mouth and gently tug a cracker out of your hand.

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