Gunning for second place

It’s that time of year again, where we shamelessly ask for your vote on The Independent’s annual Best of Colorado Springs survey.

Last year, we tied for third with then-Business Journal writer John Hazlehurst and decided that he must be destroyed. He has since moved to the Indy, which means that while he still pens a regular column, we have not seen any Hazlehurst-specific “blog.” Consider yourself destroyed, Mr. Hazlehurst.

The first-place winner was a coupon thing, so whatever with that. Who can compete with bargains? The second-place winner is a member of Big Media, and who can trust Big Media?

It’s time for Oinkety to be the Springs’ No. 2 blog.

You have to vote for at least 15 things for your ballot to count. Here’s a sampling of what we voted for:

  1. Best Wait Staff: Detz Cafe.
  2. Best Restaurant for Tourists: Paris Crepe.
  3. Best French Restaurant: La Baguette. The one on Chestnut.
  4. Best Patio Dining: Shuga’s.
  5. Best Middle Eastern Restaurant: Taste of Jerusalem.
  6. Best Food Truck: Phat Hattie’s.
  7. Best Burger: Drifter’s.
  8. Best Place for Ice Cream: Dogtooth Cafe.
  9. Best Local Beer for Winter: Bristol’s Venetucci Pumpkin Ale, of course good luck getting any.
  10. Best Breakfast: Smiley’s.
  11. Best Caterer: Blue Sage Catering.
  12. Best Place for an Over-the-Top Gift: Pink Kitty Studios.
  13. Best Photographer: Pink Kitty Studios.
  14. Best Naughty Business: Pink Kitty Studios.
  15. Best Local Twitterer: @barelyescape.
  16. Best Local Blogger: Oinkety!

Adrienne and I agreed on a few of the categories. But we disagreed on a bunch, too:

  1. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – West: Adrienne enjoys La Baguette, but I like Cucuru.
  2. Best Neighborhood Restaurant – Central: Adrienne went with Shuga’s, while I went with Detz.
  3. Best Restaurant for Dining Alone: Adrienne would rather go to Shuga’s alone, and I prefer Poor Richard’s.

In fact, for just about every category, Adrienne picked Shuga’s. Best Happy Hour; Best Patio; Best Place for a Wedding Reception; Best Appetizers; Best Soup; Best Bartender (Kevin); Best Place for a Fancy-Pants Cocktail. Someone has a Shuga’s addiction.

Vote for Oinkety or this cat will cry

We sometimes write about cats. That alone is worth your vote.







Venetucci Pumpkin Ale, at last

We were at Coaltrain last week, and people kept asking whether the Venetucci had come in yet. I didn’t know what they were talking about. Sounded like a wine. But it was very clearly a Serious Thing, because there was a waiting list. And one guy said he just came from Bristol and there was a line out the door, so we figured it was some kind of beer.

Eventually, we figured out it was Bristol Brewing Co.’s Venetucci Pumpkin Ale that everyone was so agog over.

It’s kind of a coincidence because just a couple of weeks earlier, we tasted Halloweenhead Pumpkin Ale from Phantom Canyon and were surprised by how much we liked it.

We were also a little surprised that we had never heard of the Venetucci Pumpkin Ale before. What we’ve learned since:

  • Bristol brews the pumpkin ale only once a year.
  • The waiting list is two years.
  • This year, they sold out in 12 hours.

So we gave up. We were just too late to this game, and the Venetucci was already over. But then, through a series of cosmic coincidences, Adrienne discovered some at one of our favorite downtown places (we’re not saying where because we don’t want you going there and hogging all the pumpkin ale).

Venetucci Pumpkin Ale, at last. After a grueling two days of searching. What a treat. Smooth, creamy, pumpkiny. Adrienne says it tastes like pumpkin pie. At any rate, believe the hype — and get on that waiting list.

Venetucci Pumpkin Ale

At long last, we finally get to try the elusive Venetucci Pumpkin Ale. Worth the wait.

More about Colorado Springs breweries.

Colorado Springs breweries

Colorado, in general, and Colorado Springs specifically is home to some pretty good beer. The Indy has a list of the area’s breweries.

I’m learning to like craft beers. It hasn’t always been this way. I used to resent what I called “college beers,” beers for pretentious college kids. I drank whatever beer came in a can and was inexpensive. I enjoyed Old Milwaukee Light for a long time. Then when I moved to Colorado I switched to Coors Light because, well, it’s Colorado. I tried some imported beer (because that’s not pretentious), and it was a mixed bag. When I was in Russia in 2000, I had some Baltika and fell in love with it. But Baltika wasn’t imported to the U.S. till years later. And for some reason, most of the smaller breweries don’t brew lagers. Why is that, I wonder. Are ales easier to make? Is the process of making a lager prohibitive for smaller breweries? Or are ales just a better, more sophisticated beer? I don’t know. But for a while, ales triggered migraines, so I just stuck to bourbon and Coors Light. (Side note: I’ve been talking a lot about health problems. I really am not an 80-year-old man, despite sounding like one.)

Lately, though, I’m really enjoying the local brews. My favorite daily drinker has been Beehive, from Bristol. I’m also a fan of their Laughing Lab flagship beer (I was sad when I learned that the inspiration Lab had died).

There’s more about beer here than I could possibly write, and there’s so many tasty ones I’ve had in the last few months that the only advice I can give you is to go ahead and get a second job so you can afford to try everything without going broke and eating out of dumpsters (Burger King has excellent “throwaway” items, by the way).

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., downtown Colorado Springs, Co.

Phantom Canyon is a favorite because it's close to home and has great food. And you can play pool upstairs.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., downtown Colorado Springs, Co.

Sampling a selection on a flight at Phantom Canyon.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., downtown Colorado Springs, Co.

Phantom Canyon has excellent food. Here, we're eating the hummus plate.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., downtown Colorado Springs, Co.

At the bar, Phantom Canyon has a prominent list of the available beers.

Phantom Canyon Brewing Co., downtown Colorado Springs, Co.

A flight of nine beers at Phantom Canyon. I'm not much of a dark drinker, but the Dark Side was awfully tasty. Adrienne likes the hefeweizen.

Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

Trying a six-beer flight at Bristol.

Bristol Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

It's helpful that each beer on the flight at Bristol comes with a little explainer paragraph. I don't know a lot about beer, and it's good to at least try to be educated.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

Adrienne and my mom at Trinity. My mom doesn't even drink beer. Won't even try it. I'm not entirely convinced we're related.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

Appetizers at Trinity. Notice the table, which is made from broken glass and lighted from beneath. Very cool.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

The hummus plate at Trinity.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

My mom had some kind of warm cheese dip in an edible bread bowl.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

The drink selection at Trinity is pretty healthy. And the people behind the bar seemed to really enjoy talking about beer, which helps the uninformed like me.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

Me and mom.

Trinity Brewing Co., Colorado Springs, Co.

At the bar at Trinity.

Rocky Mountain Brewery, Colorado Springs, Co.

Didn't care too much for Rocky Mountain Brewery. Felt like an outsider there. And it felt a little too much like someone's basement. Also, their website is a MySpace page. No good.

Rocky Mountain Brewery, Colorado Springs, Co.

An eight-beer flight at Rocky Mountain Brewery. We had a hard time knowing what we were drinking because the beers were written down on a small chalkboard behind the crowded counter.

Rocky Mountain Brewery, Colorado Springs, Co.

On the plus side, Rocky Mountain Brewery has a barbecue truck parked outside, B'z BBQ.

Rocky Mountain Brewery, Colorado Springs, Co.

The best part about Rocky Mountain Brewery: The barbecue truck's quesadilla. Delicious.

Il Vicino and Phantom Canyon, root beer floats

For lunch the other day we went to Il Vicino. It’s a yummy woodfired pizza place. It’s a chain, there are lots of them, but it’s good. Even better we had a coupon from The Indy so we got one of the entrees for free.

I love their pizzas but I always have them so this time I tried a sandwich (panino spuntino). It was good but I should have had a pizza!

Penne alfredo at Il Vicino

DM had the penne alfredo which was also baked in the oven. MMMMM. Now THAT was tasty! There’s nutritional info on the website but I’m scared to look at it!

If we ever go for dinner, I’ll have a glass of wine. It looks good and well priced. I think my days of drinking during the day are over, though, which is why I didn’t have any this time. Boo hoo, poor me.

We were also too full for dessert but wanted to bring some of their root beer home to make root beer floats later. But they were out of the to-go jugs. Doh.

Luckily Phantom Canyon is right around the corner. They also make their own root beer. We got a growler of it for like $9 including the jug.


Got any other places you like for their house-made root beer? I hear you can also make it yourself at home. Have you ever done this!?
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Phantom Canyon

OK, we’ve been here a few times, and it’s never really been terrible. Something, though, prevents it from being a favorite place. Not sure why. The beer is good. The food is good. Outstanding, even. There’s pool. It’s hardly ever crowded or obnoxious. Not too loud. On paper, this is the best place on earth. But it’s just OK to me. Wonder why.

Today, we had the chicken fingers. Very tasty. She had a hefeweizen, and I had some sort of other beer that resembled a lager. We played pool and had a decent time overall. A couple looked like they were on a first date, and so we talked about them quite a bit. What’re first dates all about, really? Are you trying to sell yourself to the other? Or is it more of a feeling-out process? At any rate, this chick didn’t look like she was all that into the guy, and to be honest, she was a little out of his league. Tough luck, pardner. Have another beer.

Edit by Adrienne: I LOVE Phantom Canyon! Not sure why it isn’t a fave for DM. The chicken strips were super delish. They had some sort of sticky spicy sauce on them and were served with a creamy dipping sauce. They were too messy to pick up, for sure had to use a fork. It was Happy Hour when we went (from 3-7  I think- they also have a late night Happy Hour) so the beers were only $2.50 each. Also since we had “lunch” the pool was free. The whole thing was only about $15.00 which was not bad for an hour and a half of entertainment, 3 beers, and a snack. Oh and also, I won at pool….:)