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Colorado Springs is a dream for nature lovers, coffee drinkers, and beer snobs, but did you know that it might just be a history buff’s paradise, too? The city is full of stories of settlers beginning to venture out west and miners striking gold, and many of Colorado Springs’ restaurants still hold echoes of the past.
Take a look at this fun list of Colorado Springs’ top historic restaurants!
This historic building was once a bustling elementary school serving the Ivywild neighborhood in Southern Colorado Springs. The school closed in 2009 and was renovated into a multi-use commercial and community center in 2013. The renovation maintained much of the school’s original character and now houses some of Colorado Springs’ most popular local businesses — Bristol Brewery & Pub, The Principal’s Office, Axe and the Oak, and Yobel Market.
The Rabbit Hole probably has the most unique history of all Colorado Springs’ eateries. This “late-night New American haunt” was once the city’s mortuary and still maintains some of the moody vibes you would imagine. Visitors will head down the steps of what looks like an underground subway stop to find a romantic, gothic atmosphere and a delicious menu of small bites and craft cocktails. Some of our favorite menu items include the Truffle Mac & Cheese and the Cherry Braised Buffalo Short Ribs, but you really can’t go wrong here!
Jose Muldoon’s is a local favorite, serving Tex Mex since 1974. This spot is perfect for anyone looking for some delicious Mexican food and a strong margarita. They are located directly across from Acacia Park in downtown Colorado Springs and is a popular stop for locals to grab a happy hour drink with friends and coworkers after a long day. Be sure to checkout their lovely outdoor patio during warmer months of the year!
This Colorado Springs establishment is a whole family affair, created in 1951 by sisters Ethel Shirola and Evelyn Ellis. The two sisters had a vision for bringing down-home food to Colorado Springs — Nashville Hot Chicken, Riced Potatoes with Cream Gravy, and Homemade Biscuits with Apple Butter. Since 1951, thousands have enjoyed the homey environment and recipes of Juniper Valley Ranch.
Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Alehouse is a local Irish pub, well-loved for its classic Irish dishes, live music, and great beer. The building it is housed in was built circa 1883 and has been a drygoods store, a drug store, and a men’s clothing store. In 1998, the building was remodeled — exposing the beautiful original wood and brick — to bring back its original historic charm. From there, the new owners hired craftsmen from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales to add authentic Irish touches, including the woodwork, stained glass, and décor you’ll find in the restaurant today.
The authentic atmosphere and the historic building pair nicely with a menu that’s remained true to the restaurant’s roots, serving classics like corned beef and cabbage, Guinness Braised Beef, and fish and chips.
What is now one of the most popular breakfast establishments in Colorado Springs was originally the home of a famous American singer actress of the 1920s and 1930s, Ruth Etting. While the building has since housed various restaurants, The Omelette Parlor has become a community staple and was voted ‘Best Breakfast’ in Colorado Springs for more than 20 years! They are most well known for their delicious half-priced omelettes every morning between 6am and 7am — making a morning-person out of the most unlikely individuals.
Established in December of 1973 by two brothers, Leon and Landon Gardner, Fargo’s has since been a popular spot with Colorado Springs locals, along with visitors from all over the globe. Upon opening the restaurant, Leon created a folklore tale including a western gambler named Fargo who fell in love with an Italian immigrant named Sophia. The two made a living off of Sophia’s inheritance — her family’s old Italian recipes — and thus, Fargo’s Pizza!
The family restaurant can seat over 500 guests in its impressive 16,000 square foot building, serving Italian classics, like pizza and pasta, and sandwiches, salads, soups, and desserts. The restaurant’s construction beckons the Victorian period, even incorporating authentic artifacts and handcrafted stained glass works of art.
The Cliff House at Pikes Peak was built in 1873 and has been in operation longer than Colorado itself has been a state. Located in Manitou Springs, a small mountain town to the west of Colorado Springs, the historic hotel has strong roots in America’s mining past. The now well known resort was once an inn for miners in the area and even took a nearly two decade hiatus due to a fire that severely damaged the property.
A visit to The Cliff House at Pikes Peak is a great glimpse into the history of Colorado and visitors are sure to be impressed by the various dining experiences available at the hotel’s two restaurants — Red Mountain Bar and Grill and The Dining Room.
This restaurant “offers a flight through aviation history” — in 2002, this 1953 Boeing KC-97 tanker plane was renovated to be the first restaurant located inside an aircraft in the United States. The plane can comfortably seat and feed forty-two “passengers” and is filled with pictures and artifacts of its time in the air. The restaurant is located just minutes from the Colorado Springs Airport in Southeast Colorado Springs, making it the perfect first stop for your visit to Colorado Springs.
Looking to learn more about the history of Colorado Springs? Check out one of our uniquely crafted food tours, where you’ll taste delicious local cuisine and learn from a local guide! Click here to learn more!
Cheers, Your Rocky Mountain Food Tours Team
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