Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Colorado Springs Style
We may not be rolling out across the country with Food Network Star Guy Fieri in one of his snazzy red Camaros, but we’re just as proud of our own diners, drive-ins and dives. So rev up your engines and tag along as we show you some joints that are rocking it right here in the Springs.
King’s Chef Diner
“A diner is more than a restaurant” says owner Gary Geiser. “It’s about community, involvement and building relationships.”
That philosophy, plus killer food and a warm, caring staff, has won King’s Chef a loyal following and enough awards to hug every wall of the diner.
“We work hard to develop a clean hamburger,” Geiser says. “Our cattle are grown in Southwestern Colorado and have been hormone-free since birth.”
And their famous Colorado Green Chili–all natural, vegan and gluten-free–is sold in more than 200 stores.
Their Breakfast Burrito, bursting with egg and sausage goodness and topped with Colorado Green Chili or their homemade Country Gravy, was named the tastiest breakfast in Colorado by the Food Network Magazine.
In 2004, several years after King’s Chef was named the Best Diner in America in “Where Locals Eat,” a TV production company approached them to film a pilot for a food show on the fledgling Food Network. That pilot became the current Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
Geiser looks upon the customers in his 100-seat diner as his board of directors.
“I listen to their advice,” he says. “If I make the right choices, they’ll come back.”
And they do.
At King’s Chef, the customer matters. And you walk out feeling better for having been there.
131 E. Bijou Street, 80903
Brother Luck Street Eats
For sixteen years, Chef Brother Luck has been honing his craft in upscale restaurants from Scottsdale to Chicago. Now he’s brought it all together in a place of his own. Hip, edgy and trendy, his new digs at 10th and W. Colorado offer a culinary experience like no other.
Inspired by his passion for the inner city–from the art and sounds to the music and graffiti–Chef Luck has rolled out his brand new concept–urban cuisine.
“At Street Eats, we offer a very fun, culinary tasting bar–street food that’s done in an upscale fashion,” Chef Luck says.
Chef Luck takes the classics and adds his own personality. His menu reflects his passion with such standouts as Tempura Jalapeño Poppers, Chicken Waffle Wings, Pork Belly Gnocchis, and Bacon Jam Burgers.
For Chef Luck it’s all about the experience, and he wants it to be memorable.
“I don’t want to just serve food,” he says. “I want people to want to come back three times a week because it is so much fun.”
And they do.
Brother Luck Street Eats is addictive. You just can’t get enough.
1005 W. Colorado Avenue, 80904
Richard Beaven, a Southern California native, wanted to bring a quality California-style burger to Colorado. So in April of 2008, he opened his first Drifter’s drive-through. It was so successful that a second followed in 2012.
His philosophy is simple: create a classic burger that’s made with fresh, quality ingredients.
“We use Ranch Foods Direct beef, with no antibiotics, steroids or hormones,” says Nathan Paquin, General Manager. “It’s delivered fresh five days a week, never frozen, and the burgers are cooked-to-order.”
The secret lies in the sweet and tangy Thousand Island dressing. It’s made in-house, but don’t try to get the recipe. Even the employees have to sign a privacy agreement.
The Big Island–four patties with four cheese slices–is their biggest burger.
Paquin smiles, remembering the day 36 college kids came down from CU Boulder. “They packed the place,” he says. “All eating Big Islands.”
What makes Drifters stand apart is the friendliness of the staff. They get to know their customers. So when they walk in, their orders are already half-started.
One couple recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at Drifter’s with hamburger combos. The staff bought them chocolate shakes to celebrate the occasion.
Quality food. A caring staff. And chocolate milkshakes. A perfect combo.
4455 Mark Dabling Blvd., 80907
1485 Jamboree Drive, 80920
El Taco Rey
For 38 years, El Taco Rey, a downtown treasure on Colorado and Wahsatch, has been packing them in for some of the best green chile this side of San Luis.
Owners Eddie and Rosemary Aguilar still argue over bragging rights to the recipes. Mom says they’re hers. Dad says they’re his. But regardless of who’s right, the food is just good home cooking, served San Luis-New Mexico style.
“We make our customers feel like they’re coming to our home,” says daughter, Judy Allen. “Everything is made from scratch with love.”
El Taco Rey is a family affair. Mom still makes the tamales every morning, while daughters and grandchildren work in the kitchen.
“People always try to get our recipes,” Allen says. “But no one does, not even our spouses.”
Recognized by Sunset Magazine, The Avocado Pork Burrito, smothered in green chile, is killer. On a busy day, they go through more than 30 gallons of their famous green chile.
The prices will astound you. Where can you find fresh, made-from-scratch combination plates for less than $9?
On a sunny day, the lines snake out the door. And there’s a reason why. Eating here is like coming to Mamacita’s home–cozy, comfy and warm. After one visit, you’ll feel like family.
330 E. Colorado Ave., 80903