One need not travel the world to experience the flavors of exotic, far-flung locales.
(left) Tender and juicy, Streetcar520’s Southern fried chicken with creamy grits, braised collards, and spicy creole sauce invites you to enjoy a taste of Southern Cajun cooking. (top right) Exquisitely presented, Nara Chef Jae’s platters delight the senses. (bottom right) Simple, all natural, and freshly squeezed, Dos Santos’ cocktails—from left to right, the hibiscus margarita, hibiscus limeade, bloody Maria, and mimosa.
Dos Santos, an award-winning Denver taqueria, has just opened in the Springs, And it’s standing room only. Inspired by brothers Jason and Kris Wallenta’s two wildly popular Cozumel eateries, it celebrates the bright bold flavors of Mexico in every bite.
Order the O.M.F.G. with its chunks of fresh, raw tuna, and you’ll be feeling those salt-sea breezes. Nestled in bib lettuce, the tuna is piled high with cabbage, avocado, fried leeks, poppy seeds, and pickled onions. Two sauces, a habanero aioli and a roasted red pepper, give it a rich, spicy kick.
Steak arrachera is a big crowd favorite. The juiciness of the steak with the acidity of the salsa verde and the bittersweet sprinkle of cotija cheese is a winning combination. Order it with a frosty cold Dos Equis beer, and you’ll be saying, “Olé!”
When it comes to margaritas, Dos Santos excels. Their house marg has won “best margarita” in Denver. What’s the secret? Keeping it simple. Tequila, fresh lime juice, and agave. The Springs location is already juicing one to three boxes of limes a day. Could best margarita in Colorado be far behind?
CAN'T MISS DISH: Roasted Cauliflower Tacos
Executive Chef Kris Wallenta is a genius with spices, sauces, and flavors. After experimenting for four years, he’s elevated the humble cauliflower to rock-star status. The molcajete salsa offers a spicy tang, but it’s his super-secret spice combo that takes it over the top. We dare you to have just one.
Nara Sushi & Grill
Tucked in a shopping center on the city’s west side, just minutes from Manitou Springs, Nara Sushi & Grill is a hidden treasure.
Kim and Jae Chung offer cooking with a heart. They treat their customers like family, offering a variety of dishes—from sushi to yakitori—that appeal to everyone’s palate.
The jalapeño red snapper chips are a perfect appetizer. Six pieces of red snapper are lightly tempura fried, drizzled with two sauces—spicy mayo and eel—and served on a bed of feather-light tempura flakes. Fresh jalapeño slices lend just the right amount of heat.
For a Korean specialty, try the bulgogi: tender slices of beef, marinated, stir-fried, and served hot on a sizzling platter.
The tempura ice cream is a little bit of heaven. A scoop of ice cream is dipped in pound cake batter, then deep fried. Topped with chocolate and caramel sauces, whipped cream, and fresh fruit, it’s impossible to resist. Cut in four pieces, it blossoms like a flower.
CAN'T MISS DISH: Sushi & Sashimi Combo
If you’re looking for a variety of traditional Japanese favorites, order the sushi & sashimi combo. This elegantly presented platter offers eight pieces of sushi and nine pieces of sashimi. You’ll sample the finest fish and seafood from tuna, salmon, and yellowtail to striped bass, unagi, and shrimp, all hand-picked by Chef Jae. Your server will be delighted to answer all your questions.
Streetcar520, located in the historic trolley barn on South Tejon, is a hip, new eatery that offers globally inspired cuisine from Venezuela to Morocco.
Ari Howard, owner and proprietress extraordinaire, is passionate about creating an experience for her guests. She offers shared plates to encourage conversation and, best of all, hugs instead of handshakes.
For an Asian-inspired dish that’s perfect for sharing, try the shrimp and crab tempura avocado. Affectionately known as “love nuggets,” this powerhouse combo of shrimp, crab, and avocado is lightly tempura-battered and fried, then drizzled with two sauces: spicy aioli and ginger soy.
The house-cut french fries and curry sauce has attracted legions of followers. But the recipe for this exotic, Indian-inspired dish is top secret. When requested, Ari smiles and says, “It’s made with equal parts curry, mayonnaise, and love.”
For a refreshing cocktail, order the Spa Day. With cucumber- and dill-infused gin, it’s like sipping spa water after a relaxing massage.
Whether meeting friends for cocktails and snacks or enjoying a romantic tête-à- tête, your welcome at Streetcar520 will always be as warm as a hug.
CAN'T MISS DISH: Southern Fried Chicken
Executive Chef Ketil Larsen’s juicy fried chicken with grits and spicy Creole sauce is Streetcar520’s hands-down bestseller. One bite, and you’ll be transported to a Cajun bayou kitchen. His grits alone are so popular that customers come in just to experience their cheesy, creamy goodness.