Literary City Guide | COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO
Tour Guide: EmiLie Lazenby
As a performance psychologist and traveling storyteller, Emilie spends most of her time visiting other places, but loves to come home and enjoy all that her adventurous city of Colorado Springs has to offer. She tries to keep a “what the hell attitude” with her insatiable appetites for cooking, wine-tasting, outdoor adventure racing, and writing local tattles + tales on her blog. (Photos by Emilie Lazenby)
Relationship to Colorado Springs: I relocated to Colorado Springs about six years ago with my work as civilian contractor for the military and to see about a guy. We were married a year after his last deployment to Iraq, and I’ve never looked back.
Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Barbara Kingsolver
Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Naomi Pomeroy - I love her story, use of local ingredients, and brilliant flavors.
Writing soundtrack: Billie Holiday + Sarah Vaughn have been topping my charts lately.
Pen or Pencil: Pen, especially the inky ones.
Coffee or Tea? Americano’s in the morning, and lavender tea with honey in the afternoon.
Paperback or Hardback? Whatever I can get my hands on first.
Poor Richards. This unique hodgepodge of businesses has a bookstore, restaurant, cafe + wine bar, and toy store all under one roof! On a usual visit, I’ll grab an Americano (with room) and peruse the vast selection of new and pre-owned books. If I lose track of time, which is typical, I might have a glass of cabernet with their signature beet and goat cheese salad and continue browsing. Poor Richards is my literary + culinary happy hour hideaway.
Hooked on Books. This unassuming bookstore stocks over 250,000 books and over 1,000 audio books at any one time - It’s massive! Locally owned for over 32 years, the owners are incredibly passionate about reading and providing the community with access to affordable books, including a good selection of rare + vintage books. Though off the beaten path, it’s well worth making a short jaunt to get lost in this local gem.
Pikes Peak Library District. Set in 14 separate locations across the city, each location offers a wide-range of community services ranging from Book clubs to Kids Corners and educational/training courses to Yoga @ The Library. With free Wifi, laptop rentals, study rooms, and a different view of Pikes Peak from each location, it’s easy to cozy up in the leather arm chairs enjoy a book for a couple hours.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Hear, here! Poetry Slam. Hear, Here! at Cottonwood is a dynamic evening featuring a short open-mic, a featured artist, and 8-10 poets competing in a friendly arena with their best performance poetry in hopes of earning a spot on the Colorado Springs National Poetry Team! All-ages, all welcome, uncensored, $5 suggested donation, none turned away!
Pikes Peaks Writers. PPW offers several workshops throughout the year, an annual conference and monthly “Write Brain” sessions, which cover all aspects of writing, though the main focus is commercial fiction. I’ve attended two workshops already and they have been incredibly influential in the beginnings of my travel writing. Witty, charismatic, and informational, I would recommend squeezing this in if you have the time.
Storybook Brewing. Part brewery, part (you guessed it) books, this brewery combines two of my very favorite things. It operates on a three-barrel system and maintains six flagship beers, including current customer fave, The Last Strawberry Honey Wheat. True to its name, Storybook has plenty of storybooks - there's a bookcase, stocked with fiction and non-fiction, including books on beer and starting a brewery. Most of the time, I’ll bring in my own, or find a quiet corner to write, especially when I’m having a particularly challenging case of writers block.
Agia Sophia. We recently had our book club here in The Samovar Tea Room, and it was incredible. Surrounded by a modest but excellent selection of the very best classics in religion, philosophy, history and literature, its easy to spend the day talking about books. Oh! And their yummy coffee, teas, and a luncheon menu is available all day.
La Baguette Bakery + Cafe. This quaint french cafe in Old Colorado City offers a casual dining experience that caters to a wide range of tastes, and is perfect for breakfast or lunch. They use only local ingredients and prepare everything from scratch daily. Try one of their croissants fresh out of the oven! You’ll swear you are on the streets of Paris.
Speedtrap Cafe. Coffeehouse by day, band showcase at night, this is one of my favorite local spots for a fantastic coffee and meal. While they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their breakfast is my favorite, particularly the Sunday waffles. This intimate cafe is on a mission to “provide nice people with a cozy place to gather; where friendly service, delicious food, well-crafted beverages and musical talent may provoke interesting conversations and/or comfortable silences.”
R & R Cafe. Deep in the pine trees known as Black Forest north of Colorado Springs lies a quaint little craft coffee roasterie & home cookin' restaurant called R&R. With breads & baked goods made from scratch daily; a menu filled with local, sustainable products; an obsessiveness with coffee; & a comfort you have to feel to believe, R&R has quickly become one of my favorite spots. Just go here!
A PROPER MEAL
Brother Luck Street Eats. This hidden gem was created in the back of a local bar in downtown Colorado Springs. Chef Brother Luck (yes, that’s his real name) decided to start throwing down his own style of dinner parties without any rules. With all of the culinary journeys Brother Luck experienced throughout his career, he decided to go back to the basics; stove, burner, food, customer. This restaurant is his approach to crafting street food inside the walls of a restaurant. It has become my new favorite in town. I highly recommend the not too sweet carrot cake waffles!
Garden of the Gods Gourmet Market + Cafe. Hands down, one of my favorite places to eat brunch, lunch, or dinner. There are very few establishments that can create amazing food at every meal, but this place does it all - and they do it exceptionally well. From the roasted beet salad, to the locally featured entrees, to their incredible brunch selection, you must go here if you are in town. With the shabby chic decor, and excellent wine and dessert displays, you won’t walk out disappointed. Looking for a snack later? Grab a meal to go from there market!
Pizzeria Rustica. I know this may be sacrilege, but this is some of the best pizza I’ve had outside my home state of NY. Not well known for their pizza, this quaint Italian cafe with outside seating features local ingredients, homemade marinara, mozzarella, and pizza dough. Fired in a napoleon style wood oven, this pizza is fresh, flavorful, and the best I’ve tried this side of the Mississippi.
The Craftwood Inn and The Warehouse. I know I’m doubling up here, but both of these are tied in the wild game department. While The Warehouse is a vibrant industrial space with an art gallery serving inspired, locally sourced American eats, the Craftwood Inn serves upscale American fare with a focus on wild game amid stained glass windows & beamed ceilings. Though different in style, both are known to boast perfectly prepared local game menu items like: elk, antelope, bison, bear, and even yak. I recommend the antelope at The Craftwood Inn, and the bison filet at The Warehouse!
Pikes Peak Brewery. We are most known for our breweries, and while we have some great ones, Pikes Peak is my favorite in terms of both beer and food. The is staff welcoming, the outdoor games area tons of fun, and the local food trucks they invite in each week are fantastic. They have a small menu of tasters like homemade bavarian pretzels and cheese, panini’s, salads, etc, but also sponsor a local food truck on weeknights and weekends. I highly recommend the pretzel bread pudding drizzled in caramel sauce!
Wisdom Tea House. While this little spot could fit into anyone of the previous categories—great breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea—I find myself stopping in when I want a delicious homemade treat and a cup of tea. All made by hand that morning, you never know what you’re walking into that day, but they are always wonderful. Ranging from pineapple carrot cake with cream cheese frosting to daily free citrus sponge cake with blackberry icing, this little cafe sits just north of Colorado Springs and has one of the best patios with a view. They are open until 4:00 p.m., as they specialize in morning and afternoon tea. Relax, indulge, enjoy!
Glacier Homemade Ice-cream + Gelato. Having been born around the corner from the original Ben & Jerry’s in Burlington, VT, I have grown to be quite the ice cream connoisseur, if I do say so myself. That said, I’ve also made a point to find the local ice cream joints on my journey’s. This one fits into the mind-blowing category for their gelato. Based out of Boulder, CO, their flavors come from local ingredients, are super creamy, without being super sweet. My favorites are: Mint Stracciatella, nutella, and caramel oreo.
EMILIE's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: While you can see Pikes Peak from almost anywhere in Colorado Springs, each awe-inspiring vantage point is a welcome surprise nonetheless. If I had to choose, Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background would be my top choice.
2. Favorite place to write: My backyard, which opens up to a massive landscape of the Rocky Mountains. In the early morning, the mountains look as though they were lit on fire they are colored so red.
3. Favorite museum: The United States Air Force Academy Space Museum + The Edward J. Petersen Air and Space Museum portrays the rich aviation and space history of Colorado Springs - Norad, The Air Force Academy, and Petersen Air Force Base. From our barnstormer beginnings in the Roaring Twenties, through the daring exploits of our World War II pilots and into NASA’s modern space era, their exhibits are wonderful.
4. Favorite coffee shop: The Speedtrap Cafe makes the best lattes in town
5. Favorite thing about Colorado Springs: The scenery and endless outdoor adventures!