“Once, while travelling in the wilds of Afghanistan, some fool lost the corkscrew. We were forced to subsist for several days on food and water.” — W.C. Fields
OTHER THAN DURING THE STATE FAIR, there’s no single day that you can spend in the state of Colorado that is more fun than visiting the city of Pueblo. Not only is it perty, but there are lotsa reasonably-priced accommodations for staying over including several excellent bed and breakfasts.
I know that if you avoid all the KFC’s in town, there are many fine restaurants in Pueblo. Didya know that some of the best dining values in the state are in Pueblo? Here are, in my unpretentious, unassuming, humble opinion, three of the best.
217 E. Routt Ave. • 719-543-6367
The main dining room is located in a portion of a lovely old church built in 1886 built by the founders of the Mesa Presbyterian Church. Even by Pueblo standards the building is old. There is a very large banquet room that used to be the sanctuary. It will seat somewhere around 47,003 if they don’t use the large chairs. The Fredregills purchased the old church in 1974 to house the offices of their Red Barn Restaurants operations and their growing catering business. But then they wised up, fixed up the place — which required lotsa renovations, and in 1978 opened the restaurant. Over the years renovation has been the byword and many areas of the building have been updated, especially the kitchen where the famed prime rib is created daily. Speaking of food, let’s get on with it.
This is still the best eatin’ in all of Colorado. When you consider ambiance, service, food and value, they just don’t come any better. This dining emporium run by Jim and Bob Fredregill(Jim’s the significantly older fella) is still Numero Uno. The finest steaks, slooo-roasted prime rib, rack of lamb, buh buh buh baby-back ribs, chicken, seafood and more. They’ve added a flatiron steak to the menu as well as an elegant veggie platter. One time I got the urge to order it, but I had a tod for the bod and the urge passed.
All dinners are five-courses: cheese ball appetizer, unlimited bowls of house-made soup, fresh salad, choice of entree, choice of dessert, and coffee or tea. Folks, it don’t get any better’n this. Service is fantastic: efficient, warm and friendly. It’s also the pertiest set of rooms in town. Call 4 reservs. Sorry, dinner only.
GIODONE’S HOUSA PASTA
23344 Hwy 50 East • 719-542-9751
Home of great pasta, super meataballs and the best sausage grinder around. It even comes on a bun that doesn’t fall apart as soon as it gets soggy. Y’all know there ain’t no way to eat an Italian sangie without sogginess.
The huge menu offers several munchies including outstanding peppers & sausage made with Pueblo chiles. Pueblo chiles can get real waaarrrmmm. There are a dozen or so grill items including the Big Bud 1/2 pound burger. They also offer lotsa sangies, salads, hand-made pasta, pizza, half dozen entrees (y’all call them Big Plates) and daily specials. If you have a large group you can get the salad served family style for $3 per person. Save room for dessert and Tommy’s Banana Fosters which serves two. They serve Diet Pepsi.
While Tommy Sr. and Anna Marie and daughter Denise run the store, as their family has since 1939, son Tommy Jr. runs Tommy G Productions and is all over the country running children’s mutton-bustin events. I betcha can’t wait for me to tell you what that is. Mutton busting, as the sport is known, is the pint-size equivalent of competitive bull riding. Children cling to the backs of sheep, and generally speaking, whoever stays on the longest wins. But just as in bull and bronco riding, even the most talented rider ends up on the arena floor. Some of these kids are barely 3 years old.
Their website is just getting setup. The restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday. That’s so they can walk off all that heavy Italian grub. Shucks, it’s all great eatin’ and slurpin’. Tell ‘em The Fox sencha.
1319 E. Evans Ave. • 719-564-6486
This superb Mexican eatery and cantina is large, spacious, airy, and clean. Food and service are first rate. For over 25 years they’ve prepared fresh house-made genuine Mexican food. The menu includes traditional and non-traditional fare: chile rellenos, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, ceviche, (gulp!) menudo, and oysters. That’s what the website sez, oysters. Who wudda thunk? On the half shell, even. Never tried ‘em, don’t like the slimy things. Not even at the best oyster house in N’awlins. Had one of them escargots once. Held it under a very large dinner linen napkin and maneuvered the fork very carefully and slipped that sucka into my mouth and gulped it down the gullet as quick as a fat man chasing an ice cream truck. Having been there, I can tellya that is mighty quick.
But the best of all are the house-made pastries and flan. My fav meal is the pork & avocado burrito smothered with chile and served with rice and salad. They also do lotsa American fare, including burgers, chicken fried steak, BLT’s and a number of kids’ dishes. There is a large breakfast menu, altho they don’t open during breakfast hours. Their margaritas are famous world-wide all over Pueblo. Mighty fine slurpin’ here.
There are now two additional locations, Jorge’s Mercado at 314 West Northern Ave. (719-565-2995) and Jorge’s O.C.C. in Colo. Springs at 2427 W. Colorado Ave. (719-634-9031). The restaurants are all open seven days a week. The have a very happy happy hour Monday thru Friday from 4 pm – 6 pm.
Don’t ask the waiter if the hot green chile is really hot. Take my word for it: it’s hot. It’s yummy, but you gotta wear a turban.
Jay Fox is The Statesman’s resident gourmand, which is described in Wikipedia as “an individual with a highly refined discerning palate.” They also note an older usage of the word to describe a person given to excess in the consumption of food and drink, synonymous with a “glutton” or a “trencherman” — but we certainly do not mean to convey that part of the definition when describing Mr. Fox. Now that you’ve read his recommendations for Dem delegates in Pueblo this weekend, flip over the newspaper and catch his picks from Denver, where Colorado GOPs are meeting this weekend for their state assembly.