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Restaurant in Colorado Springs whets your appetite and awakens memories | Restaurant review | Food
Restaurant in Colorado Springs whets your appetite and awakens memories | Restaurant review | Food

When you think of downtown Colorado Springs, Poor Richard’s Restaurant immediately comes to mind; it’s unavoidable and usually comes with a smile.

A laid-back atmosphere and longevity have a lot to do with it. So has smart expansion. The bookstore was followed by the restaurant, which became Poor Richard’s Feed & Read; then the movie theater; and more recently Little Richard’s Toy Store and Rico’s Café 7 Wine Bar. Only the movie aspect has disappeared, but the various shops under one roof create a campus-like atmosphere.

In addition, the menu has moved with the times. Tapas, rice bowls, vegan proteins and the like were not part of the dining scene in the mid-1970s when the place opened. These changes contribute to its enduring popularity.

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Orders are still placed at the counter, with pizza, salads and chips and salsa among the holdovers from days gone by. The thick, smoky salsa is made in-house; full and half portions are available ($7.99 and $4.49, respectively).

It made sense to stick with some old favorites, so we ordered the pizza and salad combo known as Meal Deal #1 ($13.99). I had forgotten that the portions are large. The slice included a choice of three toppings and a salad, which was a meal in itself!

Toppings range from the common, like pepperoni and mushrooms (which I like) to the more sophisticated, like sun-dried tomatoes and green olives (which I really like), among more than two dozen options. The hand-formed, thin dough held its shape with just the right amount of marinara and a layer of mozzarella that set quickly, which happens with many pizzas.

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Salad dressings are made in house and sold by the bottle. The house salad consists of a large bowl of mixed greens, green beans, peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, olives and cucumbers. Feta is sprinkled on top and the creamy balsamic dressing covers most of the ingredients in the deep, wide serving bowl without overpowering them.

There are four rice bowls to choose from: chicken enchilada, southwest, curry, and sesame ginger. Except for the latter, the restaurant’s soups and chilies are incorporated into the mixes, depending on which bowl is ordered. Proteins include chicken or tofu.

The roasted chicken in the sesame ginger bowl complemented the colorful variety of vegetables, including roasted broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, green beans, onions, zucchini, and avocado chunks on brown rice. The nutty-spicy sauce had the perfect ratio of nutty and spicy and paired perfectly with the other flavors. I especially liked what the avocado chunks added to the variety of textures and flavors. All bowls include a piece of focaccia.

The menu offers sandwiches from the (to some) mundane like egg salad ($12.64) to the (to some) more interesting like the vegetarian Rueben ($12.09). Choices include wheat, rye, pita, sourdough and gluten-free breads (for an additional charge). Sandwiches are served with chips and a small portion of salsa.

There is also a kids menu and a kids playroom in the back. This, along with the pizza, could bring back many memories for many.

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