The Loop is a venerable Manitou Springs restaurant at the busiest corner in town. Opened in 1903, it featured wild game on the menu – bear, elk, mountain lion, turkey and deer hunted in the surrounding mountains and the Pike National Forest. At one time, a trolley wound around the building (that’s where it got its name), and gambling was a popular activity upstairs. Once the favorite haunt of gold and silver barons, it is a favorite of locals today, with a much-loved menu of Mexican, Tex-Mex and American food. Its Molcajete is a stew of chicken, pork and steak in spicy poblano sauce, served in a rustic stone container. Lobster enchiladas are simmered in a white wine sauce, and grilled mahi-mahi comes with a unique black bean salad.
What makes it great:
This place can be dangerous. It’s just steps away from the trailhead for the Barr Trail (the long route up to the summit of Pikes Peak) and it offers more than two dozen specialty margaritas (that come in extra-large or extra-extra-large - two-handed - glasses). Locals regularly vote the Loop ‘ritas the best in the area. Luckily, there’s food, too. Today, the menu features lobster enchiladas, tequila lime chicken, and Molcajete smothered in poblano sauce with Nopal cactus on the side. If you plan your hike on the Barr Trail just right, you can end up at the Loop at cocktail time.
Who will love it:
Anyone craving a margarita with a side of Colorado T-bone will be at home here, alongside anyone craving a classic taco, massive stuffed burrito or a bowl of spicy chili con queso. Desserts shouldn’t be ignored here – coco flan and traditional flan join the classic fried ice cream and sopapillas (and there’s also a sopapilla sundae with caramel, chocolate and strawberry syrup). There are more than a dozen margaritas to choose from, in two sizes – regular and grande (32 ounces), made from more than 40 tequilas.
Directions, fees and regulations:
From downtown Colorado Springs, drive west on Colorado Avenue. Continue through downtown Manitou Springs, and watch for the Loop on your left at the intersection (and roundabout) with Ruxton Avenue. It’s a pale pink adobe building with its name in neon. The Loop is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Parking is limited in this part of Manitou Springs; the city offers a free shuttle service that runs from mid-May through early September from Old Man’s Trail to Ruxton Avenue. The shuttle is popular among hikers headed for the Barr Trail, the 12.7-mile route to the summit of Pikes Peak, and the Incline, a steep trail that takes runners and hikers to the top of Mount Manitou. There is a parking lot for the Barr Trail, but it’s a paid lot, and it often fills quickly. There is no designated lot for the Incline.
Have you been here? What did you think? Leave your comments here or post a photo.