Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (Colorado Springs, CO)

I find it a bit interesting that in my travels as an engineer that I’ll go years without traveling even close to a region, and then get several trips to that area back-to-back, even for completely different clients. In this particular case, Colorado Springs. I hadn’t been to Colorado for work for 8 years, but this year had me visiting Colorado Springs three times (so far) for business. While a bit sprawling, and being one of those cities with two distinct downtowns (“Downtown” and “Old Colorado City”, the latter originally being a distinct city that was annexed), it has some nice charms: the downtown is rather walkable, has a nice private college (Colorado College) with a nice campus and art museum, and a decent selection of dining establishments. Like much of Colorado, it actually reminds me a lot of a younger, less-sprawling, and more temperate Phoenix area. On my first trip this year, we arrived rather late in the evening, and looking for a light dinner near our hotel led us right to Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

Located right in downtown Colorado Springs in the 3-story Cheyenne Building (named after the nearby mountain of NORAD fame), Phantom Canyon nicely fills all three stories, with a pub on the main floor, darts and billiards on the second floor, and a nice event room on the third floor. In a time when it seems like breweries are popping up every few blocks even in rural America, Phantom Canyon is one of the grandaddies of the craft beer movement, having opened back in the early 1990s when craft breweries numbered in the hundreds instead of the thousands. They’ve still got a rather nice vibe going, too, with a nice, open, and inviting pub with a combination of tables, booths, and a large ornate bar. It’s certainly a welcoming environment.

Beer-wise, Phantom Canyon is still doing some good work. On my visit, a nice selection of fifteen different in-house brews, and a guest tap. I went with one of their flagship IPAs, Streamliner, and was quite pleased with it, a good, solid West-Coast style IPA.

For my dinner, while I was very tempted by the green chili (I’m a firm believer that most anything is culinarily improved by the addition of Southwestestern green chili, and doubly so at breakfast), I opted going for the pork mole tacos: pork mole, cabbage, cotija cheese, lime crema, and a healthy side corn chips, chipotle salsa and a big cup of nicely done queso. The mole was flavorful and decently spicy (Colorado tends not to shy away from spice, especially chile peppers), the taco shells being a nicely-executed whole wheat, and the overall combination a nice set of textures. Definitely a solid dinner, although I won’t be able to not order the green chili next time.

Overall, Phantom Canyon was a great dinner, and one of the better late evening options in downtown Colorado springs. I’ll definitely be coming back.

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