November 4, 2022 | OPINION | By Sam Treat

For years, downtown Colorado Spring has lacked the millennial energy and hipster establishments that define most “up and coming cities,” like Denver, Seattle, Austin, or Portland. However, many locals are just fine with that reality; as the Leechpit stickers proclaim, “Keep Colorado Springs Lame.” Still, though, in the last decade development and new businesses have created a millennial haven on N. Tejon street. Most notable to the average Colorado College student would be Fat Sully’s, Dos Santos, and COATI. Each of these eateries cultivates a lively atmosphere and are almost entirely dependent on the millennial customers they so clearly cater to. Just next door to these well-traveled restaurants is Streetcar 520.

Streetcar 520 refers to itself as “an eclectic New American eatery… offering exceptionally good vibes… where hugs are preferred to handshakes.” I don’t mean to bash too hard on our millennial forefathers, but I can’t help but point out how cheugy that statement is. For those who may not be familiar with such terminology, a New York Times article defines “cheugy” (pronounced “chew-gee”) as something “to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard.” For Streetcar 520, the latter definition is most applicable. From the light displays to the random murals, the dubstep playing at an awkwardly quiet volume to the skeletons in the corner (why??), it just seems like too much is happening with the ambiance and decor. 

Despite the cheugy nature of the interior of the restaurant, the food somehow avoids the plague of “trying too hard” that seems to affect all other aspects of Streetcar 520. The food is exceptional. The menu seems to transcend geography; there are typical Korean dishes, a bevy of items from the American South, and an assortment of fusions and blends whose origins cannot quite be pinned down. I know that the beginning of this article may have come across as harsh, and the description of the menu could align with the criticisms levied by me, but somehow the progenitors of Streetcar 520 were able to make it work. 

The true stars of the culinary experience include several of the items that are labeled as “shareables,” (regrettably, this portion of the menu is also labeled ‘snax,’ which, I mean, c’mon). Far and away the best dish on the menu is the Korean Chicken Bao Buns, which are as flavorful as they are well-presented. The buns are soft but firm, and the chicken is covered in gochujang aioli, which is famously full of the elusive umami flavor. The only downside of this offering is that only three buns are included, not quite enough for a full meal, and an awkward number to split. Likewise, the Kimchi Fries deliver a solid amount of flavor and work great as a starter for the table. Unfortunately, like most things on the menu, the fries come with a price point that could dissuade the casual eater from ordering. 

For the mains, their most popular items are the Southern Fried Chicken and the 520 Burger. The Southern Fried Chicken offers up a hearty amount of golden-brown goodness, paired with grits and creamed spinach. Surprisingly spicy is the creole sauce it comes with, rounding out a well-prepared meal. The 520 Burger is the signature meal for Streetcar. The beef patty comes from a blend of short-rib, ground beef, and brisket –– a unique combination that truly keeps the flavor strong, especially if ordered medium-rare. Unfortunately, the patty comes covered in melted brie, a cheese that is generally delicious, but masks the flavor of the meat. The other toppings, however, deliver –– bacon and caramelized onions really never fail to disappoint, and they don’t start here. All in all: if ordered without cheese, this burger has promise. 

While Streetcar 520 fails to check its overtly millennial tendencies in ambiance and decor, it makes up for it with an eclectic and surprisingly flavorful menu. The crowd that you might find dining here certainly ranges –– most nights it tends to be an older crowd (30s-50s), but come Sunday morning one would hardly be surprised to find CC students there for bottomless mimosas. Streetcar 520 may be cheugy, but not to the point where it sacrifices tastiness for showmanship. With the high price points, though, it may be best for a date night or when your roommate’s parents want to take you somewhere nicer. 

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