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“One of the best in years” 5 of 5 stars
Review of PJ's Bistro

PJ's Bistro
819 Manitou Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829
(719) 685-1195
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Cuisines: Polish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Families with children, Doing business, Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Illinois
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
62 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 49 cities Reviews in 49 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“One of the best in years”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2010

We were surprised to find an Eastern European restaurant in such a place. We had potato dumplings with wild mushroom sauce and marinated pork with potato pancakes (latkis?) and mushroom sauce. The food was absolutely out of this world. Decided to go again the next day for dinner. In fact, the menu is an unusual mix of Polish, Hungarian and Japanese dishes. Tuna on skewers was better than we ever had in any Japanese place! Dinner menu is short - in our experience, a sign of a good restaurant. Interesting restored Victorian building, friendly, though not always perfect, service, good choice of drinks. And extremely cheap, too.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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216 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Evergreen, Colorado
Top Contributor
107 reviews 107 reviews
63 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
“Awesome Eastern European Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2010

We ended up at BJ's the first time because it was a crowded weekend in Manitou Springs, everything was packed, and we were starving. It was one of those wonderful, unforgetable meals you have by default. We drove to Manitou Springs for a day trip recently and specifically went to BJ's for another awesome order of potato pancakes. As good (maybe even better) as my mother makes. I had to place an extra order to take home to our son, who loves them. I also ordered the Russian Pierogi. I can't decide if the potato pancakes or the pierogi were better. The pierogi filled me with memories of home. My husband ordered the marinated pork loin and potato pancakes with mushroom sauce. His plate was wiped clean. I am going to order the stuffed cabbage next time. It sounds like another keeper. The owner and cook is from Poland, so the menu has a little of everything. The portions are very good and the prices are very reasonable. Family/kid friendly. We saw people enjoying the beautiful desserts at other tables, but couldn't find room for one. The service could not have been better. Our server was wonderful and he could not sing better praises for the restaurant. That says a lot about how a restaurant is managed.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Colorado
1 review
“An unexpected gem.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2010

We were skeptical about this place from the outset, partly because of the name. We looked at the lunch menu posted outside, and weren't impressed. But it was dinner time, it was cold, and little else in the area was open. Against our better judgment, we went in.

Service was great - though it wasn't a busy night. We loved the new dinner menu. I appreciated that they had real food, including real parmesean cheese, homemade dressings, and large, tasty shrimp. We started with a grilled romaine heart with shrimp, and then enjoyed the mahi-mahi with a lime and garlic garnish, and also the shrimp scampi. Everything was fresh and delicious.

We had key lime pie for dessert, which is made by a local shop instead of frozen by Sara Lee. It was really good.

Overall, a much better dinner than we had expected.

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Denver, Co
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
“Excellent Food & Atmosphere! Great Wine Selection!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2010

We came to PJ's looking for their potato pancakes and ended up ordering stuffed cabbage and potato dumplings - they were AWESOME! I had wine and my husband had a glass of Chimay, which is not easy to find! They have recently updated the interior and their patio looks like it will be a lot of fun to come back and enjoy! We will go again and again. We love Manitou and hope to go back when the weather is nicer.

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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Colorado
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“Should have listened to the hot dog vendor...”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2009

On a recent trip to Manitou we were looking for a family friendly restaurant with a deck to soak in some of the great people watching while we enjoyed our Thursday afternoon lunch. After ruling out the patio at the Cliff House due to both our casual attire and the fact that it was a block off of the main street with not much of a view, we set off looking for someplace else to try.

Our kids really just wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon at the arcade, and as they stared longingly at the blinking quarter-eaters of yesteryear, a sidewalk hot dog vendor tried to persuade us to change our lunch plans. Since we had our hearts set on a more leisurely sit-down affair, we politely declined, and set off down the street.

Soon enough we came to PJ's Bistro, which is in an old hotel type property, with tables overlooking the street in a great shaded raised porch area. It certainly looked promising enough, so we went in. Stepping into the place we immediately were a little confused by what we were supposed to do next. We were right in the middle of the dining area, with no indication of whether we were to seat ourselves, or wait to be seated. We nervously stood around for about five minutes while we were studiously ignored by a couple of staff members who stood poring over various checks at the far end of the room by the cash register.

Finally my wife grabbed the nearest table, and we arranged some chairs to fit. It turned out the outside seating was a cruel tease, as they only had room for 2-top tables, and they were all full. Over the next 1 ½ hours we saw the same scenario play out several times: people would enter, some would be seated right away, some would be dismissed with a “Sit wherever you want”, and some would be left to fend for themselves.

It was now almost 2 pm, and our kids were getting pretty hungry (probably still thinking about those hot dogs). Finally after about 15 minutes a waitress paused and asked if we’d been helped. As we were sitting at a table with no place settings, drinks, or menus, you might think that question was a pretty obvious one. So while she fetched our drinks (still no place settings), we perused the menu, which was an unusual combination of typical burgers and sandwiches with a number of Eastern European specialties (the owners are Polish). My family all settled on “safe” sandwich fare, and I ordered the days special pierogi—which I had glimpsed on a dry erase board by the door.

“Oh, we sold out of those. Can’t you see? It’s crossed out”, I was told. Looking more closely, it did appear that someone had perhaps lightly dampened a Q-tip, and waved it in the general direction of the menu board, leaving behind a nearly observable faint smudge in the shape of an ‘X’. Scrambling now, I grabbed the menu and quickly chose the ‘Polish Sausage Plate’, which elicited a “Good choice!” Half an hour later (still no place settings), our kids were nearing open revolt. The waitress stopped by a few times to refill our water glasses, but not a single mention was made of when or if we might see our meals.

To pass the time we marveled at the strange Euro-disco musical soundtrack thumping in the background, and had fun watching people pay for their lunches. Once again, some seemed to have the check taken care of at the table, some got up and marched over to the cash register (maybe they gave up hope of ever getting out of there if they didn’t), and a sad few seemed stuck in the middle hopelessly trying to catch the eye of someone in charge.

After another 30 minutes, our food finally showed up, followed a short time thereafter by utensils with which to eat it. And the verdict? Eh. The ‘American’ portion of the menu was by-the-numbers with ubiquitous cold greasy fries accompanying every item. My Polish Sausage Plate turned out to be one 12”-long chunk of sausage (tasting every bit the same as a Hillshire Farms packaged number from the nearest supermarket) served nearly at room temperature. The only other item on the plate, and the sole saving grace, was a small bowl of homemade sauerkraut, which was a very dark brown, and spiced with caraway. This stuff was really good—sweet, savory, sour, you name it. Now if I just had some decent mustard, maybe I could salvage something here. Surely a Polish place would have some great brown mustard, right? Nope; nothing but French’s yellow anywhere to be seen. We all munched in a defeated silence.

So, as we’d had plenty of time to figure out an exit strategy while waiting for our meals we knew the drill. I marched up to the cash register, waited for the grudging eye contact, and paid our ransom. We never did see our waitress again (maybe she knew the possibility of a big tip had long since left the picture), and I didn’t wait around for her to make amends. As we left it was all we could do to not warn off the few people still straggling in.

As we walked back to the arcade mourning the 2-hours of our lives we’d never get back, we happened upon the same sidewalk vendor who offered us a ½ off “happy hour discount” on his remaining inventory. I paused for a second, and told him that I really wished we had stopped there the first time. He asked where we went instead, and when I told him PJ’s Bistro, he replied, “Oh, that Polish place down the street? I went there a few years ago. We had to send the food back—it was all cold.”

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