If a restaurant calls itself The Dive, do you really want to go there?
In this case, yes, you do.
Tucked into the corner of Pikes Peak Avenue and 31st Street, The Dive is a little rough around the edges, but in a good way. The interior has some kitschy signs on the walls, but it is mostly just a clean, no frills place. The focus is on the food - big helpings of hearty, homemade favorites that will stick to your ribs and fuel you up for a long day. Not every dish hits a home run, but those that do make it worth the trip.
At lunch time, you can expect fast service and delicious food. The burgers could easily make you yell "Bazinga!" Hand-formed patties, cooked to order and full of beefy goodness will drip down your chin.
The Dive burger ($9.99) shines. The hefty patty, extending past the edges of the toasted bun, is topped with sweet grilled onions, roasted red pepper, melted Provolone cheese and two strips of bacon. Here's the unexpected detail: the addition of garlic herb mayo on the bun. Sounds too fancy for a place called The Dive, but there's just enough to add a savory, tangy kick to the sandwich. The toppings are perfectly balanced, harmonious and don't overwhelm the flavor of the burger.
The smoked beef brisket sandwich ($12.99) is worth every penny. A pile of sliced brisket almost overwhelms the bun, and the texture is perfect. It's not cooked so long that it's falling apart, but the sumptuous, smoke-kissed beef is juicy and tender enough to easily bite through. The kitchen uses a light hand with the barbecue sauce, which is good. The sauce is quite sweet, and if they doused the sandwich with it, they'd ruin it.
The menu also includes pork spare ribs ($12.95 for a half rack) and pulled pork ($7.99 for a sandwich). Based on the brisket, I can't wait to go back and try them.
The burgers and the sandwiches all come with a great big pile of good fries, golden and crispy. The barbecue sandwiches also come with coleslaw, which is fairly sweet and heavily seasoned with celery seed. I didn't like it on its own, but it made a good addition to the brisket sandwich.
The breakfast options are mostly very large portions of pretty standard fare. A single pancake ($2.95) dwarfs everything else on the table, lopping over the sides of a dinner plate. It's a good cake, though, just sweet enough and griddled to a golden brown on the outside, tender and cakey on the interior. If it matters (and to me it does), the syrup is not real maple.
The breakfast combinations are big and bountiful, if not particularly dazzling. The omelets are all made with three eggs, and the Pueblo green chili version ($9.49) was a decent bundle, filled with bacon, onions, green chilies and cheddar cheese.
But the green chili that topped the dish left a lot to be desired. It lacked flavor and seemed to have too many ingredients that never married into one congruous whole. There was lots of pork, lots of tomato, lots of green chilies and lots of pinto beans, but a conspicuous lack of heat or seasoning. Even the addition of black pepper would have improved the dish. This is the kind of green chili I'd expect on the East Coast, confused and not focused on the flavor of roasted green chilies.
The main events at breakfast were well done. Sunny side up eggs ($5.99 with bacon) had golden, lacey edges and properly hot and runny yolks. The four strips of bacon were crisp, nicely balanced between fat and lean, salty and smoky.
The sides at breakfast, unfortunately, were forgettable. The hash browns were bland and lacked salt. The toast was made from the plainest white bread you can imagine. The flour tortillas that came with some dishes were room temperature instead of warm. All small details, but they add up.
The service at The Dive is friendly and fast. If you order coffee, they're going to keep that cup hot and full no matter how busy the restaurant gets. Ditto your iced tea at lunch time. The wait staff is small, but they know their regulars while making newcomers feel welcome.Restaurant character: The Dive is a no-frills sort of place when it comes to decor, focusing all its energy on friendly service and good food. The burgers and barbecue are definitely worth the trip.
Rating total: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Food: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Ambiance: 3 out of 5 stars
Service: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Address: 3043 W. Pikes Peak Ave., 80904
Contact: 358-9646; www.719thedive.com
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturdays; 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays
Credit cards: Yes
Vegetarian options: Veggie omelet ($7.99), Grilled Three Cheeses ($4.99)
As of Dec. 10:
- 80 percent of 56 voters "liked it" on Urban Spoon
- 4 out of 5 stars based on 22 reviews on Yelp
- Active on Facebook; search "719 The Dive"
- No violations requiring follow-up were marked after an October inspection by the El Paso County Health Department.