Food and beverages at Ivywild School are elementary, my dear.
Don’t worry, though, they’re also elevated given the dining and imbibing options. The place is a glorified food court in the best possible way. Pizza, empanadas, salads, beer, whiskey, artisan cocktails, coffee and burgers are all available.
Food orders are placed at separate windows located on the main floor for individual dining preference. Each has its own cooking/food prep area.
The menu at Ivywild Kitchen, one of the dining options, is limited to pretzels, burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders and fries. With so few choices, you figure — or hope — everything is done just right. Fortunately, it is.
Appetizers are limited to pretzel knots from Mark Anthony’s Pretzels, which are locally made. They come two to an order, with spicy mustard sauces ($8) or loaded with summer sausage, Swiss cheese and the two sauces ($16).
The spotlight shines, though, on the burgers: five possibilities plus a Beyond Meat alternative for an extra $3. There’s a basic burger, which doesn’t mean it’s plain, only that the usual accoutrements of are part of the package. Locally sourced Colorado beef is topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and the house sauce, served on a potato bun. The single is $8; the double is $10. It’s the sauce that elevates what would otherwise be a standard burger.
Blended mustard, ketchup and mayo tastes much better than it sounds. It’s all the condiments in one and works surprisingly well even if ordinarily you might not opt for all three at once. My advice is to give it a chance. The house sauce is included on the side with all the burgers.
The mushroom and Swiss burger ($10) has roasted ‘shrooms and gooey cheese that doesn’t overwhelm the juicy meat. Still, it was messy to eat since the bun didn’t hold up as well as we’d have liked. A basket of french fries ($9 if ordered separately; $4 if ordered as a side) made this the epitome of a summer meal.
Another burger comes with bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions ($10), and there’s one with bacon, barbecue sauce and jalapeno ($10). Vegan cheese can be substituted for a $2 upcharge.
The grilled chicken sandwich featured Red Bird chicken breast brined in buttermilk served on a potato bun ($10). The juicy meat topped with pickled onions and lettuce was further enhanced by the chipotle lime mayo, which I also enjoyed as a dip for the sweet potato fries.
Again, the bun didn’t fare as well, but it mattered little since the chicken and sauce were so flavorful.
Ivywild Kitchen makes four other sauces (50 cents each): Ranch, barbecue, spicy aioli and curry mayo. I suspect you can’t go wrong with any. However, the young man who took orders said the chipotle lime is his favorite.
Diners provide a cellphone number and are notified by text when orders are ready. Food may be carried into different areas of the building, but liquor must be consumed where it is purchased.
Several indoor and outdoor dining areas are available.
Repurposed more than a decade ago, the complex continues to be an impressive reuse of an old school building.
DETAILS - IVYWILD SCHOOL
Description: Casual and fun for burgers and chicken sandwiches
Location: 1604 S. Cascade Ave.
Contact: 368-6118; www.ivywildkitchen.co/
Prices: $8 to $14
Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Monday – Thursday; 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Details: Credit cards accepted. Alcohol nearby. Wi-Fi. Favorite dishes: Chicken sandwich with chipotle lime mayo Other: Gluten-free and vegan options available
Passed regular inspection by El Paso County Public Health April 5