Anita Bandita Taco Shop
727 Gold Hill Place South, Woodland Park, 686-5609
There's a phone number but no phone at Woodland Park's simple, month-old restaurant, and scores of customers but only two employees. This means things are hectic, and food times run around 10 or 15 minutes, but our two items are definitely worth the wait. Also, you get to enjoy them in a dining room done up in warm orange tones set off in the front by a chunky painting of flaming aspens. Ownership still manages to chat with customers, even remembering my name as I weave out the door.
The chicken tacos ($6) are just amazing, coming loaded on thin, homemade corn tortillas. A buttery poblano sauce joins avocado, cabbage, leafy cilantro, a refreshing fire-roasted salsa and fat, juicy chunks of grilled chicken. Intoxicating flavors here and on the carne asada burrito ($6.50), where big cuts of marinated steak mix with pico de gallo and more avocado. — Bryce Crawford
4820 Flintridge Drive, 598-3428, lnepal.com
Being a regular at Little Nepal's Eighth Street food temple, I'll tell you right now that the spread on Flintridge is every bit the tempting indulgence you would hope for if similarly addicted. Service at the $8.99 lunch buffet is charming, with helpful young men bringing water, offering to clear plates and, most importantly, delivering killer pillows of naan.
You probably already know about the deep-green saag paneer, its oceanic folds holding squares of cheese. And it's probably no surprise that the chicken tikka masala is a sweet, gentle death by cream. But the chicken jalfrazi is a revelation, bringing a sour, pickled kick (for which I wasn't told the source) over melting cubes of chicken in a brown-orange broth that combines tomato, bell pepper, onions and other masala spices. I could eat nothing but that all day, or the vegetable samosa and its buttery pastry exterior, or the tandoori chicken, or the ... — Bryce Crawford
Azada Mexican Grill
16 E. Bijou St., 634-8338
I'm pleased that almost two years since opening, Azada appears to have halted the revolving door at this location, which has spurned several other Mexican eateries. I'd say that's because of comparable prices and build-your-own counter service as fast as Chipotle's, plus fresh house-made ingredients and friendly staff. But really, the reason can be reduced to one word: rojo.
This "red" item (our favorite from visits past) is actually a clutch of tender pork cubes drowned in a legitimately spicy — like, not King's Chef-green-chile hot, but I-know-several-friends-who-wouldn't-eat-this hot — Anaheim pepper and chile de árbol paste. Though it bears a lingering tongue burn, it doesn't snuff out the pork or other flavors in a trio of rojo corn tacos ($6.50). Simple pico de gallo, lettuce and cheese garnish cools the sauce just a touch, but it finishes somewhere strong on the Scoville scale. On second thought, I'll add consistency as one more reason Azada's still here. — Matthew Schniper