Sometimes we get tips from readers on dining spots not to miss, but rarely are they as funny as a recent e-mail promoting the new leader of Will's Sports Pub's kitchen.
A snippet, verbatim: "The new dishes which I have tasted tonight, where not just from a Pub cook. They where definitely from a 'Chef.' His name is Nacho. Chef he is definitely, Chef Nacho."
With advice to try his "unique Nachos" — featuring a "unique flare [sic] of spices" — or "ceviche on top of a small flour tortilla," we simply couldn't resist.
Thus we bring you the results, as well as what we found up the pass and just down the road.
Will's Sports Pub
424 S. Nevada Ave., 475-2122
A few years ago, Will's offered a unique blend of gourmet food and sports-bar atmosphere. But a breakdown in the partnership between Fanz Bistro and the pub's ownership changed all that. A recent e-mail (see introduction) made us think that the food situation may have improved — the offered shrimp ceviche ($8.95) served as an encouraging sign.
Alas, Will's generally continues with its basic pub grub, even under chef Ignacio "Nacho" Baltacar.
Nicely presented in a cocktail glass, the ceviche's shrimp almost bounced with rubbery chewiness, though the acidity in the tomato, green pepper and onion mixture pleased. The nachos ($7.95) proved as unique as a Bud Light, arriving covered in a house-made red chili with onions, tomatoes and shredded cheese. No harm no foul, here, but no reason to leave the house, either. — Bryce Crawford
Yummy Yaki Japanese Restaurant
1534 S. Nevada Ave., 227-0214
After 16 years serving Japanese staples at Yummy Yaki, Thai/Vietnamese owner Vinichai Seangsoy, at friends' request, began dishing Thai food a couple months ago. As explained by co-chef and manager Leo Weinman, the only trouble is that they only have one wok station devoted to it currently, and it'll likely be early 2012 before they add a second.
Since they can't afford to bog down lunch, Yummy Yaki serves Thai only from 3 to 8 p.m. on weekdays (all day on weekends). When we visited one night, we waited nearly 40 minutes for our entrées. The Khang Pineapple ($11.95) largely proved worth it, though, with the sweet fruit playing wonderfully with fresh kaffir lime leaves and basil strands over shrimp in a tomato-y coconut milk broth. Though ordered "hot," it wasn't very. — Matthew Schniper
The Wines of Colorado
8045 W. U.S. Hwy. 24, 684-0900, winesofcolorado.com
Wines of Colorado, the creekside eatery on the way to Woodland Park, gives off a warm glow from an iron stove and a thick wood-smoke scent from an on-site smoker. On the cool, cloudy day I visited, it all led me to select the smoked salmon caesar salad ($11.95). It wasn't quite the perfect choice I hoped it'd be; though nicely seasoned, it was a touch dry.
A ribeye steak sandwich ($9.95), however, was better, delightfully tender and loaded with a flavorful and juicy mix of sautéed mushrooms, onions and medium-heat roasted green chilies.
With both our meals, we enjoyed samples from an array of Colorado wineries. A wine guide took us through the aisles, relaying detailed descriptions on the different varietals, with one simple request: "Forget the rules; drink what you enjoy." So we did. — Monika Mitchell Randall