Johnny's Navajo Hogan
2817 N. Nevada Ave., 344-9593, johnnyshogan.com
Everyone knows about the Hogan's pretty fabulous, best-selling broasted chicken plates, but did you know that every Wednesday you'll find broasted pork chops as a special? ($8.95/one, $10.95/two; includes two sides.) Yes, it's the same pressure-cooked, deep-fried method (see broaster.com) applied to brined and flour-breaded pork hunks, resulting in crispy skin, super-juicy meat and a huge heap of happiness.
The $1.50 up-charge is always worth it for the stellar sweet potato fries plus guilty marshmallow dip as one side; and crisp, tangy slaw with a slight spice bite makes a good second choice. With $4.50 New Belgium Rampant IPAs (one of my all-time faves) flowing on tap alongside other great craft selections, plus continued top-notch service, the Hogan remains a juggernaut, a virtually unmatched bar at which to eat, not just drink. — Matthew Schniper
Red Leg Brewing Company
4630 Forge Road, 598-3776, redlegbrewingco.com
Since its opening nearly two months ago, Red Leg has scrambled to keep up with demand, says founder Todd Baldwin. That's partly because of a wonderful community response, but also because Red Leg is on a single-barrel system until October, when a 10-barrel system is expected to blow up production and activate the canning line.
No surprise, then, that my beer sampler ($7/six 4-ounce pours) couldn't include a sold-out SGT Pils. The Cutter Wit is a great, light second option with Belgian body, and the Howitzer Amber falls on the sweeter, malty side. The Blue Nose Brown is also quite malty, while the Devil Dog Stout delivers dark-roast coffee notes. Lastly, the DO Little IPA acts as "an IPA for non-IPA drinkers," says assistant brewer Michael Acerra, due to relatively low bitterness and an almost amber nature; thank CaraMunich malts' influence on the Sterling and Centennial hops. — Matthew Schniper
Loco Bean Coffee
4797 Barnes Road, 550-4586, locobeancoffee.com
John Reinecke's bright-yellow, drive-thru kiosk boasts national aspirations, and I, for one, would be happy to see it succeed. Loco Bean is already on its way, with coming expansions into sporting events at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The back end is impressive (a well-designed website, an online store, a deep social-media presence), and the ordering couldn't be more pleasant. Our barista offered recommendations — she always makes extra King Chai because she loves it that much — a drink carrier, and a deep apology when she couldn't print a receipt.
Our three small drinks ($3.45) were almost as good as all that, though the buttery Salty Caramel Hipster could use more sea salt to counteract all that white-chocolate love, and some might find the chipotle powder in the chocolate-cinnamon Mocha Diablo somewhat abrasive. (I loved it.) The honey in the chai is more felt than tasted, but the vanilla is right there. — Bryce Crawford