- Matthew Schniper
- Pho Queen
3748 Astrozon Blvd., 392-0001
Pho Queen predated the Springs' pho boom by a little bit, and offers comparable bowls of aromatic bone broth jam-packed with vermicelli, steak cuts and herbs. In for one of our seasonal visits (due to regular errands in the area), we head in a slightly different direction with the Hu tieu Nam Vang ($8), another steaming, huge portion of soup, this one still bearing rice noodles, but also sliced and ground pork pieces with a mix of shrimp, squid and krab hunks. We warm two people easily.
And because we can never pass up something off the banh mi list, we get the B.B.Q. Chicken Sandwich ($4), which leads with sweet slices of poultry amidst the mostly traditional setup of cucumber, pickled carrot slivers, white onion, jalapeño coins and cilantro, on buttered baguette. It's not quite as authentic as Banh Mi Viet's offerings (about which we've gushed before), but Pho Queen still makes a damn enjoyable bite, especially for the price. — MS
- Griffin Swartzell
- Nano 108 Brewery
Nano 108 Brewery
2402 Waynoka Road, 596-2337, nano108brewing.com
Owing to brewer Keith Altemose's ever-changing tap list, it's impossible to pick a go-to brew here. That said, he's doing a few things we're fond of. When we stop in, he's pouring two versions of a mango and pineapple citra-hopped IPA ($3.25/9-ounce), one dry-hopped with floral-spicy nugget hops, one dry-hopped with tropical-citrus falconer's flight hops. Though we'd like to see the hops displayed against a more neutral base beer, there's still a fun contrast, and while the falconer's adds to the fruitiness, both have enough bitter to balance.
Nano's weizenbock ($2.25/9-ounce) drinks a little lager-clean for the style, though typical clove spice pleases. We're also fond of the two pepper lagers ($2.50/9-ounce), the mild-drinking vegetal with strong anaheim pepper flavor, and the hot bearing substantial green chili burn. The harvest ale ($2.75/9-ounce) makes a case for "less is more," with way too many spices and adjuncts fighting for flavor control. — GS
- Griffin Swartzell
- Neveria Monarca
3771 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 591-2126
Ever make a wrong turn and find something you never knew existed? That's how we find Neveria Monarca, just west of Academy Boulevard. The store serves not only frozen dessert treats, but street food too. We go for a diablito ($4.50) and chilindrina ($6).
The former sees mango nieve de Garrafa — think sorbet — served up with chamoy, lime, chili powder and salt, with a straw wrapped in chamoy candy, ending a bit sugary but still wonderful throughout. Kids might not appreciate the sweet-salty-spicy combo, sure to refresh, so don't feel obliged to share. That said, I need help finishing my chilindrina, a plate-sized flour chicharron piled high with pickled pig skins, cabbage, avocado, hot sauce, mayo, pico de gallo and cotija cheese. While the strips of pig chew like calamari, they'd do well with more sour, either from a stronger pickling brine or lime juice. Of course, there are plenty of other snacks here, from corn to candy. — GS