Quijote's Tacos Margaritas
208 N. Union Blvd., 313-9127, quijotesmexicangrill.com
Not to be confused with Quijote's Mexican Grill a storefront over, which is open 7 to 3 daily but Sundays, this taqueria-and-bar side of the same business is open Tuesdays through Sundays for dinner hours. Shortly after its unveiling last November, Quijote's also expanded into Denver with a location on Broadway.
My go-to here remains the Cochinita pibil, available as a torta ($7.99) or burrito or as an open plate with corn tortillas on the side (both $7.50). Any way you shape it, its pork starts with a citrus and annatto seed (achiote) marinade that tenderizes and gifts a peppery bite. Accoutrements include avocado hunks, Mexican rice, refried beans and pickled onion slivers, plus the trinity of sour cream, tomatoes and lettuce. Smother it with a hot house red sauce for $1.50 more, and tame the heat with a fresh cucumber citrus margarita ($5.99), where mint, fresh lime and agave join Sauza tequila with an orange garnish. — Matthew Schniper
Iron Bird Brewing Co.
402 S. Nevada Ave., 424-7002, ironbirdbrewing.com
Beer is beer, right? Well, nobody in these parts actually thinks that, but craft isn't always craft either, especially if you ask the Campaign for Real Ales, which promotes a love of naturally conditioned brews. These are born in, fermented in, and served from one vessel, skipping pasteurization (which kills the yeast) and added carbonization (though some is created naturally).
Iron Bird serves its cask-conditioned ales around 50 degrees and, though you can order them carbonated too, these slightly warmer versions are a cool way to experience the product, especially if you dig a creaminess similar to what you might find with nitro. Both the cask Gourdy Pumpkin ($5) and Propaganda IPA ($5) are smooth, with spiced pie flavors coming from the former and a light, fruity bitterness from the latter. Some kick-ass house root beer ($2) reminds me of Barq's. Dig the rocking, white-collar post-work crowd some time. — Bryce Crawford
The Cow Pub & Grill
5885 Stetson Hills Blvd., 465-1704, thecowpubandgrill.com
Grabbing lunch at The Cow — formerly Holy Cow, a name still on the menus and one that would be on the outside as well but for some copyright issues — is like returning to the scene of a really great party the night before. The wide, table-filled room is mostly empty one afternoon, but an aura of rock lingers on the stage and there's the light scent of cleaning products in the air.
And while it might generally make more sense to pair the classic bar-food menu with some under-the-influence, The Cow is a fine stop for the iced tea drinkers, too. Both the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich ($7.50) and Black 'n' Blue Burger ($8.50) offer standard fare capably executed, next to a cubist pile of killer fries cut in-house and accented with salt. The chicken brings two fried cutlets dipped in spicy goodness on a great roll, while the black offers a funky blue-cheese ride with a buttery onion ring. — Bryce Crawford