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Saigon Wings, Steffi's Bakery and Confections, Big Train

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Saigon Wings

3712 Galley Road, 597-6559

If judging on criteria from outside the bowl, Saigon Wings registers as one of our more authentic pho spots, given such relatively unimportant touches as paying at the register after your meal, despite full service up to that point. It's the same format previously hosted in the space by Pho Viet 1, which ceased operating around six months ago, says my waitress.

Offerings are generously portioned, affordable, familiar and totally fine. The crab and shrimp egg rolls ($7.90) are oily and crispy in rice paper and nice when wrapped in lettuce and dipped in nuoc cham. My pho tai gau (steak and fat brisket; $7.95/medium size) boasted the right floral elements but initially lacked a little zing, made up for at the table with dousings of fish sauce, chili paste, Sriracha and hoisin sauce, which I don't typically tend to reach for in such quantity. Contented rice-noodle-sucking and protein-chomping in the end. — Matthew Schniper


Steffi's Bakery and Confections

Online business, 720/333-6056, see Facebook page

Stephanie Matthews went from earning a hospitality management degree in Wyoming to graduating from The French Pastry School in Chicago, and now she's the manager and lead baker at Boonzaaijer's Dutch Bakery, while also running Steffi's as a side business. You can order specialty caramels (like a maple bacon flavor) on her Etsy site or place direct orders for anything from cakes and cookies to muffins and brownies. Or drop by neighboring Colorado Coffee Merchants (302 E. Fillmore St.) for a variety caramel bag ($12.95/around 30 pieces).

It features a mix of four flavors: espresso; chocolate; sea salt-vanilla bean; and honey nougat with smoked almonds. Generous butter used in the finish "to cream it out and smooth it out" keeps the candies from sticking to one's teeth, though it leaves oil on one's fingertips too. Consensus in our office was positive, including the delight of chomping a whole CCM coffee bean in the espresso flavor. — Matthew Schniper


Big Train

3050 N. Nevada Ave., 473-8218

Aside from employees making three posts about daily specials, the only thing Big Train has done on its Facebook page is add a cover photo on June 14 of last year, the day after it signed up. The restaurant — like its famous sign professing offerings of chicken, shrimp, roast beef and ham — is decidedly not hip: The booths are brown, the lunch counter's tan, and the 4 p.m. diners are gray. It basically feels like what the first Denny's must have, which in the end is kind of cool.

Recommended by a great server to either order the chicken-fried steak or the liver and onions, I considered my surroundings and went with the latter — and man, these come stacked. For $8.65, you get an iceberg side salad; a big cup of potato salad that tastes like pickle juice and smells like shampoo; an order of fries; and a roll. It helps compensate for liver that tastes like little and leaves something of a filmy coating. — Bryce Crawford


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