- Humble Coffee
2103 Templeton Gap Road, 352-5491, humblecoffee.com
Humble Coffee has made a good go of it since opening last summer in this tiny T-Gap spot, which spurned more than one caffeine kiosk prior. Owner Zach Hoerth just purchased an Ozturk drum roaster capable of handling 150 pounds daily and will be firing his own beans soon. Currently, he's using a friend's machine to make his own organic Mexican and Ugandan blend.
But I bypass the iced coffee for a Buddha and a Rainfall (each $3/large), both made with Two Leaves and a Bud organic iced teas from Basalt. A sencha blend with "tropical" natural flavors informs the first, to which lemonade and ample Colorado honey are added to counter green tea astringency. The Rainfall fuses Alpine Berry tea with rice milk and, again, not a little honey. A hibiscus element lends tartness to orange, blackberry and raspberry notes and I'm happily reminded of the milk left in the bowl after childhood breakfast cereal. — Matthew Schniper
- Shopper's Grill
2320 N. Wahsatch Ave., 634-7676
Terry and Lori Davidson have operated the Shopper's Grill for the last 16 of its 58 years in business. The original logo, painted white with red shadowing, adorns the front window glass. Antique fans and radios plus WWII-era signs and posters complete the vibe.
"We're so traditional we've become a niche," says Terry. "We keep it like diners were when I was a kid. Old-fashioned. Stuff like open-face sandwiches and meatloaf." That also means no credit cards accepted and no freezer on-site, just "real home cooking." The Davidsons cater to an aging, Bon Shopping Center-area demographic content with few frills. Breakfast and lunch specials get as wild as a hefty green chile burrito ($8.25), perfectly serviceable with ground beef and mild chile. Complete the experience with a slice of mildly tart cherry pie ($3), or a delightful, marshmallow-fudge-pecan Mississippi Mud Cupcake ($1.50) made by server Emily Maffe. — Matthew Schniper
- Vallejo's Restaurant
111 S. Corona St., 635-0980
Employees and family members move around Vallejo's — the 53-year-old white, square Mexican restaurant hidden next to Cottonwood Center for the Arts — like they live there, which they sort of do. It's a must-have experience to sit down among the wood panels covered in old photos, like the one showing when the building was the Corona Grocery, and order the Chili Verde Plate ($10) or the Enchiladas Rancheras ($10).
We actually tried for the Mexican Steak but the kitchen was out, which led us to the two dishes that are quite alike. The verde puts green chile with beans and rice, while the open-face enchiladas get green chile on top with an oozing fried egg. The enchiladas are basically a nondescript vehicle for the chile, which drives stewed tomatoes, shredded pork and secret spices straight to your brain's pleasure center. We were even invited back into the hot kitchen to double-check our to-go order — family-style, baby. — Bryce Crawford