2607 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8272, tapateria.com
After becoming chef and GM of TAPAteria in March 2012, Jay Gust became a partial owner in the venture this past April (and has designs on doing the same at Pizzeria Rustica). Also earlier this year, he and proprietor Dave Brackett created new menu additions.
Among them: Four jamon-wrapped dates ($4.95) are easily enjoyed, with sweetness offset by chili notes of a harissa aioli — much preferred over an accompanying, potent sherry vinaigrette dip. Three grilled oysters ($5.95) soak in garlic butter with a smoked paprika dusting and fun, saffron-like ancho chile thread garnish; flavors score despite the still-frigid center. Earthy and ephemeral Padron peppers ($4.95) see ample char and a pleasant orange vinaigrette dip. They're heartier as a nightly special for $1 more, wrapped with shaved salchichón (Spanish summer sausage) and plunged into an almond- and red bell pepper-based, Catalonian Romesco sauce. — Matthew Schniper
Bourbon Brothers Southern Kitchen
13021 Bass Pro Drive , 265-5821, bourbonbrothers.com
Five minutes into Bourbon Brothers' new Sunday brunch, we're off to an inauspicious start. "Bear with me," says our server, "because we're not being directed very well." Problems never really manifest, though, and management even comps the full $27.50 price (reduced last week to $22.50) for one of my vegetarian dining companions. That's because this brunch is a beast made mostly of meat (though it also includes all-you-can-drink coffee and juices).
Dig on thick Maker's Mark Sausage Mac & Cheese, or smoky cuts of prime rib smothered in horseradish and jus. Palm-sized slices of ham may be a little dry, but the sticky glaze on the outside is delicious. Cover buttery waffles with peach compote, or keep it simple with yogurt and granola. The biscuits defy being broken with a fork, but the gravy's steaming and salty. Also: good scrambled eggs, cheesy grits and carrot-and-sweet-potato bisque. — Bryce Crawford
Garden of the Gods Gourmet
410 S. 26th St., 471-2799, godsgourmet.com
I'm looking at the menu online, and suddenly must have the ancho chile coffee bison. But alas, upon arrival, it's already sold out. Guess it's a testament to freshness, and to the (perhaps unexpected) popularity of the dinner service that only launched a month ago.
Management apologetically throws us a comped ahi mango lettuce cup ($14.50) starter, kimchi crunch preceding the soft pink flesh with gloriously garlicky chimichurri lines piped as garnish. The beet love salad ($11) sings with orange and balsamic acidity smoothed by soft chèvre and candied walnuts, with fat sunflower sprouts and spindly watercress. More chèvre, this time garlic-spiked, gloms to tomato sauce-lathered eggplant in an involtini ($15), with spinach and leeks finishing the Italian coup. Vanilla bean gelato plays it straight and true, while an apple cider sorbet (each $4) nails the seasonal baking spice notes. — Matthew Schniper