6821 Space Village Ave., 573-8054
In a town where restaurants often suffer from inconsistency, there's little more rewarding and relaxing than returning to a place after two years away and finding it standing strong, if not actually improved. I was so blown away by Thai Guy's red curry roasted duck ($8.50) back in July 2012 that I nominated it into our Bites guide in early 2013. Recently in the neighborhood, I suddenly had to relive it — had to know, and believe all over again.
The dish is just stupid good, with pineapple cuts sugaring the thick coconut milk broth and tenderizing and taming the game. Add kaffir lime leaves, and you've got one of the most stunning and distinctive flavors you'll try anywhere. Pure love. Pair it with the papaya salad ($7.95) that arrives with two bonus, juicy chicken skewers, a killer deal considering the salad's among the best renditions in town, ideally fishy and full of chili fire. — MS
2416 E. Boulder St., 475-2621
Jill's Kitchen, like its neighbor Milt's Coffee Shop, perfectly exemplifies the Knob Hill neighborhood's love of cars and people. Pictures of old autos (plus an autographed Peyton Manning poster) grace the walls, while the tight dining room, straight out of another era, is packed with diners whom staff reference by name. While standing up to leave, one random customer stopped to ask us a few friendly questions, like we'd just walked into a family reunion. It was awesome.
We opted for orders of Kitchen Scramble ($8.29) and steak and eggs ($9.79). The latter brought a quality hunk of beef, beautifully cooked medium-rare, with perfect fried eggs over-medium. Can't go wrong with the scramble of eggs, onions, home fries and melted cheese, either. The only downer: a sign on the cash register that read, "Sorry, no more Thanksgiving preorders" — new owner Jackie Conway had already baked 70 pies before last week's holiday. — BC
118 E. Kiowa St., 633-0115, medcafe-co.com
I swear allegiance to Mediterranean Café, that triangle near the bus station at Kiowa and Nevada, as have many others since it moved downtown in the early aughts. "Leading the way in the tasty department is the gyro," reads our 2001 review, "a pita stuffed full of seasoned lamb, shredded lettuce, feta cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic sauce and tzatziki (a cucumber yogurt sauce). It's as flavorful and satisfying as it is drippy and messy to eat (sure puts those Carl's Jr. drippy burger ads to shame)."
Thank Cthulhu, not much has changed, except I recommend throwing on some falafel balls with the half-and-half gyro ($6.50), a monster on a pillow-soft pita. It's hard to hold with one hand, and absolutely requires a mountain of napkins, but ridiculous crunch and sumptuous sauced-up fillings — punched up with some tart giardiniera and creamy tahini-harissa — are like rewards for breathing. — BC