The Upper Room
817 W. Colorado Ave., 247-8685, theupperroomcoffee.com
If you recall what this space looked like as Firehouse BBQ, you'll be surprised by the overhaul that's come via The Upper Room. The downstairs coffee bar area looks somewhat sparse, but befitting the business' name, the upstairs community space has been reshaped and renewed. It's all operated by the faith-based nonprofit Springs of Hope, which sends 100 percent of proceeds to its mission programming, such as homeless outreach.
Which makes it a great option for a fine cup of Barista Espresso-roasted drip coffee ($1.79/16 ounces), a medium-roast Sumatran bean on the day I dropped by. Angling toward a sweeter sip, Oregon Chai base comprises the blended chai ($4.59/16 ounces) with an equal ratio of whole milk, plus a shot of vanilla (optional) for added oomph that edges toward cloying. Instead, add a shot of espresso ($1.19) to make a dirty chai, the spice notes then appearing faintly behind a java jolt. — Matthew Schniper
311 N. Santa Fe Ave., Fountain, 382-4100
Based on its Facebook page, it's clear that the '50s, hotrod vibe of Coke's Diner has earned the good will of many Fountainites. But a note on the door explains that the restaurant recently killed its dinner hours due to slower downtown business, proving that even loyalty has its limits. And if the rest of the menu is like our lunch, it's safe to say that Coke's food certainly does, as well.
After proving unable to resist ordering the Large Garbage Plate ($4.69) — described by our saucy server as containing "food" — we dug into the pile of peppers, tomatoes, hash browns and small cubes of sausage and found limp, tasteless versions of all of the above. A requested fried egg helped, I guess. But the chili cheeseburger ($6.99) was worse, somehow, with gelatinous green chili and beef you'd be hard-pressed to want another bite of. — Bryce Crawford
Good News Foods
2901 N. El Paso St., 650-0351
Damn good deal: a whole smoked chicken, four side portions, four drinks, $12. The smoke's via pecan and hickory chips, and the bird's from Wisdom's Natural Poultry in Haxtun. The grillman is former Tabeguache Steakhouse chef Eric Preston, who buys all of Good News' products from the Ranch Foods Direct Market outside of which he's located daily, 10:30 to 5:30, but for Sundays.
The chicken's a little dry and needs Preston's decent homemade Mae Ploy-esque barbecue dip, but there's no fault found in a Bristol Beer Brat ($6, including side and drink) with quality mustard and kraut. A Philly Cheesesteak ($8, same deal) brings 7 ounces of RFD top round steak, a provolone cap and sautéed onions and mushrooms, all within a custom Old German Bakery bun. The tallow-cooked fries would make the perfect base for a Chilean Chorrillana, if you could persuade Preston to swap out the bun for fried eggs. — Matthew Schniper