The Warehouse Restaurant and Gallery
25 W. Cimarron St., 475-8880, thewarehouserestaurant.com
After chef Tyler Peoples departed for the Springs Rescue Mission this summer, Chip Johnson stepped back in from his owner/admin role to wear the executive chef's hat again at The Warehouse. "It was time to get refocused the way I wanted to," he says, noting a fairly large menu overhaul that will get refreshed again in January.
One popular new dish sure to survive is the excellent smoked pheasant salad ($14), for which the bird sees a 24-hour brine before a hickory smoking. Chilled strips are mixed in with Romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, sun-dried cranberries and pistachios under a bright pink, delicious raspberry-Dijon vinaigrette. Despite a lengthy food wait at lunch, we also enjoyed the Warehouse Cheese Steak's ($12) crispy-fry side and red-wine basil-thyme au jus, for herbaceous dipping of the beef, peppers and gooey cheddar/horseradish Havarti on soft bread. — Matthew Schniper
2427 N. Union Blvd., 473-5292, kawacoffeecs.com
Once you find its tucked-away location, Kawa is a bright spot in a bleak shopping center. There's a great, cozy vibe to the place, which is filled with as many mismatched tables, chairs and couches as will fit. Locals come and go — hanging fliers express the shop's connection to the neighborhood — and it's decorated with more charming design touches than a first glance reveals.
The house-special Canuck ($4.25 for 12 ounces) is typically made in a cocktail shaker over ice, so if you want it hot you're basically looking at a maple syrup breve. It's a delightful drink, with a thick layer of creamy foam on top featuring admirably attempted, but muddy, latte art. It's milk-forward with a clean sweetness that doesn't linger. Something went wrong with our eggnog latte ($4 for 8 ounces), though. Tasting like liquefied burned hazelnuts, it was barely drinkable. — Bryce Crawford
2419 N. Union Blvd., 227-7168, peak31csprings.com
The Facebook page still says "Union Station." The outside of the building still says "Union Station." But an employee assures us that the business is now called Peak 31, though it's under the same ownership, and has been for the last eight or nine months. Whatever, that's fine. Nothing has changed inside, either. It's still pool tables and day drinkers, albeit with a big menu that had us thinking food would come first during a recent lunch. When we got there, though, most of the menu had been blacked out or taped over, leaving us to try the build-your-own panini ($8.95) and a Reuben ($8.95).
Both came beautifully toasted. Sides were impressive: crisp and mildly sweet cucumber salad and spicy kidney beans, respectively. The Reuben tasted off, with random thick, fatty chunks of meat, but there was nothing wrong with that panini of turkey, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. — Bryce Crawford