Yellow Mountain Tea House
2616 W. Colorado Ave., 229-9986
The scent of the Jin Xuan "milk" Oolong tea (27 cents per gram/loose) is absolutely intoxicating — truly one of the most amazing smells I've smelt in my lifetime of sniffing and sticking my schnoz into a wide array of glass (or ceramic) ware. It smells like cotton candy aroma when it's diluted in the air at a carnival (sweet), a little nutty and buttery, with elements of toasted rice — and perfumic (not a real word, but my buddy made it up and I like it).
Taiwan grown and infused naturally with flower essence, according to personable shop owner and Guilin, China-native Tanya Baros, the superb tea is only one of four that I sample at a fun, free (with the intent to buy) "Gongfu" tasting over an ornate wooden tea tray. From learning about proper (alkalized water) temps to pouring techniques and healthful applications, the whole experience is simply wonderful; give yourself at least a half hour and visit our IndyBlog to hear the ten thousand things I didn't have space to say here. — Matthew Schniper
Phantom Canyon Brewing Co.
2 E. Pikes Peak Ave., phantomcanyon.com, 635-2800
The dish just feels like Phantom Canyon. The premise is simple enough — fried chicken and mashed potatoes — but, like the downtown classic, the whole of the Lemon Tabasco Fried Chicken ($13) ends up greater than the sum of its parts. A large hand-battered chicken breast, crisp and moist, curves upward at one end like a giant shrimp, while a glistening combination of butter and cream spiked with lemon and Tabasco pools at its base. Meanwhile, chunks of blue cheese cut the fat and somewhat cleanse the palate, while mounds of vegetables pair perfectly with bites of mild garlic mashed-potatoes.
There's not quite enough sauce to get you through the whole entrée, though, meaning you'll end up cursing a version of yourself from 10 minutes ago that dragged steaming bite after steaming bite through it like it would endlessly bubble up through the plate. God, I hate that guy. — Bryce Crawford
280 S. Academy Blvd., 597-3192
Between the roasting truck out front selling whole chickens, and the small, colorful grocery area surrounding a café and its handful of tables, I can't wait to go back to Luna Market. You could buy 8-inch-long sheets of chicharrones, or star-shaped balloons rocking the faces from Frozen or Cars. And though it stays fairly busy, the seating area next to the wall of tortillas is calm, and it's there we killed some classics: papas fritas con carne ($7.49), and a good ol' chicken quesadilla ($5.99).
The former actually comes piled high with more than carne asada: thick guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese all topped fries that were more like wet, lightly fried potatoes. The quesadilla was buttery indulgence incarnate, with a half-inch of oozing cheese holding together shredded chicken, all next to a face-frying habanero salsa. Good value, great space. — Bryce Crawford