7 E. Vermijo Ave., 520-1843, cornercafecs.com
After 13 years operating this downtown go-to, Bob and Virginia Smoot retired and sold it on July 24. New owner Sharon Wallace seems well aware of the legacy — she has no plans to change the menu, though she's adding a few of her own dishes. We're late for the breakfast huevos rancheros, but the daily special, her meatball sub ($10.75), gets our attention. The small bun bears several small meatballs, each meaty and appropriately seasoned. Though light on sauce, the meatballs are juicy enough that the bread doesn't turn into a moisture suck. Included potato salad lands fresh with plenty of celery, though bigger pieces of potato would not go amiss.
The Smoots' gigantic salads include a grilled chicken salad ($10.55), which still bears moist breast meat, seasoned well. Perhaps pick a lighter dressing than the bleu cheese — with this bowl's chunks of Swiss and cheddar, it makes us feel like we need something light to eat, maybe something like a salad. — GS
Florence Brewing Company
200 S. Pikes Peak Ave., Florence, florencebrewing.com, 719/784-7441
When he spoke with us this spring, Colorado National Guard veteran Hans Prahl promised five flagship beers and up to three seasonal brews, emphasizing traditional styles. When we drop by, he's offering seven, each sessionable and ready to sample by pint ($5), 32 oz. Crowler ($8) or five-pour taster ($8).
Alpine Loop, a hefeweizen, bears clove nose and strong banana taste, both to style. Beer Whistle blonde sips faintly sweet and clean. King Coal stout drinks dark and rich, though sweet notes feel out of place. Crisp Arkansas Amarillo amber bears noticeable Amarillo hop aroma, balanced by malt. The Citizen IPA comes mildly hopped for the style and tastes slightly off, the only notable brew flaw of the day. Try the seasonal pale ale, less hoppy to let German malts shine. Lastly, a dunkelweizen keeps some Alpine Loop yeast character in its brown malts. Bonus: free popcorn. — GS
11550 Ridgeline Drive, #102, 772-6101, cafevelobikes.com
Near New Life Church, Cafe Velo's where Bible study meets bike culture, and the coffee culture has stepped up too since the shop opened in 2012. Manager Jonathan Schoell stepped in around a year ago, expanding the selection of roasters from whom he regularly buys, adding the likes of Denver's Novo to Boulder's Ozo but also labels like San Francisco's Equator.
Schoell explains why he selects each respective bean for our latte, cappuccino (each $3.25) and traditional macchiato ($2.75), noting that for drinks under 8 ounces, his Guatemalan works best. Its hazelnut notes pop more in the potent latter, and smooth out a bit with caramelized fruit notes in the cappuccino. A single-origin decaf Colombian delivers creamy oatmeal essence to the latte, performing better at full volume. All are beautifully made. A unique butter mochi bar ($2.50) acts like dense, sweet pound cake with a starchy, almost soggy texture from the glutinous rice base. — MS