445 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., Suite A, 576-9211, newpandarestaurant.com
It's important to break the world into manageable pieces, and even more so in the gluttonous galaxy of grub. For instance: Hot Food That Still Tastes Good Cold. This is totally a real category. Street Meat, Skewered Stuff, Food on Fire — all viable distinctions. Maybe the best one: Doorway Dining, or delivery, baby.
And if you're in the southern part of town, it's about 35 minutes, a $2 fuel charge and a $6 tip (optional) to get curry beef ($8.95), shrimp lo mein ($8.50) and honey wings ($6.25) from New Panda. The latter's covered in a sticky sauce reminiscent of a golden sweet-and-sour, but the chicken's been fried into dried wood. The lo mein plays greasy and grilled, but the pink shrimp are more wet than plump. Still, you can dig on the beef and a muddy yellow sauce that hits the high notes of Indian curry, albeit without the swirling complexity. — Bryce Crawford
Rock Bottom Brewery
3316 Cinema Point, 550-3586, rockbottom.com
Every few months, Rock Bottom's corporate office sends notice of limited seasonal menus (items discussed below through Aug. 25), which at times do cool stuff like incorporate local ingredients. For instance: local honey from Schmidt Apiaries in the Summer Honey Ale ($5.75/pint), which sports a great honey bouquet in a blonde body but only a tinge of its flavor. The Chili Buster ($5.25/pint) is far superior with big burn from habaneros, jalapeños and Hatch chilies inside a dark, roasty brown brew.
Our habanero shrimp ($7.95) seems to want to take on Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp, with heavy but airy breading slightly reminiscent of Chinese sweet-and-sour executions. Sadly zero heat, but guilty good. The Cabo Mahi ($14.95) is cooked nicely but could use triple the alluring paprika ancho glaze, and quadruple the pineapple pico. Thankfully, our sweet server dished a mound on the side for us at no extra cost. — Matthew Schniper
3748 Astrozon Blvd., 392-0001
I have found perfection, and it is Pho Queen's pork Banh Mi sandwich, for an amazingly fair $3.50. Banh Mi sandwiches, a remnant of French colonization and subsequent culinary fusion in Vietnam, are quite popular in big-city food truck circles, but they're seldom seen locally.
Chef Quyen Danh, who cooked in Vietnam for 25 years prior to opening 3½-year-old Pho Queen, starts with a lovely baguette roll smeared with butter in place of the traditional pork liver. Her son, Tan Le, says everything else is true to form: crisp cucumber spears, hot jalapeño rounds, sharp white onion slivers, vinegary pickled carrot sticks, herbacious cilantro. Then there's the sliced coins of cold compressed pork, which when viewed in profile, reveal potent peppercorns and striations of pork skin and face-meat encased in fat. Start with a fresh summer roll ($3.99), and pair with a condensed milk-sweetened Vietnamese iced coffee ($2.50). — Matthew Schniper