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Estela's closes, Ramon Q's to follow soon, but tequila stars at a new spot 

Side Dish

A lot of agave

Nearly 100 different bottles of añejos, reposados and blancos.

'Nuff said ... but if you care to know a little more about six-week-old Salud Tequila Bar and Grill (26 E. Kiowa St., saludcs.com), then you should meet chef Larry Beavers, who has found creative ways to sneak the spirit into sauces, syrups and seasonings all over his menu.

On the simple side, tequila aids chicken marination. But on four house desserts, it finds its way into everything from ice cream to agave nectar syrup. Even the pesto bacon in one dish offers a hint of reduced hooch infusion. Beavers calls it all "traditional, with my own tequila twist."

The spirit obsession and idea for a niche business actually comes from the eatery's investor (who wishes not to be named), not Beavers, who simply touted his mastery of food, booze and bookkeeping to become the right man for the job. He holds 20-plus years' experience in the food and beverage business and cheffing, having originally trained in California and at one point owning a local Texas T-Bone Steakhouse franchise.

Look for typical salads and sandwiches at lunch and more of the tequila touches at dinner, which features tapas-like small plates.

Bigger box of candy

The nearly two-year-old The Candy Bar (124 N. Tejon St., 434-7325), sister outfit to the Citadel Mall's eight-year-old sugar stop, has expanded its offerings to include more sweets and new savory items.

As outlined by owner Beni Levi, guests will now find truffles made by a Cripple Creek chocolatier and a Meadow Gold ice cream counter. Levi has also added quality olive oil and fine cheeses for sale either retail or on "healthy snack trays" with crackers and fruit for easy to-go dining, alongside new cheese-toast sandwiches made with La Baguette loaves. Soon, he's adding a new window feature for sidewalk walk-up sales, which will attempt to capture late-night dessert business, with planned 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. hours.

Closed and closing

Estela's Mexican Restaurant closed at February's end at 925 S. Eighth St. The eatery had originally run from 1993 to 2000, then was revived by the Mares family in mid-2009. Its sister outfit, Pueblo's 32-year-old Mill Stop Café, remains open.

Ramon Q's Cantina (1005 W. Colorado Ave., ramonqs.com), open since fall 2012, plans to close at June's end, says chef/owner Elizabeth St. James, due to family matters. She is seeking a buyer for the physical space and its furnishings (including expensive granite counter tops), but the recipes and name aren't for sale. Reason being: She's launching a retail line, to include her salsa and gluten-free red and green chile sauces. Look for the Ramon Q's name soon at area farmers markets and Whole Foods, she says.

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