3132 N. Hancock Ave., 633-8514
James Bussiere is the spirited former contractor who briefly brought us The Munch Box, a "snack bar in a carpet store," back in mid-2011. Then he rented his space to Ines' Corner Café for a stint. Now, as of Memorial Day, he's taken it back over with Jimmy Sweets, a business moniker you have to hear him say in his exaggerated East Coast accent, imitating friends back home who think the name is "awesome."
On a given day, the sweets spot serves around six different Anne & Mann's Homemade Ice Cream flavors ($2.50/two scoops), produced nearby. The butter pecan and pistachio are also awesome, the latter containing a slight salty kick when you strike nut. Muddy, faintly malty chocolate milkshakes, a simple blend of soft-serve and Sinton Dairy chocolate milk ($2/medium), are a cheap and rich option. Still, the off-strip location is likely to remain a formidable challenge. — Matthew Schniper
2South Wine Bar
2 S. 25th St., 351-2806, 2southwinebar.com
A downside to really fresh craft food, such as house-cured charcuterie, is that when something's out, it's out; there's no turn-'n-burn on the good stuff. And so it is that 2South can barely keep its lavender and black pepper lamb bacon in stock. Aiming for just that on a late-ish Thursday night, I instead had to fill my custom charcuterie platter ($14/three items) with other offerings. (#FirstWorldProblems.)
Thankfully, the new menu by chef Eric Bowen, who replaced Tyler Peoples (see here), also features alluring hickory duck bacon. You can ask for it either crispy or a little on the just-seared-off-the-smoker, tender side, and either is delightful. More standard pork bacon is plenty pleasant, too, and the soft house ricotta cheese pairs wonderfully with tiny baguette wheels, nuts, pickled goodies and fresh fruits. My happy wine pairing: an organic red Rhone blend ($8). — Matthew Schniper
The Downtown Bar-N-Grill
26 E. Kiowa St., 636-3425
Whereas the walls used to be covered with neon punk-rock show posters, as a part of the vibe sought by former occupant Whiskey Dick's, the new Downtown Bar-N-Grill offers evenly spaced mirrors, and lots of them. With the dark lunch lighting, it gives the place a relaxed, suburbanized feel that goes well with the exposed brick, and institutional humor that has one sidewalk sandwich board reading, "SOUP OF THE DAY ... BEER."
And though we didn't catch it on Wednesdays, when cheeseburgers run a buck fifty each, we did munch on the staff-recommended Southwest Burger ($8.50) as well as the Buffalo Chicken Wrap ($7.95). It wouldn't hurt my feelings to use either to sop up some spirits, but the wrap's fresh vegetables, tangy fried-chicken chunks and tomato tortilla stand better on their own. The burger's not bad, but its flavor is a little muted. — Bryce Crawford