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Joseph's Fine Dining, Backcountry Brewery, Pikes Perk 

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click to enlarge Joseph's Fine Dining

Joseph's Fine Dining

1606 S. Eighth St., 630-3631, josephsdining.com

The aging dining room at Joseph's — heavy with bronze drapes open to the afternoon light, and sprinkled with something of a grandparental clientele — is a pretty pleasant place to take in lunch. Chairs were pulled out, napkins laid in laps, and soft, warm bread came with whipped butter. We started with a cup of the soup du jour, a clean and buttery potato-leek ($5), as well as a cup of what may be the best clam chowder ($5) in town. We got it only after being told that the lobster bisque was out, and I shudder to think how we almost missed its hugely smoky bacon cuts; chunks of whole clam; and meltingly soft potatoes.

The Seafood Trio Platter ($14.99) came beautifully plated, with a bright mixed-greens salad held together by a round of cucumber slices, but the crab cake was burned to hell, creating a charred-yet-mushy mess. Fresh-tasting coconut shrimp, though. — Bryce Crawford

click to enlarge Backcountry Brewery

Backcountry Brewery

720 Main St., Frisco, 970/668-2337, backcountrybrewery.com

Open since 1996 and a favorite skiers' stopover, award-winning Backcountry just recently added 10, 15-barrel fermenting tanks and a bottling line, among other upgrades, enabling doubled production as well as expansion into retail. The recipe for its popular Backcountry Pale Ale (around $8.25/six-pack) hasn't changed much over the years, says head brewer Alan Simons, but the industry and consumers' tastes have.

So what used to be called Telemark IPA was re-branded with this label to reflect the modest 60 IBUs. "We'd rather have people say, 'This is hoppy for a pale ale' and walk away happy," he says, instead of expecting the super-high IBUs (and ABVs) of today's common IPAs and being disappointed. The combo of Perle, Chinook, Columbus and Cascade hops with mostly Munich malts is anything but disappointing — quite light and lovely, actually, with faint fruit notes up front and a crisp finish at 5.6 percent ABV. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Pikes Perk Coffee & Tea House

Pikes Perk Coffee & Tea House

5965 N. Academy Blvd., #203, 522-1432, pikesperkcolorado.com

We reported a month ago that the North Academy Pikes Perk, one of the last vestiges of what once was the biggest name in local coffee, is rebooting, with new branding and a more advanced coffee program. A late afternoon visit last week, though, revealed no sign of change.

Nonetheless, what remains is still one of the more pleasant stops on the boulevard, with big leather couches and lots of diverse seating. A seasonal pumpkin latte ($4), optimistically stylized with a muddy rosetta, ran a little sweet but still struck a bold, dark note throughout. The individual ingredients in the turkey-avocado sandwich ($7.95) came off as a little entry-level — generic, round slices of turkey and Provolone; thin, wimpy bacon; sad pickle spear— but still cumulatively came together on semi-toasted multi-grain bread into something you'd not be unhappy to have for lunch. — Bryce Crawford

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