McGinty's Wood Oven Pub, The Deli, Mekong Vietnamese 

Dine & Dash

click to enlarge McGinty's Wood Oven Pub - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • McGinty's Wood Oven Pub

McGinty's Wood Oven Pub

11115 U.S. Hwy. 24, Divide, 686-7703, mcgintyswoodovenpub.com

Divide hosts one more good reason to play hooky and head up Ute Pass for a day, even while Paradox Brewing continues to finish constructing its tasting room. When we first reviewed McGinty's in late 2011, we made note of The Fields of Athenry ($10.95), a superior salad of greens, double cream brie, candied walnuts and dried cranberries topped with sliced pear and sour apple. It's a delicate build-your-own-bite affair with no wrong answers, especially when the zing from the honey mustard vinaigrette comes into play.

Unfortunately, the Pedro Martinez Murphy burger ($12.95) only comes cooked well done due to the pork chorizo in the patty. Inevitable dryness aside, the chorizo spice plays nice with meat, soft-but-sturdy brioche bun and roasty jalapeño aioli alike. A side option, the Guinness Irish onion soup lands rich, complex and wicked salty, working better as a jus-style dip for the burger than as soup. — GS

click to enlarge The Deli - GRIFFIN SWARTZELL
  • Griffin Swartzell
  • The Deli

The Deli

4661 Centennial Blvd., 599-3354, thedelics.com

Short of dropping the definite article "the" and just calling itself "Deli," this place has branded itself with as generic a name as could be chosen. With such a name, the restaurant's food would have to really stand out to make this place the definitive deli in town. But exclusive use of Boar's Head meats and cheeses firmly locks this restaurant into mid-tier eateries. Make no mistake, Boar's Head makes good stuff, but if I'm dropping $11.50 on a corned beef and swiss sandwich, I hope for a house-made love letter to the Irish-American standard, not something I could replicate exactly at the King Soopers deli counter up the hill.

Mass-brand rancor aside, the accompanying onion rings do crunch pleasantly, and the house-made Mexican meatball soup ($4.25/cup) has a rich, deep broth and plenty of meatballs, though it's a little salty and lacking in heat. — GS

click to enlarge Mekong Vietnamese - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Mekong Vietnamese

Mekong Vietnamese

1371 N. Academy Blvd., 638-1017, mekongvietnamesecuisine.com

Why there isn't yet a daily stampede to Mekong for its $3.99 pho lunch special I know not, because not only is the price silly good, but the product's excellent, judging by our full-sized steak and fat-brisket pho ($7.75 large) at dinner. The broth exudes all the cinnamon and anise we crave, amidst five other spices, while rice vermicelli packs the bowl, engulfing the beef and garnish herbs. A grilled shrimp bun ($8.95) feels gossamer with ephemeral, sweet fish sauce notes fading to a hint of grill char.

Co-owner Patrick Truong formerly owned Fine Vietnamese and his brother Dang owns Lemongrass Bistro, while his brother Paul owns Saigon Cafe. This Mekong opened a little over a year ago, but Dang launched one with the same name in the late '80s, which was one of the Springs' earliest Vietnamese spots, says Patrick. When asked how the brothers' cooking differs, he says he alters small aspects of his dishes to be different, aiming for a "lighter" style. It's great. — MS

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