My Sweet Escape
112 S. Elm St., Woodland Park, 687-8000, mysweetescapebakery.com
You might assume from seeing a diverse kolache menu that year-old My Sweet Escape would lean toward European fare — more offerings like those increasingly popular stuffed rolls of Czech and Slovak origin. But this Woodland Park bakery actually sports a typical American mix of pastries, cupcakes, pies and cookies, too. And the neat, cute, bright storefront enjoys a direct view of Pikes Peak that's more captivating than most.
Over a crunchy, caviar-invoking, glazed poppy seed kolache ($2.25), we prefer the savory pork-venison-sausage-stuffed kolache ($3), which touts meat from the renowned Slovacek's in West, Texas (the owner's home state). The yeast dough on both proves a highlight, almost channeling an Asian bao bun's tacky airiness. MSE's cinnamon roll ($3) rates strong, too, doughy all around without any dry, hard edges, modestly spiced and portioned, and amply glazed. — MS
Mike's Corner BBQ
11027 U.S. Hwy. 24, Divide, 687-7427, mikescornerbbq.com
We of course have to ask about the photo behind the counter of owner/chef Mike Schneider standing with Anthony Bourdain. Schneider indulges us with a tale of 2002 New York City, when he staged at Les Halles for a week and drank late into the night with the big man, whom he'd befriended at a restaurant in St. Louis months prior.
As it happens, the roots of Mike's Corner BBQ reach back even further — to time Schneider spent in Savannah, Georgia. But his 6-month-old business goes beyond barbecue basics with playful, gluten- and corn-syrup-free sauces like a peach-jalapeño, smoked habanero, smoked garlic, low country, sweet honey and Sriracha barbecue. We sample them all with a half-pound each of hickory-smoked pulled pork ($8.99) and brisket ($12.99), both well treated. Each sauce proves interesting in its own way, and worth trying in a similar smorgasbord. Methinks Bourdain would give a proud nod. — MS
4239 N. Nevada Ave. #108, 268-2777, dpdough.com
Good college-student food is cheap, filling and will drive off scurvy. Good stoner food is plentiful, flavorful and has a lot going on. Good drunk food is fatty, salty and easily eaten with hands. The storied calzones from national chain D.P. Dough are all of these things, and they're available as late as 3 a.m.
But if you get there for lunch on a Monday or Tuesday, you'll find an absolute steal: any calzone and a canned soda for $6. And that calzone makes two meals. A regional special, the Fajita Zone ($6.95) comes with steak or breaded chicken. The olives and hot sauce read more enchilada than fajita, but everything stays moist, even without the provided sour cream for dipping. The Italian Zone ($6.95), however, is a misery, with an inch-thick slab of ricotta absorbing any nearby salt, flavor or visible light like a fatty black hole. Marinara on the side, sweet with prominent oregano, does little to counter the near-inedible mass of curds. — GS