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NaRai Siam Cuisine, Hope and Sherry's Soul Food, Peak Cafe 

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click to enlarge Hope and Sherry's Soul Food

Hope and Sherry's Soul Food

2555 Delta Drive, 216-7075

Hope and Sherry's (aka Mama & Daughter's) looks exactly what you might suspect a place that serves gizzards would look like: a bare-bones hole-in-the-wall with an open sight-line into a stark, country-style kitchen. The outdoor grill bleeds alluring smoke in through the back door, and even the menu gives off a backwater vibe, lopsidedly hand-written with a Sharpie on white poster board: ox tails, pig feet ...

West-central Florida transplant Tawanda Hope Church, who has owned the place for the last 16 months, plates respectable charcoal-grilled ribs ($7) — the tender-enough meat still gripping the bone a bit, and bursting with flavor from locally made R.D. Sharp Yard Rub and Yard Sauce. A whole pan-fried catfish ($8) sports an awesome cornmeal crisp. Though cabbage is stewed to a mush and the cornbread's dry, satisfying side collards ($1 each) deliver a bitter bite, seasoned with a turkey neck. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge NaRai Siam Cuisine

NaRai Siam Cuisine

120 E. Cheyenne Mountain Blvd., 434-1975, narai-thai.com

Toto, you aren't in Korea anymore. That's because NaRai's lemongrass beef short ribs (a pricey $17) gift a Thai twist to the classic, bone-on, superlatively tenderized meat dish. Lemongrass joins the marinade, while a spicy dipping sauce adds lime and chili poignancy to salty soy. The grill imparts a divine char, and fatty bits burst with flavor over a simple lettuce bed.

The dish is one of a few newbies that grew out of NaRai's expansion earlier this year, from the eatery's Rockrimmon-area location (still open) into this former Chopsticks down south. A Massaman chicken curry ($9 on the weekday lunch menu) with spud and onion wedges leads with a heavy, gorgeously rounded sauce that bears a sweet edge. Our only gripes: not being offered dessert before the bill drop (up-sell me, please), and a BS $1.50 charge for an extra cup for our $3 pot of jasmine tea — don't recall seeing that elsewhere. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Peak Cafe

Peak Cafe

2880 International Circle, 799-2855

Located on the far wall of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department's wide, pretty atrium, Peak Cafe is a total surprise for folks like myself who're just in for a paperwork chore and not expecting to find a killer cup of coffee and food prepared with as many local, organic and sustainable ingredients as generally possible. (Beware the more boring kiosk.)

Jenn Strait left the medical field to pour her passion here, from 7 to 3, Tuesdays through Fridays, as of four months ago. She quickly forged an alliance with Firedance Coffee Company (see Side Dish, p. 25), which supplies the lovely Whisky River drip coffee ($1.75/16-ounce); soaked post-roast in the spirit, it remains subtly, sexily present in the aroma and flavor. Try it with the breakfast corn tortillas ($4), double-stacked and hugging scrambled eggs and grated potatoes bound by sour cream and topped with sausage patty bits and melted Tillamook Pepper Jack. — Matthew Schniper

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