Was it just a few weeks ago that we hit some oldies-but-goodies? It really was just Oct. 20, with the Dine & Dash titled "Old-school eats."
Well, we've actually and accidentally done it again, even sticking with the Mexican and Italian theme that matched our previous visits to Roman Villa, Luigi's and Señor Manuel's.
But since man cannot live on old-school scrumptiousness alone, we also bring you the second brew review from new contributor Steve Hitchcock; it features Crooked Stave, a Fort Collins brewery that shares its space with Funkwerks and does equally funky things with French oak.
111 S. Corona St., 635-0980
Vallejo's has been around so long (since 1962) that under its own family portraits, its walls feature a memorial to longtime regulars who've passed away. Owner/chef Lydia Martinez, who can be found watching Mexican soap operas on an old TV on slower nights, has been present all along.
Her daughter-in-law, my server, says Martinez is now grooming her family successor in a five-year apprenticeship. Apparently that's how long it takes to properly pass down the from-scratch creation of nearly everything on the menu. I get the combo plate ($9.50): a chorizo taco, green chile tamale, cheese tostada, cheese enchilada and rice and beans, adding an à la carte ($2.50) cheese and chorizo sour cream enchilada, that day's special. It's all too much food to describe. Let's just say, "delightful." — Matthew Schniper
Rocco's Italian Restaurant
3878 Maizeland Road, 574-1426, roccoscolorado.com
As depressing and gray as the outside strip mall is, the icicle lights and Italian-flag drapes inside make 29-year-old Rocco's cozy and welcoming. This effect is only multiplied by a wait staff that walks us through the menu, brings more warm bread unasked, and puts an extra container of likewise-unrequested homemade tomato sauce in our to-go box.
It's good sauce, too, garlic-forward, with a sweet undercurrent. It sings on the chicken cutlet Parmigiano ($15.50), which struck me as pricey until the large plate of linguine noodles and giant, perfectly baked-and-breaded chicken breast was set down. The pasta — not homemade, though the spaghetti noodles are — tasted slightly overcooked, but the rest was tender, hugely flavorful and incredibly comforting. — Bryce Crawford
Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project
1900 E. Lincoln Ave., Fort Collins, crookedstave.com
Surette, a farmhouse ale from the year-old Crooked Stave brewery, pours with a slightly cloudy, yellowish-orange hue. The color harkens back to the style's roots, when farmers along the French/Belgian border brewed this in fall, using freshly harvested grains. The wheat, oat, rye, spelt and barley grains lend a thick mouth-feel, yet the beer's body is still nicely crisp. Its tart, earthy sweetness comes from fermentation in large oak foeders (fermenting tanks).
Like many of the beverages kicked out by brewer Chad Yakobson, this 6.2 ABV ale is hard to categorize; regardless, it's smooth, with complex flavors that come together amazingly well. Find it at A Second Cup (13860 Gleneagle Drive, asecondcup.net) for $5 a pint. — Steve Hitchcock