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Street Smarts

It can be "innerestin'" to occasionally forgo tried-and-true dining favorites to venture into less familiar, more exotic culinary waters.

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Doug Johnson of downtown is a yoga teacher

If you were going to die tomorrow, where in Colorado Springs would you go for dinner tonight? Little Nepal. Their sweet potato masala is one of my favorite dishes.

What local restaurant surprised you recently? The Meat Locker. The menu seemed a little limited in scope for one of Joey Coleman's ventures. [Coleman also owns The Blue Star, Nosh and La'au's.]

Describe the most exotic meal you've had. Years back in Florida, we cooked and ate a shark we caught on a fishing outing.

Is there an exotic dish or cuisine you'd like to try? I'm a pretty adventurous eater, but I've tried just about everything I'd like to. Plus, I'm no longer a meat-eater.

What makes for a cool cocktail? Good ambiance. Personally, though, I favor places that serve good tea. I don't do many cocktails.

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Mary Piche of downtown is a retired chef

Where in Colorado Springs would you eat tonight if it were your last meal? Saigon Café. I forget what it's called, but I have a special dish I go there for — this spicy, tofu-coconut-sauce thing.

What local restaurant recently surprised you? Springs Orleans. There's some things on their menu that intrigue me.

What's the most exotic meal you've had? A spicy, tangy, peanut-sauce noodle thing in this Vietnamese hole-in-the-wall in New York City. It had a wild combination of flavors, and it was served cold. Delicious.

Is there a cuisine you'd like to try? I'd like to explore a few more Indian dishes.

What's the best local place to enjoy a few cocktails? I go in for the more adult bars — places like The Wild Goose Meeting House.

What's the secret of a good cocktail? You know, I'm pretty much a wine drinker.

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Kevin McLaughlin of the Old North End is a construction superintendent

Where, tonight, would you eat in the Springs if you knew it was your last meal? MacKenzie's Chop House. I had a killer filet mignon there a couple weeks ago.

Is there a local restaurant that surprised you recently? I like Panino's precisely because it has never once surprised me. Every time there, it's just as good as it's been the past 20 years.

Describe your most exotic meal. I'm a simple guy. I don't do exotic.

Is there an unfamiliar dish or cuisine you'd like to try? Vietnamese, maybe. My brother says it's great.

Describe a to-die-for cocktail. A good beer.

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