Quijote's Mexican Grill
208 N. Union Blvd., 313-9127
Word from trusted friends was that after Quijote's aggressive expansion this past summer — into an adjacent space, adding an evening taqueria and liquor and juice bars — the place got so busy that quality started to slip. News of some botched food reached my ears, this in contrast to seeing the outfit do a kick-ass catering job not long ago at a housewarming party.
A recent breakfast visit seemed to confirm that everything's in working order, with a blue-collar crowd six-deep at the order counter and the staff getting rocked for their super-affordable breakfast burritos. My 3 Meat Burrito ($2.75) was jammed with scrambled egg coated with melted cheddar-jack, chewy ham strips, crunchy bacon and squishy sausage bits, all with a nice green chile smolder. A suggested kale, cucumber, kiwi, apple and lime juice ($3.50) mitigated the heat with sweet notes protruding from the veggie backbone. — Matthew Schniper
28 E. Bijou St., 473-3890, everestnepalrestaurant.com
A $9.99 all-you-can-eat buffet will always be bully, and it's hard to complain about serviceable renditions of Saag Paneer and Chicken Makhani, whose bright sauces so dutifully embrace soft, tandoori clay oven-charred naan bread. Or, for that matter, dahl soup with crunchy papadum and vegetarian selections doused in mint chutney. Or syrupy round dough balls and rice pudding for dessert. (OK, the pudding actually was a little too watery.)
But it's easy to say that Everest Nepal is stuck in a rut when the dog-eared labels affixed to the sneeze guard so overtly tell you so, and you feel like you ate this exact same meal five years ago. Despite the outstanding service (which actually can be over-attentive at times), the outfit's buffet could stand to feature more variety from the expansive à la carte menu, and to project a vibe that's a little more special than habitual. Still, for $10 ... — Matthew Schniper
Michael's Mediterranean Cuisine
2810 S. Academy Blvd., #150, 391-1777, westsiderestaurant-deli.com
Michael Ezzat's west-side restaurant and grocery was recently transformed into a smoke shop, while the former Taste of Jerusalem on South Academy Boulevard is now the spot for his Mediterranean creations — sponsored by Coca-Cola, apparently, considering the blanketing of its logo all over the dining room. Nonetheless, it's a cute café with free wi-fi, and a welcome local eatery in a King Soopers shopping center full of Panda Express and its ilk.
Sitting in a tight booth, we went with the Mediterranean Burger ($7.50), a fresh-tasting bit of grill full of salt and tang, featuring a loosely formed ground-lamb patty with crispy edges under lettuce, tomato, onion, feta and green olives. It wasn't hugely different from a good burger, other than the absence of heavy grease; seasoned, flaky fries were delicious on the side. A grilled-beef Half & Half gyro ($7.99), with heavily spiced falafel, was also generally grub-able, though too smothered in a creamy tzatziki. — Bryce Crawford