Rico's Café and Wine Bar
3221/2 N. Tejon St., 630-7723, poorrichardsdowntown.com
Even though Richard Skorman's enterprise just celebrated its 40th, the place keeps current. Rico's recently re-envisioned daily breakfast service, dubbed "tapa the morning breakfast bar." It's actually a series of hotel pans in steam trays, where you grab what you want for $1.50 per item, such as a slice of Udi's gluten-free French toast, an egg frittata muffin, turkey bacon (three strips), or half a link of Aidells chicken-apple sausage.
The meats, which hold up fine, are humanely raised. Several items are also organic, like real maple syrup. But texturally, it's tough to get past the sogginess of carb-and-egg dishes languishing in a buffet, which staff is still partially setting up a half hour past go-time. And both the French toast and my onion-pepper-Swiss muffin could use more seasoning. If you don't want a Peruvian fair-trade Purple Mountain-roasted coffee for $1.50, a two-shot Aztec Mocha ($5.50/16-ounce) offers scant spice and lands more like hot chocolate. — MS
Little Olaf Cafe
3005 N. Hancock Blvd.
Nice things first: My bacon and cheese breakfast burrito ($6) was well-executed, with bacon cooked to a satisfying fusion of crisp and chewy, and hash-brown-shred potatoes retaining moisture and occasional griddle-top crispness. The cheese needed more heat to properly melt, but still, it proves a functional gut bomb.
But don't add Little Olaf's green chile, which, though fresh, tasted of acid and stank of tough pork cubes. The watery coffee ($1) bewilderingly came accompanied by a half-gallon container of French vanilla non-dairy creamer. Also, my having to repeat "No thanks, I don't want more coffee" three times in a minute-long conversation adds to the vexation spawned by the staff's difficulties using their credit card machine. Whatever happened when North End Diner closed here left a lingering curse, most clearly manifested in the painted-over wooden snowman on the wall, its malformed eyes silently screaming, "Oh, the horror." — GS
Ohana Kava Bar
112 E. Boulder St., see Facebook page
One thing you'll notice on Ohana's descriptive menu is the "magical root" isn't cheap: $9 each for 8 ounces of Vanuatu and Solomon kavas, served in coconut shells. Syrup flavorings are included if you want. Our knowledgeable server recommends happy hours from 3 to 6 p.m., daily, when those drop to $6. In fairness, people pay more for like-sized cocktails. But getting Springs drinkers to value a medicinal root like they do hooch will be owner Matthew Clark's challenge, though other cities sport successful kava bars.
The draw is euphoric properties from kavalactones, listed for each drink like ABV is counted on beers. We feel a mild numbing sensation in the mouth, and don't mind kava's earthy flavor, which acts almost like ginger minus the spicy bite. But it takes concentrated kava paste ($3.50) to feel noticeably chill. Maintaining that would mean more drinks. At least the cool island-toned atmosphere supports lingering. — MS