20 E. Colorado Ave., 633-2888, coloradosaigoncafe.com
Saigon Cafe proudly displays its bevy of annual Indy Best Of awards inside its door, just in case you didn't know they're the go-to spot for so many downtown lunchers. It's bustling throughout the long dining room expanse, feeling almost like a downtown Denver joint with its modern decor and urban view. Service remains fast and friendly and food lands contenting enough, kicked off by decent egg drop and hot and sour soups.
An oily shrimp lo mein ($9.95), punctuated by wok hay, though a bit sparse with prawns, stands out from our entrées. The hot and spicy pork lemongrass ($8.95) fails to hit any true notes of heat, boasting nicely tenderized pork strips amidst large-cut onions and peppers (I'm never a fan of huge green bell pepper strips that dominate flavors in a bite) in a wet, tangy, garlic-flecked sauce. The Vietnamese Style Chicken Curry ($8.95), is again sauced thinly and is also less rich, finishing with a sweet edge. All feels serviceable. — MS
Wooglin's Deli & Café
823 N. Tejon St., 578-9443, wooglinsdeli.com
Really we're just here for the always-awesome carrot cake, sold in moist $4.25 slices and capped in a thick cream-cheesy frosting that also runs as a thin vein through the middle. Ordering savory items first really just acts as foreplay, our desire growing as we carry our own slice out and stare it down until finally forking in.
Which isn't to say the day's tomato-basil quiche ($10.27 with a bowl of soup) doesn't deserve a nod for tall crunchy crust and a fluffy egg bottom with the fillings layered on top. A chicken-enchilada soup delights with green chile spice and creamy richness. The Ultimate Melt ($7.49) feels more breakfast-y as a cream cheese bagel topped with veggies, a thin Swiss cap and notably, sprouts, which would be better as garnish after the toasting instead of wilting in. The staff brings a Barista Espresso-roasted latte ($3.52/16-ounce) nicely to balance; it would however be nice to drink out of ceramic instead of foam in-house. — MS
Coal Mine Dragon
1720 W. Uintah St., 578-5430
Looking at this long-standing restaurant's menu gives me a sense of déjà vu. The decor seems unfamiliar, but I've seen these dishes, these combos, these appetizers more times than I can recall. But the PTA meeting at the table across the room, slowly growing louder over Sutter Home wines and cocktails, snaps me back to reality.
Good timing; my lemon chicken combo ($8.25) has arrived. The pork in the included wonton soup is a little tough, but the broth has some depth. My chicken, a sizable white-meat cutlet, comes pounded flat and fried in a thick batter that sloughs off under lemon sauce. Said sauce tastes like a lemony permutation of neon-red sweet-and-sour, but it brightens the chicken, which has enough salt to combat the sugar punch. There's no dessert menu, but cocktails ($5.55) are cheap and strong, though my Black Russian tastes of rubbing alcohol. Oh well; the food served is good both for price and quantity, and they deliver for free. — GS