Shae's Eats & Spirits
2521 W. Colorado Ave., 440-9565, see Facebook page
Shae's west-side location started out as a perfectly fine dive spot for a pint of PBR ($3), a pepperoni pizza ($9.75/14-inch) and a chat with an old friend. And then the jukebox kicked on, and any hope of conversation ended. Some bars need a powerful sound system, and it makes sense that this dive-plus-craft-options joint has decibels to spare.
As for the pizza, the crust came out just-done and chewy under oregano-forward sauce. Toppings and cheese rate unremarkable, but functional for a good-not-great 'za. More in the realm of drunken genius, the Jiffy Jam pizza ($7) sees peanut butter and chewy chunks of bacon under jalapeño jelly. The jelly candies the bacon a little, and its spice and faint sweetness lighten up the otherwise-peanut-butter-dominated bite. There's an old saying that really describes this pizza: "If it's stupid but it works, it ain't stupid." — GS
Mobile business, 720/299-7501
Mediterranean Food's simple name speaks to its simple menu and humble eats. Owner Hayder Hassan transparently shares that he buys just about everything on his menu pre-made at Denver's Restaurant Depot, from hummus, tzatziki and pickled veggies to falafel mix, fluffy pitas, and seasoned fries. His rice actually stands out, because he adds raisins and whole cardamom pods for huge floral aroma. As evidenced by our gyro ($7.99 as a plate with rice and fries) and poundcake-textured falafel ($6.99/plate; $4.99 solo), the rest is serviceable as commercial products go, but nowhere near housemade-special, though nicely priced and filling.
Hassan launched six months ago. He's originally from Sudan, a U.S. citizen for 16 years, who served the Army in Iraq for four years, beginning in 2003, as an Arabic translator. "Thank God I'm alive," he says, adding he was glad to serve his country. Now, he just wishes to serve affordable food, he says. — MS
Palmer Lake Country Store
56 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, 219-8170
This former gas station may have been around for the better part of a century, but Palmer Lake Country Store has only been dishing out barbecue in the last two years. Still, owner Darmi Coon has churned out some impressive eats. If you're in a hurry, take home half a pound of sliced pork ($7.50), smoky piggy bliss.
Brisket also eats tender and tasty. I tried it on a potato bomb ($9.99), the house altar to all-in-one eating. A big baked potato with a strip of bacon wrapped around it sits atop baked beans. Split open, it's stuffed with meat — you can also pick pork or chicken — then topped with onions, optional pickles and one of three house barbecue sauces. Both the spicy and mango habanero sauces have some kick, but the sweet sauce overwhelms most of the nuance in the meat. Still, no reason not to order up, kick back, and enjoy the view. — GS