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Pueblo Avenue, Take 3

Where bulgogi and tempura failed, perhaps burgers will succeed: Lucia's Family Restaurant (329-4496) is giving the corner spot at 230½ Pueblo Ave. a go, fully aware that the tiny, lightly trafficked location recently spurned Café Banzai and Sushi & Teriyaki House.

The Parada family, which was behind Jo's Diner at 132 W. Cimarron St. for a stint (several years before a minivan drove through it under the banner of Mr. B's Famous BBQ & Soul Food), is now behind Lucia's. It's a family operation, named for dad Paul Parada's mother, with mom Jo-Etta Parada found behind the counter daily. Daughter Andrea Ruby says to look for daily specials such as enchiladas in addition to the affordable regular menu of omelets and breakfast items (served all day), burgers, burritos and the like.

Ruby and some window signage boast about the family's pork green chili, instrumental in dishes like the half-pound Sapo Burger on Texas Toast ($8.25, with fries). The outfit makes almost everything from scratch and sources sustainably minded meats, including Laughing Lab bratwurst, from Ranch Foods Direct. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with free delivery downtown and nearby.

Sushi overhaul

Back in 2008, Denver chef Duy Pham took off from Aqua Oyster Bar to open his own place in Pueblo, an excellent fine dining outfit called Restaurant Fifteen Twentyone. Undoubtedly, Pueblo's food scene benefited from the move.

Now, in similar fashion, former Opal sushi chef and friend of Pham, Kyung Lee, has departed Denver and taken over an existing Pueblo outfit, Sushi Garden (3915 Ivywood Lane, 719/564-9373). According to Pueblo chef and Pham pupil Ben Bedard, Lee is a sushi "badass" with crazy knife skills and a very traditional approach to the craft.

Lee, speaking for his 24 years in the industry, says he's just excited to bring his sushi technique to Pueblo, to make his customers happy and show them how high-grade, classical sushi tastes.

À la carte

• The new cooperative Colorado-made edibles store at 2521 W. Colorado Ave. (314-8714) that we first told you about in September has opened and opted for the name Gotta Love It! Kitchen. Inside, you'll find local products like garlic butter, salsa, pesto, sausage and baked goods.

• Longtime local pasta destination Mollica's Italian Market & Deli (mollicas.com) retreated its forces back to its original 985 Garden of the Gods Road location this past weekend, closing its 1872 Southgate Road expansion.

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