6523 N. Academy Blvd., 594-9343, bestsilverpondchinese.com
We know Silver Pond is bully when it comes to Chinese food. They're a perennial Indy Best Of winner, they've been internationally recognized, and their strawberry chicken entrée is one of those weird-but-wonderful dining surprises on our scene. But did you know they moved up Academy Boulevard a while back to a new location?
By a reader's recommendation, I try the combo Pad Thai ($10.50) from the "fusion special" menu, which explains atypical inputs like carrot slivers and shoestring fry-like bamboo sticks. Plus, the acidity notes one might expect from tamarind and/or lime usage are absent, which isn't to say the dish isn't enjoyable — just not authentic Pad Thai. No grievance though, as the shrimp, chicken and beef are tender in the oily mix, interrupted by the crunch of bean shoots and the aforementioned veggies. A medium order is scantly spicy, but tastes mindfully prepared and under a rain of peanut garnish. It's not gold, but it's Silver Pond. — Matthew Schniper
Coquette's Bistro and Bakery
321 N. Tejon St., 685-2420, coquettesbistro.com
The demise of Smiley's Bakery & Café was made somewhat tolerable by expansion at Coquette's, which has parlayed a small Manitou Springs location serving full-quality, gluten-free food into downtown, lines-out-the-door success. The next-door space is now home to the restaurant's bakery, a retail outlet dishing cupcakes, savory pastries and more. The impish "Boldly Luscious" logo is all over the small eating area, where you can consume treats like a salted caramel cupcake ($4.50).
All is well in the primary dining room, half-full of lunchers by 11:30 a.m. A Cuban sandwich ($13) came with a light salad and pea-green basil vinaigrette, a perfect balance against thick layers of roasted pork, lightly sweet ham and an undercurrent of Swiss cheese against pickles and Dijon. The Vegan Polenta ($12) yielded a simple fried red-pepper polenta cake with a sweet roasted-carrot purée and dense selection of rainbow chard, onions and tomatoes. — Bryce Crawford
SwitchBack at Fifty Fifty
330 N. Institute St., switchbackroasters.com
Changes are slowly taking effect at Fifty Fifty since its takeover by SwitchBack Coffee Roasters. New evening hours have greatly expanded access; interior community space has broadened; a drum roaster has finally arrived to join the air roaster (to experimentally roast the same beans in different ways); and the cafe recently released its Sadie Hawkins Blend as its summer flavor. I try the mix of Brazilian and Guatemalan beans, lightly roasted for respective caramel, then citrus and nut essences, in a superb cappuccino ($3/8-ounce) that finishes with a tinge of sweetness. That pairs beautifully with an egg, smoked ham and cheddar breakfast sandwich ($4; a wise menu holdout from previous ownership) constructed with local ingredients — notably a sweetened Karami Japanese salsa component that does a nice sugary/hot dance. The default bread is a Paisley Pantry gluten-free English muffin, but an Olde World Bagel & Deli bagel can be subbed for $1. — Matthew Schniper