The Leaky Mug
mobile business, 289-2349, theleakymug.com
It's pretty much the last place in the area you'd expect to find a traditional macchiato ($1.75) pulled perfectly with the bright, citrusy flavors of a medium-roasted, single-source Ethiopian Yirgacheffe bean: outside Bartlett Hay and Feed Co. on Old Meridian Road in Falcon. But that's where TLM's parking their shiny custom-built trailer these days, with brothers Erich and Nathan Diffenderfer manning a Casadio espresso machine.
My macchiato's thick crema is beautifully "marked" with a touch of steamed milk, and some credit's due to a fine roast by Denver's IMACK Coffee. The brothers otherwise recommend their mocha ($3.50), two shots, milk and a pump of Ghirardelli chocolate sauce under ample foam. Especially following the macchiato's potency and delicacy, it's difficult to taste much espresso under the sweet cacao finish, all nuance lost — though that's what many drinkers prefer, based on sweet drinks' sales everywhere. So get what you like. — MS
The Thirsty Parrot
32 S. Tejon St., 884-1094, thirstyparrotcos.com
This two-floor dive took over the former 32 Bleu in 2005. It's a perfectly reasonable place to go after work if your plans include downing half-priced happy hour pints of PBR ($2.50), eating once-frozen jalapeño poppers ($6.95) and playing billiards. Admittedly, the poppers aren't bad for frozen — not too much cream cheese, and the peppers are at least palatable. For a more substantial option, a French dip ($9.95) does the job with moist meat and a passable jus. As a side, included in the price, the potato chip fries may sound tempting. But they're thick-cut, undercooked chips that have no business on a plate except under a mound of nacho fixins.
The Parrot does hold more draw than prefab eats and cheap happy hour drinks. When Tejon Street or Colorado Avenue close for events, this location offers valuable views, wide windows on both floors. On regular evenings, clueless jaywalkers suffice for entertainment. — GS
107 N. Tejon St., 633-3020
Bento is convenience. The name for Japanese-style single-serving packed meals gets its linguistic roots from a Chinese slang term for convenience. Linguistics aside, French Fry Heaven's replacement churns out pre-packed or quickly packed meals for lunchers on the go.
Their best-selling item is the made-on-site Texas roll ($9.99), a wholly American concoction featuring seasoned crab, avocado and cucumber with eel sauce, spicy mayo and hot sauce under a mountain of fried onion. It tastes fresh, at least, about as good as King Soopers sushi. For an actually healthy option, a bowl of decidedly un-Japanese bibimbap ($6.99) comes cheap and filling. Slightly overcooked bulgogi meets bean sprouts, cucumber, mushrooms and carrots for a healthy bite. Sauced with Korean pepper paste, gochujang, there's brightness that's enhanced by reserved warmth in the house kimchi. Though nothing to cross town for, Bento ain't half bad. — GS