The Pita Pit
5086 N. Nevada Ave., #110, pitapitusa.com
Lovable longtime downtown alcohol-absorber The Pita Pit recently closed an under-performing Garden of the Gods Road location and wisely moved into the booming University Village complex earlier this month. The small chain continues to offer a lot of food for relatively little cost, with enough fresh crunch and flattop sear to earn approval.
Go "fork style" and turn any wrap into a salad, such as the trademark falafel ($5.99), which places the chickpea discs in a crumble over Romaine with feta, tzatziki and all the toppings you desire. You break it, you made it. Order The Local ($6.59) for off-menu creations like the "Chili," which blends chicken and Philly-style steak in ancho-chipotle sauce. I toss in the whole kitchen sink, including grilled and fresh veggies, hummus and tzatziki and create my own complex mess of awesomeness. — Matthew Schniper
Cabrera's Mexican Bakery
265 S. Circle Drive
So much that looks so different, tastes so similar — such is often the case at a panadería. Which isn't entirely troubling, since gnawing on sweet cookies and breads seldom does a mood wrong. Plus, at the tiny, four-year-old Cabrera's, items are only 50 or 75 cents each.
Powdered sugar distinguishes the disc-shaped cookies from the triangular, food-colored payaso (clown) cookies, and in fairness, the chewier coconut-flake cookies stand alone flavor-wise. Strawberry jelly inside the inflated empanadas is matched by sticky lemon curd in an elongated sweet roll, while the elote (corncob) sports cool grooves, mimicking underlying corn kernels. Then there's puerquitos (pigs) and conchas (shells), with faint touches of molasses and cinnamon, respectively. Or, mess with baker Carlos Cabrera and he'll show you his cuernos — super-sugared dough rolled into horns. — Matthew Schniper
Wyatt's Pub & Grill
806 Village Center Drive, 598-4100, wyattspub.com
The small "United in Orange" sign behind the bar is the epitome of "too soon," but it did lead to a lovely bit of collaborative mourning between my dining mates and co-owner Renee Wyatt, who says she and her husband Todd have season tickets but couldn't make the Slaught ... I mean, Super Bowl. The whole conversation also did a lovely job of illustrating the accessibility of the Rockrimmon watering hole, where the young, old and family-minded mingle easily.
The Ultimate Pizza ($21.95, 16 inches) offers a good amount to gather around, and if you don't mind a layer of salty grease among the melted cheddar and Monterey Jack, a nice way to pass the time. Under the cheese comes a balanced, house-made tomato sauce and heaps of grilled steak, onions and green peppers, which, all together, are hefty enough that they could probably drink your pitcher for you. — Bryce Crawford