Tortilleria Delicias 2
513 S. Circle Drive, 471-2244
Technically, it's not a misnomer — the tortillas here are, in fact, darn good, whether flour ($3/dozen) or corn ($2.50/dozen), though we prefer flour. It's the meat inside that gives us pause. Deshebrada — that is, Mexican slow-cooked beef — should be meaty and rich, like similar Cuban ropa vieja. A deshebrada de rojo burrito ($3.99) comes full of tender meat and potatoes, but the flavor's all chili powder. Worse, the carnitas burrito ($3.99) comes full of hard, underseasoned pork.
It's a lot like the carne asada torta ($6.99), full of similarly hard, bland meat, one chunk being outright unchewable. At least the barbacoa tacos ($2 each) are more edible, with plenty of fat and appropriate salt, if desperate for better spicing. Even the lime disappoints, too old to give juice no matter how we squeeze. By the time we dig into a wholly serviceable concha ($0.75) for dessert, we've already given up on this hole in the wall. — GS
China Doll Restaurant
3629 Star Ranch Road, 579-8822
Every neighborhood in Colorado Springs has a few things — a liquor store or two, a gas station, a grocery store and at least one passable Chinese restaurant. The long-standing China Doll Restaurant certainly serves that purpose for the Broadmoor neighborhood. We try the lunch buffet ($8.39, tax included) to see if anything sticks out.
In terms of spice profile, the beef stew isn't something a lot of places have, bearing heat lamp-toughened chunks of coarse-shredded beef seasoned pleasantly with five-spice powder. We have no issues with the chicken lo mein and its mild wok hay flavor. But we find the sesame chicken to be tough and chewy, likely another casualty of heat lamps, though the extra-sweet sauce doesn't help. The egg rolls bear a nice whisper of five-spice too, and the jian dui — sesame balls — taste pleasantly rich, full of sweet red bean paste. — GS
1107 S. Nevada Ave., 445-0760, phobrotherscoloradosprings.com
The last time we dropped into Pho Brothers, in late 2014, they'd just rebranded from general Vietnamese offerings to specifically play up pho, the then- and still-trending rice noodle soup with its intoxicating, spirit-lifting broth. Business appears to have rewarded the move, as the lime-walled, tidy dining room's nearly full at lunch.
The house jasmine tea ($1.50) bears vanilla essence (none's actually incorporated — and our tea requires a reminder that we ordered it for it to arrive), which plays nice with the herbal and spice components of the simple and mild chicken pho (chicken/$7.95). We throw in all the side garnishes, from jalapeños to cilantro and mint, plus Sriracha for a little kick. More interesting overall: steak and meatballs ($8.95/called "bun bo hue") hosted by a sweet-and-sour lemongrass broth that bears serious heat. Floating spicy oil bites the back of the throat with a touch of earthy flavor, and unexpected tendon hunks prove chewy but rich. — MS