2628 W. Colorado Ave., 634-5025
The location has changed, but everything else stays the same with Wild Ginger. For devotees, that's a relief. For me it's a continual frustration point as, to be blunt, I've never seen eye-to-eye with those who vote it our best Thai joint annually. Side note: Referring to Thai food as "the spicy alternative to Southwestern cuisine" on the menu cracks me up. (Ahhh, C-Springs ...)
So yeah, if you wish to replace your chimichanga at lunch with the Pad Puck Peanut Sauce ($6.75) veggie stir-fry, know that it tastes pretty good but arrives overly oily and not fully emulsified as a sauce, and also not in a sufficient quantity to cover the roughage and rice. By contrast the eggplant prawns ($13.75) from the dinner menu delivers a plate absolutely brimming with too much generic brown sauce that could hit harder on the basil and seasonings. A couple of the shrimp were tough and fishy, but the organic eggplant's nice; just want more per plate. Damn, forgot to ask for no MSG.
Bon Ton's Cafe
2601 W. Colorado Ave., 634-1007, bontonscafe.com
Tourists and locals pack under the expansive shaded patio, and not a single person sits inside on a pretty summer morning. Catherine Barbo, who's owned Bon Ton's for 20 of its 40 years, works the busy cash register inside the door, where diners come to settle up and five waitresses whiz by. Barbo and I briefly discuss her skepticism of organic foods based on her experience around the Santa Fe-area agriculture community, so she's transparent about buying standard commercial products except for local Barista Espresso coffee products.
My cappuccino is thereby quality-tasting, but unnecessarily pricey at $4.99 to-go ($4.29 in-house). My tamale breakfast plate ($11.79) includes two flavorful, amply moist pork tamales, but it bears less than half the green chile pictured on Bon Ton's web home page. More would have aided the plain home fries and two eggs (scrambled dry in my case), and the "hot" chile could be quite a lot spicier to earn the name.
Rodolfo's Mexican Grill
15932 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument, 487-9410
Rodolfo's is the type of no-frills, hole-in-the-wall, middling Mexican dive that you've eaten at hundreds of times before, and likely will eat at many more times before that great Mariachi in the sky strums your song. It's so okay that it's totally okay and neither disappointing nor memorable. Service is fast, prices are quite reasonable, and I do like the small salsa bar where I stock up on fresh lime wedges, a pretty hot salsa verde and pickled carrot-onion-jalapeño relish.
My two chile rellenos combination plate ($6.95) could use some tooth somewhere in the affair, as it's texturally mushy from the bland refried beans to the melted queso, soggy shell and limp pepper. The garnishes help greatly and the flavors land fairly spot-on for that gut-bomb Tex-Mex that most people love. But since you can find that all over the frontier, I'll say eat at Rodolfo's if you happen to be sauntering by, but there's no other special reason to steer there that I can see.