3743 Bloomington St., 309-6934, you-ka-cafe.tumblr.com
Opened at the beginning of the year, and featured in our Dish recipe guide this week, You-Ka continues to add Filipino plates by chef Emilou Savage, including the fantastic Longganisa Burger ($8.99). Longganisa typically encompasses various flavors of Filipino sausages, normally served at breakfast, says Savage. Her twist turns the ground pork (marinated here in Chinese five-spice powder, soy, brown sugar, Worcestershire and garlic) into a gigantic, super-juicy patty topped with tomato, pineapple and a garlic-mayo ketchup. It's got zest, salt and hints of anise and cinnamon, and will slay many a napkin. Soft, house-made taro chips and daily-made mango salsa balance with sweet freshness.
Another generous pork plate from the specials board: lemon-and-soy-marinated pork belly ($8.99) arrives in charred rectangles with rice and a beautifully biting salad of ginger, red onion, daikon and cucumber. A soy-vinegar-chili dip adds finishing tang. — Matthew Schniper
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
5166 N. Nevada Ave., #140, 323-6174, rocketfizz.com
If you're looking for a replacement for defunct soda paradise Squeak, keep looking. California-based Rocket Fizz is a vintage candy shop, not a Seussian playhouse. That said, the selection of sweets and bottled sodas impresses both kids and UCCS students from the neighborhood. Rocket Fizz sells its own bottled sodas alongside a selection of craft sodas ($2.19; $7.99/4-pack). The house-brand bacon chocolate soda has a nose of burning rubber, but drinks like a chocolate Tootsie Pop. The house green tea soda adds carbonation to improve upon a Lipton's "with Citrus" clone.
As for outside sodas, one cashier recommends the Americana cherry cola. Artificial cherry balances a Coke/Pepsi compromise without turning into cough syrup. And while the Leninade has witty packaging down — Crimea & Punishment, anyone? — the sugar buries any citrus bite. One more to look for: Tommyknocker Root Beer from Idaho Springs. — Griffin Swartzell
Cowboy Star and Butcher Shop
5198 N. Nevada Ave., #150, 631-6050, cowboystarcs.com
We've mentioned Cowboy Star a lot recently, because word's spread about its generous happy hours, which balance a pricey menu. From 2 to 6 and 9 to 11, daily, take half off a bunch of cocktails, wines, beers and small plates.
I went in during my photo shoot for this week's Dish insert, so I nabbed sausage ($5), ground in the attached butcher shop from whole hogs. This day it's a mild Toulouse style (from the southwestern French city) made with wine, garlic and herbs, and presented with house whole-grain mustard, sauerkraut and a pickle — all potent — on a woodblock cut from Waldo Canyon Fire burn wood. Charred octopus ($6) follows with a segmented tentacle showing skyward suction cups atop a smear of chickpea purée hosting black squid-ink aioli droplets, tomato "jam" and petite green leaves. Flavors are subtle, kicked off by the char before the chew, and finished in the creamy garnishes and tomato sweetness. — Matthew Schniper