click to enlarge Tacos Tenexpa

Tacos Tenexpa

Mobile business, 291-0993

A tiny cart parked across from Bean Bandit on North Circle Drive, Tacos Tenexpa served Paso Robles, Calif., for three decades before moving to the Springs two years ago. It offers a classic lineup of street tacos and appears to specialize in tacos al pastor, based on signage and the glistening pork mound spinning on a vertical rotisserie spit inside the cart.

The lengua and cabeza tacos ($1.50 each) are textbook chewy and crispy, respectively, and well-seasoned and totally fine overall. But the pastor burrito ($6.50) is a massive beauty for the ages. The meat's lightly charred edges create a bacon-y crunch, and the pineapple-sweetened interior leads the flavor assault. Cilantro, onion, beans, a little mild cheese and not too much rice pack the rest of the thin, durable tortilla, itself a standout with a doughy aroma and almost a rice-paper texture. The scorchin' tomatillo salsa, unnecessary but delicious, bears a fresh cucumber essence. — Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Jade Dynasty Chinese Restaurant

Jade Dynasty Chinese Restaurant

106 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9576, jadedynastymanitousprings.com

Now filling the space that for years held the restaurant known as China China, Jade Dynasty's a nice spot to get down with some Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine. Done up mostly in white with purple accents, the dining room's clean and bright, filled with the sound of cars passing by, water trickling into a corner fish tank, and pop music.

For dinner, we go with the pu-pu platter ($7.95) and a plate of Volcano Shrimp ($12.95). Though it arrives minus anything that looks like a "flaming pu pu tray," the platter is damn decent, sporting well-fried shrimp and wontons; a thin, but crispy, egg roll; a spare rib; a beef stick and "paper-wrapped chicken," a fun bit of ground meat and spices that lead with a licorice-like flavor. The shrimp are plump and steaming hot in a thin, tangy, brightly colored sauce; almost like an orange-chicken redux. Passable fried rice. — Bryce Crawford

click to enlarge Paris Crepe

Paris Crepe

218 N. Tejon St., 444-0110

Soon to turn three, Paris Crepe survived 2010's crêpe craze (while a couple others folded — no pun intended) and continues to serve atypical, internationally inspired crêpes while catering to gluten-free needs. Example: the Turkish crêpe ($8.99), ordered with a GF garbanzo-flour base, consisting of juicy chicken hunks, soft potato wedges and sautéed spinach and onion beautifully seasoned with zatar (an herby, zesty Middle Eastern spice blend), hummus and strong garlic mayo. Though French-inspired by form, its conquering culinary qualities (nothing dainty here) are unquestionably Ottoman at heart.

A Thai chicken salad ($7.95) from the daily special board follows form, its big peanut flavors incorporated with fresh cilantro and sharp red onion slices and laid atop glistening, crisp romaine leaves. The keystone ingredient is a handful of sandy-ripe pear slivers, whose sweetness adds a fun counterbalance to the savory elements. Paris Crepe in a nutshell. — Matthew Schniper


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