Here are some new-ish places you should hit up while you’re running around town. Yes, you have five minutes to drive two blocks out of your way for a life-changing pastry, an amzing ice cream cone, a cup of coffee with goat butter in it or some gourmet comestibles for dinner.
1807 Second St., Ste. 9, 467-9305Holy mother of mille-feuille! I heard an audible gasp when my dining companion got his eyeballs on the pastry case at this pocket-sized French/Italian bakery in the Second Street Lofts (near Back Road Pizza). It is an unbelievably gorgeous array of well-priced and well-proportioned sweets. If I wanted to purchase a physical manifestation of my love and affection for someone really special, I would buy a cake from owner Salvador Biadora, a Dorian Gray figure who must have sold his soul for eternal youth and pastry perfection. And for a Thursday afternoon sugar high, you cannot beat Biadora. I ate a thing there that I had never seen before but will never forget. It was a nutty version of a kouign-amann: essentially a muffin-shaped almond croissant with a caramelized sugar bottom. By the time I got three bites into the shatteringly flaky pastry it looked like I’d been mugged by the Pillsbury Doughboy. More of the stuff was on my boobs than in my mouth. (Yes, I scraped the crumbs off my chest and ate them.) Eating this thing was the most pleasurable thing that’s ever happened to me with my clothes on.
1708 Lena St., Ste. 101, 205-1595Joel Coleman, who opened Fire & Hops (222 N Guadalupe St., 954-1635) two years ago, is the chef behind this boutique ice cream operation, and you can taste his adventurous palate in its half-dozen flavors. The most striking is one of the current seasonal flavors, a green chile ice cream that’s available swirled with a goat’s milk caramel called cajeta. The plain ice cream captures the most perfect essence of freshly roasted green chile better than anything I’ve ever tasted (and if you’ve lived here long enough you’ve had green chile-flavored everything). It’s a miracle of alchemy: Your mouth clearly registers ice cream, sweet and creamy, but the immediate flavor hit is the exact aroma of chiles just coming out of the roaster, with their blistered skins starting to slip off, blending the fruitiness of the pod with the smokiness of the skin. Coleman buys a variety of exceptionally mild chiles, which focuses the experience on the flavor of the chile without the burn. Other seasonal flavors include sweet corn, roasted apple and a vegan red chile cantaloupe. Always available are a perfect classic vanilla; a dark, perfectly balanced Iconik coffee; a gloriously minty (and not dyed green) mint chip; and a chocolate sea salt made with cocoa powder that could benefit from a more intense chocolate base.
Caveman Coffee Cave
1221 Flagman Way, Unit B1, 992-2577Nab a cup of nitro cold brew on tap at this tiny coffee spot inside Undisputed Fitness. This is not the kind of coffee shop where poets linger for hours scribbling in their notebooks. This is the kind of place where you pop in for a double espresso after a brutal Crossfit class. MMA fighter Tait Fletcher is a founder of both ventures and the paleo theme goes beyond the name, as evidenced by drinks like the Chupacabra, which includes espresso, goat butter and fancy coconut oil. Even if you’re more couch potato than paleo warrior, you can appreciate Caveman for a quick cup of dark, rich coffee or a can of smooth, low-acid cold-brew concentrate.
1291 San Felipe Ave., Ste A, 303-3535What makes this place special is the cold case at the front where you can buy beautiful glass jars of things like house-made preserved lemon chermoula, dill pesto, peach ketchup, tuna confit salad or Aleppo-rubbed steak (it’s a kind of pepper, Gary Johnson). Many of the prepared foods are packaged in beautiful, reusable glass jars that you can return for a discount on the next one. Scones, muffins, mini pizzas and amazing chocolate oatmeal cookies tempt through the glass panes of a wooden bakery case. You can also order a sandwich to go or to eat at one of the rustic farm tables in the dining room, which has a bit of an Etsy-ßπchic vibe to it. Cute (and expensive) kitchenwares line the walls. On a recent visit the Drunken Chicken sandwich impressed with crusty bread and plenty of bright cilantro, although the peanut sauce nearly overwhelmed the other ingredients. Slices of super-rare coffee-rubbed steak were suffocated under a too-thick blanket of cherry agrodolce in another sandwich, but there was enough potential there to warrant another romp through the menu.