Tilapia bowl with pao de queijo
Five on Black, 1805 29th St., Suite 1138, Boulder, www.fiveonblack.com
There’s almost too much to say about all of the flavors packed into the Brazilian chain Five on Black’s take on fast casual dining. Served over a bed of lettuce and brown rice, the tilapia is lightly marinated with lemon and oil, then basket-rotisserie-cooked so that it melts in your mouth. We chose the coconut-roasted sweet potatoes and steamed collard greens as a side, but the black beans also suit the dish. The entire bowl is amply covered in the slowly simmered spicy coconut sauce that adds just the right amount of kick. And don’t forget to ask for a sprinkling of cilantro, lime and traditional farofa, ground manioc flour that adds a bit of a salty, smoky flavor to balance out the spice. Add a couple pao de queijo, or Brazilian cheese breads, to round out the meal. Made from tapioca flour and cheese, these gluten-free chewy breads are a staple of Brazilian cuisine. $6.95.
Caffe Sole, 637 S. Broadway St., Boulder, caffesole.com
Galettes offer a baker plenty of room to play — they’re created freeform, with dough folded over on itself to make something that’s a bit like the lovechild of a crusty cake and a pie. Caffe Sole offers a variety of delicious fruit galettes baked fresh each day. The folded edges of the pastry are just thick enough to hold in the fruit filling — we chose raspberry, but peach and blueberry are options as well — giving the treat a pleasant crunch with every bite. A light coat of butter gives the crust the perfect brown color, and some sugar sprinkled on top adds some visual appeal and extra crunch. Don’t be afraid to get messy — these bad boys are meant to ooze a little. $7
Bittersweet Cafe & Confections, 836 Main St., Louisville, bittersweetcafe.net
If you’re going to make a case full of out-of-this-world macarons, you’ve gotta get up with the rooster, and that’s just what the folks at Bittersweet do each day. Macarons are notoriously difficult to make, but Bittersweet makes this look like child’s play with its rainbow assortment of perfectly crafted meringue-based confections. These treats are light just beneath the crust, with just the right amount of chew — soft, not mushy. The sweetness is balanced so that the actual flavor — be it peppermint, raspberry, pumpkin spice or one of the other six or so daily flavors — can really shine through. We found it impossible to pick a single flavor, and what’s the fun in bringing home just one when you can bring home a palette of beautiful colors and flavors? $2 each.
Biscuits and gravy
Parkway Cafe, 4700 Pearl St., Boulder, www.boulderbreakfast.com
We like biscuits and gravy. Warm, filling, simple. There’s no better measure of a breakfast joint than the quality of its most traditional offerings, like biscuits and gravy. At Parkway Cafe you get two buttermilk biscuits split open and smothered in creamy sausage gravy. A fork needs only the slightest force to break through the light and crispy crust of the biscuit to find the spongy center. The buttery flavor of the biscuits is the perfect foil to the subtle tang of the sausage gravy. $6.