Hamarrano Crunch Roll
95a Bistro & Sushi, 1381 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette, 95abistroandsushi.com
Walk through the doors of 95a Bistro & Sushi in Lafayette on any night of the week, and you’ll immediately be drawn in by the robust crowd of beer sippers and sushi eaters having a good time in the bar and dining room. There’s plenty of things to order on 95a’s menu, but we recently picked off the specialty sushi roll menu and were blown away by the hamarrano crunch roll. Tempura Serrano peppers, asparagus and avocado are rolled and topped with hamachi, yuzu aioli, chive and crispy garlic sticks. The hamachi is buttery, the asparagus is earthy, the yuzu aioli is bright and the tempura peppers provide great texture. $16.
Coconut-Citrus Fish Taco
Verde, 640 Main St., Louisville, www.verdeboulder.com/louisville
Verde’s Louisville location is expansive, with large windows filling the restaurant with natural light even on these winter days. Served with a bit of tropical flare, the fish tacos were just as bright. The light and airy meat is perfectly grilled (not fried!), placed in a corn tortilla atop a dollop of guacamole and drizzled with roasted garlic-jalapeño crema that adds just a little bit of bite. A garnish of crisp cabbage gives each bite a bit of crunch, while the toasted coconut sprinkled on top adds a bit of sweetness. $4.75.
Grilled Red Trout
Duo Restaurant, 2413 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, duorestaurants.com
Before we discuss the mouthwateringly delicious food at Duo Restaurant in Denver’s Highlands neighborhood, we need to discuss the eatery’s heartwarming business model, which implements a 2 percent “kitchen livable wage” surcharge to the bill in order to make sure that kitchen staff and waitstaff are paid equally for their time and effort. Other eateries take note! Now that that’s out of the way, we can focus on the food, specifically the grilled red trout. Piled high with squash caponata (a variation on the Sicilian dish, composed of onions, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, capers and vinegar, usually served as a side dish), roasted cabbage and a creamy, earthy sage béarnaise, it was impossible to stop eating the tender, juicy fish. $25.
Martino’s Pizzeria, 1389 Forest Park Circle, Lafayette, martinos-pizzeria.com
You’ll be tempted by all the pizza options at Lafayette’s Martino’s Pizzeria, but for our money, it’s hard to pass up what the shop calls its most popular pizza: the primo. The primo is loaded with Martino’s natural Italian sausage, freshly chopped mushrooms, onion, green peppers and pepperoni. All that is served on a thin, sturdy crust. It’s a supreme pizza worth seeking out — the fresh ingredients and the flavorful tomato sauce elevate it above others. $18-$26.