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Mouthing Off

If you like the Cheesecake Factory in the Tabor Center, you'll love Uncle Sam's, 5946 South Holly in Englewood, where the dishes cost about the same but arrive in portions large enough to serve at least two people. You may have leftovers, but they'll be things you want to eat again later, like juicy fried chicken. Kids are very welcome--and they'll be much better behaved, since they won't have waited two hours for that drumstick.

If you like Z'Tejas Grill (assorted locations around town), you'll love Cafe Evangeline, 30 South Broadway, which doesn't try to be Cajun/Mexican/Southwestern but instead recognizes that it's solidly Cajun and bowls you over with its gumbo.

If you like Maggiano's Little Italy in the Pavilion's, you'll love Santino's, 1939 Blake Street. Chef/ owner Sonny Rando is back in the kitchen again (someone else was cooking when I dined there for my November 19, 1998, review, "Red Alert"). When I snuck in with a group of gals celebrating a baby shower last week, I slurped down every last drop of the old-fashioned scungilli.

Yum! That's the sound of the men breaking up the chain gang.

Say bye-bye: A few blocks away from Santino's, two spots just bit the dust. Hi Ricky, 1318 15th Street, quit after--what--four months, perhaps because the owners were tired of staring at those long lines a block away at P.F. Chang's, 1415 15th Street. But the Firehouse Bar & Grill lasted half a decade at 1525 Blake Street before it suddenly shut its doors last week--too quickly to drop out of the LoDo Restaurant and Hospitality Association ad in the January 1 Denver Rocky Mountain News that touted, among other things, the "five years' strong" Firehouse's new menu. (That ad also listed ten resolutions for the new year, including the novel "Come to LoDo more often. Who wants to throw up in their own neighborhood?" and "Never wake up under the sink at Wazoo's...again."

Also empty is the space formerly occupied by JV's The Cork, at 410 East Seventh Avenue. The disappearance of this earnest neighborhood effort came as a surprise, because it seemed to have finally found its niche. Maybe someone should just put a McDonald's in there and be done with it. Then again, if you like McDonald's, you'll love Grandpa's Burger Haven...

--Wagner

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