Fruit loopy: Beware of representatives from Ocean Spray lurking around local supermarkets and handing out free samples of Craisins, dried cranberry snacks that the slogan says taste "surprisingly sweet." What's the surprise? Five minutes after my toddler ingested the whole four-ounce sample bag, she was doing the Hustle through the aisles of Safeway--and let me tell you, the only music playing was in her sucrose-saturated brain. I wrenched the packaging from her sticky fingers and discovered that the first ingredient listed was not cranberries but...sugar! Hey, at least Craisins are fat-free.
Free and easy: For those who prefer their food meat-free, the Vegetarian Society of Colorado has released its 1996 Colorado Vegetarian Dining Guide, a pamphlet filled with eateries that promise to offer at least three vegetarian entrees on their menus. (Quite a few have at least a half-dozen meatless meals; those are designated as well.) The guide is free; call 777-4828 for yours. And the 1996 Colorado Guide to Smoke-Free Dining is out, too, produced by the Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) and listing more than 1,800 restaurants around the state. GASP asks for a $2 donation to help cover costs; call 444-9799.
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To their Heart's content: Project Angel Heart will hold its second annual Dining Out for Life on May 2, when 33 Denver-area restaurants donate 25 percent of that day's food and non-alcohol proceeds to a wonderful organization. The nonprofit Project Angel Heart cooks up fresh, nutritious, free meals for homebound people with HIV/AIDS. So that Thursday, remember to eat at Anastasia Vieux Carre, Aubergine Cafe, Barolo Grill, Barricuda's, Basil Ristorante, Bella Ristorante, Bistro Adde Brewster, Bistro Europa, Cafe Brazil, Cedars, Charlie's, Cherry Cricket, Chipotle Mexican Grill (both locations), City Spirit Cafe, Enoteca Lodo, Footloose Cafe, Fourth Story, Goodfriends, Greens, Las Margaritas Cantina (17th and Downing location), Le Gourmand, Los Cabos II, Mel's Bar and Grill, Meskerem Ethiopian Restaurant, Off Belleview Grill, Racine's, Ristorante Catalano, Shakespeare's, Soren's, Sushi Heights, Taste of Thailand, Thia's Greek Restaurant, Washington Park Grill or Wynkoop Brewing Company.
That Basil Ristorante listed above is the new incarnation of the old Basil's Cafe at 30 South Broadway; co-owners Ernesto Spinelli and Peter Wolfgang Schlicht--both previously ran The Bistro at Marshdale and Baci--have gone Italian again...Mark Chaffee and his partners at Moondance (1626 Market Street) just bought Chives American Bistro, at 1120 East Sixth Avenue...Nallen's, the Irish pub at 1617 California that had switched from fish and chips to $1 scoops of buffet Chinese food, has been gutted. They'd have had better luck with Craisins.
Mark your calendars: Thoa Fink, whose Chez Thoa is still much missed, will team up--but just for one night--with Radek Cerny at his Papillon Cafe, 250 Josephine. On April 30 the restaurant will be closed to the general public, but those willing to ante up $65 are promised a unique Asian meal...For a guaranteed good time (and we speak from experience), sign up to volunteer at the third annual LoDo Brewfest, set for June 22-23. For info, call 698-HOPS.