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Carbondale kitchen magician Mark Fischer is opening a second Phat Thai in Cherry Creek

Years ago, when I was reviewing restaurants for another publication, I called Carbondale, a hamlet that's down valley from Aspen, a "lowdown trucker town," a comment that set the mountain town into a tailspin. At the time, however, Carbondale's restaurant landscape was completely overshadowed -- justly -- by the glitter-gulch of Aspen, with one exception: Mark Fischer, the chef of

Six89 Kitchen & Wine Bar
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, a terrific Carbondale restaurant that's amassed an avalanche of accolades ever since it opened in 1998.

Five years later, in late 2003, Fischer made it clear that he wasn't a one-trick pony when he unleashed Phat Thai, a hip joint that trumpets what Fischer has called a "gringo interpretation" of Thai food. But while Fischer is a white guy, his adaptations of traditional Thai cuisine adhere to the rules: His dishes strike the right balance between hot, sour, sweet and salty -- and his ingredients are stellar.

And in October, he's bringing a second Phat Thai to the corner of Second and Fillmore, in Cherry Creek North, the construction of which has already started. And considering that Cherry Creek, once a culinary breeding ground, has been superseded by trendier neighborhoods, like Highland, that's very good news.

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