Nine-month-old Café Mondo, first a bustling coffee, breakfast, and lunch spot at 33rd Avenue and Tejon Street, has opened for dinner Friday and Saturday nights. The menu changes weekly and the wine list suits, and when we visited, the baked halibut sandwich ($18) stole the show. The silky hunk of fish came baked golden brown on two slices of toasted potato bread and topped with cured tomato, tangy slaw, and lemon aïoli. Since halibut is in season until October, my hope is that the gourmet sammy stays on the menu for as long as possible. Other notables: the cheese sampler and charcuterie and the decadent beef Wellington. 3301 Tejon St., 303-433-4626.

Last week I drove 35 miles for a $3.99 slice of strawberry cake from NoNo’s Café. And I’d do it again. The 10-year-old Littleton restaurant, owned by Louisiana natives Brian and Sonda Brewster, serves a Cajun and Creole menu (think blackened catfish, chicken and sausage gumbo, and shrimp bisque) topped off by the addictive dessert. Sonda bakes five cakes each day using a secret New Orleans recipe (don’t even think about asking for it) passed down from her grandmother’s friend. The final result: Two tiers of sweet, moist cake—the Barbie pink color and strawberry flavor come from using real fruit—glued together with an sticky, equally pink icing. The cake is so good “people try and order the cake whole,” says Brian, “but we only do slices.” Order yours early. 3005 W. County Line Road, Littleton, 303-738-8330,

A month from today (but selling out fast), chef Frank Bonanno of Mizuna and Luca d’Italia and star chef Tony Mantuano from Spiaggia in Chicago will cook a six-course Italian feast at Luca to raise money for the neurology department at Children’s Hospital. In May, Frank and Jacqueline’s 4-year-old son Luca (the restaurant’s namesake) successfully underwent brain surgery and the Bonannos were so impressed by the hospital, they’re hosting an all-inclusive dinner for 50 to raise money and give back. Menu items for the Oct. 5 dinner include Maine lobster and dewlap, Crescenza-cheese filled pasta, roast Guinea hen with black truffle sauce, and toasted almond cake with warm caramel sauce and housemade vanilla gelato. A post-meal auction includes dinners for eight to 10 people from local chefs such as Café Star‘s Rebecca Weitzman, Elway’s Tyler Wiard, Chama Cocina‘s Sean Yontz, and Panzano‘s Elise Wiggins. $250 per person. All proceeds to benefit the neurology department at Children’s Hospital. 711 Grant St., 303-832-6600.

—Amanda M. Faison

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.