Cocina de Manuel is the name of a New Mexican restaurant in the old Rex's Hamburgers space at Coors and Central. Manuel Chavez, of the eponymous restaurant, was formerly the owner of El Camino Dining Room (6800 Fourth NW), which he sold after 21 years at the helm. “I sold it and then I took a year off to golf and fish,” Chavez explained, “but even golfing and fishing get boring after a while.” Though Cocina de Manuel, housed in a strip mall, doesn't have the old Route 66 charm of Los Ranchos' El Camino Dining Room, Chavez says he's cooking pretty much the same stuff he used to and that he's tried to replicate the friendly feel of his old place. El Camino Dining Room is still open and catering to much of the same neighborhood crowd it has always served. Check out Cocina de Manuel for good old-fashioned New Mexican breakfast or lunch, Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 831-4435 for take-out orders.
This Saturday is the grand opening of La Siringitu Vegetarian Café, a multifaceted enterprise that inhabits the old W.C.'s Mountain Road Café building (1501 Mountain NW, 244-9105) in Old Town. The name Siringitu is derived from a Masai word meaning “land that stretches on forever;” after English and Swahili changes it became Serengeti, the name of a vast African plain. The café serves dinner Wednesday through Saturday and a Gospel brunch Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The name may be African but from the menu it appears the food is strictly vegetarian café standard: hummus, quiche, tofu stir-fry and whole wheat spaghetti. Sharing space with La Siringitu is Kamaria Creations, a small natural hair care salon and day spa offering hair cuts, braids and weaves along with manicures and facials. Call for dinner reservations or salon appointments.
So close yet so far. The Korean B.B.Q. House will have to wait just a little bit longer for those outdoor barbecue tables. Just after we went to press last week, owner Jane Merzweiler called to say they'd run into a snag. After having collected roughly seven million permits and approvals and just a few days before they were set to move on the project, she discovered that they needed to jump through one more hoop. Never fear though, Merzweiler is determined and it should only be a few more weeks before you're inhaling barbecued beef en plein air.
If you're planning on growing vegetables this summer it would be worth your time to check out the Seed Savers Exchange, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving heirloom varieties of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Go to www.seedsavers.org where you'll find hundreds of varieties of seeds in addition to certified organic ready-to-cook beans like green flageolets and Vermont cranberry beans. This spring they'll also ship pots of herbs and vegetables. Check out the site for details.