Lunch on the clock, a retro sugar fix and modern barbecue

When I heard that Simon Restaurant and Lounge at the Palms was offering a 30-minute power lunch, I had to try it. With a stopwatch, of course. What I discovered was that the staff members live up to their end of the bargain, but they give you so much food at once you might still go over the time limit.

Fast or not, I love this place at lunchtime, when hard-bodies are wading in the Palms pool just outside the windows and sunlight reflects off the bamboo wall framing the sushi bar. The food is good, too. There are three choices offered daily (11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and they’re served on trays. One is Kerry’s Classic: chopped salad, large bowl of tomato soup, a grilled cheese and three warm, crazy good chocolate chip cookies. It’s $18.

If you aren’t counting calories, then try the Iron Chef ($21): three grilled bacon cheddar sliders, a Caesar salad, Tuscan fries and a vanilla milkshake. But I opted for Simon Bento Box ($20): three pieces of spicy tuna crisp rice, six pieces of California roll, a seaweed salad perfumed with sesame oil and three chocolate mochi bonbons filled with vanilla ice cream.

Perhaps if I hadn’t eaten the bonbons, I could have justified a Clark Bar at the new Rocket Fizz, 5130 S. Fort Apache Road. The old-school candy bars, sodas and retro items sold here will bring back memories for Boomers, and delight the younger generation. I spotted several things I haven’t seen since the ’60s: Skybar, made by Necco, with peanut, fudge, caramel and vanilla; the original six-ounce Coca-Cola in bottles, imported from Mexico, where it’s made with cane sugar (as opposed to corn syrup); and even Pop Rocks. Listen to artists like Elvis and The Beatles while you nosh. And there are free soda tastings 1-3 p.m. Saturdays and 5-8 p.m. Wednesdays.

On the same side of town, meanwhile, there is Blue Fire BBQ, 4275 S. Durango Dr., the new ’cue in town. Don’t let the ultra-modern, nightclub-like décor throw you. The barbecue is authentic, with meats smoked in-house over mesquite. Some of them include hot links, slow-smoked baby back ribs, brisket and smoke-fried, Kansas City-style fried chicken. Sides include baked beans, hand-cut fries, potato salad and grilled vegetables. There are also wraps, salads, sandwiches and Frychos—fries treated like nachos, with bacon, cheese and mesquite shredded chicken.

Hungry, yet?

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