100 Favorite Dishes: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer

Tortilla soup from the Pioneer.jpg
Lori Midson
As a countdown to the Best of Denver 2010, coming April 1, Cafe Society is serving up, in no particular order, a hundred of our favorite dishes in Denver. Send your own nominations to cafe@westword.com.

Number 14: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer

The Pioneer is canopied under the Little Pub Group, which owns a gazillion joints around town, none of which is particularly renowned for its kitchen aptitude. Beer and Jäger? Certainly. But food is not the Little Pub's forte. Except at The Pioneer, a purple-painted watering hole overrun by collegians from the University of Denver. There, the board of well-prepared Mexican offerings -- excellent nachos, manly burritos wetted with a decent green chile, classic street tacos folded with carnitas and barbacoa, even an habanero salsa that's more about flavor than victimizing your lips -- are actually more inspiring than the beer roster. And the tortilla soup, a generous bowl of deeply dark red liquid palpable with the smoky sting of chipotles, bobbing with tender nubs of chicken that have been seared by the grill, and garnished with ribbons of fried tortillas and crescents of avocado, is so head-scratchingly good that you'll want to wander through the kitchen, just to make sure it wasn't trucked in from Mexico.

Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:

No. 100 Chicken-fried steak from Lola
No. 99 Alaskan reindeer sausage from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
No. 98 Mac-and-cheese fries from Jonesy's EatBar
No. 97 Soft egg ravioli from Prima
No. 96 Pho - any pho -- from Pho 95
No. 95 Assiette de charcuterie maison from Z Cuisine

No. 94: Cheeseburger from Larkburger
No. 93: BBQ Masher from Cabin Creek Smokehouse
No. 92: Apple pancake from the Original Pancake House
No. 91: Burrata from Osteria Marco
No. 90: Eggs Benedict from Devil's Food Bakery
No. 89: Chile Relleno from La Fiesta
No. 88: Deviled eggs from Steuben's
No. 87: Corn-in-a-cup from Jack-n- Grill
No. 86: Enchiladas from Taco House
No. 85: Pupusas from Pupusas Sabor Hispano
No. 84: Baklava from Ali Baba Grill
No. 83: Masa-fried oyster shooters from Deluxe
No. 82: Tacos al pastor from Los Carboncitos
No. 81: Salsa bar from Tacos Y Salsas
No. 80: Dim Sum from Star Kitchen
No. 79: Green chile cheeseburger from Cherry Cricket
No. 78: Fries from Encore
No. 77: Shanghai-style dumplings from Chopsticks China Bistro
No. 76: Chile relleno burrito from El Taco de Mexico
No. 75: Fish fry from GB Fish and Chips
No. 74: Posole from Tarasco's
No. 73: Sausage, ham and egg biscuit from Table 6
No. 72: Bacon flight from the Berkshire
No. 71: Tasty Treats from Gaetano's
No. 70: French dip from Udi's
No. 69: Panang curry from US Thai Cafe
No. 68: Pineapple upside-down pancake from Snooze
No. 67: Saag paneer from India's
No. 66: Udon noodle bowl from Bones
No. 65: Grilled corn soup from Lola
No. 64: Sesame pockets from Lee's Garden
No. 63: Whiskey-braised beef from Steuben's
No. 62: House special from Viet's
No. 61: Sultan Combo from Phoenician Kabob
No. 60: Cake and a shake from D Bar Desserts
No. 59: Caprese salad from Gaia Bistro

No. 58: Fried chicken from Tom's Home Cookin'
No. 57: Molcajete a la Mexicana from El Paraiso
No. 56: Corned beef hash from Argyll Gastropub
No. 55: Aye Conyo from Buchi Caf� Cubano
No. 54: Fig n' pig flatbread pizza from Encore
No. 53: Toro sashimi from Sushi Den
No. 52: Spinach pinwheels from Virgilio's
No. 51: Chicken-fried steak from the Breakfast King
No. 50: Hot dog with hot sauce from from the Old Fashioned Italian Deli
No. 49: Adobada gordita from Tacos Y Salsas
No. 48: Curried Indian mussels from Argyll Gastropub
No. 47. Pasta carbonara from Fruition
No. 46: Amarena cherries and chocolate from Sketch
No. 45: Aloo gosht salin from the British Bulldog
No. 44: Head cheese from Olivea
No. 43: Braised pork belly ramen noodle bowl from Den Deli
No. 42: Lemon cheesecake from L'Atelier
No. 41: Croissant with Asiago and prosciutto from Buffalo Doughboy Bakery
No. 40: Prosciutto eggs Benedict from Panzano
No. 39: Double cheeseburger from Bud's Bar
No. 38: Calabacitas pupusas from Tambien
No. 37: Lamb shank from Mecca Grill
No. 36: Beignets from Lucile's Creole Cafe
No. 35: Jaam-bong from Karma Asian
No. 34: Beef cheeks from Squeaky Bean
No. 33: C� ri chay from New Saigon
No. 32: Torta ahogada from Las Tortas
No. 31: Salumi from Il Mondo Vecchio
N0. 30: Ricotta ravioli from Colt & Gray
No. 29: Seaweed salad from Izakaya Den
No. 28: Beef short ribs from the Village Cork
No. 27: Breakfast burrito from Pico de Gallo Mexican Grill
No. 26: Italian sandwich from Masterpiece Deli
No. 25: Baked potato from Rodney's
No. 24: Curried potato dosa from Masalaa
No. 23: Pate and pork rillettes from Fuel Cafe

No. 22: Tacos from Leobardo's Taco Shop
No. 21: Suckling pig from Luca D'Italia
No. 20: Chicken and poblano crepes from Chili Verde
No. 19: Steak chili from Elway's Cherry Creek
No. 18: Aguas Frescas from El Taco Veloz
No. 17: Spicy edamame beans from Karma Asian
No. 16: Samosas from Vesta Dipping Grill
No. 15: Greek pizza from Melita's Greek Cafe & Market



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