Joe's Buffet, home of the Mexican hamburger, lives on in legend

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Joe's Buffet once occupied this Santa Fe storefront.
The space at 753 Santa Fe Drive -- most recently occupied by Club 753 -- is once again dark. But the address deserves some time in the spotlight for one very good reason: It was here that the Mexican hamburger, a major Colorado contribution to the world's culinary scene, was invented.

Just about every Mexican restaurant in town (and many non-Mexican restaurants) offers a Mexican hamburger; the item is so ubiquitous that we thought it was common across the country. But then Gustavo Arellano, the author of Ask a Mexican who's writing a book on Mexican restaurants, set us straight.

Eating his way through Denver during a three-day professorship at Metro, Arellano kept spying Mexican hamburgers on the menu. He'd already done a study of the green chile that is such a hallmark of Colorado cooking, but itturns out that the Mexican hamburger -- a grilled patty and refried beans tucked into a tortilla and smothered in that green -- is also native to our state.

We were able to continue our research last night because El Noa Noa, conveniently located right across the street from Su Teatro, the theater whereGustavo Arellano debated immigration with Tom Tancredo, has a very good Mexican hamburger (and the tamales are unbeatable).

And as it turns out, the Mexican hamburger was probably invented right up the street, when Joe's Buffet operated out of 753 Santa Fe.

Here's the recollection of one regular:

I remember back in at least 1968 when I was living in the west side of Denver and YES.......It was Joe's Buffet and the name of the waitress was LINDA.....But don't know her last name.

She INVENTED the Mexican Hamburger by herself and remember that even though Chubby's was famous for their HOT Chili they copied her Mexican hamburger after being asked repeatedly from Joe's Buffet customers.

Does anyone know anything more about the legendary Linda and her invention? If so, enlighten us in the comments section below.


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