Denver's ten best green chiles

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Lori Midson
If you were born and raised in Denver, you are, by default, a green chile geek. And for those of you who popped out elsewhere (New Mexico notwithstanding), and simply don't get why we're so besotted with suffocating our burritos, enchiladas, rellenos and French fries with verde, we can only assume you have yet to grace the quarters of Denver's best green chile contenders. And because this is a city -- like it or not -- whose cooks, chefs and restaurateurs are profound believers in spreading the smother love at a rapid pace, we've updated our original Best Green Chile in Denver roster to include an additional five joints where you can get your green chile fix. Herewith, in no particular order, the ten best.

10. La Loma

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Lori Midson
In the Colonial dining room and along the bar that runs the length of La Loma, a former church, disciples congregate to drown their sorrows in jumbo margaritas and swish their stomachs with the joint's green chile, a medium-thick verde that's whiffed with garlic, strewn with tender blocks of pork and sheened the perfect green. It doesn't make your eyelids sweat, but it's not for gutless wimps, either. Instead, it's a nicely balanced green chile that goes down easy with a shot or ten of tequila.

9. La Casa Del Rey

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Lori Midson
Look past the primary-colored parrots dangling from the ceiling, the poinsettias and fake greenery and, this time of year, a Christmas scene straight out of the North Pole, and instead focus on the gratifying, pork-saddled green chile that smothers the whole plate. The kitchen prepares it in varying strengths of heat, and we, of course, prefer the extra hot -- the mean green -- gobsmacked with fresh specks of seed-riddled jalapenos. It won't blister your tongue, but it'll leave you breathless.

8. Tia Maria

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Lori Midson
The affable man who owns Tia Maria treats his customers like royalty, which is reason enough to plop your butt down in a cushy booth and spend the afternoon slumped over shots, which he doles out in frequent doses. The tequila syllabus is impressive -- and so are the tasting notes that accompany it -- and the shots pair perfectly with the restaurant's verde, a stinging, savory swamp of garlic, tomatoes, cubed pork and ambrosial chiles that weep with heat. It puddles plates heaped with all the usual suspects, and it also swathes a rotund, pink-fleshed ham hock that may be the best dish on the menu.

7. Westerkamps Steakhouse and Meat Market

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Lori Midson
Good Lord, the green chile at Westerkamps Steakhouse and Meat Market is celestial, and while that may or may not have something to do with divine intervention (the fine folks who run Westerkamp bedeck the walls with Bible verses and even shutter on Sundays to praise God), it doesn't really matter, because the green chile is blessedly, sinfully virtuous no matter if you pray to the universe, to the gods of gluttony, or to nothing at all. Holy with jalapeños and volumed with pork and tomatoes, it's an ambush of heavenly spices and throbbing heat that makes us want to write a hymn in its honor.

6. Burrito Giant

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Lori Midson
Burrito Giant is an odd place, half of it devoted to elliptical machines, art and ceramics, the other half to slinging Mexican food (and, weirdly, barbecue) from an open kitchen overseen by a cook who spends the majority of her time slaving over the burners, which are concealed by huge vats of green chile -- excellent green chile that takes a good six hours to make. The result is a smoky stew studded with pork, chiles and garlic that delivers a devilish slow burn that lingers long after you've swallowed the last bite of your breakfast burrito, which is cheap, delicious and stuffed with housemade chorizo. Bonus: The vegetarian green chile is equally superb.

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18 comments
West Guest
West Guest

Santiago's Extra Hot is sooooooo much better than anything on this list.Mexico City Lounge is also awesome.

Matt
Matt

Senior Pepe's is my absolute favorite. I go there like at least once or twice a month since I was born. There green is so good! 

Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett

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Mantonat
Mantonat

While Little Anita's may have good green chile (haven't tried it), the rest of their food is downright revolting. One of the few times I've actually left food on the plate at a Mexican restaurant.

Chiappetta7
Chiappetta7

I'm shocked that Brewery Bar II didn't make it...boo!

dan5280
dan5280

El Tejado on S Broadway is my go-to.....

Dan
Dan

Having eaten my weight in El Taco De Mexico Green Chile thrice over I have yet to spy a deposit of pork within.  

Erica Grossman
Erica Grossman

Thank you for the great recommendations, Lori!

As a fellow writer (and lover of green chili and green chiles), I wanted to point out the distinction in spelling. It appears that the incorrect choice of "green chile" has been used throughout this article. Green chiles (with an 'e') are the actual chile peppers (think Hatch goodness roasting in a Federal parking lot). Green chili (with an 'i') is the stew-like sauce we eat with tortillas or douse on our burritos. Chili is short for Chili con Carne.

As a fellow writer, and lover of both chiles and chili, I felt obligated to pass this along.

Thanks again!

T. Henderson
T. Henderson

Yep, don't you hate it when you feel obligated to pass something along to someone?  So....I feel obligated to let you know - no one cares how you want to spell green chile.  Bottom line, it's damn good - that's what matters.

Jim Rome
Jim Rome

Looks like Dave Barnes is using a new pseudonym.  Well played sir.

Lori Midson
Lori Midson

Actually, it appears that both spellings are acceptable, Erica.

I Googled "green chile" vs "green chili" and found several links that support the use of both spellings, including this one:

"Chile with an "e" at the end is the correct spelling in Spanish. Chili with an "i" at the end is the Americanized version. The "i" version began with the name of the dish "Carne con Chili," meaning "Meat with Chile." It evolved into "Chili con Carne" and then shortened to just "Chili." The term ending with an "i" is widely accepted and is often used as the name for "Chili Powder." The term "Chile" with an "e" is the more correct way to spell it, although many forms are accepted."

At Westword, we use "chile." Epicurious agrees with that spelling, as well.

TheFatLion
TheFatLion

Lori,

 

I'm glad Patricia let's you google things at work.  However, using "about.com" as a serious source could be problematic for your career.  Check with New Mexico State Univ. (NMSU), the worlds leading chile research institute, and any of Paul Bosland's writings, and Erica is correct. "Chile" is a country, "chile" is a class of nightshade plants, and "chili" is made with "chile"s.  

 

Leo

 

lola jefe
lola jefe

chile is chili.  always has been and always will be.  when writing a menu description one can write "green chile" as an item, or "green chile" as a sauce.  as in, pork green chile.  like you said mama, just backin' ya up.  

SINFRONTERAS
SINFRONTERAS

no chili to me is green chile...i never even consider the con carne unless mentioned as such!

no
no

 maybe it is a technical misuse that is now common vernacular (such as co-conspirator), but chili in these parts is that meat stuff, sometimes with beans.  No one around here ever refers to green chile as chili.  If you did, people would think you meant the other stuff.

Cornellram53
Cornellram53

I guess since we are technically in Aurora I can't complain too much, but I will put my green chille up against any challengers.  Big City Burrito on Parker and Peoria.  There is a reason we are voted best burrito on Channel 7's A-List 2 years running (and it ain't cause we bribed the editors).

Jeff
Jeff

Aurora isn't a disqualifier.  Their number one choice is in Aurora too. 

Big City Burrito is a multi-state chain, right?  Do you make the chile in house, or does it come to your store pre-made from a corporate kitchen?  That's not necessarily a disqualifier either, I believe Little Anita's does the same.

I'm always skeptical of those "A-List" winners because businesses can just get their pals to vote and they end up with some really dubious choices (Red Robin one best burger this year).  I hadn't tried Big City, because it looked like another Chipotle clone, but if you're making green chile, I'll give it a shot.

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