Reader: What are the Denver must-have dishes?

patxidish.jpg
Can a deep-dish pizza, like the Patxi's meat model above, taste as good in Denver, Colorado, as it does in Chicago, Illinois? Diners have been debating that for decades -- and for the past week on Cafe Society. And the recent discussion raises another point: If deep-dish pizza is a hallmark of Chicago dining, what is the Denver equivalent? What are the must-have dishes in the Mile High City?

See also: Deep-dish pizza here doesn't taste anywhere near as good as Chicago

Says Fred Kaplan:

Still trying to figure out WHAT are the Denver must-have dishes. When I used to visit I loved getting the Rocky Mountain oysters up near Ft. Collins. And yes all varieties as long as they werre deep fried. Loved Alligator in LA and Florida.

Lived in Chicago. and had great deep-dish pizza and amazing thin crust. But in fairness different areas of the US have different taste buds due to the water they drink and nourishes the ingredients that go into food. NYC people love the foldover and the grease of their pies, while Chicago likes crispy crust, some oregano and GREAT mild Italian sausage. Still looking for a pie in Denver that can match a Chicogo or Italian (love Pizza in Italy) thin crust pizza.


What are the must-have Denver dishes? For a starter set, check out our 100 Favorite Dishes archives....and post your own suggestions below.




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13 comments
Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

Don't go all hateful on me but I just think the Denver food scene, which has greatly improved over the last few years, is still pretty ordinary.  I went back and reviewed the Westword 100 favorite dishes list and, honestly, for every item on the list I can think of many places in the U.S. that does them better.  

Denver just doesn't have a "world class" dish that I've experienced.  No Maryland Crab Cakes, no great creole/cajun like NoLa, no Chicago deep dish, no Texas or St. Louis BBQ, no San Francisco cioppino, no Omaha steaks, no defining Southern cooking, no fabulous French like NYC.  Even some of our ethnic places don't measure up to immigrant centric places like L.A., Seattle and NYC.  

So, is there a "must have" Denver dish?  I'd say no (I'm specifically avoiding the topic of bull's balls).  You may eat very well here but Denver has yet to brand it's culinary landscape with a quintessential dish that is uniquely "Denver".  The majority of restaurants here are just borrowing ideas from some more culinarily sophisticated markets but some are doing it very well for which I am grateful.

Laura Hermanski
Laura Hermanski

Hm, I don't know but that photo above looks totally nasty. lol

TheJeff
TheJeff

I think the green chile smothered Den-Mex cuisine as defined by Gustavo Arellano in Tacos U.S.A. is our claim to fame.  Denver's large percentage of Mexican-American families have created this cuisine over the past two or three generations and it has evolved as separate and unique from other Mexican-American foods.  The green chile in Denver is unlike that of New Mexican cuisine, and while some in the comments to follow are sure to write it off as "slop," it's OUR slop, and I wouldn't be without it.  When it's done well -- with fresh, piquant chiles, hearty chunks of braised pork shoulder, long-simmered stock that's been slightly thickened with roux, and very little else, it's a thing of beauty.

If the tourists want to think that Colorado cuisine is bull's balls and elk steaks, that's okay by me.  More green chile for me!

Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@Shannon Ulrich Yep - I give credit where credit is due.  We've got the craft beer thing nailed.  Sadly, I hate beer.

wyrob
wyrob

@Denver Dave a lot of Denver's favorites have a Mexican influence.  Look at Colorado's version of green chile.  It is found in restaurants everywhere in the state and has a long history of being made at home (I never met a North Denver resident over 70 who didn't make their own).  Maybe this makes it harder for folks to embrace as regional because it wasn't spun out of a brand, like "Geno's" Cheesesteak, Primanti's Sandwiches, or Uno's Deep Dish Pizza.  But our thick, porky green chile it is undeniably unique and authentic to the region.

meatheadsource
meatheadsource

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Denver Dave
Denver Dave topcommenter

@TheJeff I know it's all a matter of personal taste and what you grew up eating but I'll take New Mexico green chile (and red, too) over Denver any day and twice on Sunday.

wyrob
wyrob

@Denver Dave @TheJeff I love NM green, too.  But it's not the kind of stuff you'd eat by the bowl in the winter time.  It's just a different thing.

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