100 Favorite Dishes: Pozole from La California Panaderia

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Lori Midson

Suffice it to say that I eat out more than the general population, unless, of course, the general population can catalogue more than 450 restaurant meals in a year -- which is about the number of breakfasts, lunches and dinners that I stomached in 2012. Pathetic, isn't it? But all those food dates are worth the gluttony, because it allows us to tell you where you should eat, a little favor that we started in late 2009, when we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- 100, to be exact. Now we're back with round three, counting down (in no particular order) 100 more of our favorite dishes in Denver (and Boulder). If there's something in particular that you think we need to try, reveal it in the comments section below, or shoot me an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

No. 79: Pozole from La California Panaderia

In Mexico, pozole is a celebratory dish served on Christmas Eve and on birthdays, at weddings and during festivals, on Mexican Independence Day and Day of the Dead. Huge vats of the slow-cooked soup gurgle on the stove, the evocative steam from brassy spices and chiles perspiring the air. The hearty soup has become so popular throughout Mexico that many restaurants devote a certain day of the week solely to pozole, turning the time-honored tradition into an all-day affair.

See also: Best Posole - 2010: Tarasco's New Latin Cuisine

At La California Panaderia, a diminutive shack on Morrison Road, everyone is eating pozole, and God forbid you interrupt their ritual with small talk. Here, among the one lone table and tattered counter seats that overlook the small kitchen where women with furrowed brows methodically make and mix masa, there is silence save for the slurps and occasional thud of a sharp knife. The soup, a huge bowl of it, is slid across the countertop and delivered with a nod of acknowledgment. Its dyed a ferocious red from the chiles, crowded with hominy and slabs of pork so tender you can cut it with a swipe of the spoon. Coins of radish and specks of onions and cilantro float on the surface, and lime halves and housemade, deep-fried corn tostada shells that you can crumble on top share space on the plate; these are in addition to the jars of Mexican oregano, chile flakes and a small container of terrific salsa that burns with fire. And when you finish the bowl -- everyone does -- you'll raise your eyes to the ceiling and whisper, "Holy pozole."

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2013 countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Foie gras oysters from Sushi Sasa
No. 99: Porchetta from Parisi
No. 98: chocolate caramel sea salt tart from Spuntino
No. 97: Nachos from the Pioneer
No. 96: Fried pickles from TAG Burger Bar
No. 95: Breakfast burrito from Jalapeños Mexican restaurant
No. 94: Jajangmyeon from Yong Gung Dragon Palace Chinese Restaurant
No 93: French fries from Jonesy's EatBar
No. 92: Fried rice from Benihana
No. 91: Lobster macaroni and cheese from Mizuna
No. 90: Schezuan beef in numbing chile oil from Chef Liu's Authentic Chinese Cuisine

No. 89: lamb tartare from Epernay
No. 88: Reuben from the Bagel Deli
No 87: Wood-fired chicken from Pizzeria Basta
No. 86: Watermelon and frisee salad from EDGE
No. 85: Chicken-fried eggs and smoked buffalo hash from Sassafras
No. 84: English pea agnolotti from Harman's Eat & Drink
No. 83: Sushi - any sushi - from Land of Sushi
No. 82: Sopressata pizza from Kaos
No. 81: Philly Phanatic from Large Marge's
No. 80: Migas tacos from Moontower Tacos


Location Info

La California Panaderia

4404 Morrison Road, Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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