100 Favorite Dishes: Pozole from La California Panaderia
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 email@example.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.
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
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.