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100 Favorite Dishes: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer

100 Favorite Dishes: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer
Lori Midson

As a countdown to the Best of Denver 2010, coming April 1, Cafe Society is serving up, in no particular order, a hundred of our favorite dishes in Denver. Send your own nominations to cafe@westword.com.

Number 14: Tortilla soup from the Pioneer

The Pioneer is canopied under the Little Pub Group, which owns a gazillion joints around town, none of which is particularly renowned for its kitchen aptitude. Beer and Jäger? Certainly. But food is not the Little Pub's forte. Except at The Pioneer, a purple-painted watering hole overrun by collegians from the University of Denver. There, the board of well-prepared Mexican offerings -- excellent nachos, manly burritos wetted with a decent green chile, classic street tacos folded with carnitas and barbacoa, even an habanero salsa that's more about flavor than victimizing your lips -- are actually more inspiring than the beer roster. And the tortilla soup, a generous bowl of deeply dark red liquid palpable with the smoky sting of chipotles, bobbing with tender nubs of chicken that have been seared by the grill, and garnished with ribbons of fried tortillas and crescents of avocado, is so head-scratchingly good that you'll want to wander through the kitchen, just to make sure it wasn't trucked in from Mexico.

Hungry for more? The dishes in our countdown thus far are linked below:

No. 100 Chicken-fried steak from Lola No. 99 Alaskan reindeer sausage from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 98 Mac-and-cheese fries from Jonesy's EatBar No. 97 Soft egg ravioli from Prima No. 96 Pho - any pho -- from Pho 95 No. 95 Assiette de charcuterie maison from Z Cuisine No. 94: Cheeseburger from Larkburger No. 93: BBQ Masher from Cabin Creek Smokehouse No. 92: Apple pancake from the Original Pancake House No. 91: Burrata from Osteria Marco No. 90: Eggs Benedict from Devil's Food Bakery No. 89: Chile Relleno from La Fiesta No. 88: Deviled eggs from Steuben's No. 87: Corn-in-a-cup from Jack-n- Grill No. 86: Enchiladas from Taco House No. 85: Pupusas from Pupusas Sabor Hispano No. 84: Baklava from Ali Baba Grill No. 83: Masa-fried oyster shooters from Deluxe No. 82: Tacos al pastor from Los Carboncitos No. 81: Salsa bar from Tacos Y Salsas No. 80: Dim Sum from Star Kitchen No. 79: Green chile cheeseburger from Cherry Cricket No. 78: Fries from Encore No. 77: Shanghai-style dumplings from Chopsticks China Bistro No. 76: Chile relleno burrito from El Taco de Mexico No. 75: Fish fry from GB Fish and Chips No. 74: Posole from Tarasco's No. 73: Sausage, ham and egg biscuit from Table 6 No. 72: Bacon flight from the Berkshire No. 71: Tasty Treats from Gaetano's No. 70: French dip from Udi's No. 69: Panang curry from US Thai Cafe No. 68: Pineapple upside-down pancake from Snooze No. 67: Saag paneer from India's No. 66: Udon noodle bowl from Bones No. 65: Grilled corn soup from Lola No. 64: Sesame pockets from Lee's Garden No. 63: Whiskey-braised beef from Steuben's No. 62: House special from Viet's No. 61: Sultan Combo from Phoenician Kabob No. 60: Cake and a shake from D Bar Desserts No. 59: Caprese salad from Gaia Bistro No. 58: Fried chicken from Tom's Home Cookin' No. 57: Molcajete a la Mexicana from El Paraiso No. 56: Corned beef hash from Argyll Gastropub No. 55: Aye Conyo from Buchi Caf� Cubano No. 54: Fig n' pig flatbread pizza from Encore No. 53: Toro sashimi from Sushi Den No. 52: Spinach pinwheels from Virgilio's No. 51: Chicken-fried steak from the Breakfast King No. 50: Hot dog with hot sauce from from the Old Fashioned Italian Deli No. 49: Adobada gordita from Tacos Y Salsas No. 48: Curried Indian mussels from Argyll Gastropub No. 47. Pasta carbonara from Fruition No. 46: Amarena cherries and chocolate from Sketch No. 45: Aloo gosht salin from the British Bulldog No. 44: Head cheese from Olivea No. 43: Braised pork belly ramen noodle bowl from Den Deli No. 42: Lemon cheesecake from L'Atelier No. 41: Croissant with Asiago and prosciutto from Buffalo Doughboy Bakery No. 40: Prosciutto eggs Benedict from Panzano No. 39: Double cheeseburger from Bud's Bar No. 38: Calabacitas pupusas from Tambien No. 37: Lamb shank from Mecca Grill No. 36: Beignets from Lucile's Creole Cafe No. 35: Jaam-bong from Karma Asian No. 34: Beef cheeks from Squeaky Bean No. 33: C� ri chay from New Saigon No. 32: Torta ahogada from Las Tortas No. 31: Salumi from Il Mondo Vecchio N0. 30: Ricotta ravioli from Colt & Gray No. 29: Seaweed salad from Izakaya Den No. 28: Beef short ribs from the Village Cork No. 27: Breakfast burrito from Pico de Gallo Mexican Grill No. 26: Italian sandwich from Masterpiece Deli No. 25: Baked potato from Rodney's No. 24: Curried potato dosa from Masalaa No. 23: Pate and pork rillettes from Fuel Cafe No. 22: Tacos from Leobardo's Taco Shop No. 21: Suckling pig from Luca D'Italia No. 20: Chicken and poblano crepes from Chili Verde No. 19: Steak chili from Elway's Cherry Creek No. 18: Aguas Frescas from El Taco Veloz No. 17: Spicy edamame beans from Karma Asian No. 16: Samosas from Vesta Dipping Grill No. 15: Greek pizza from Melita's Greek Cafe & Market


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