Eating the green at Chili Verde

The first dish I tried at Chile Verde was the fish ceviche. It arrived in a plain white bowl set on a saucer, with an honor guard of Saltine crackers in their little plastic envelopes - the traditional Mexican accompaniment. And one bite told me nearly everything I needed to know about the kitchen at this small restaurant, nearly everything important about the hands in the back, the skills and commitment of the cooks. A beautiful brunoise of raw chiles and onion and tomato -- each tiny piece cut to a millimeter on a side, carefully and lovingly - topped with a fan of sliced avocado. The lime juice had gone cloudy from its interaction with the flaked flesh of the fish, indicating it had been left to marinate a bit: not too long, not too little.

Last week's review of Mark & Isabella was a disaster. This week's review of the Chili Verde is the opposite -- not just a good story about two or three or four meals out somewhere, but one that spills over into dreaming about great meals yet to come.

I wanted everything on the menu at Chili Verde; I only had the chance to eat about half of it. Maybe less. I wasn't able to wait long enough for the Yanez-Mota brothers who run the place to get their liquor license and start serving, so I couldn't have my poblanos crepes or pork in green chile sauce with a couple of cold beers on the side as God intended. But I can look forward to having a proper dinner there in the future.

This is one of those restaurants -- and one of those families -- that will succeed or fail based entirely on the amount of support that Denver's grubniks show over the next few months. It's a place that will either flourish or wither, all depending on the dining choices that we make.

So I'm going to go back as often as I can. And I suggest that all of you out there in Hotcakesland check out the review tomorrow, and then start making plans to do the same.

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