The traffic jam on northbound I-25 started south of Pueblo. There was only one logical course of action: to brake for a slopper at Gray's Coors Tavern, at 515 West Fourth in Pueblo.
This bar has had only two owners since it became Johnny's Coors Tavern in 1934 (and it had been a railroad bar -- and allegedly a place of ill repute -- before that). And by the time it became Gray's Coors Tavern in 1983, the kitchen had already made its greatest contribution to Colorado's culinary scene: the slopper.
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The recipe is simple: two grilled burger patties, with American cheese, served open-faced on a bun in a bowl -- then smothered with either housemade green chile or red (more of a con carne than a New Mexican red) or both, with the option of onions and even French fries on top. (Although you have to pay extra for the fries, the basic gut-buster is a bargain at $5.95.)
According to the legend below, which is printed on the menu, the Coors Tavern started serving this in the '50s, although for the past fifteen years the Sunset Inn has claimed to serve the town's best slopper -- a challenge that became the focus of a Food Wars episode this spring. As far as the Travel Channel was able to determine, you can only find a slopper in Pueblo.
The Sunset doesn't come with the classic ambience of Gray's Coors Tavern, which yesterday had the added bonus of happy-hour prices on (what else?) Coors during the Broncos game. Even though Denver lost that one, the slopper was a winner -- and definitely better road food than the turkey jerky/dried cranberries dinner we'd picked up at a stop in Arizona.