Mushroom and corn give this happy-hour dish earthy flavor.EXPAND
Mushroom and corn give this happy-hour dish earthy flavor.
Mark Antonation

Dish of the Week: Unexpected Grits at Que Bueno Suerte

Grits aren't exactly a common find in Denver's Mexican restaurants, but the flavor of ground corn is one of the anchors of Mesoamerican cooking, so fried rectangles of white grits feel right at home with other Mexican flavors at Que Bueno Suerte (1518 South Pearl Street). Chef Vicente Sosa makes two versions of the dish — one for happy hour and one as a shareable plate on the dinner menu.

Firm-cooked grits are fried to a golden brown, serving as a vehicle (almost like super-fat french fries) for a savory mound of roasted wild mushroom conserva. So what exactly is mushroom conserva? Those delectable fungi are preserved first to concentrate their earthy flavors before they're roasted. Atop the mushrooms and grits rests billowy requesón, a fresh cheese similar to ricotta.

For the happy-hour menu, the accompaniment is a huitlacoche butter sauce, dark and delicate with a corn fungus that's known as the "Mexican truffle." What huitlacoche lacks in beauty it makes up for with a subtle taste that's a little sweet like fresh corn and a little mushroomy, with hints of smoke and garlic peeking through.

On the dinner menu, the dish dons a heartier blanket of chile verde, a smooth sauce that packs a powerful chile punch while maintaining a lightness from its vegetarian base. It's a sauce often used to complement pork ribs (you can find that dish at Que Bueno Suerte, too), but here the mushrooms, corn and chiles come together in a way that seems timeless and classic. Between the crunchy coating of the fried grits, the creamy requesón and the almost gravy-like combo of mushrooms and sauce, this dish comes together like a Mexican take on poutine.

Happy hour at Que Bueno Suerte runs from 4 to 10 p.m. Monday and from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Call the restaurant at 720-642-7322 or find more details at qbsuerte.com.

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